Are you a novelist, short story writer or essayist? Do you do it for love or money? Both?
The bar for publishing is lower than ever. All you need is internet access and a few instructions from WordPress or Blogspot. But making a living at writing? Not so easy. Nowadays even J.K. Rowling would have a hard time breaking into the business.
It isn’t enough to write. Writers who want to get paid need to produce work that people are willing to pay for, and, usually, to be willing to advertise themselves, their work, and their publisher, be it indie or traditional big name companies. See this cautionary tale by best selling author Claire Cook, Why I Left My Mighty Agency and New York Publishers (for now), featured this week in Jane Friedman’s blog for writers.
Marketing isn’t for everyone. Ken Kesey found writing to advertise so demeaning that after publishing two epic novels, Sometimes a Great Notion and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, he quit.
Not deterred? Do you write because you can’t help yourself, even if it means marketing yourself or a publisher?
OK then. How to improve the chances of making money?
1. Write well. You produce a sloppy novel, you’re toast.
2. Help readers find you by writing within a genre. Ideally it is a genre you enjoy writing in.
3. Set up Twitter and Facebook accounts, or other social media of your choice, and start a blog, if you haven’t already.
4. Learn to write blurbs. Engage people with just a few words. E-mails, blog posts, twitter and Facebook are the venues for this. Be able to summarize your plot line or subject matter in a pithy sentence or two.
5. As soon as you finish writing one book, start the next one, even if the first one is the most amazing piece of authorship ever. The next one will be better.
6. Focus on getting published. Don’t worry about being discovered — not until you have a dozen works of whatever, articles, novellas, short fiction. Readers who like one thing you write will move to other things you’ve written. This is much better than brow beating people to read your latest creation.
7. Give your stuff away for free. Don’t ask people to buy it. Invite them to read it. If you’re good, they’ll want more.
8. Exhaust potential formats for your completed masterpiece. Release an audio version. Use CreateSpace. Publish printed copies.
9. Be nice. Support other authors, bloggers, Twitter feeders and Facebookers. Promote them. Thank them. No cheating. Being nice just because you want to be rewarded for it won’t work. You will be rewarded, if you are genuine.
10. Work hard. Keep writing, tweeting, blogging, even when you don’t feel like it, even when you have no followers, even when you’ve gotten a hundred rejections. Edit several times, then have someone else edit.
11. Have fun.
What’s your advice for writing to sell? Who inspires you?