I know there are several people in Creative Writers that (like myself) want to make a full-time career as a writer. Today I had a conversation with an author, Candace Ayers, who had posted on Facebook, “I make six figures a year from royalties. It supports my family very comfortably. I don’t love writing. It’s not my passion. But, I like it okay and love the lifestyle it provides me.”
This made me curious. I wanted to know how she’d managed to build a six-figure income from writing. I asked her if she had an article on the subject (I didn’t want to tread on her toes) and got this amazing response:
“I haven’t written an article about it, but I can share a few of what I consider important tips on the way I do it.
1. I write to market. In other words, I don’t write what I know, what I feel, or what I like to write about. I write what there’s already a market for. It’s easy to scour Amazon for best sellers and study what readers want. There’s a book by Chris Fox on the subject, which I haven’t read but gives more info on this.
2. I don’t just write because I’m in the mood, or have free time. It’s my job. I have to plan. Planning is not my strong suit, but I do the best I can. After letting the market dictate what I’m going to write, I plot, divide the plot into chapters, and determine how many words I’ll write each week, or each day, and as Nike says, “Just do it.”
3. Quality. This is tricky because almost every writer that ever existed improves on the quality of their work by writing. My aim is always improvement. However, I don’t recommend waiting until you have the perfect book written and perfectly edited before you publish. I recommend getting right in there and getting your feet wet. Write one; self-publish it; move on. I have a slew of novellas that I wrote early on that are still published and still earn money. Not my best work, and I’ve improved since, but my best is yet to come.
4. I highly recommend watching the YouTube video by Michael Anderle. The man’s brilliant, and shares generously.
5. Learn some easy and inexpensive ways to market your books. Lots out there on that subject, and I have only one caveat: you can spend a lot of money for little return if you’re not discerning.
6. Very important, and I believe it’s in line with what Dave Probert was saying in this post: There’s a reason I do this that transcends money. (Don’t get me wrong, I also do this for the money!) For me, it’s not the love of writing. I honestly believe I’m providing a service. I’m providing value to people, and I get occasional emails from readers to remind me. One that stands out was from a woman who emailed me the day after one of my books was published telling me how much she enjoyed it. I emailed back thanking her and telling her I was shocked she’d read it so quickly. She responded that she’d read all my books (I had almost 30 at the time). She told me her son had committed suicide 8 weeks prior, and she was grateful she had my books to escape to and help her cope. While this is probably the most poignant email I’ve received thanking me, it is certainly not the only one.
One more thing… #7. As with almost every other profession, with writing, you don’t have to be great, you just have to do it.”
Here’s a few additional tips of my own:
- If you’re worried that selling books to make money like this would tarnish your brand as an author, then use a pseudonym (a pen-name).
- You can take your time and make sure your work is beyond reproach before you hit ‘print’, or write what you want to write instead of what’s popular if you want, but it’ll take longer to reach your goal. Candace has been doing this for only two-and-a-half years and is now earning over $150,000 per year.
- Schedule time to work as if it’s your job because it is. If you’re currently unemployed, set yourself a full 35-40 hour week. If you have to fit writing into your busy work life, set yourself 7-9 hours, with breaks and a lunch hour, on your days off.
- Keep using the Creative Writers group to help you improve your writing, test your characters, check your wording, and tighten up your language. We’re a valuable resource. Don’t waste it.
- Research this method of writing, but don’t spend so much time researching that you don’t actually write. You’ll learn a lot more from reader feedback after you hit ‘send’ than you would just to read about writing.
- When Creative Writer’s Press has worked out the bugs (hopefully once we’ve published Monolith), we can help you with the marketing. Any book sold through CWP will have a recognisable brand on the cover, and a page recommending other books from Creative Writers’ Press.
- Whether you go through us or not, it’s vital that you listen to customer feedback and write what they want. The best way to market your books is through word of mouth. If people like you, they’ll buy everything you put out and recommend you to friends. They’ll tell you what they want.
Personally, I’m excited to get started. What do you think of this method though? Are there any better ways to build your income? Any tips you’d like to add? Leave your comments below.