How much do TV writers make? Television writers produce the characters and plot lines that viewers enjoy watching on network television, cable television, and streaming platforms. This career may be a good fit for you if you are a creative person who enjoys telling stories.
In this post, we will look at how much television writers make, what factors influence their compensation, the job prognosis for the sector, and the various sorts of television writers.
What exactly is a television writer?
A television writer is a specialized writer who works on screenplays for documentaries, television series, game shows, news programs, advertising, and other types of programming. They construct the scenarios, plots, characters, and conversations for a television production. These rules are used by everyone engaged in the project, including performers and the director, to create the writer’s vision.
Television writers usually collaborate with other writers to fulfill deadlines and maintain script continuity. They also frequently have a bachelor’s degree in a field such as English or Journalism. However, this isn’t necessarily required.
How much do TV writers make?
In the United States, television writers earn an average of $57,550. The typical wage for this profession varies by state due to factors such as the cost of living in the area and the demand for professional experts.
When does a television screenwriter get paid?
It is largely dependent on the nature of the work. For example, if you are paid week to week, as a new staff writer, you will be paid on a semi-regular basis (usually bi-weekly or according to your contract) as you would any other income.
If you are a level higher than a story editor and are paid per episode, the payment structure will be slightly different.
Assume you are to be compensated for the narrative with credit on an episode you created. The WGA guidelines provide that you should be paid your story fee “within 48 hours of delivery but in no event more than 7 days following delivery,” in this case, the story or episode draft.
If you wrote the teleplay instead, you would be paid in two installments: once when you send in your draft, which would be one payment of either 90% of your minimum rate or 60% of your agreed compensation (negotiated by your agents for you), whichever is greater.
You will be paid the remaining portion of the agreed-upon remuneration mentioned in your contract when you submit the final draft.
Suppose you created both the story and the teleplay for your episode. In that case, the WGA states that you should be paid 30% of your agreed compensation when you submit the story treatment, then the difference between the Story installment and your 90% minimum or 40% of your agreed compensation is greater. When you submit your final draft, you will be paid the balance.
What factors determine the compensation of a television writer?
What a television writer is paid depends on a variety of factors, including:
Membership in the Writers Guild of America (WGA)
The Writers Guild of America is a labor union that represents writers in radio, television, film, and new media. There is predetermined minimum earnings for writers who are members of this group. The writer, on the other hand, can be paid more, and there is no cap on pay. WGA membership is required for writers working on union productions.
Writing on spec
Writing on spec involves submitting a show idea or script to a production company in the hopes that the program will be picked up for a full run of episodes. The WGA is also in charge of the requirements and minimums for this type of material. The minimum remuneration is determined by rules based on the length of the program, broadcast company, and script type.
In addition to creating the script, a television writer may be offered or elected to take on other duties. A popular choice is the post of producer or story editor. When numerous roles are held, the WGA regulates the minimum compensation increase.
Television writers’ job prospects
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) presents employment data for media and communication workers in general, not just television writers. The BLS forecasts a 3% growth in the media and communications field between 2019 and 2029, which is slightly lower than the broader workforce’s 4% growth.
Categories of Television Writers
In the television industry, there are numerous categories of writers. Here are some examples of frequent job titles:
- Staff writer
This is an entry-level role, and it is where the majority of TV writers begin their careers. You are responsible for writing smaller pieces of a show in this job. At this level, you may not be listed in the show credits, but it’s a terrific way to get started in this field.
- Story editor
Despite their names, story editors perform relatively little, if any, editing. They instead pitch ideas and compose at least one episode of the show.
- Executive story editor
Mid-level personnel with at least three years of experience working as writers in this job. Executive story editors generally assist other authors on the team in creating programs and making script modifications as needed.
- Head writer
The chief writer is the person in charge of leading and supervising a group of writers. Comedy shows, discussion shows, and soap operas typically have a higher percentage of head writers than other TV genres.
Co-producers are still frequently called authors, but they have more responsibilities. A co-producer, for example, may be in charge of overseeing production at a higher level and making sure it continues within budget.
A producer, like a co-producer, is frequently tasked with tasks other than writing. Joining in on casting sessions for higher-level producers is a regular task.
- Supervising producer
A supervising producer is a senior-level producer who supervises the work of other producers. They are typically significantly involved in program development’s pre-production, filming, and post-production phases.
- Co-executive producer
The co-executive producer reports directly to the executive producer and is in charge of production in the absence of the showrunner. The co-executive producer oversees all on-staff writers.
- Executive producer
An executive producer is typically the show’s creator, who wrote the pilot and oversaw the entire production. This is the highest-ranking position in television writing.
What if a studio purchases my original literary work?
According to the WGA, “the minimums are applicable to the purchase of previously unexploited content from a ‘professional writer’ and to any writer who has secured the right to be considered as a professional writer.”
This means that if you have a management or a lawyer who can fairly say you are a “professional writer,” if a studio chose to buy your original pilot script, you would be entitled to the same minimums as a WGA writer – theoretically, of course.
If a studio executive, producer, or production firm is interested in your original idea, they will most likely give you an option deal.
In this case, the buyer could option the material from you for an initial period of (up to) 180 days, provided they pay 5% of the applicable guild minimum as indicated above.
If they wanted to keep the option for another 180 days, they would have to pay 10% of the minimum.
What about TV reruns?
TV residuals are payments granted to TV writers when their show is rebroadcast on a network television channel. Residuals are fantastic because they usually arrive in the mail unexpectedly as an extra source of money for working writers.
Residuals are fascinating since they decrease as a TV show is rerun more times, but because they represent a percentage of what you were compensated originally, even a TV show in its 13th or long run on the air might yield an extra 1.5% of whatever the guild minimum is at the moment. In terms of passive income, it’s not awful.
According to the WGA, residuals for network TV series (ABC, CBS, NBC, and FBC) must be paid to the writer within 30 days of the show’s air date, while other run-based residuals for basic cable must be paid within four months of the show’s air date.
Like minimum payments, network TV residuals are much larger and higher if it’s a high-budget show against a low-budget show.
How can I get a job as a TV writer?
If you truly want to be a TV writer, you must first hone your skill. TV pilots can be read, watched, and written. Original pilots are what showrunners are seeking these days when hiring new talent, but don’t be surprised if you’re requested for a spec episode sample as well.
Remember that these early pilots are intended for testing purposes. Unless you are already a household name, don’t expect to sell an original TV show without any credits. Instead, concentrate on creating the finest possible page-turning TV pilot so that you may demonstrate your writing skills to individuals who might recruit you as a Writer’s Assistant or Staff Writer.
TV screenwriters are paid at the industry rate, but as long as they are members of the Writers Guild of America, they are protected.
TV pay scales are quite convoluted, and minimum pay rates can vary substantially depending on the duration of the show, network, or streaming service that it’s on and the amount of writing that makes it onto the show.
TV writers are paid well, and they do get paid well, but there’s a lot more to learn before you can completely comprehend how TV payments operate for TV screenwriters.
We hope this article helped you and gave you insights into how much tv writers make.
FAQs on How Much do TV Writers Make
Do TV writers get royalties?
Screenwriters do get residual income. For the 2019-2020 season, film writers receive 1.2% of gross distributor income, while TV writers receive $27,245 for the plot and teleplay credit. However, these figures are only a starting point. Writers can earn more money over time based on DVD sales and reruns.
What kind of writer makes the most money?
This one is my favorite since it is the most lucrative writing job—the highest-paying freelance writing employment out of all of them. Why? Because, as the name or title implies, the author is not given credit for writing the work. The authorship is given to the client, who will use his byline rather than the freelance writer.
As a result, they offer competitive rates for each project. In actuality, the cost of each ghostwriter’s book is $30,000 and $35,000. It is a wonderful recompense and not a bad concept because the book you wrote has your client’s feel and message rather than your own. As a result, clients will work with you on the project to ensure that your content is consistent with their voices.
Are freelance writers in demand?
High-quality freelance writers and brand journalists are in high demand now and will be for the foreseeable future. Although content marketing and freelance writing businesses were already expanding prior to COVID-19, the pandemic expedited their expansion, bringing up a plethora of opportunities for freelancers.