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Writers Earning an Income (Guest Post)

Writers Earning an Income

by Steph Beth Nickel

Some writers put pen to paper exclusively as a means of creative expression. Some writers, whether they’re paid or not, do so to make readers aware of important issues. Others write what they love and seek to sell their work. Still others write exclusively for the purpose of earning an income. For many, it’s a combination of reasons.

There are countless reasons to write, but if you’re seeking to supplement your income or earn a full-time living from your writing, here are some things to consider:

  1. Authors rarely earn enough to live on exclusively from the books they write.
  2. If you would, eventually, like to earn a full-time living from your books, you’ll want to publish regularly.
  3. Building a devoted readership takes time. Plus, in most cases, it’s far easier to do if you stick with a single niche. Multi-passionate authors who write across genres about multiple topics can earn a good living, but it can be more challenging. You’ll want to weigh the pros and cons. Personally, I can’t imagine writing only one type of book forever and always.
  4. There are countless opportunities in the job market to earn an income using your ability to string together interesting, coherent sentences and paragraphs.
  5. If you want to earn an income with your words, there are times you may have to supplement your most impassioned writing with pieces on topics that are of little to no interest to you personally. I write about railcar movers, yard equipment, and various styles of fireplaces, for example. Don’t tell, but these aren’t my passion projects.

And finally…

If you’re an author who wants to earn a significant amount of money from your books, you’ll want to consider the following:

  1. Indie authors who self-publish retain far more of their royalties than traditionally published authors. However, they are responsible to foot the bill for editing, cover design, promotion, etc. This route requires a great deal of self-discipline and the willingness to learn about all facets of publishing and promotion, as well as writing, but can be very lucrative and satisfying for those who want control over every aspect of the process. It’s the route I intend to take with my yet unfinished series—plural.
  2. Only the extremely rare outlier hits it big with a single book. Writers who want to earn a steady income from their books will have to produce and promote an ever-increasing list of titles. Even traditionally published authors will have to promote their books—especially those on their backlist, provided they’re still in print.
  3. Authors typically earn supplemental income from their books while holding down a day job or a part-time job, perhaps one that makes use of their writing skills, perhaps not. I recently heard an author who has been in the business for over a decade say that a day job that doesn’t use up your creative skills leaves you with energy to pursue your writing even at the end of a long day. Interesting! It’s definitely something to consider, especially if you’re finding it difficult to even consider working on your book after you get home.

Remember! Your words have value, and there are readers who need them. And although you may produce thousands of words that never earn a dime, it is not wrong or unspiritual to earn an income from your writing.


Photo of Steph Beth Nickel
Photo credit: Jaime Mellor Photography

Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at nurtureandinspire@gmail.com;
join her Facebook group:
 https://www.facebook.com/groups/2725853534313738;
or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.