Writing and Writers: The Levels of Financial Success

Level 1: The Lottery Winners

Riches beyond compare. This is the land of writers with amusement parks based on their characters, ownership of professional sports teams, etc.

Level 2: The Serious Earners

Writers can pay all their bills solely from their writing. No financial support from spouses, parents, savings.

Level 3: The Hacks

Same as above, but includes writing things the writer doesn’t like writing (advertising copy, help manuals, undesired freelance work, etc.)

Level 4: The Toilers

Bills are paid solely from writing proceeds and other writing-enabled jobs (speaking engagements, editorial work, teaching gigs, etc.).

Level 5: The Modest Earners

Proceeds from writing exceed writing-based expenditures. Income primarily derives from another source (parents, spouse, non-writing job).

Level 6: The Honorarias

Same as above, but writer has received only in-kind payments (review copies, waived fees, etc.).

Level 7: The Nullities

No income whatsoever from writing. Can include people who consider themselves writers but have never actually written anything.

Level 8: The Sub-Nullities

No income from writing whatsoever, with expenditures (postage, editing or proofreading costs, etc., writing conferences, etc.) exceeding income.

My Status

I am currently at Level 8. Twenty-six bucks in the hole, thanks to shelling out for the domain name (jackewilson.com).

The good news is that I only need to sell twenty or so copies of my novellas (coming soon!) (update: out now!) to make it into the red, which will catapult me to Level 5.

Onward and upward!


11 thoughts on “Writing and Writers: The Levels of Financial Success

  1. I’m mystified to find my category, ‘People who write quite a lot and even blog about it and are working hard on a novel (and have even finished a previous novel),’ missing.

    I would put it between 6 and 7. Not paid, but will be (maybe, some day, if their hope isn’t entirely narcissistic, etc.) But DO and HAVE written – and have even submitted said first novel to agents and gotten back a kind, personalized, handwritten ‘send us your next’ letter from a major agent (which I’m sure means they weren’t bowled over by errors when reading, and you have a bit of a ‘voice’ going there, and, well, keep at it!). And are possibly planning to self-publish (congrats on your novella coming out!).


  2. Couldn’t help but laugh! This surely puts things in perspective for me. I’m an 8 on the fast track to 7. Thanks! I needed a chuckle as I drag myself out to the gym too early in the morning. Thanks for liking my post. I’ll be returning:)


    1. I’m there too! Still an 8! (Since putting up the post I’ve sold more books but have also incurred some expenses.)

      The good news is that we’re both up too early. Industriousness will pay off eventually, right?

      Good luck with your writing!


      1. Lol! Thanks for the encouragement and congrats on the book sells. As far as industriousness paying off?…Well, that’s what they say. We’ll have fun continuing to test that theory. Continued success to you!


  3. I know you’ll make it to where you want to be! Keep it up – I suppose I am also at Level 8 hehe, although I have not yet started writing a novel yet. I am focusing on poetry for now but hopefully will have the courage to draft a novel eventually. Thank you for visiting my blog, I appreciate it so very much!

    Kind regards,


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