Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Writing for Profit

Mark W. Danielson

There is a huge difference between writing novels and other professional writing. Sadly, the difference is seen in your paycheck. Unless you are fortunate enough to sell thousands—no, make that millions of books—you’re probably better off having a second income.

I’ve mentioned freelance writing for magazines before because it can be done at your leisure, invests a relatively small amount of time (compared to novels), and there is a great return on your investment. Getting an “in” with a magazine takes time, but once you’re there, you can generally continue to get articles published. Of course, each article is weighed for its merit, but continuous submissions will assure you some income.

Not every magazine accepts freelance submissions, so do your homework before ever investing your time. Bear in mind that your articles must be geared to specific magazines and the editor must see your topic as marketable and profitable. While national magazines pay the most, they are also the least likely to accept freelance submissions. The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing can be quite useful in determining good prospects.

If you’re not into writing non-fiction, then you might consider writing short stories. Again, the Writer’s Digest Handbook can provide expert guidance on which magazines accept fiction submissions and what type of stories they are looking for. Like magazine articles, well-written short stories can be quite profitable, and your time investment is far less time than novels.

Laymen assume that writing novels is profitable, yet for most authors, this will never be the case. As such, if you are considering entering the fiction business for profit, perhaps you should re-evaluate your motive, for creative writing must come from the heart.

While it’s true there are a handful of financially successful authors, most tend to write formula books. They do this because formula books sell, and that’s the bottom line. It matters not how often they have re-used their recipes. Sadly, these are also the authors that chain book stores cater to. But don’t fault the book stores, ladies and gentlemen. This is nothing personal. It’s just the nature of the business. So the most important lesson here is to write because you love to write, and let whatever happens happen. If you want to get rich quick, then buy a lotto ticket.


Helen Ginger said...

About as many people get rich on Lotto as authors who get rich on books. Better to become a politician. :-D

Straight From Hel

Ben Small said...

Helen, you nailed it.

Chester Campbell said...

Or become an investment manager, if you're a smooth talker.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Or become a book bootlegger and sell American books overseas. I hear it's quite profitable. A couple of mine have been listed for sale on the black market.

Mark W. Danielson said...

It seems that we're in agreement that we right novels for the fun of it:)