If you’re a writer or a wanna-be writer, there’s one question you’ve asked yourself probably dozens of times…
How Can I Make It as a Writer?
I know. I ask myself this same question continually.
I know most of the answers already, but I cannot help but ask myself daily because I’m not really sure I’m a writer yet. I’ve made a living doing many different things over the last 19 years. I’ve created websites filled with content and written 30+ books at Amazon. I’ve sold books other places as well – Apple, Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and even on my own selling ebooks from my websites. I’ve made a couple of hundred thousand dollars selling my books, and yet I’m still yearning for some confirmation that I’m a writer.
Here’s something I found today that blew my mind a bit. This is just sales at Amazon for ebooks and print books over the last 7 years…
Writers are weird – aren’t we?
I’ve had a contract with a website owner for about 18 months now, writing content for his Thailand travel website. It pays pretty well and the writing is fun, and it’s paying about 33% of our expenses per month, so it’s a good gig to hang onto. The guy pays in advance in $1,500 lump sums and I write until the funds are depleted and send him an email letting him know. He tops it up in 1-2 days. It’s really quite nice.
So, I’m making income from that part-time job writing for him. I have royalties coming in from Amazon which is a fraction of what it was during the best of times. It still helps to pay the bills! I sell books on some of my websites and don’t have to give 70% to Amazon or anyone else.
Something like 80% of my income is directly from writing.
I’m ‘making it’ as a writer!
I should really stop questioning it, and just start telling you how YOU can make it as a writer. That’s what I’ll do then.
How To Make It (Kill It) as a Writer
Figure out what you WANT to write about
Start with that.
My first book was 120,000 words. All about me. I did a biography. It was fun to write about me, what can I say? I never released it, there were things there that I’d never want anyone to know, but it was great fun writing my autobiography!
I think your first really long work should be about a topic you can write quickly about. We can probably all write 5,000+ words per day about ourselves. Right?
The next couple books I wrote were cathartic and great fun to write – “Thailand’s Sickest” and then soon after that, the follow-up “Hell To Pay.” Great fun to write each of these. Happy to get them out of my system.
Then I wrote some other fun books – short story fiction. Non-fiction occupied a few years as I wrote books about “Moving To Hawaii,” “Moving to Thailand,” a book about meditation, then another one, and then some books about other topics I’ll not mention here. The point is, to make it as a writer, you’d better like what you’re writing – so write what you love to write about first because you’re not likely to make much money from your first efforts.
That’s about it. I mean, really. Write your ass off. Write the things you love to write at first to stoke the fires, and then write stuff that makes you money sometimes. Think more about what you love to write and write more of that. Look at what other people are writing to make money and ‘make it’ and write some of that if you want.
Is it what you WANT to write? Is it what you really ENJOY writing? If not, you’ll likely not be very successful with that track. Figure out your own track. Take a look at weird books. A Clockwork Orange should be a good reset for you. Go back and read “Heart of Darkness” or “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. Read “The Martian.” Read “Wool” and “Water for Elephants.”
Read all sorts of different styles that you normally wouldn’t, just so you can come to the understanding that nobody writes like anyone else. I don’t write like Dean Koontz, and that’s a great relief to me because though I enjoyed some of his novels in my early 20’s, I just can’t stomach the style of writing now. I’ve never enjoyed a Stephen King book or a James Patterson book. Chuck Palahniuk’s style is interesting to me, but so is Cormac McCarthy’s.
You can’t make it as a writer by copying someone else’s style, so don’t spend any time trying to do so. Just figure out your own style and genre(s).
There are plenty of writers who started out with nothing. J.K. Rowling for one. Stephen King for another. In fact, I can’t think of an author who was killing it from Day 1.
So, don’t expect to be killing it either. Write endlessly with a focus on what makes you smile. Write on topics that get you excited. If you write for your job, say as a technical writer, copywriter, or something else you don’t find true satisfaction in, you’ll die inside without writing other stuff that DOES inspire you.
Finally, here’s a video put together of tips from some top writers around the world. It’s pretty good until you get to the Neil Gaiman bit, and then you can just fast-forward past him when you’ve had enough. Don’t miss James Altucher at the end, one of my favorite writers!
VIDEO – How to Make It as a Writer