We all fantasize about that day when the novel is not only in the hands of a Big Five publisher, but also on the books shelves at every major bookstore in America, and number one on all of the best sellers lists. That day when writing is not only a tax write-off from your day job, but a lucrative pastime that could one day replace your day job.
But until that happens, expect to not make very much, if anything at all, on your hobby. (And even if, like me, you don’t view it as “a hobby,” until you’re making a mountain of money doing it, everyone else, from your family to the government, sees it that way.)
So while you are waiting for that big hit to come, you don’t have to write at a loss. Even if you haven’t been published yet, or if you have and your novel isn’t making any money, there are still ways to earn enough off your writing and keep your head afloat while you work toward getting a major book deal.
Above all else, remember your writing is a business. Treat it like one. Take risks and find ways to make money with it. Here are a few…
Just because you’re writing a novel doesn’t mean you have to stick with fiction. Freelancing is a great way to get your work out there in for public to see, and also make a couple of bucks doing so. There are nearly unlimited opportunities for freelancers too. Publications in every topic you can think of need to authors and you can find them anywhere from content mills, to highly respected (and decent paying) periodicals. If you’re looking for more information on freelancing, be sure to check out The Write Life, which is full of tips and advice for building your freelancing career.
Stop waiting and self-publish
Here’s another option if you want to get your book out there right now, and don’t want to spend years finding an agent, and then a publisher, and then a few years after that getting a royalty check. So why not try self-publishing? You get a much larger percent of sale per book, and have control over everything. And, really, when it comes to self-publishing, quantity just may be more important than quality. Put out as many books as quickly as you possibly can. That’s a luxury you won’t have waiting for a traditional publisher.
Sell short stories–and lots of them
This was what I used to do. I had ten short story acceptances in 2013 alone. Now there wasn’t very much money at all, but if you can write a ton of stories, say one every week, and start getting a bunch of pro or semi-pro sales, then, hey, you might be able to afford health insurance. Okay, maybe not that, but I bet you could at least cover a month’s worth of groceries.
You’re a writer, so you’ve got knowledge to share. Maybe offer proofreading services, or selling critiques on fivver. Try teaching a class on writing or publishing at the community college, or finding some speaking gigs that pay.
Try something else
We live in the greatest time for entrepreneurs in the history of the world. There are infinite ways to make money online. Try starting a youtube channel, a blog, a podcast, an ezine. See stuff on ebay. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Nobody will know (or care) if you fail. But just keep that end goal–that “write novels for a living” goal–in the back of your mind and make sure that everything you do is to keep making baby steps toward that goal.
What are your writing goals? How are you funding them? Or are you already making enough to get by on your writing? Either way, let us know in the comments section!