Sunday, October 3, 2010

Yes, you can make a living as a fiction author

The other day I was reading a blog about fiction writing and authors. The blogger was bemoaning the fact that it's tough for fiction writers to find a paying market today. There are fewer and fewer paying magazines and online e-zines that pay anything. The economy and current changes in technology are forcing book publishers, and even literary agents, to pass on many books and authors.

I say all that is hogwash.

It's the best time ever to be a fiction writer.

What makes me say this? Several factors.

For one, that changing technology I mentioned above is mainly the recent arrival of easy digital publishing. Anyone, even a writer who has never been professionally published, can now upload their files onto Amazon at its DTP service and at Barnes and Noble's Pubit service, which makes those books available for sale to the general e-book reading public.

Also, there are several content publishing websites such as Triond where one can self publish their fiction.

Yes, yes, we all know the stories about how awful self-published stories and books are. But that's changing. Sure, there is still plenty of drek out there, but more and more self-published authors are hiring professional editors to edit their work, and some are hiring professional artists and designers to do the covers for their books and e-books. The self-publishing world is changing, too, and many self-published books are better than they would have been just a few years ago, despite the stigma that sometimes goes along with self-published books.

Best yet, these self-published authors can actually make money through their digital e-books. Can one make a living at it? Yes. But there are four things a self-published author must have to succeed:


As mentioned above, a self-published author must have quality material. They must learn their craft and know it well. For some this is easy. For others, it might takes years of study and writing and reading before they are ready to publish. Most professionals attend college for several years and/or have an apprenticeship period that can last as long as a couple of years, so why shouldn't writers also give themselves at least that much time to become good at their craft? Also, it helps to know how to editor your own work and how to design book covers, though you can hire out that work or ask accomplished acquaintances to help in this regard. Remember, you want your material to be professional, because that will bring more readers and bring back readers.


Some writers are bored with marketing. Others absolutely hate it. But if you want to make a living as a writer, it's something you're going to have to do. What's the secret? There really isn't one. Different tactics work for different writers. Some writers find success with blogging, others use social networking, some by advertisements or post on others' blogs. There are tons of different ways to market yourself and your writing, many of them for little or no cost. Just keep in mind that marketing is important because you need to get your name and your books' names out there to potential readers, but always keep in mind you don't want to antagonize possible customers by spamming and being annoying online.


For many writers, this is the hardest part. The waiting. In the old, pre-digital, days, writers had to have oodles of patience. Sometimes they'd have to wait months or years just to hear back from a publisher or literary agent. Today, if you decide to go the traditional print publishing route, you still have to face all that waiting. But there is another option, and that's digitally self publishing your work. Still, you have to have patience. Once you've written your book, edited it and uploaded to online sites, and done tons of marketing, you still have to wait. Readers aren't going to just come rolling in by the hundreds. It takes time. You're going to have to keep marketing, blogging, writing more, doing whatever it takes each and every day to make sure potential readers know about your work. And guess what, eventually people will start to notice. It might take a few months, maybe even a year or so, but if you have quality material, readers will eventually take note and your sales will start coming through.


Yes, you want quality. That's most important, and it should come first. But you also want quantity. What does this mean? Basically, the more books or short stories you have online making money for you, the better chance you have of being able to make a living as a fiction author. How many e-books will it take for you to making a living writing? Who knows? It all depends upon how large an audience will come flocking to read your books. For some lucky authors, one or two books will bring in enough readers and money, but for most authors it's going to take several books. So, again, remember to be patient and to keep working at it.

Related links
New for epic fantasy fans, The Kobalos Trilogy
There's nothing wrong with writing for money
Logical Misanthropy, horror and fantasy author's blog

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