I’ve talked to hundreds of fiction authors and worked with many and it’s become apparent that most fiction writers struggle to ever earn any considerable income from their work.
The market for fiction books is enormous – far larger than the market for non-fiction!
Therefore, it should be even easier for fiction authors to earn a full-time income than for non-fiction authors.
Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned for fiction authors when it comes to earning a serious income.
1. Practice Writing Daily
Nothing is more depressing than meeting an author who’s written one book and only wants to sell it. But an author who’s written dozens of books – now that’s someone I want to talk to! Why? It’s not just because they’re more productive; they’re more fun to be around as well.
Anyone can write one book. But honestly, how good is someone’s first novel going to be? Even great writers started out writing poorly. The only way to write a truly great book is to write a lot of books! Invest the time in learning how to become a better writer. And realize that practicing writing a lot is the only way you’re going to get there.
For writers who want to earn a serious full-time income, I recommend writing a minimum of two hours a day. That’s 14 hours a week for those of you who are used to a 5-day work week. There is no 5-day work week for a motivated author.
The mind takes no days off and neither should your writing!
You’re not going go earn a steady salary as a novelist, but it’s crucial that you work on your writing consistently if you want to earn a full-time income as an author.
2. Read Daily
People ask me all the time,
“How do I get more material to write?”
How can you call yourself a serious author if you’re not a serious reader?
You have to study those who have come before you, or you will find yourself constantly reinventing the wheel, discovering insights on your own that you should have learned years ago by studying and learning how to improve your writing skills.
3. Write Mostly Novels, not Short Fiction or Novellas
Authors with single-title novellas tend to sell very few copies, even with heavy marketing support. For the vast majority of authors, it’s simply not worth spending money marketing a single novella because your max realistic price point is $2.99, and even then you’re still competing with full-length novels from authors with huge backlists at that price point for an ebook. Most novellas sell for 99 cents, and many are offered for free to help the author attract new readers to buy their other books.
The key for novelists is to have several novels in one series or a similar genre so that readers who love one of your books will buy the rest.
Novellas are really just gravy on the side and are not real money-makers in my experience.
If you’ve never written a story longer than 50,000 words, you ought to make that your goal now. It’s hard to do a truly great story justice with less material.
If you write short books only, try writing longer books. Chances are you need to practice character development, plotting and create a richer story.
One other strategy you can take if you’re still exploring your genre and interests is to write several short stories and see which one sells the best. If you find readers are loving one of your short stories in particular, then you may want to write a full-length novel or series of books based on those characters.
Readers will tell you what they want with their credit cards. If one of your books is selling 10x or 100x more copies than your others books, you should try to find out why and write more books related to your best seller.
If you only write long books and have never written a short story, try writing a short story. Chances are you write too much description and long-winded prose. See if you can tighten it up and write something short yet impactful.
4. Write More, Edit Less
If you’re spending more than half of your writing time editing, you’re doing it wrong. You’re probably a perfectionist and that habit of getting stuck in editing and not producing new content will kill your career! The only way to grow and get better is to be constantly producing new material.
Don’t worry about if it’s good or not at first – just start writing. Once you have your first draft done, that’s when it’s time to start editing and revising your work.
After you’ve gone through enough self-editing (between 5 and 75 rounds of your own revisions), you’ll want to send your book either to beta readers or a professional editor next, depending on how you want to go about it. We have some highly trained and experienced editors we can recommend for you based on your particular genre or subgenre.
You’ll get better over time if you practice. If you don’t practice, you’ll never improve.
Become a Well-Paid Author
If this all makes sense and you’re looking to publish several full-length novels in a similar niche or genre and you’re looking for a publishing company that understand show to create book marketing campaigns to help you earn a full-time income as an author, contact us here.