My friend Karina thinks money confessions are the new taboo. So of course if something is taboo I need to write about it. Everything I list below, I did without an agent. There was no book advance for Legs Get Led Astray, and there haven’t been royalties for either Legs Get Led Astray or Women. The only times i really feel like I “sold out” for my writing was the GRAZIA interview and Men’s Health gig. But not even. I’m glad I did those things, they paid my rent. Everything else was written exactly the way i wanted to write it.
Age 25, pre-Legs Get Led Astray, 2011
- Masturbating with Moxie, The Frisky, $75
- Ortho-tricyclen ruined my relationship, The Frisky, $75
- 7 Day Sex Plan, The Frisky: $50
(Jobs that year: Worked at my dad’s store, MUSICA, babysat)
Age 26, post Legs Get Led Astray, 2013
- Heroin and Acne, Salon.com, $150
- Leaning To Sit Still, The Fix, $150
- Five Senses of Sex, Men’s Health, $500
- Audible (bought rights to LGLA), $900
- The New Age Camp, an ebook by Thought Catalog (I get 40% of sale of this book, and this book doesn’t sell. I got a check from them for $2.35 once and something around $150 once.)
- Reading at University of Southern Indiana, $500
(Jobs that year: Nannied/housesat/cat sat for Cheryl Strayed, worked part-time at Powell’s Books, Did some essay editing)
Age 27, pre WOMEN, 2013/2014
- Sold WOMEN to SF/LD for $3000
- Leaving My Groovy Lifestyle, anthologized in Goodbye To All That, $150
(Jobs that year: Worked at MUSICA, taught personal essay class through Litreactor.com, babysat)
Age 28, post WOMEN, 2014/2015
- Interview with GRAZIA, $500
- Audio rights to WOMEN, Audible, $500
- Ebook rights to Emily Books, $500
- Maggie and Me, Vice, $200
- Behind The Till, Human Parts/Medium $150
- Dyke Shopping, Human Parts/Medium, $150
- Roommates, Human Parts/Medium, $150
- Urban Eating, Human Parts/Medium, $150
- Not My Cats, Human Parts/Medium, $150
- Microphones, Thought Catalog, $1500
- Soft Butch Blues, Thought Catalog, $175
- Reading at The College of St. Rose, $750
(Jobs: Worked at Musica, worked for catering company, taught essay class for Litreactor.com, manuscript critiquing, essay editing, week-long nannying gigs in Portland for Cheryl, work at clothing boutique.)
People that buy my books from me at readings or on my website. Random checks Amazon sent to Future Tense Books for my ebook that I would sometimes get part of.
For free since 2009:
The Rumpus, Poets & Writers, Jersey Devil Press, The Nervous Breakdown, Vol 1. Brooklyn, The Sun, Freerange Nonfiction, The Faster Times, Hobart, Everyday Genius, Gloom Cupboard, Smalldoggies, True Tales of Lust and Love anthology, Used Furniture Review, SMITH, Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, NW Book Lovers.
I’ve been writing for publication since I was 24.
So in five years I’ve made a grand total of: $10,427.35 from writing.
Which, if you’re a cup half empty or full person, this could either be incredibly dire or inspirational. I look at this list and think I’ve come a really long way. It’s obvious to say I would like more money.
The writing for free has led me to better opportunities, and I still write for free and think everyone should/has to at least for a little while. Writing for The Rumpus led me to so many friendships and paid gigs later. Etc.
I write often and whatever I want, but I am uncomfortable financially. Nothing I purchase is without panic and anxiety. Sometimes non-writers have seen some press I’ve gotten, and they say to me, “You’re doing so well, how do you feel?” And I begin to act strange, because I’m incredibly broke and unsure what they are implying. I have gotten LOTS of press and reviews, it’s completely true, and I’m eternally grateful for that.
I was listening to James Frey on a podcast yesterday and he was saying he adamantly believes writers are like athletes, they peak and run out of steam in their fifties and sixties or earlier. I sort of agreed with him. He said it gets too exhausting, ambition runs out, and you don’t have it in you to sit at your desk eight hours a day anymore.
In the below photo I am twenty-five years old with my first check for writing–from The Frisky. It’s in my dad’s store, he took the photo.