Not only that, but it’s the best time ever to be a professional writer. The technologies and culture of the 21st century make it so.
Though Scott Turow might disagree, he’s dead wrong. So is every writer who thinks the craft is just about sitting in a garret churning out the occasional literary novel. Here are just three of my favorite examples of how people are getting their work out there — and pulling in reasonable income — by writing in this brave new literary world. These are all creative efforts, not the kind of business writing I coach about and feed my family with.
Not what it sounds like. Turning Tricks is a web series…basically an independent TV show distributed on YouTube and similar channels. The idea is to either make money off ad revenue, or to attract the attention of a major provider.
They’re on episode 3 of their first season, so traction is only just beginning to build. We’ll see what happens…but others have already proven the model, whether they use it to make an actual living, or just make the hobby pay for itself.
Monster Hunters International
Okay, fine. MHI is now carried by the traditional publisher Baen Books and selling like hotcakes. But writer Larry Correia didn’t get there the usual way.
Mr. Correia is a big, Texan man with a big, Texan gun collection. He wrote a book about killing zombies and loving guns. He shopped that book around. When no agents or publishers were interested, he self-published that bad boy. Hundreds of thousands of sales later, those same agents and publishers couldn’t buy enough love for the series.
Correia continues to promote his series well by embracing 21st-century techniques including social media, podcasting and an authorized role-playing-game based on his world.
Publishers (other than fiction magazines) have never embraced the short story. The best short fiction writers could hope for would be inclusion in a successful anthology, or to sell a collection of shorts after their novels became successful.
Lunch Hour Love Stories destroys that misconception. Famous and up-and-coming romance writers are dropping short stories on there for $1.99 or so…and making tens of thousands of dollars a day in the first few weeks. Turns out, once you remove the (legitimate) obstacles associated with a print run, short fiction is way profitable.
The smartest contributors to LHLS are writing short stories connected to their existing novels, creating relationship sales and a positive feedback loop of readers and income.
See Also: Pseudopod
The moral of this story is simple. The money’s out there for all kinds of writers, whether you write for yourself or for somebody else. The only real questions are these…
- Do you have the courage to embrace the changes that have happened to the writing market in our lifetime?
- Do you want to write for a living so much that you are willing to become an expert at one or more of these new opportunities?
If your answer is “yes” you have a great writing future ahead of you. If your answer is “no” I wish you luck in whatever career you end up in.
If your answer is “maybe” shoot me a line. I can help you figure out how to make it all happen.