I do not have the answer. I thought I’d say that right at the beginning, and save you all the disappointment.
The conundrum: how to write, and survive.
For a few, a very few, the stars align and skill and luck get them a bestseller followed by another bestseller and they never have to worry again*.
Some others never had to worry in the first place. Virginia Woolf famously prescribed a room of one’s own and a private income. And I can see her point. That would be very nice. One can manage without, but my goodness, wouldn’t it be nice.
The rest of us have two choices:
And spend most of your time writing stuff you don’t particularly want to write, and/or hustling to sell the stuff you’ve written.
The day job
This is the one that works for me. And you don’t have to tell me how lucky I am to have a day job that pays me enough to live on while leaving me enough spare time and enough of my brain to write. I know.
This isn’t just a conundrum for self-published authors, though certainly we have to do more of our own hustling. More than half the professional writers in the UK earn less than the minimum wage – i.e. not enough to live on by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I probably earn more per book sold than most debut authors published in the mainstream. Though of course I sell fewer books.
Anyway, whichever way you slice it, the sums don’t add up. And there isn’t an answer. I said that at the beginning.
My point is this: I’ve got the utmost respect for anyone who manages to make a living by writing things, and I’ve got the utmost respect for anyone who manages to write while making a living doing something else. I’d buy you all a drink, if only I could afford it.
* Or so I assume. If it ever happens to me I’ll let you know. Actually, I’d probably still find something to worry about.