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
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
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
To Be or Not to Be . .
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
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
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.
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.
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.