Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Make Money Writing: V=Vocational Writing

April is all about making money writing. I want to talk about vocational writing. Most of us have a day job, meaning we have some sort of expertise outside of writing. There are ways to make money with that. I've talked about educational writing before. I've also talked about non-fiction. Thinking about your vocational expertise can be a good place to start when you looking to put out a non-fiction book. But for many of us, there are other opportunities for vocational writing we may not consider. I'm a paralegal. I spend most of my day conducting legal research and writing. I write letters and the first draft of legal or government documents. Believe it or not, there are ways for me to do this on a contract basis if I need to work from home and minimize my day job. I've written blog posts for real estate agents before. I did this by creating a dummy real-estate blog, but I bet it would be a good supplemental gig for a real estate agent.

Is there a way you can turn your vocation into additional writing income?

Make Money Writing: U= Underpaid and Overworked

April is all about making money writing. I have to tell you a secret. You will be overworked and underpaid at least for a while. I wrote for FREE for two years. (Read that again: I didn't sell anything for two full years). Do I care? Not really. I put in the work and began to succeed. My self published books still sell and my publications have helped me land day jobs. Today, is a reminder that if you want to make money writing, you will have to stick it out. You will not get paid for a long time. (Unless, you're one of those lucky punks who sell their first novel in a six figure deal. Don't tell me about it. I don't want to know). But if you put in the time, you will eventually see the rewards. As Strawberry Shortcake says, "The most important part is don't stop now."

Make Money Writing: T=Teach

April is all about making money writing.
Here's a sad truth: most writers make more money talking about writing than they do actually writing. So what do you do then? Teach. I'm serious. Most of us are better at certain aspects of writing than others. I'm good at plot. I'm so good at plot I used plot to write a query and had a 50% full request rate. So I teach a class on plot. I spent months breaking novels into the three act structure. When it came time to query, I broke my work into the three act structure. My plot wrote the query for me then went onto write my more thorough 1.5 page synopsis. A lot of people like my class. A few don't. But after every class at least one or two writers thank me and tell me I've made their life easier. My classes are often used as fundraisers for chapters of RWA and I make $100-$200/class. The class also usually spikes my book sales. But as you begin to sell more your class fee will go up. You will be able to do other events and you can be paid for these. It's important to learn to give presentations if  you're hoping to earn cash in this industry.

Do you teach classes?

S=Sports Writing

April is all about making money writing. Sports writing is something you may not have considered. Believe it or not while looking for a day job in 2014 I wrote sports articles about a little league team for $50/pop. These articles were short 250-500 words. I wrote the questions for the interview and watched practices to do a feature story rather than just a q&a. If you don't know what i'm talking about check out this post. In fairness, I spent 3-5 hours on each article, so I made $10-15/hour. That is decent money writing. I had no interest in sports before my brief stint as a sports writer but developed more of an appreciation for the work athletes do in the process. More importantly, I IMPROVED my writing. That's right. Sports writing needs to imitate the action on a field/court. Action words are a must! I learned much. And newspapers pay about the same rate with some of the larger ones paying more.

Have you ever thought of sports writing?


April is all about making money writing. And R is for romance. Romance is the bestselling genre. Romance sells went UP during the recession. Romance readers devour books and they don't care about your name, so it can be a great place for a new writer to start. Write a romance.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Make Money Writing: Q=Quick

April is all about making money with your writing! We've talked about lots of way to make money writing and said that organization is a key component to success. But you gotta be quick too! You have to learn how to maximize your production in as little time as possible. I wrote 1041 in 40 minutes today. I was able to do this largely because I did my research in advance and I knew what was going to happen.
I've talked on this blog before about the magic of 15 minutes. Use your 15 minutes. Write as much as you can in the time you've got and if you have to get up to clean house or make dinner be thinking about what you're going to do during your next sprint. If you're working on a paid project that is going to require research, streamline your research. Write down the questions you really need to know before you start your research. Answer those questions and close your browser before you get sucked down the rabbit hole of research. Open your document and write. Practicing writing every day is another way to improve your speed. (The more you write the easier it will become; you'll increase both quantity and quality).

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Make Money Writing: O=Organization

April is all about making money writing. Today is the MOST IMPORTANT post of this series. We've talked about possible avenues to beat an income out of writing. We've gone from articles and anthologies to political commentary. We've talked about how important the market analysis and launch is in fiction. But today's post is essential. The key thing you have to learn for any of this to be successful is organization.
Blah. I hear you. I'm rolling my eyes too, and I don't like it either. Organization often does not sit well with artistic types. Suck it up. Pick up some new skills. Get over it, and do the best you can.
The most likely way for you make a living writing is through some combination of the things we've talked about. That means you will be constantly managing multiple projects. You will have to be organized with your time and tasks. Currently, I work full time. I'm in graduate school. I'm the mother of an active three year old, and I obviously maintain this blog, and I struggle to find time to write. It is a hard balance, and it took me too long to get adjusted to it. To keep my time organized, I try to write side projects and work on publishing stuff on Tuesday and Thursdays. Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays I focus more on my SHU thesis and other homework. Saturday I will tie up what I need to and I try to keep Sundays for family. This is all flexible. On a week, I have less homework I will squeeze out a third writing day. If I really want to write on Monday I'll do homework on Tuesday. I took my daughter to the zoo on a Saturday, so Sunday was my catch up day. But I have a plan.
We said that to make your fiction a success the launch is insanely important. Relaunches rarely work, so you have to do it right the first time. Stay organized. Make a list of things to do that you can check off. Make a list of bloggers to contact. Color code it once you've talked to them. Have a goal each day as you work on your launch. Keep an account of what you're spending. Make sure it's easy for you to look at and understand.
I could probably do a whole series on organization (and maybe later I will) but today I don't have time for that.

What methods do you use to stay organized?

Make Money Writing: P=Political Commentary

April is all about ways to make money writing. Political commentary might be a way to make money writing. We recently talked about non-fiction. We said non-fiction can be much shorter and often sells better. A political commentary brand can be a good way to start introducing some non-fiction into the market. And political commentary seems to pick up a quick following.
I know A LOT of writers. It's true enough that most of us are introverted. It's also true enough that many of us are very opinionated. We may not run into a room screaming out opinion because we are introverts but it doesn't change the fact that we have a strong, closely held opinion.
A strong, closely held opinion that can be blasted through hyperbole and often comically is all political commentary is. After six years of writing fiction, all in subgenres of romance, my twitter following is at about 600. After one week of writing political commentary under a pen name, my twitter following hit 70. *Shrugs* I gave up on political commentary (not because I didn't like writing it but I didn't have time for both that and fiction), but if I continued to put out posts I think I could have continued at that rate.
We said that political commentary can produce a quick non-fiction book. You can also sell these essays to blogs or online news sources. Another way to make money writing political commentary is by writing speeches or memes for campaigns. But here are some things to remember. You are always writing for a niche audience. You want a pen name. You don't want to offend your normal readers who may have a difference of opinion and drop your fiction.

Have you ever considered writing political commentary?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Make Money Writing: N=Nonfiction

The month of April is all about ways to make money writing, N is for nonfiction.
I have an interesting factoid for you. Non-fiction does better on amazon than fiction, especially if you're writing in a self-help genre like how to make more money or lose weight. And if you're into the traditional route, you can usually sell non-fiction on proposal. You write an outline and what your expertise on the subject is, refer to your platform and if gets rejected, it will do so before you've written a whole book.
Here is another plus with non-fiction. A 60 page non-fiction book can go for $2.99 and still do well. Whereas 60 pages for fiction is short. We're talking free or $0.99. Lots of indie writers talk about how much money they make writing, and it's exciting that they are able to do that. If you watch their sells, you will start to notice most of the same writers have very successful non-fiction products ("how to write" books) and this can account for a large chunk of their sales. If you're not into how-to-write books that is awesome. It's a competitive field anyway. But you probably have some experience that a lot of people don't have. There is something you can draw on to share helpful information about. If you feel like putting out a 60 page book this year, write it out.

Have you published non-fiction?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Make Money Writing: M= Marketing Analysis

April is all about making money writing!

Lots of fiction writers complain they don't make money writing. They're books don't sell no matter how much marketing they do or how much time they spend writing. They're usually right. The average US writer makes less than $10,000/year. But the thing about an average it's a combination of the six figure deals and the $0 earners. So many writers probably make less than that.

If you feel like your marketing isn't working, you're probably starting at the wrong place. Most writers start at the wrong place. My husband is an engineer, so I'm going to use a tech example here. If a new tech company--or even established one--wanted to put out a new product, they would first research the market. They would decide if the product they were considering would sell and what changes they would have to make for the product to sell. Writers typically write a book and then try to sell it. What's wrong with this? Nothing, really. But if you haven't researched the market, there is a good chance no matter how well you wrote and marketed that book it's not going to sell. It's day has come and gone. Or hasn't got here yet. For whatever reason, it doesn't meet the requirements of the market today.

You want to write a new book? Great. Decide if this is a book of "your heart." For the purpose of this series, we're going to assume it's not a book of your heart and you just want to write a book that sells. Cool. Choose 5 books in your genre published in the last year. Notice where when and how plot points come out. (I'm not suggesting you copy someone's plot--the content--I'm saying look at the structure). What's the point of view? What's the verb tense? What kind of plots are doing well? (Again, don't copy someone's content but look for tropes). How could you make those tropes fresh? What's going on in popular culture and can you use that to make a trope new again? How long are most of these books? Your marketing starts right here. Check these boxes.

You've heard of the maxim, "Right book, right time?" There is some truth to that. People who read a lot subconsciously take note of these things and without knowing it put out precisely the right book at the right time. And the rest of us work. So get to work.

Do you do market research before getting started? What kind of marketing research do you do?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Make Money Writing: L = Launch

April is all about ways to make money writing. Today, we're talking about the book launch. Go big or go home.
That's all or nothing. I know. It's hard to read. It's hard to say and even harder to do. Why do I say go big or go home? Relaunching a book rarely works. Not launching a book doesn't work.
How do I know?
Well, since you asked, I refused to market Decree of Hope when it originally launched as Finding Hope. Yep. I did nothing. I did a blog tour. That's it. Because I was convinced marketing didn't help anyway. Guess what? It didn't sell. I expected to sell about the same as my other books sell. How do my other books sell? More copies than some people's books and not as many as others. Yeah. It didn't sell as well as my other books. I mean it probably did sell more than some people's books, but wow. It didn't sell like my other books. Marketing matters. I learned my lesson. I understood it didn't do as well as my other books because I didn't do the things I usually did.

The moral of the story is launch big the first time. Contact bloggers months before you plan to release and request reviews. And if the blogger can't commit to a review ask if they would host a guest post. Put together some kind of contest and consider Bookbub, ENT or a Fiverr ad.

What things have you found helpful during a launch?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Make Money Writing: K= Keep Your Writing Time Holy!

April is about making money writing. Yesterday, we said that if you don't write you can never make money writing, so just write. Today's idea is closely related.

K=Keep Your Writing Time Holy.
Stay off facebook. Just write. I had two years where all I produced was an unpublished picture book and a novella. I don't expect the picture book will ever be published. The novella was meant to be a free perk for fans and will eventually be published as that. Still compared to all those years I wrote novels--with an "s"as in plural--it felt unproductive. The most important thing I learned in grad school was that fifteen minutes of writing without checking email, playing on facebook, or making sippy cups for the kid meant 250 words. And that's the average person. I've written 7 novels and 3 novellas at this point, so if I know what I want to say, I can push out more than that. In 15 minutes. So keep your writing time holy. Guard it well. Close facebook and make sure your kids know the only reason to interrupt you when your writing is because someone might die. And insects don't count.

This may not sound like a way to make money writing, but it is probably the most important post of this series. What do they say in corporate America? Time=money. If you want be an author, you own a small business. Man up.

What tricks have you learned to keep your writing time holy?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Make Money Writing: J= Just Keep Writing

April is all about ways to make money writing. J is going to sound trite. But it's not. It's tried and true. Just keep writing. You don't finish that book? Guess what? I guarantee you won't make any money off of it. You won't even learn from it.
Rejections come.
Rejections go.
Royalty checks come. Some months.
Other months? Nothing sells. No royalties.
But the only way for the next book to sell better is for the next book to be written. Just keep writing.

How do you stay motivated and persistent through the ups and downs?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Make Money Writing: I=Interview

April is all about making money writing! Different magazines will often pay for interviews. Lots of bloggers have a background in interviewing authors, but this isn't usually what people pay for. I made $50 article for a while doing interviews for little league sports teams. Since I knew nothing about sports, I had to ask around to find out what kind of questions made for good sports writing. The other thing I've learned about writing solid interviews that keep you booked is that feature interviews are the most desirable, most interesting, and have the strongest readership. On a blog, you will often see a list of questions and answers. This is referred to as a q&a, and no one pays for it. (Or they might but I don't know about it.) Writing good open ended questions that allow the person being interviewed to go into a story is the first step to writing a feature. But the most important component of a feature--the reason people pay for it--is that it's a story. It will have quotes from the Q&A woven it but it should tell a story and explain something, complete with a message. This is a good skill to have.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Make Money Writing: H=Horoscopes

April is all about ways to make money writing. "Beth, what do horoscopes have to do with writing?" Well, that's simple. Someone has to write them, and lots of magazines and newspapers use horoscopes. Think about some of the places you have noticed horoscopes. Those publications will sometimes mention looking for horoscope writers on their websites. Horoscope writing gigs sometimes come up on freelance websites too.

This is one gig, I've honestly not done. But I've seen some magazines pay for them.

Have you ever written horoscopes?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Make Money Writing: G= Gigs, Ghostwriting

April is all about making money writing. Ghostwriting is not awesome pay, but it does pay. A lot faster than waiting on a royalty check. Another good thing about ghost writing is that it gives you experience writing. To be an expert writer, you need to write one million words. I define this more narrowly. If you need to write a million words to be an expert writer, you need to write a million words of fiction to be an expert fiction writer. For that reason, I don't even count words I write for anything else. The perks of ghostwriting besides a quick pay check? It helps you gain that experience. Best of all, if it sucks, because you're learning? It doesn't have your name on it!

One more thing. Search gigs on sites like elance to find ghostwriting opportunities, ghostblogging opportunities, and article writing work. You can also open up craigslist and go to gigs. You'll sometimes find interesting opportunities there. I even snagged a couple of long term clients in 2014. The thing is they may be looking to pay $10-$20/week for a guest blog. That wouldn't be listed as a job but you can find it under gigs. Blog posts usually take me 15 minutes to write so $10 is fine for me. Also, we all know that writing has hot beds in certain parts of the country and writing opportunities can be virtually non-existent in other parts of the country. With the internet, lots of these opportunities are virtual, so don't be afraid to open up New York's craigslist and look even if you're no where near New York. FYI: Austin, Texas gets some decent writing gigs too.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Make Money Writing: F=Flash Fiction, Freelance

April is all about making money writing. Flash fiction and freelance work are a couple of ways.
Flash fiction is awesome for a couple of reasons: 1)short 2) can pay well. Those are good enough reasons for me. We talked about Duotrope earlier. It's a good place to find markets for flash fiction. For romance, I think Woman's World is awesome flash fiction market at $800 for 800 words.

Freelance work can be another good way to make money writing. You can use sites like elance to search for things that interest you from article writing to ghost writing.

Do you freelance? Have you ever sold flash fiction?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Make Money Writing: E=Educational Writing

April is all about ways to make money writing! Educational money is a good way to make money writing, partly because it's so useful but also because lots of writers are also educators. Teaching is a common day among writers.--I"m not saying all writers teach, but many teachers write.--Educational writing comes in a variety of forms. Believe it or not, many religious affiliations buy curriculum from companies who use educational writers. You query these companies the same way you would query a book. You offer a writing sample and your qualifications. Companies buy chapters of a textbook, workbooks, worksheets and other supplemental materials from education writers. McGraw Hill and Pearson are a couple of big educational publication companies in the US. If you're looking at religious educational writing, Lighthouse is a reputable company. We live in a digital age. You can also self publish your educational materials. List it as a reasonably priced ebook. (Teachers are poor.) Or use Teachers Pay Teachers.  TPT has become the amazon of educational publishing. It's a good place to buy interesting lessons, and it's a good place to sell interesting lessons. TPT allows you to set the price and you can offer some free products just like amazon. (I don't think they demand exclusivity either, so you could potentially do both.)

Is educational writing something you've done? If not, would you consider it?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Make Money Writing: D=Duotrope

April is all about ways to make money writing. And D is for Duotrope. Haven't heard of it? A few months ago, I hadn't either. Duotrope is a great way to find submission calls and publications open to submission. I think the membership is like $5/month but they will give you a week or two for free. This is an awesome place to find submissions for flash fiction in some genres, less so with romance. But we talked about articles earlier this month, and it can be a good place to find a fit for your article or even submission calls looking for articles.

Have you ever used Duotrope? Do you know of similar services?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Make Money Writing: C=Cards

I've dedicated the month of April to finding ways to make money writing. If you've ever bought a card for any occasion, you've probably noticed they tend to be well written. Sometimes, they're humorous and pithy and other times they're poetic. Yeah. There is a reason for that. Greeting cards pay writers to write those messages. They may have a full time writer on staff but a lot of times they'll post on their website they're looking for messages for a certain occasion. They usually post the pay and how to submit. Let your creative juices flow.

Have you ever written for a card or known anyone who has? Is card writing something you've thought about before? (Be honest, I'm trying to make sure these posts are helpful).

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Make Money Writing: B=Biography

In the month of April, I'm talking about ways to make money writing. B is for biography. I'm not talking about novel length biographies for people to read. (Although, that isn't a bad option since nonfiction often sales on proposal). I'm talking about something much more basic. If you click on my "About Beth Fred" page you will see a brief biography that will make you remember me. Even if it could use an update. Lots of people and companies pay for similar biographies. They're looking for something quick and memorable to use on a website. As a writer, that shouldn't take you long to write and it's quick cash. I've seen people pay $50-$500 for wiki biographies. Granted, q Wiki biography can be a little bit long than a website or blog bio, but up to $500 for that amount of words? Are you serious? If fiction isn't doing it for you at the moment, look for these gigs.

Have you ever written a biography? 

Friday, April 1, 2016

A=Article, Ads, Anthology (Make Money Writing)

During the month of April, I'll be participating in the A-Z Blogfest. My theme is how to make money writing.
A= Articles- A couple of years ago, I was between day jobs and in need of cash. I started writing articles for different people and organizations. Repeat clients were a sports magazine--I knew nothing about sports, but the mag was impressed enough with my publication credits they gave me a shot--and a real estate agent. To get started, I created a new blog and did a couple of posts on real estate to have an applicable writing sample. If you're seriously trying to snag an article, creating a similar writing sample makes it much more likely than using something in a different genre because it's already written.

A=Advertisements- Today, I got a random email from someone asking to advertise on my blog. I sent them my price sheet. I haven't heard back yet, but if I do that is extra money. This has happened in the past. I've done sponsored posts for different companies. You can actively seek ads on social media or use Google Ad Sense. (Google Ad Sense can be fickle though. For whatever reason, they won't allow my blog ad sense).

A=Anthology- Anthologies are sometimes quick cash and sometimes not so much. Some anthologies will pay you a flat fee for your story. Whatever you make, it's up front and done. Royalties are nice but can take forever to come in. The other plus of an anthology is that it gets you in front of other authors' readers, which can boost sales and build platform. I think whether you're working for royalties or a flat rate there are perks of anthology.