News and Interviews

Writers & Money - Part Two


This is the second in a series of surveys that I posted in order to get an idea of how different writers manage to make ends meet. You can read the first response here: and fill out the survey here:

Everyone’s welcome: freelance, novelists, screenwriters, you name it. (Note: the answers are taken directly from the survey, but are combined in order to make it more readable.)


Who are you?

An emerging writer, a novelist. A South Asian woman between 36 & 50.


How many books have you published?

One, a novel, with a memoir coming out.


How many publishers, in Canada, have you published with?



What type of publisher did you publish with?

Harper Collins, a large press.


How much money did you make from writing last year?



Are you a full-time writer? That is, does writing or writing related activity make up the entirety of your income?



Do you have another job as well as writing?

Yes, a part time job.


Where do you live?

A small city or town


On your own or with someone else?

With someone else.


Do you receive financial support from a partner, spouse, family member, or anyone else?

Yes. My partner and I share expenses equally, I would say half and half, though his income is more steady and predictable because he has a full-time job. Half my income is dependant on grants/advances/freelance work etc.


Have you ever been supported for a period of longer than 1 month by someone else since becoming a writer?



Last year, what percentage of your income (roughly) came specifically from writing - including advances, freelance work, royalties. Do not include grants, prizes, fellowships.



Is this significantly different than other years? 



Last year, what percentage of your income (roughly) came from grants, prizes, fellowships etc.

About 20%


Is this significantly different than other years?

Yes. I received a bigger grant last year (for the first time).


Last year, what percentage (roughly) of your income came from writing related work - ie teaching creative writing, writer-in-residence positions, speaking engagements/readings, manuscript evaluations etc.



Is this significantly different than in other years?



Last year, what percentage (roughly) of your income came from work not related to writing in any way?



Is this significantly different than other years?

Yes, because I received the bigger grant last year.


Do you think having a 'day job' hinders your writing?

Yes. I work at my day job 50% of the time. So, this means I have three days in the office (at the day job) and two days at home to write. (I don't work an eight-hour day because I need to be home for my kids on my day job days.) As a result, I don't have consecutive writing days (beyond the two days) and this constant break up of flow is disruptive.


Is there anything you’d like to do that you feel your writing hinders? Home ownership, a family, travel, etc.?



What writing work do you do for free that you feel you should be paid for? reading series etc.

I no longer will write for free.


How much does it matter to you that you’re paid for writing? 

A lot


If you weren’t paid, would you write? Why or why not.

No. If I don't place a financial value on my work, I cannot expect others to do so.


Have you ever felt taken advantage of, or asked to do something for free that you felt you should have been paid for?


Keep an eye out for this continuing series, where more writers discuss how they earn their living...

Tanis Rideout writes both poetry and fiction. In 2010 Rideout won second prize in the CBC Literary Awards for her poems about Marilyn Bell. Her first novel, Above All Things, was released in Canada in 2012, and in the US and UK in 2013.