One Week UP

We’ve had a splendid first week! Thank you so much to everyone who’s viewed, read and especially, everyone who’s commented. We love comments; they’re the life of our magazine. Thank you.

I’m trying not to obsess about numbers and I'm rationing myself to stats glimpses only three times a day but a mathematician I know says numbers describe the universe. They're describing the extent of our Words & Pictures universe and I’m really pleased they show that we do have some Internet umph. We're getting about 600 page views a day and many people have been really kind with their tweets and comments.  Our reboot was announced on book2book and Books for Keeps have endorsed us too. So yes, I'm UP! 

And it’s April 1st. Happy All Fools! 

The theme for the month is Making a Living as a Writer or an Illustrator. You may think that trying to make a living doing this thing we love doing is foolish. The general consensus of what I’ve seen on the web is that if you’re thinking of giving up your day job, don’t.  You may also think that this would bring me down but it doesn't, even without a rich partner, and if you bear with me, I'll tell you why.

We have to accept that making a living from writing or illustrating alone is hard; for the majority of writers and illustrators the numbers don’t add up.

"The median income for authors is £4,000 and only the top 10% of authors earn 50% of the income."

This was taken from  Caroline Hooton's recent write up of the SCBWI Making a Living as a Writer professional series event. Sally Poyton, the event organizer has a “wish you‘d been there” report on Tuesday and for the rest of the month we have contributions from those who do make a living from what they love, albeit supplemented with related activities.

Some of us, nowhere near making a living, may be tempted to bottle out of trying to break through via traditional publishing and go it alone. However, as far as financial gain is concerned, there’s as much disillusionment with self-publishing as there is with the traditional process. We’re hoping to address this disillusionment with the traditional route in our monthly Ask a Publisher with Sara O’ Connor and Hot Key Books. Please do continue to ask questions via the comments or by mailing Be bold, ask anything!

The answer to the self-publishing problem and the route to untold riches, as far as I can see, is writing a book that NO-ONE can put down. Simples. In which case, publishers should be clamouring to buy it. Obviously, that is not simple, so why do we even try?

Jonny Geller, says

I’ve read lots of writers who say they’re addicted to writing. I’m not one of them. I find it hard. What I am addicted to is the creation of the world and the rush of feeling when I’m pretending to be someone else. I’m addicted to brave new thoughts, ideas and connections. I love connections. I’m addicted to trimming and shaping, often out of existence, hence my poor blogging record. If I have to write to feed these addictions, that's how it must be.

So, how is it for you?

Do you write or illustrate... 
  • to be rich (probably not)
  • to be famous (ditto)
  • because you love writing (possibly)
  • because you can't not (getting close)
  • because the thrill of creating a world of your own, filled with beings, human and otherwise, that you want to be with, that you’re fascinated by, who you want to be, is so compelling, so satisfying that it's a deep, yet basic need. It’s like air and food to you. To not do it would turn you into a dried up shrivelled husk of person?

I’d love to know why you do what you do and if you are making a living by it, how

I do hope you enjoy what we have to offer this month and very much look forward to reading what you have to say,
Jan Carr

Jan Carr is the editor of Words & Pictures. Her fiction is older middle grade, she blogs occasionally and loves to write in magenta.


  1. I write because I have to. The voices won't leave me alone otherwise! ;)
    Am looking forward to reading the different perspectives this month on how to make a living as a writer.

  2. I would recommend that anybody (writer or illustrator) should read John Steinbeck's letters - very inspiring in so many ways but on this subject particularly in his early years as a writer he struggled financially but his committment to writing never wavered, in fact if anything it seems stronger the tougher things were. The letters are also good on rejection. Essential reading! For all of us it's the act of creativity that matters and motivates above all, I am sure.

  3. Thank you Katrina and Jane.
    I'm ashamed to say i haven't read Steinbeck, but I will. Artists and writers like Steinbeck rewrite Maslow's hierarchy, for them creative expression is at the bottom of the pyramid.

  4. Thanks for this Jan - interesting about Steinbeck Jane!
    I think being a bit 'hungry' helps creativity...the need to make a living or simply the belief that we can is a useful motivation for completing projects. I've seen amazingly creative people who've never finished anything partly because they had no need to earn and/or no particular desire to share their work with the world.
    In addition to school visits and events which are an income prop for UK authors alongside royalities, in France and in the US, quality magazines can help income too. So a French kids authors will write and submit the odd story to a plethora of kids magazines - some of them almost paperback length. They pays decently plus we get royalties from resale of a piece to other kids magazines across the world.
    Other UK author illustrators work abroad a bit like I do - Helen Oxenbury has had an ongoing series specifically for French and US magazines for years, Helen Stephens too and it was David McKee who put me onto Bayard.
    It's a strong culture which died here around the late 70s-early 80s though we had more weeklies (remember Beano, Look & Learn, the Eagle, or Diana or later Jackie?).
    Perhaps some authors went from those to writing for TV? Some great stuff in British kids TV unlike in most other countries!
    There are a few exceptions to the merchandized characters of UK kids mags, like the Box Magazines ( and new magazines like Okido.
    I've made a fluctuating living from my work illustrating French kids magazines and the odd Highlights US magazine commission in addition to book contracts and royalties. My weekly art school job paid less than illustration but at least that was regular!

    In any case, for illustrators it's (marginally!) easier to get the odd commission or have an outlet outside of books - one reason perhaps why illustrators are less active in SCBWI than writers? Better get back to my deadline now!

  5. Thanks Bridget very interesting, particularly about the kids magazine market and yes, I was wondering if making alining was easier for illustrators if only marginally!

    "I've seen amazingly creative people who've never finished anything partly because they had no need to earn and/or no particular desire to share their work with the world."
    I'm sure this is the case for some too but for many I imagine it's confidence as well.

  6. For me, writing came about because of a tortured soul, an insistent creative calling and an obsession with stationery.
    I hope to scrape together enough of a living as a writer to stop me having to re-join the rat race.
    Giving up just doesn't seem like an option.

  7. i'm with you on the obsession with stationery, Jo.
    Pens especially.

  8. I'm with Katrina on this one. I write because I have to. It's an escape from my day job as a nurse. Being creative is in my blood. If nothing comes of my efforts, I know that I've created something that I've worked hard on, and that I'm proud of.

    1. Hi Debbie!
      Creativity has to find a way, doesn't it? But something will of come from your efforts - a whole new world (cue for a song). Money and publication and just two results on a list of many. I feel another post coming on...

  9. I had a lot more clarity about why I was writing when I wasn't published. The pressure of life suddenly not just being about the story took me aback. But I am trying to learn how to be both a working writer and a lover of writing at the same time.

    1. Interesting, so we should revel in this pre-publication, story rather than sales focussed time?

    2. The focus on sales is kind of like being a new parent - no matter what people tell you, no matter what you see in others' experience, nothing prepares you for the shock of having your creative urge tied to deadlines/markets/meetings/pitches/trends etc etc. The "remaindered book" thing is a heartbreaking letdown, but the production pressure of success throws you entirely off track in a completely different way. I guess my new parenting advice applies - "AVOID SUFFERING" and "NO GUILT"! I'm finding that my "reveling" is interrupted by a lot of anxiety. I continue to have "grace" as my goal - whatever happens!

  10. I gave in years ago. Writing is what I do. Some people are sporty, some are musical, I'm writey or writical. Or some such odd word.

  11. I love that Maureen - writical. That's me!


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