Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Making Money as a Writer

Unless your name is Grisham or Steele or Rollings, you may not be making much, if any, money writing books. Authors must be prolific, and have excellent marketing skills or someone to do that for them.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make money as a writer. Freelance writers who write newspaper and magazine articles can develop a nice income by treating their writing as a full-time job. You must constantly be putting out queries, doing interviews, and writing articles. I have been a freelance writer, and although I didn’t work at it full-time, I managed to bring in extra money to contribute to the household income.

My money-making “job” now is mainly freelance editing. Again, I’m not working at it full-time, as I’m still trying to be an author as well. Editing takes knowledge and experience and a certain skill. Not everyone can jump into this field. It also takes time to build a clientele. I worked at acquiring clients for several years before they started coming to me. I love this work, and I love helping other writers improve their manuscripts.

Another thing I do to earn extra “pin money” is teach classes in beginning fiction and memoir writing. After I took a university course in fiction writing, I wanted to share what I had learned with my fellow writers in my community. So, with great trepidation and my heart pounding like a drum, I put a notice in the newspaper, sent e-mails to all my writing acquaintances and started a class. I had ten students in that first eight-week session, and about half of them followed me through that year and the next. I found I also loved doing these classes and sharing what I know with others.

I remember there was a book out a number of years ago titled “Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow.” I’ve found that is true. But it takes patience and perseverance. It doesn’t happen overnight.

A native Montanan, Heidi M. Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. Her first novel, Cowgirl Dreams, is based on her grandmother, and the sequel, Follow the Dream, has recently won the national WILLA Award. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing, and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, blogs, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series.

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  1. I'm doing what I love, so I assume the money is following ... but it is so easy to throw off the trail that it must terrible at tracking.

  2. Good for you, Heidi! Thanks for sharing. I love my freelance editing job (mostly novels), especially now that I've built it up to the point that I accept only genres that I would read on my own (suspense/thrillers and other crime fiction, as well as YA and historical fiction) and I can turn down (with some free advice) clients who just aren't ready for the copyediting stage, or whose stories don't spark my interest. And it's great to be able to set my own hours and work at my home computer (in my sweats) when there's a storm outside or it's too hot to go out!

  3. I have always believed that even if you aren't self-employed, or paid more for having them, your skills as a writer make you more valuable at your day job. And in this economic climate, anything that can make you more valuable to your employer is a plus!

  4. Well said! I, too, am beginning to realize that writing books is satisfying to me, but not sustaining. I'm reaching out to proofread and edit for authors, and am having small, beginning success with that.

    I also review books at my blog, not for a fee but for the pleasure of sharing other indie writers' works with readers.


  5. Since I've been a freelancer for so long with lots of jobs and clients, the writing life is just a continuation of the art world, only the product has changed to writing, editing, teaching, and other publishing services. You have to like lots of varying income streams rather than one regular paycheck to survive and even thrive in this career.

  6. Like you, I don't work at my freelance writing full time, but when the jobs do surface and I get paid, it's the best, because I'm getting paid for doing what I love. I'm writing a paid article right now that I adore...but for this piece, I've immersed myself in it so much, if I actually averaged out the time spent vs. the actual pay, I'd never break even. I don't care though, because of the joy writing it has given me.

  7. I would never offer to be an editor, since that's too much responsibility. I have enough trouble getting my own manuscripts ready, and doing someone else's would be nervewracking.

    I've done speeches at libraries as a way of making extra money, and really should think of setting a few more up, come to think of it.

    Morgan Mandel

  8. Thank you all for your comments! I appreciate what you share too.


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