Writers have unlimited opportunities today. There’s never, ever been a better time to be a writer. Even new writers, if they’re halfway competent, can make six-figure incomes within a year or two. You can write for the web, become a copywriter, write and sell information products – so why write fiction?
My primary reason: FUN. I’ve always loved writing fiction. I started out as a romance novelist, many years ago. Telling stories is huge fun for me, it’s definitely not work. However, there’s another reason for writing fiction.
Write Fiction Because Your Words Can Make Money for You for Years.
I encourage my students to at least try fiction, because they can get paid for their words, years after they’ve written them. You can sit on the sofa, with a beverage in hand, and tap out a story. Who knows? You may hit the jackpot with your story, and make an incredible amount of money, as the Wilders did, or as H.M Ward does.
Jackpots aside, if you hit a groove with fiction, and can entertain, you’ll make a solid income – you don’t have to hit any bestseller lists. Readers in genres like romance are voracious. They read a lot. Build fans, and they’ll read everything you care to produce… and they’ll nag you to write more.
Let’s look at three ways you can make money writing fiction.
1. Write Novels: They’re an Investment in Your Future.
If Jane Austen were alive today, she’d laugh. She’s an industry, two hundred years after her death. Novels, if they’re entertaining, last.
Mid-list authors (authors published by major publishers who never have a bestseller) are tossing their backlists (already-published novels) onto Amazon as fast as they can, because books they wrote 20 and 30 years ago can make money for them today.
If you can provide entertainment for readers, you don’t need to be Hemingway. You can write in your own voice, and give readers an experience, and get paid. For years. What’s not to like about that?
2. Write Short Stories: Make Money in Your Spare Time.
If you haven’t got the patience or the stamina to write a novel, short stories let you make money from spare minutes. You can write a short story of 5,000 or 10,000 words, and sell it on Amazon. If I put my mind to it, and get a hot idea, I can write a story in a day – or the first draft of one, anyway.
Some of my students are writing a story a week, others write once a month. Either way, they’re turning their spare minutes into additional income.
3. Ghostwriting: Get Paid to Write Fiction for Others.
Here’s my favorite way to make money writing fiction. I’m ashamed to admit it really, because I should be writing stories for myself, and publishing them. Instead, I write stories for my ghostwriting clients. Why? Money. I enjoy writing, and I’m the perfect ghostwriter for that reason. I don’t care that my name isn’t on my stories. I’ve always found writing more fun than anything else, so when a client asks me to write, I happily get to work.
It’s easy to get seduced by ghostwriting. Remember however, that once you’ve been paid, you’ve lost all rights in your work. Your writing is “work done for hire.” That’s fine, if you like inflows of cash. However, it’s also bad, because you’re losing future income. Be aware of that, it’s the single biggest drawback to ghostwriting.
So, there you have it. Three ways to make money writing fiction. If you’ve never written a story, you’re wondering… can I write fiction? Stop wondering. Ask yourself: do I want to? If you read novels and short stories with pleasure, and want to write them, you CAN write fiction.
July 15, 2018 update
I wrote this article four years ago, and thought I’d need to make lots of revisions. Not so — this advice is still truly useful today if you’re making your first forays into writing fiction, or even if you’re an established novelist. Have fun. 🙂
All authors do; no one sets out to write a boring novel.
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