The Average Salary of a Short Story Writer

by Chris Newton; Updated September 26, 2017
Short story writers often work as freelance writers and make their own schedules.

A short story writer writes short-form literature for magazines, compilations or online publications. Typically, short story writers work in fiction, although some also write nonfiction short stories. A professional short story writer usually has a literary agent who helps the writer get paid assignments. The job title of "short story writer" falls under the broader career category of "writers and authors," the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

Annual Salary

The mean annual salary for writers and authors was $65,960 in 2010, according to the BLS. The median annual salary was $55,420. The lowest-paid 10th percentile earned an annual salary of $28,610 or less, while the lowest-paid 25th percentile earned an annual salary of $39,330 or less. The highest-paid 75th percentile earned an annual salary of $77,560 or more, while the highest-paid 90th percentile earned an annual salary of $109,440 or more.

Industry

The salary for a short story writer varies by industry, the BLS reports. The newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers industry held the highest level of employment for writers and authors in 2010, with an estimated 7,110 jobs that year. Short story writers employed in this industry earned an annual mean salary of $56,210. The independent artist, writers and performers industry was a top-paying industry for this occupation, with an annual mean salary of $101,110.

State

The salary for a short story writer also varies by state. New York held the highest level of employment for this occupation in 2010, with an estimated 6,840 jobs that year, according to the BLS. New York was also reported to be the top-paying state for writers and authors in 2010, with an annual mean salary of $88,639. California was also a top-paying state for this occupation, with an annual mean salary of $85,170.

Metropolitan Area

The salary for a short story writer also varies by metropolitan area, the BLS reports. The New York-White Plains-Wayne, New York-New Jersey metropolitan division held the highest level of employment for writers and authors in 2010, with an estimated 5,880 jobs that year. Short story writers employed in this metropolitan area earned an annual mean salary of $91,470. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, California was the top-paying metropolitan area for this occupation, with an annual mean salary of $100,060.

2016 Salary Information for Writers and Authors

Writers and authors earned a median annual salary of $61,240 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, writers and authors earned a 25th percentile salary of $43,130, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,500, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 131,200 people were employed in the U.S. as writers and authors.

About the Author

Chris Newton has worked as a professional writer since 2001. He spent two years writing software specifications then spent three years as a technical writer for Microsoft before turning to copywriting for software and e-commerce companies. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of Colorado.

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