I thought I would post a little follow-up to Meghan's half full or half empty? post. I have not read the The Secret (which sounds like an annoying book) nor do I dispute that the reality that life for a children's book author/illustrator is far from glamorous. And, it IS extremely irritating that is seems like a lot of marketing it pretending you are more successful than you actually are (as I said in an earlier post (a LONG time ago).
But, even though Meghan's post was pretty true, I wanted to give our profession a bit more positive light. I had lots of people and professors tell me that "you'll never be able to live off of children's books," demoting what we do instantly to a hobby or a lesser profession. And it's not. You can make a living--it's not easy and maybe you won't make the money the way you thought (school visits support many an author) and it's definitely not for everyone, but it is possible and it can be pretty gratifying too.
Almost all of us have watched new authors and illustrators shoot to instant super stardom or get 6-digit advances with first contracts with a feeling of inadequacy. But they are more the exception than the rule. Making a living as a children's book creator is not a fast process. In 2009, I celebrated the 10 year anniversary of my first book published. It was a book I wrote and illustrated for $5,000--a measly sum when compared to my peers who were getting $10,000. just for illustrating. But it's been a book I've read and signed and sold year after year, using its royalties to pay for insurance and doctor bills and, most importantly, to build the foundation of my career.
And that is truly what making a living in children's books is about. It is about slowly building and scraping what you are able to get-- no matter what it is-- to make a career that will bring you upwards. You have to keep working at it, continuously with love and passion; and every day, every year and every reader--you get a little higher and higher until you can finally appreciate the view. And after over ten years of this, maybe, you can even get yourself a Newbery Honor. It's possible!
So, I guess what I wanted to say is that it doesn't matter much if the glass is half full or half empty. It matters more that you are thirsty enough to drink it.