Friday, July 7, 2017

Earning a Living as a Writer, with Chris Eboch SCBWI 2017

I'm giving a workshop on "Earning a Living As a Writer" at the SCBWI conference in LA today. Here's the handout for attendees.

Trade Book Advances: $2000-$30,000 and up. May take several years to receive all payments. Difficult to control or predict sales. Some small publishers do not pay advances.

Royalties: Passive income that can last for years. Requires a royalty agreement that earns out. May take years after the book sale. Difficult to control or predict sales.

Work-for-Hire Books: Flat fee (usually), quick turnaround time, assigned topics. Pays from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Good for building a resume. Can be steady income.

Self-Publishing: Upfront costs, especially with images. Potentially passive income for years. A way to make use of unsold manuscripts. Very tough market, especially for middle grade and younger. Create something unique and in demand.  Know how you’ll reach readers.

Magazine Articles: Generally low pay for children’s magazines, but can be several hundred dollars. Make use of your research from other projects. Build a resume, show expertise.

Educational Test Passages/Assessment: Can be good pay for small jobs ($60-$400 for less than 1000 words). Requires ability to write a variety of genres, topics, and targeted grade levels. Mainly seasonal work. Those with teaching experience could write test questions.

Teaching: Community colleges, senior centers, summer programs, etc. Online: correspondence schools, webinars. One-on-one mentoring. Often low pay but builds resume/authority.

Critiques: Requires experience as an editor/teacher as well as a writer. Reputation counts. Pay can be $25-$50 an hour or more.

Copyediting/Proofreading: Requires specific expertise and training. Can be excellent money.

School Visits: Pay varies greatly. Helps market your books. If you’re not a well-known author, focus on what you’ll teach kids – help them do better on tests, foster love of reading, tie in to science or social studies curriculum.

General Info
Making a Living from Writing? – Chris on sources of income.
Laura Purdie Salas shares her 2014 income and sources.
How to Be a Healthy, Happy Freelancer/Writer 
Marlo Garnsworthy at Wordy Bird Studio shares great advice on time management, organizations, clerical work, accountability and other practical aspects of running your own business.
The SCBWI discussion boards have sections on work for hire, self-publishing, magazines, contracts, taxes, and more.
Upod: “a place for freelancers to support, inspire, amuse, inform, advise, celebrate and hire each other.” (I have not tried it.)
Kelly James-Enger “Dollars and Deadlines” blog on ghostwriting, articles, etc.
The Well Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman
Secrets of a Freelance Writer by Bob Bly

Time management:
Programs such as Slimtimer track your hours per project (I have not tried it.)

Work for Hire/Test Passages
Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career, by Nancy Sanders
Writing Children’s Nonfiction Books for the Educational Market, by Laura Purdie Salas
Evelyn Christensen’s list of Educational Markets
Writing for the Education Market: job leads on WFH, inc test passages
PARCC Samples of test passages: under the Assessments tab, see "practice tests" and "released items"
Get Curriculum Development Jobs: job postings in curriculum development

Education Writers Association has job listings, mainly full-time in-person
Linked In has a freelance job search site now.  

Magazine Articles
Magazine Markets for Children’s Writers, and Children’s Writers and Illustrator’s Market list possible magazines. The SCBWI “Magazine Market Guide” is in The Book, included with membership. Get magazine samples at your library, school, or house of worship; requests sample copies from the publisher; visit publishers’ web sites – many have online samples.
List of Magazines for Children with links to the websites from the Monroe County Public Library

School Visits
Skype An Author Network for online visits
School Visit Experts: advice on programs and biz tips

Chris Eboch is a popular writing teacher who gives workshops around the country. She writes fiction and nonfiction for all ages, with over 40 traditionally published books for children.
Chris Eboch’s book Advanced Plotting helps writers fine-tune their plots. Advanced Plotting is designed for the intermediate and advanced writer. If you struggle
with plot or suspect your plotting needs work, this book can help. Use the Plot Outline Exercise to identify and fix plot weaknesses. Learn how to get off to a fast start, prop up a sagging middle, build to a climax, improve your pacing, and more.

Get Advanced Plotting from Amazon (Kindle on sale 50% off July 7-14).

Chris offers novel critiques for $2 per page ($100 minimum). Contact Chris for details and recommendations.

Chris’s novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt; The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure; The Genie’s Gift, a middle eastern fantasy; and the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs. Her writing craft books include You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers, and Advanced Plotting.

Chris also writes for adults under the name Kris Bock. Kris Bock writes action-packed romantic suspense involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. The Mad Monk’s Treasurefree at all e-book retailers – follows a treasure hunt in New Mexico and has been called “Smart romance with an Indiana Jones feel.”

Counterfeits starts a new series about art theft. What We Found is a mystery with romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. Whispers in the Dark involves intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. Read excerpts at or visit her Amazon page.


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  2. Thanks so much for including those of us who can't be in LA this year!