Making Money Writing

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 CreateSpace.com. 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.

Resources:
Writer’s Digest
CreateSpace
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?

Poetry.

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

Happy creating.

Putting It in Writing

I know and understand the need to put things in writing. So why don’t I do it more often?

For me, writing things out serves a variety of purposes.

1. It helps me to plan.

When I need to think things through and make a plan, it helps me to write it all out. I don’t mean type it on a computer. I mean get a notebook and pen and physically write it out longhand. Handwriting. Cursive.

There is something about the flow of the pen on the paper, the scratching of the nib, the feel of the pen in my hand and the paper under my hand, that ties me to the moment. It’s very tactile. And that becomes very important in the planning process. I can touch something and feel connected, down-to-earth instead of pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking.

2. It helps me to remember.

Up until about a year ago, I didn’t have any trouble with my memory. But the last six months at one particular job changed that. It was high stress. OK. It was always high stress, but the last six months were more high stress than usual. I started forgetting things. Simple things. And, honestly, that scared me. So I started writing things down that I absolutely had to remember.

I’m out of that job and no longer have such high stress levels, so my memory has been improving, but I guess writing things down became a habit, so I still do it.

3. It helps with my writing.

That sounds silly. Writing helps with writing? Of course it does! But let me explain.

There are some things that I cannot just type on the computer as I think them up. Poems are in this list. I have to write poems out longhand first. Then I revise them. Then I type them in the computer and revise as I type. And they will probably go through another revision after that.

There are also some story segments that are sticky, meaning they don[t really want to be written the way I’m writing them, so they go into a notebook first, too. If I’m writing nonfiction (like I’ve been doing a lot lately), sometimes I have to write around the subject before I can get straight to the point. It helps to write that out longhand, too, instead of dumping it all into a manuscript and then having to edit it out later.

These are my main reasons for putting things in writing. Do you have any to add to it?