Making Money Writing

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Photo of reporter’s notebook by grafixtek on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

Yesterday, a friend contacted me on Facebook Messenger with a question.

My daughter is interested in trying to publish a book she’s working on. Short stories and poems. She asked if i knew anyone that did that and of course you popped in my head. If it’s not too personal, can you tell me if you make money doing that? And what the process to do so is?

The thing of it is, there’s no simple answer.

Can you make money writing? Yes and no, because it depends on what you want to write and how much you market yourself. As a preliminary, I told her this:

The short answer is that some types of writing can and do make money. I haven’t made much because marketing intimidates the hell out of me. Even the big names have to do self-promotion. As for how to do it, take a look at They’re pretty easy to use. The way I do it with their self-guided process doesn’t cost anything unless I order books.

Yes, I know marketing shouldn’t intimidate me. That’s really not the point here. (Plus I’m working on that and getting better at it.)

One of the biggest things to remember is that writing is just the beginning of the work. How many revisions and edits you go through will vary from project to project. And then there’s the whole publishing process.

Now, like I said in my original answer to my friend, most of my stuff is published using CreateSpace, so I follow the process laid out in their self-guided system. I don’t talk to anyone in customer support, so it doesn’t cost me anything until I order books.

I almost said the work of marketing/self-promotion starts then, but, really, you need to be doing that all along. Be talking about it on your social media platform(s). I mainly use Twitter and Facebook, but I do occasionally post writing-related stuff, especially when I have a new book out, on LinkedIn. The more you talk about it, the more interest you generate, which will (hopefully) translate into sales down the road.

Take a lesson from me: Don’t be shy about marketing and self-promotion. Most of the big names even have to promote themselves. Except maybe Stephen King.

So, what makes the most money?

Mostly, nonfiction. Followed by romance. I did a Google search on the question “what kind of writing makes the most money?” Just click the link to see the search results.

The funny thing (to me) about the timing of this question is that I’ve been thinking about that. Making money writing.

A few years ago, I taught a class through the community education program at the local college. The name of it? “Make Money Writing.” In it, I talked mostly about writing for magazines, the query process, researching articles, finding other resources, etc. I’ve been thinking about moving that online, either as a video course or an email series.

Let me know if there’s any interest in that and which format would be best.

I promised my friend a list of resources. I’ve been thinking about how to narrow that down because I have enough that I could probably fill a book with just links. I’ve decided to just list the top 5. Links will open in a new window. If you have a pop-up blocker, hold the Ctrl key down when you click it so it will open.

Writer’s Digest
Purdue Online Writing Lab
Ralan (market listing)
Help a Reporter (more for nonfiction, though can be useful for fiction)

There are a lot more I could add, but the sheer mountain of information available just from these resources can be overwhelming enough.

By the way, in speaking of making money writing, the type of writing that traditionally makes the least amount of money?


However, with that said, if you’re just writing for the money, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.

Happy creating.

6 thought on “Making Money Writing”

  1. Alice Gerard

    I do some freelance writing for a local newspaper and also I maintain a blog, which is a variety of different writing styles, although mostly nonfiction. Although I realize that one should write just to make money, it would be nice to be paid for my work! I’ll check out some of these ways to make money for writing.

    1. jencnipps Post author

      I definitely agree about getting paid. This chick doesn’t work for free. The advice here is mostly intended for someone just getting started. If they start out with expecting to make money, they’re going to get tired of it quickly and burn out before they get started.

  2. Jeanine Byers

    I have a few books on Amazon but have only sold one of them, and even that one, was less than 10. So the struggle is real. If you were going to develop an online course (which is what I am about to do, myself), I would suggest video, audio, writing, and checklists, worksheets, etc. All of it by the time it’s all over. 🙂

    1. jencnipps Post author

      I think you’re right. On the courses I’ve taken that were email only, they weren’t really dynamic enough. It takes more than text anymore.

  3. Martha

    I have written some poems, mostly from live experiences or from looking at a picture. I would love to compile them in a book, not for money, just to share with others.

    1. jencnipps Post author

      Depending on how you want to share it, you could get a print book via CreateSpace, an ebook on Kindle via Kindle Direct Publishing, or save it as a PDF on your computer and distribute it to people who want it that way.


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