Janice Hanna Thompson

Janice Hanna Thompson—a south Texas native—is the author of over sixty novels and non-fiction books for the Christian market. She supplements her fiction habit by writing magazine articles, devotions, write-for-hire books and more. One of the chief joys of Janice’s life is training writers to earn a living with the written word. Check out Janice’s “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer,” course at www.freelancewritingcourses.com. The ten lessons in this course were developed to strategically train freelance writers to earn top dollar. Each lesson includes an audio file (mp3 for download), a corresponding audio script, a downloadable worksheet, a power point video, a bonus feature, and full access to the site’s forum. Email Janice at booksbyjanice[at]aol[dot]com to learn more, or visit her website at www.janicehannathompson.com.

Show Me the Money!

I write to escape . . . to escape poverty.
—Edgar Rice Burroughs

“Show me the money!”

It’s the cry of every freelancer. And for the starving novelist, that cry can reach a fever pitch. After all, fiction writers spend their lives waiting on checks to arrive. There’s the advance check (the one you receive upon signing), the second advance check (approximately a year later), and then—if all goes well—the royalty checks that trickle in when the book earns out. This “feast or famine” lifestyle can be tough on both the pocketbook and the psyche. It also wreaks havoc on marriages and mortgages.

So what’s the weary novelist to do? Selling plasma isn’t really an option. After all, you’ve already opened a vein to spill out that latest novel. There’s not much left to give. And borrowing money from your mother-in-law isn’t the best idea. She’s still wondering why you haven’t paid her back the thousand dollars she loaned you last time you went through a famine. Sure, you could write a new novel, but that takes time . . . and you need money now.

In the fall of 2005, I needed funds, and I needed them quickly. My twenty-seven-year marriage had come to an abrupt end, and I found myself on my own, in search of a “real” writing career. I’d already published a few inspirational romances, most with low-to-moderate advances. I certainly hadn’t earned enough to pay the bills. How could I—a middle-aged, relatively unknown author—begin again? What I needed was a plan.

Thankfully, I’ve always been a goal-setter. I’ve also leaned heavily on Proverbs 29:18a (KJV): “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Some would say I’m a true visionary. Ideas flow like water (or in my case, Diet Dr Pepper). But, true money-making ideas? Yikes! I needed to step up my game . . . and quick!

Over the course of the next few years, I set out on an adventure to recreate myself as an author. With prayer leading the way, I strategized and restrategized. I opened myself up to new possibilities, new directions, and new sources of writing income. And I began to look at my writing career as just that—a career. The need for an income led the way, of course, but so did my zeal for the written word. In my heart, “story” reigned supreme. I could share “story” (through articles, books, devotions, etc.) and earn a living at the same time.

The Lord honored my entrepreneurial spirit. He opened doors for new and exciting jobs—ghostwriting, write-for-hire work, devotions, magazine articles, public speaking, teaching, novels, nonfiction books, and much more. In fact, the work came so rapidly that I found myself calling out, “Calgon, take me away!” Still, I rarely turned down a job. Why would I? I enjoyed the whirlwind pace. It matched the zeal that continued to bubble up inside of me whenever I thought about my future as a successful writer.

To Be or Not to Be . . . Successful

Perhaps those words, successful writer, are a driving force in your life. You want to write The Great American Novel. Want to take that big advance check to the bank. But the realist in you slams the brakes on your dream, hollering, “Don’t get too carried away with this. You have bills to pay. Remember?” And so you falter. You let the dream fizzle out.

Oh, be encouraged, fiction writers! There really is money to be made in this industry. Some of it may come from novel advances and royalties, sure, but there are hundreds of ways to supplement your fiction income, as well. And you won’t have to go very far to find the jobs you seek. They’ve been there all along.

Over the course of the next few months, we’re going to explore a host of ways to earn money as a freelancer. We’ll talk about the ins and outs of the writing business. And I’ll be gut-honest in my approach, letting you know the things that work and the things

that don’t. I’ll call on others in the business to chime in with their thoughts, sharing tidbits from their journeys, as well. Together, we’ll tackle the “Can I really make money writing?” question.

Maybe you’re wondering why I’m so passionate about teaching others how to make money with their writing. Simple. I meet so many writers who are struggling—emotionally, financially, psychologically. So many are just hoping and praying to sell a book. They pour all of their energies into that venture. Most don’t realize that they could be making money much sooner if they would explore other avenues. The possibilities are endless for those who are willing to take a few hours away from their beloved novel(s) and focus on creative microprojects.

Perhaps you’re at that inevitable place in your career where supplementing your fiction habit sounds like a good option. If so, I’d like to leave you with two questions. First, “Where do you see yourself (and your writing) in five years?” Take some time to ponder that question. Don’t answer it right away. Once you come up with an answer you can live with, begin to think about how you’re going to get from Point A (the here and now) to Point B (where you want to be). Second, “Are you willing to try new/different things to earn money as a writer?” It’s time to think outside the box. If you’re going to supplement your fiction income, you’ve got to get creative! Sure, you can still craft your stories, but why not earn a little extra money crafting other pieces on the side?

It’s a win-win situation for the novelist who broadens his scope. Set your sails toward the open seas and watch what the Lord does with your writing career.


Freelancing is not for the faint at heart. In many ways, it’s like boarding a roller coaster. There are high highs and low lows, and many unexpected places in-between. The joys are many, but so are the sorrows. And the freelancer still battles the inevitable questions and fears. Still, what else can we do? Writing won’t let us go! This blissful, gut-wrenching call is with us forever! I can’t answer for you, but when my days come to their rightful end, I hope to be found at my computer, rigid fingers still perched on the keys, the words The End etched in crisp black print against a frozen white screen. Times New Roman font, of course, 12-pitch. Just in case an editor happens by.

Writing is tough work. But this weary author, for all of her joys and sorrows, hopes the gig won’t be up, even when this life is over. If there’s not a laptop waiting for me in heaven, I plan to take it up with the Almighty. Surely He will offer me a position as a freelancer. After all, the stories up there will be out of this world. Literally.