Can you use fiction writing to pay your bills? The short answer: yes you can. The longer answer: yes, you can, but you’ll need to plan for it, and accept that there are no guarantees.
I started my writing career as a romance novelist way back in the early 1980s. I loved to write, and gave myself ten years to get a romance novel published. If I hadn’t made it in ten years, I decided I’d give up writing. It didn’t take that long. I had a publishing contact within six months. Not because I’m particularly bright or talented, but because I had a plan.
Planning, plus determination, will get you anywhere you want to go. The Wilders made their planning work. CBS News reported that they were within 30 days of losing their home when they started writing fiction and self-published their ebooks on Amazon:
The e-books, which they self published, were a series of sometimes steamy romance novels. They started picking up buzz on the internet and quickly earned them enough to meet their $1,200 monthly mortgage payment.
“So we just started writing like mad,” Jasinda said. “And I think in like six months we put out 20 titles.”
Pay attention to what the Wilders wrote… and for that matter, what I wrote, when I decided that I would become a published author: romance.
Love Makes the World Go Round: Romance SELLS.
As you may know, I coach writers. By the time a writer comes to me, he’s frustrated, because something which should work isn’t working. Writers get frustrated with ebooks, for example, and it’s always for a simple reason – they don’t write what sells.
Romance fiction sells. So if you want to make money writing fiction: write romance. Here’s Amazon’s Top 100 Romance, Paid and Free, ebooks.
At one point, Virginia Wade was bringing in $16,000 to $20,000 a month — enough to make monster porn into a family business, as she employed her husband to lay out the stories, her father to edit the copy, and her mother to sometimes translate the sagas into foreign languages.
These days, ultra-kinky erotica is harder to sell. Amazon won’t promote stuff that’s hard-edged kink: you need to write longer stories, and focus on the romance aspect. Then you can be as kinky as you like. You’ll soon build a fan base.
And yes, if you’re wondering… by all means, use pen names for fiction that’s a little too much for you to acknowledge to friends and family.
Writing Romance to Pay Your Bills: Make a Plan.
Romance sells… but what if you don’t see yourself as a romance writer? Maybe you want to write fantasy, like George R.R. Martin, or cozy mysteries like Agatha Christie. Can you pay your bills with that? Yes you can, if you pay attention to what readers are reading, and why they’re reading it. Readers want entertainment when they read fiction. If you can entertain, you’ll sell. Since romance sells best, add a little romance to your fantasy or cozy mystery.
To help you with your writing and planning, I’ve created a new class, Hot, Hotter, Hottest: Write Bestselling Kindle Romances. Romances are huge fun to write, but can be a challenge too. The class lasts four weeks, plus six months of Kindle Romance Writer Weekly. You receive one issue a week.
I’ve been sending out weekly updates to my personal coaching students, so Kindle Romance Writer Weekly is just an extension of that. I spend hours each week researching; you get the benefit. Amazon’s a huge publishing machine for authors; when you’re writing fiction to pay the bills, you need to stay current with what’s working there, and elsewhere.
Writing Fiction Helps All Your Writing: It’s an Investment.
I gave up writing romances in the 1980s because publishers and literary agents frustrated me so much I almost gave up writing completely. These days, you don’t need publishers or agents. You can do it all yourself.
Here’s what I’ve found. Everything you write helps everything else. I found copywriting easy, because I was writing romances. I understood emotion, and how to engender it. My students discover that too: writing fiction helps all your writing.
So by all means, until writing fiction pays your bills, keep writing whatever it is you’re writing now. Look on fiction as an investment in your future. Yesterday, I gave you some romance novella writing tips. I said:
Please take this tip to heart. Create a series – novellas which are related in some way, or which feature a theme. The relationship can be direct: you’re writing about the romances of three sisters, or brothers. Or all your novellas are set in a single small town, or a city. Or there’s a mystery which you set up in the first novella in the series, then resolve in the final one.
It’s good advice – write in series. Each book sells the other. Every book is an investment in your future. Fiction writing can pay your bills; plan, and write, and it will happen.
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