All the Pies: Make money writing

This weekend I was having a discussion on the Book of Faces with my friend Alyssa, over at Salt Moths, on the price of art.

She was surprised that start-up writers were shocked at her illustration rates, which were completely in line with the professional standards. And for what it’s worth, were entirely reasonable for the quality of work that she would provide.

I understand why we writers would be a little surprised, however. Especially those of us taking the self-publishing route. I mean, we pay for editing services, marketing, publishing, cover design or (and! sometimes it is both) illustration. We would end up spending somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15k if we wanted to do things right, and professionally, before we ever started making any money back on royalties.

We’re putting forth just as much effort as everyone else in the publishing process but the payment is severely delayed.

Is not our writing just as good? Shouldn’t we get paid like everyone else?

Well, of course we should. And writers DO get paid like everyone else.

It’s just we start-ups are conditioned to believe writers don’t make money. And, if we’re not paying close attention, we think there is no other way to make money with our skills except writing books.

Oh, my darlings. There are plenty of other ways.

Freelancing: editing–copy, content, line; journalism; guest blogging; book reviewing. There’s a whole slew of ways to make money.

And there are established rates, comparable to our illustrator friends.

So, while you are writing the next great novel, dabble in the freelancing world. Make some walking around money. Then, you’ll have some extra cash on hand to pay our visual media friends for their services in addition to all the other stuff self-publishing entails.

Put your thumb in ALL THE PIES.

I’m about to provide you with a quick list of resources to help get started. Ready? Brace for pie-related yumminess:

Editorial Freelancers Association General Resources 

How to Become a Freelance Editor 

How to Become a Freelance Writer

Yes, Virginia You can Be a Paid Writer, Too.

Okay, so that’s the jumping off point. Remember, Google is your friend–you can do this. Now, go out there and make some money!

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4 thoughts on “All the Pies: Make money writing

  1. Worth noting, of course, is that while you can make a pretty decent salary writing, it often involves taking pretty boring jobs — something that a lot of those “Well-Fed Writer” sorts of blogs, books, and posts tend to gloss over.

    Still beats the hell out of a day job if you ask me (I get to work in my pajamas, after all), but unless you’re very, very lucky, a writing career is still going to end a fair number of hours banging away at something you’re only doing for the money, just like any old cubicle monkey.

    But not in a cubicle. And that part’s pretty awesome.

    • I totally agree–what I’m trying to emphasize here, however, is that you *can* in fact, make money doing something related to what you actually love doing. And, you can make money on the side doing it, if you have a “day job” to help fund the fun projects.

      Lots of start-up writers aren’t even aware they can do stuff to supplement their day-job income. Even if you are aware, like I was, it doesn’t really dawn on you that it doesn’t take a whole new bachelor’s degree to do something like copy-editing or freelancing writing, and you end up just skipping over that potential extra money (albeit occasionally very little extra money, but extra is still extra).

  2. Yesss! I’m glad you think so highly of my work, it’s mutual.

    All of this totally goes for Illustrators too. I can’t even tell you how many side projects I do. I’ve done all manner of design work (t-shirts, logos, album art, fliers) when not illustrating. I’m always scouring ads for a quick freelance gig.

    Many green writers don’t see things from the other side of the fence. Their writing is their baby that they’ve coddled and nursed from their creative bosom for gawd knows how long. While this is nice, and while I’m very happy to help bring your critters to life, there is no way I’m as invested as they are. They see baby, I see paycheck. I’m looking to get in, get out, claim it on my taxes. I’ve only got time to baby my projects, the rest is business. Writers/illustrators need to treat themselves like a BUSINESS because that’s what they are.

    The only pie not worth sticking a digit in is the one that doesn’t pay. I’m cranky about this, I know, but I’ve become staunchly against working for free. Bartering and exchanging goods is fine (though a pile of I.O.U.’s is just as bad) because doing free work not only devalues the work you do but YOU MAKE NO MONEY. This applies to all creative types.

    /curmudgeon. I’ll feel better in the morning.

    • For serious. Chuck Wendig has a whole blog entry on how writer’s shouldn’t do work for free, regardless of how much exposure you get. He’s fond of saying we artistic types can die of exposure, and that is very true.

      For those making it this far into the comment thread: Don’t undervalue yourself. You have a skill, a skill that is marketable and can be a source of income on some level. Keep up with that skill–hone it, love it, sing it lullabies at night–and then use it. And get paid appropriately.

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