Monday, 10 September 2012

Make More Money Writing

Make More Money Writing

By Steven Gillman

This period of transition is perhaps the best time in generations for writers to make their fortune, make a living, or at least to make a bit more money from their writing. The transition I am speaking of is, of course, the movement of books, magazines and other writing to electronic forms. Without consulting the statistics (if anyone has yet compiled them) I can say with some certainty that there are already far more web pages read every month than magazine pages. Before long most books will have never been published in paper at all. Maybe that will be true by the time you read this.

This is a time of opportunity. Consider how difficult it was for an author to get a book published and sold in the past, versus today. In the past it was more difficult from the very start. If you made just one major error while writing you had to start typing your manuscript all over again. Even after writers all started using word processors, the first machines did not have good spell checkers and correction tools. All of that has changed. The writing process itself is easier than ever. I once wrote a 70,000-word book in six weeks, and I type with two fingers.

But the bigger changes have been in the possibilities for publication. If, in the past, you found no publisher who would accept your work, you had to spend at least a thousand dollars to publish it yourself, and then you had little chance of marketing it effectively on your own. On-demand publishing was a big step in the right direction, bringing the cost down as low as a few hundred dollars, and eventually giving you a way to list your book for sale through online vendors. But now there are many makers of e-readers that allow anyone to publish and sell in their format at no cost.

For example, you can open a publisher account at Amazon's Kindle website for free and publish as many of your books as you want. Your books will be listed for sale in their Kindle Store within 48 hours. There is no editor to reject your submission, and not even any cost for printing a paper manuscript. I once wrote a book in less than a week, and had it for sale two days after finishing it, without spending a penny. Perhaps the best part is that royalties can be as high as 70% of the retail price (as of late 2012), meaning you can make up to seven times as much per sale as you would with most traditional publishers.

That's just one of the many opportunities to make money writing online. Thanks to new monetization models, like pay-per-click advertising, you can profitably publish your articles, stories, poetry, and books in a number of ways. These include building your own websites, creating a blog, or publishing on websites that share their advertising revenue with you.

Other ways to make more money with your writing include selling PDF e-books and using one of the free services that publishes your works on cell phones and handheld devices. You can also record what you have written (again, it can be done for free using software that is given away online), and sell the audio downloads. You can get software that will make a video of your poetry or prose, allowing you to have images accompanying your words. These can be sold, but more often videos are posted to a YouTube and then either monetized with ads or used to promote your website or blog or books.

Writing for pay for others is also easier than ever before. There are a million webmasters looking for content, and there are many websites that connect free-lance writers with buyers. However, there are a couple problems with writing for others. First, it limits your income. A website or books can continue to produce income for you long after you have stopped writing, while paid work only pays as long as you are writing. It can be a good way to have a steadier income, but it will always be a limited income until you transition into a more scalable business model.

Another problem with writing for others is that the ease with which it can be done now has brought rates down. There are people producing original 500-word articles/web pages for as little as $4 at the moment. You don't want to try to compete with them, unless you like working for less than minimum wage. On the other hand, the lack of quality is usually evident in these low-priced articles, and some buyers will pay for a higher standard of content. One Israeli writer I spoke to said he makes between $16 and $26 for short articles, and aims to average around $20-per-hour for his time. Most of his customers are from the United States.

Yes, it is possible to make money with your writing more easily than ever before, but the window of opportunity will not always be open so wide. In addition to the dropping rates for contract writers, the competition for website visitors and e-book readers is getting tougher by the month. There will always be ways to make something from what you write, but this is the best time, and it will not last forever.

This article is primarily about writing online, but if you want to get published traditionally and see your book on the shelves of the local bookstore, starting on the internet can make that possible too. Many of today's authors started online and built a following through websites or blogs, and then were contracted to write a book for one of the big off-line publishers. The key is to have a large group of regular readers who follow your work, and one way to prove you have this is to create a mailing list online, by way of a newsletter or course or something similar. When a publisher sees that you have an email list of at least a few thousand readers who might buy your book, they feel more comfortable publishing it, and may even offer a you decent advance on royalties.

Those are a few of the opportunities available to you if you like to write and want to make more money with your work. There are many other methods not covered here, so keep your eyes open and get started!

Copyright Steve Gillman, author of 101 Weird Ways to Make Money and other books. For writing tips, or to sign up for one of his Steve's free newsletters, visit his personal blog at:

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