Can You Make A Living As A Writer?


I am the first to say I live a very fortunate life. I get to do what I love as a job and its something that most people dream of doing ‘later.’ It seems that everyone has a book in them, but very few get to write it.

When I say I am a full time writer/author, I get asked a couple of questions. One of them is this: Can you make a living as a writer?

The answer is yes, and no.

Over the last ten or so years, the writing industry has changed a lot. You can now self-publish or hybrid publish. Because of the internet and social media, you can do a lot of marketing yourself too. There are an ever increasing number of authors out there, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those authors are getting noticed.

If you are lucky enough to get picked up by a publishing house, congrats! But regardless of whether you are a self-publisher, hybrid-publisher or an optioned author, you are going to have to do some of the footwork yourself. The more you market, the more you sell. The more author appearances you do, the more you sell. And that is the bit that most of us ‘writer types’ hate.

Most authors make their money off royalties, but the stats are saying that the number of authors who solely write for a living is falling. My take on it is this: You can make a living as a writer, but not necessarily as an author. How do you do it? Here are a few tips:

1. Try your hand at copy-writing. This means helping people out by writing their website copy, their brochures or other publications. This can attract a decent hourly rate. You are still writing for a living. You just aren’t writing your stuff for a living.

2. Try writing for publications. There are magazines and journals that welcome contributors and pay them for their work. I am actually submitting a couple of short stories University made me write to such publications. I hate them. But if they make me $500 then who cares! It also means that I get to add to my resume that my short stories were accepted for publication. I also did a two year stint for a lifestyle magazine as one of their lead feature writers. Handy on a resume and they paid per word. It wouldn’t take me long to knock out an article if I knew what I was talking about, but it was great for exposure.

3. Ghostwriting. This is my favourite! Because I get to do it. I fell on my feet helping someone write a completely dynamic book that is going to change lives! Honestly, I can’t believe my luck. Not only is the subject matter amazing, but it is something I believe in. I can’t tell you much more about it, but I can tell you that ghostwriting is one way many writers make their living. Ghostwriting isn’t for the faint-hearted though. You do the hard yards. You get inside the ‘authors’ head and pull out information you may not have any prior knowledge of. You go on a journey of discovery. You agonize over every word. And at the end of the day it isn’t your name that goes on the cover. For me, that doesn’t matter though. The piece I am working on is going to help so many people and at the end of the day, that is what writing is about to me.

Ghostwriters usually charge per hour and its anything from $35 to $200 depending on how experienced and reputable the ghostwriter is. (This in itself is something interesting, because ghosts tend to keep their publications secret. One guy who broke through this boundary is a man by the name of Andrew Crofts who was so good at what he did, his name was often demanded on the cover beside the primary author.)

4. Market the heck out of your own work. If you are under a publishing house, they will help you with this. You will get a royalty, often a small one but this may be offset by the advance on your next book. If you are hybrid publishing, the publishing partner will take their cut of the profits, and after costs, the rest is yours. Your cut is lower, but trust me, its worth it. Doing distribution and all the marketing yourself is a pain. If you are a self-publisher, its all on you! But so are the profits. Really, its opportunity cost.

So there you have it. There are ways to make a living as a writer. They might just be a bit different to what you think.

Have a fab day all!



(Originally published at my author site:

P.S. I got my hard cover book samples and book stubs today. They look FAB! So exciting. If you haven’t gotten your hands on a copy of Shadows yet, get across here! You won’t regret it.


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