A to Z Challenge

Making a Living as a Writer

M is for Making.

We’ve all heard the stories of overnight successes, one hit wonders and other improbable ways writers have raked in the money. But for those of us who have stories part of our blood, we will always write. Which means that at some point our writing should do more than just look pretty: it should be able to support us financially.

Oh, I know that we can always run off and marry some rich guy to gain financial support for our writing. But… eww.

And it’s not necessary. Our writing, if we do it right, can support us. (I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.)

Here’s what I learned from lots of research:

First the obvious: you need to write books to sell books.


If you need support, join a group like discussed with letter J.

If you need knowledge, check out letter K and A.

If you need to figure out how to juggle life and writing, check out letter H.

If you need a wakeup call about the life of a writer, check out letter L and I.

If you need to learn how to sell your work, check out letter B.

If you need a kick in the right direction, check out letter D.

If you need editing help, check out letter E.

If you need inspiration, check out letter F.

If you want to know that it’s possible to make a living with your writing, check out letter G.

If you want to know if it’s possible to get published, check out letter C and I.


Stick with my A-Z series of guest posts, interviews and researched posts to learn even more.

Fourth: don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Meaning that you shouldn’t just go with one stream of income. Your book can be translated into several languages and all of them can be sold as digital (ebook), audio (audiobook), print (Print on Demand, Softcover, Hardcover, Special Edition, etc.), be turned into a graphic novel, anime, TV series, movie – if you own the rights, use them!

My first book came out as a softcover book in Afrikaans. (See I.) I’ve since turned it into an ebook, Print on Demand and audiobook (the last is in the final stages of production). And I’m in the editorial stage of that book in English. (Yeah, it’s great to be bilingual, but you don’t have to be to get your book in multiple languages. Check out places like Upwork to get freelancers to do the translations for you.)

Also, don’t just go with one distributor. Sure, loyalty is great. That’s why I love my pets (chickens, horses and dogs). But writing is a business. If you sell eggs, you shouldn’t just sell them in a little farm stall. No. You get distributors to get your eggs into every supermarket, farmers market and everywhere else eggs are sold. You diversify. You don’t just think local (farm stall), you think big.

Amazon is world-wide. But there’s also Kobo, Smashwords and others. Find what works for you.


You can be Indie or Traditional – be entirely independent or be traditionally published. We’ll look at that with P. But you already know that you should be wary of vanity publishers.


Everyone has their own definition of success. Figure out what yours is and don’t let anyone shame you because your dream is different than theirs.


There are loads of ways to get your work sold. We’ll look at a few with V.


The more books you have for sale, the less time you need to market them. Just check out your own blog: your older posts, the ones with some algorithm juice, get loads more views than your new stuff. So the more you write and publish, the more you’ll be visible in the marketplace.


Write books people want to buy. Whether it’s Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Women’s Fiction, or whatever, find out what people expect in that genre and then pick your categories. Check out G for Holly’s success in doing this right.


Series is also a favourite among readers. Get them hooked on one book and have fans for that series forever. Just check out the bestsellers lists. Lynsay Sands’s Argeneau Vampire series is well into its twenties in count and fans still buy each new novel.


Remember that you can write in more than one genre and in more than one length. A short story set between novels will keep rabid fans at bay until the next novel appears (Rick Riordan does this and his short stories get published in the back of some of his novels too). And we change as we live: maybe you started out as a cosy mystery writer, but now you are obsessed with Norse mythology and want to write something in that line. Don’t restrict yourself. You are the brand. You will find that some readers will love everything you write, while others will only be fans of one of your genres. And that’s okay. You are writing what you love.

Twelfth: have your own email list.

I did this by setting up a newsletter signup in the sidebar and in the footer (you get a free ebook, no spam, no-one selling your email address, and only one email a month with a little update on my writing, my research, where I’ve been that month, and any other share-worthy news).

Why is this important? Because social media sites come and go, your blog can disappear, but email has been around for decades and will remain an evergreen way to communicate. This way, if you have the email addresses of those who enjoy your writing, they can stay up to date with you without having to spend a lot of time browsing your site or social media networks. And you’ll always be able to connect with them.

Final note:

There’s a lot more that you can do to make money as a writer. You can have ads on your site. You can have affiliate links. I don’t know much about that and right now I’m only focusing on what I’ve already mentioned. (Check out the Creative Penn if you want to know more about other ways to make money with your writing.)

I do know though, that if you’re online and trying to build your audience, you should be authentic. That means having a great author bio, author photo and connecting with others. Check out B for more on growing your audience.

I hope you learned something today. Anything you’d like to share?

Sign up for my newsletter and receive a free ebook. I won’t share your information and I’ll only email you once a month with updates on new releases, special offers, and a bit of news.

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