1. Daryl
    Offline

    Daryl Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Spartanburg, SC

    making a living as a writer

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Daryl, Jan 25, 2012.

    hey guys..first of all i would like to thank everyone on here who is willing to share their knowledge and insights..you guys have been a tremendous help...anyway i was wondering,considering the tough economic times and the slew of writers out there, do you all think it's possible to make a living as a self published author..wen i say make a living i'm not talkin 6 figure incomes and all that but about the same as a regular 9-5 job say 25000-35000 a year..what do you guys think?
     
  2. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    Most commercially published authors can't live off their writing. From what I've heard from SPs themselves, the income is far less.
     
  3. Kallithrix
    Offline

    Kallithrix Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    Messages:
    394
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    UK
    Self published? Not a chance. You'd have to shift thousands of books at ebook prices to make that in a year, and you just wouldn't have the marketing clout to do it.

    A historical fiction author I know is now on his 7th or 8th novel, the last couple of which were bestsellers, and he has only recently started to make a decent living from writing alone. He is contracted to write 2 books a year, and I suppose he might make that figure on each.

    Self publishing might get you a little bit of pocket money, but we're talking hundreds rather than thousands of dollars.
     
  4. Daryl
    Offline

    Daryl Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Spartanburg, SC
    ok..thanks...
     
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    yup!... just about impossible to make a decent living as a self-published fiction author...

    some can do it with non-fiction, as in self-help and how-to books, but it's still only an extremely rare few drops in the oceans of writers who self-publish...

    the odds against it are almost as bad for all breeds of traditionally published book writers, as well... and even worse for freelancers... probably about the same as winning a mega-jackpot lottery, or becoming a super star athlete...
     
  6. Link the Writer
    Offline

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2009
    Messages:
    11,223
    Likes Received:
    4,228
    Location:
    Alabama, USA
    To be honest, you should have a job while you're published. If one flops, you have a source of revenue, a way to keep yourself going. That's what I plan on doing.
     
  7. Cosmic Latte
    Offline

    Cosmic Latte Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2012
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Under the starry, starry sky...
    Check out the U.S. Department of Labor for stats on hourly wages. Last I looked, I think Technical Writers had the highest average pay nationwide. I don't know if self-published authors are listed in their stats, though.
     
  8. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,323
    Location:
    California, US
    Write non-fiction, Daryl. It is possible to make a living doing that (technical writing, copywriting, business writing, and the like). It can bring in a stream of income while you are trying to sell fiction.
     
  9. spamalope01
    Offline

    spamalope01 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2011
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Birmingham, Alabama
    I'm not wanting to start an argument, but I'm not sure all the advice presented here is entirely accurate. Well, let me rephrase....I'm sure some of the experiences cited are accurate. However I think that it is entirely possible to make a living as a self published writer with no backing of a major house. Is it easy to do? Hell no. But it's completely possible. If you need proof or stories of this kind of success, look at JA Konrath's blog. http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ This guy started as a published writer backed by a house, yeah, but he's gone on to champion self publishing and ebooks. Now, I'm not telling you to read his blog for his success story....but for others. Konrath has regularly had self published, never been pubbed by a publishing house writers as guest bloggers on his site. They post their story, and they talk numbers and several of them - people who have never had an agent or a contract - are outselling HIM. And he makes bank.

    Yeah it's possible. It's just hard as hell. You have to do all your own marketing (but let's face it, you'll have to do that if you get a contract by a major house too, because they are not going to pump a lot of money into promoting an unknown), and you'll have to get extremely lucky to make sales (but, again, you'd have to get extremely lucky to make sales if you get a traditional publishing contract)....but it's absolutely doable. It just boils down to a few things:

    1. Write a damn good book.
    2. Present the book professionally. This means having a pro cover designer do the cover, hire a proofreader and a formatter (you need this for both ebook and print).
    3. Write a damn good book.
    4. How badly do you want this? If you want it that badly, you'll increase web presence, you'll work on blogging, reviews, getting your work reviewed, spreading the word about your work.

    This applies to both fiction and non fiction.

    You can do it. But you have to work at it. They're not going to just hand you their money. You gotta earn it.
     
  10. art
    Offline

    art Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    113
    Do we know of a non-fiction equivalent of duotrope?
     
  11. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,323
    Location:
    California, US
    Not so much like Duotrope, but I made a fair amount of money doing freelancing on Elance back when I was doing that sort of thing. There are other similar sites.
     
  12. miss sunhine
    Offline

    miss sunhine Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2012
    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    norwich, UK
    Well you can't really.
    If you took English at University you could think about Journalism or teaching, the education would help you as a writer.
    I'm not interested at all in Journalism or teaching but my fav Genres to write are Crime and Thriller so next year i'm studying Forensic Science at University. It interests me, i'd loved doing it, and i get some real experiece for my writing.
    So you have to work round it if you can.
    xxx
     
  13. art
    Offline

    art Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Messages:
    1,159
    Likes Received:
    113
    Cheers!
     
  14. AmsterdamAssassin
    Offline

    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2011
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    If you want to be a commercially successful writer, the best way is to churn out non-fiction articles and columns. Fiction is way too fickle to generate dependable income. That doesn't mean you cannot earn enough money to live on, but you'll have to surf the tides and be good at it to survive the waves.

    5. Don't wait for your first book to strike it rich, but keep on writing.
    6. Write regularly, so you turn out as many books as you can per year. Most writers average one or two a year, but the more the better to spread your chances.
    7. Don't mess up your web presence by bad-mouthing anyone - especially reviewers or critics who bomb your book. It's bad form, and these days your embarrasment will go viral.
    8. Don't be obsessed about numbers. Sales, income, ratings. Just keep writing.
    9. Don't get pulled into the 'traditional publishing' versus 'self-publishing' contest. Both have good points and bad.
    10. Don't get enthusiastic about statistics. Remember: there's lies, damn lies, and statistics.
     
  15. shadowwalker
    Offline

    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    3,299
    Likes Received:
    851
    That's kinda like saying you can make a living as a commercially published author - just look at Stephen King. Yeah, it's possible. Probable?
     
  16. Daryl
    Offline

    Daryl Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Spartanburg, SC
    oh wow..after the first couple posts i was a bit disheartened to say the least..i really like what you're saying spamalope01..i didnt expect it to be easy but my god it has to be some kind of doable..lol..it's true we write fro the love of writing, but so do actors and musicians and artists, and i rekon these fields are jsut as dfficult to break into but its doable none the less.. so thanks for all the advice on here and i'm definitely going to read this blog you posted....
     
  17. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,323
    Location:
    California, US
    Daryl:

    It is doable, but in all likelihood it is going to take quite a long time and quite a lot of work to get to the point where you are making a living. It may also take a certain amount of luck. There won't be any guarantees. I thought you wanted something more immediate and certain as a way of making a living in writing while you are moving along the path of a fiction writer. For that, you can make some decent money pretty quickly with the non-fiction areas I mentioned above, if you're good at what you are doing.
     
  18. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,997
    Likes Received:
    5,506
    There are jobs where you can study and work and be reasonably confident of making a decent living, barring a bad economy or your whole industry vanishing. Nursing, teaching, electrician, programmer, and hundreds more. In general, these tend to be the jobs that expand as the population expands.

    And there are "struck by lightning" careers where a few people make a lot of money, and most people make pocket money or no money. In general, these tend to be the jobs where a single person in the job can "serve" millions of people - like an author, artist, musician, movie or TV actor, and so on.

    I would not recommend _planning_ on making a living in a "struck by lightning" career. Work on it, sure. Even make it your very largest life priority to maximize your odds, sure. But expect to have to make your actual eating-and-rent money some other way for a very long time, and possibly forever.
     
  19. Doug Moore
    Offline

    Doug Moore New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2012
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have to agree with spamalope01. It is possible but... I think to accomplish this ($25,000 to $35,000 per year) with one novel is not likely. There are a lot of very talented newbies out there that believe all they have to do is write the novel, jump in with Kindle and hope the algorithms are favourable. Not so, but if you had more than one title to offer, lets say five well written with a good plots and strong characters,maybe. You could offer one book for free which would be a great draw to your other novels. Kindle Select allows you to offer your book free for five days or you could price match by offering one free on Smashwords. Watch the threads on Kindleboards. Some of the authors are sharing their numbers when they join Select and use their promo days. Some of the numbers are amazing. I don't market my book 'Playing God' near enough.I would say my issues are fairly common amongst indie writers. Most are restricted for time because they have full-time jobs,houses to keep up,kids to drive around,and maybe squeeze in a little reading and writing every day.

    Just for a reference my Kindle ranking has been as low as 43,000 but normally hovers around 200,000-300,000 and I still haven't paid for the beer it took to write it let alone the cover and editing costs. If there is someone here that cracks 1,000 and maintains that ranking they might have a better insight. I know I would be interested in their sales figures.

    To make the kind of coin you're talking you would have to have; more than one well written novels, market the hell out of them offering one for free and with over 4,000,000 titles on Kindle to weed through some luck with those algorithms I spoke of.

    Also:I don't know South Carolina that well,drove through it a couple times but in Canada if you only made $25,000-$35,000 a year you'd be living in squalor. If you could earn this amount you might likely still need to have a full or part-time gig.
     
  20. juherz
    Offline

    juherz New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec
    This is a topic I've been thinking about recently as well; money and writing. I think the key to turning writing into money is to be creative about it. Three separate ideas I'm entertaining:

    1. I recently read an article called Finding Money For Your Dreams" which proposes applying for lots and lots of grants. Perhaps we can't turn writing directly into money right away, but perhaps we can find good ways to support our writing, so that we can write full-time, perfect our art, churn out lots and lots of material, etc.

    2. Along the same line of thought, a friend recently showed me the site http://www.kickstarter.com/ I haven't exactly figured out HOW it could be used to support writing, but it would be a fun thing to brainstorm. I mean, if you come up with a really cool writing project that SPEAKS to people, and ask for support in this, there's a good chance that a few people might donate? Maybe?

    3. A recent discussion about money with a friend and mentor of mine, yielded the following. He said, "What problem are you solving?" People pay money for having a problem solved. I get a headache, I go buy some aspirin. It's not a bad idea to ask ourselves what "problem" our writing is addressing? Boredom, maybe? It's good to be clear about our writing. Along the same lines I came across this free 5-email marketing course here: http://ittybiz.com/free-marketing-courses/ It asks a bunch of really good questions, definitely worthwhile considering. And it's fun, because they have a course directed specifically towards writers at the very bottom.

    I think in the end it's really easy to get "stuck" in the regular strategies. But perhaps our creativity shouldn't just be expressed in our writing, but also in how we get our writing out there. Maybe there's so many more avenues that we think about, all untapped and unexplored?

    I'd really love to hear your thoughts on this. This is currently a big topic in my life. Writing is what's programmed into me somehow ... and I'd like to make a living off it, without having to resort to writing boring words about things I don't care about. If that makes sense?
     
  21. Mark_Archibald
    Offline

    Mark_Archibald Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2012
    Messages:
    185
    Likes Received:
    3
    You have to ask yourself why you write. Is it because you have the talent and this is what you love to do.

    Or do you dream of being rich and famous and think of writing as your vehicle there.

    If you have a passion for the art and the talent good bounces will come your way.
     
  22. AmsterdamAssassin
    Offline

    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2011
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    As to supporting yourself while you write - I opted for the least amount of labor while working and worked as a security officer for office buildings [they also have surveillance and dog handlers and stuff, but that takes up too much time]. During night shifts, the only rule was to remain awake and alert enough to respond to calamities - fire, electricity, network - and 99% of those eight-hour shift left me six hours for writing/research. My plan was to slowly build up an audience and generate more income, then start working part-time at security.
    I still haven't published [my first novel is at Tor, for consideration, the sequel is work in progress], but my wife prefers working ICT over being a housewife, so now I'm a househusband, I have a consulting agency in conflict resolution and self-defense, and I write.

    So, get an easy job that generates enough money to provide for you [and your family] and requires the least amount of actual labor. Or marry someone who's willing to provide for you.
     
  23. juherz
    Offline

    juherz New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec
    A friend once told me that this is how Ken Kesey wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Just hearsay though.

    I did the same as you: least amount of work possible with the maximum amount of time available. Although I usually opted for seasonal jobs where I would work intensely and then have the rest of the year off. There too lie a lot of options. And like was said above, ... if you love what you do, then you'll find a way to do it...
     
  24. AmsterdamAssassin
    Offline

    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2011
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    According to Wikipedia:
    As to working 'low/menial' jobs that allow plenty of time for rumination/planning/writing, I had a family member criticize me - he thought I was ridiculous for calling myself a writer while I worked full time as a security officer, a job that I wasn't interested in, and I still wasn't published. I told him it takes a few years to learn the craft of writing, and another few to actually write a publishable novel. I could've applied for grants or just applied for unemployment benefits, but I thought working and writing was more honorable. He thought I should get work at a publishing house. Apart from the fact that my [lack of specialized] education would work against me, I was also too old and therefore too expensive. And what would I do, if I would be hired by a publisher? Read other's people's manuscripts all day, while I really wanted to write my own?
     
  25. juherz
    Offline

    juherz New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec
    Ah, so much for hearsay. I did hear about him taking drugs at the time. Well, in any case, the book is amazing!

    It's funny how few people realize how much training it takes to write well. Just because we can all type words. We wouldn't really expect a dancer to be world-famous after less than years of training. And I think this same thing gets beginning writers down so much ... we all have such high expectations of ourselves, immediately!

    Another bit of hearsay: it takes 10,000 hours of time investment to become a genius at anything. That's quite a few years.

    This comment suddenly reminded me of the film maker Werner Herzog, who I guess has a different sense of "honorable."

    (From http://www.nerve.com/entertainment/2009/11/17/five-reasons-werner-herzog-is-more-badass-than-chuck-norris)
     

Share This Page