You’re writing fiction, and you’d like to make money from your novels. I know that some writers are hesitant to admit their need for an income.
So, if writing is a merely a fun hobby for you, that’s perfectly fine. However, a commercial writer has a completely different mindset from a hobbyist, so don’t be afraid to admit that you’d like your fiction to be profitable. Then, develop a professional author’s mindset.
Four authors in our writers’ group have recently made the switch to writing fiction full-time, and we were all curious about how they did it.
Writing fiction for money: set your income goals
All four authors focused on their income goals. Three waited to quit their day jobs until their income from writing fiction surpassed their work income.
Not only did they set an income goal that they had to achieve before they quit full-time employment, they’ve also got strict income goals for this year, and for the next two years.
One author said that should her monthly income drop below a certain level, she’d immediately hunt for a part-time job. “My husband and I have three children, and a mortgage,” she told us. “I’m totally focused on my book sales. So, if they drop for whatever reason, I’ll be job hunting. It’s all about the income, for me.”
These tips are distilled from our group’s discussions.
1. Focus on writing novels in series: you need read-through, to build income
I found it fascinating that all four authors have put their focus on publishing series of novels. They all write in popular genres including the New Adult genre, and mysteries and thrillers.
One author said: “These days, I think in terms of multiple novels in a series. At least three — but the first book has to take off and sell well. If it doesn’t, I drop my plans for more books in that series.”
2. Price your books higher (all the authors did this)
“You can’t write fiction profitably if all your ebooks are priced at 99 cents,” an author said, “because then you can’t afford to advertise.” The others agreed.
They all price their novels and novellas at the upper levels of indie author pricing.
I can see their point. In my explorations on the Kindle Store, I’m seeing a lot more Kindle novels from mainstream publishers priced at $12.99 and above.
3. Write every day: you need to write and publish consistently
All four authors treat writing fiction just as they’d treat a full-time job. They write every day, and market every day too.
One author reported: “I spend three or four hours writing new material every day. The rest of the time, I’m editing, and marketing.”
4. Develop writing and editing workflows — grow your team
“You can’t do it alone.” All the authors agreed.
They hire editors and designers on the freelance marketplaces. One author has an editor on a monthly retainer, so that she gets first call on the editor’s time.
5. Focus on marketing yourself, and your entire catalogue
Here’s an excellent tip: promote yourself, and your entire catalogue.
“You never know when one of your books will take off,” an author reported. “I had a novel which I hoped would be the start of a series. It sold so poorly that I stopped writing the second in the series. Six months later, the novel took off — a blogger posted a review. So I went back and published the second book quickly. It’s now my bestselling series.”
The other authors agreed that:
- It’s essential to build a mailing list of readers;
- You need a Facebook page;
- Blogging helps to build a fan base;
- You need to spend a little money on advertising.