I Love Making Money with My Fiction…
For some reason, not sure how, some people have thought I am against making money with fiction writing. Never ever said that.
In fact, that is so far from the truth as to be laughable. I make great money with my fiction now. Not as good as many, but better than I ever did when I was writing for money as a ghost and media writer.
But for some reason I use the term “artistic” and “choice” and then suggest that writers should take the long-term goal and write what they love and people automatically knee-jerk reaction that I am against making money with fiction.
Nope. I’m a professional fiction writer. Why would I be against that?
So let me tell you another part of my story. Many of you know this, but let me go over it one more time.
In June 2013, just three plus years ago, I was making almost nothing from my writing. (Nothing for me means around $20,000 per year or so.) I had a bunch of short stories indie published and very little money coming in (around $20 per year) on royalties from all those books I had sold traditional.
Think that through. I had written for money and had sold over a hundred novels and owned just one of them. And was making about $20 per year in royalties.
I was selling some short stories to anthologies and such, and the different cash streams from the short stories sort of added up nicely because I had some collections and about a hundred short stories indie published. But looking only at my writing alone, I sure wasn’t making a living wage.
Luckily, at that moment in time I didn’t need to because I was also playing poker and Kris’s writing, which WMG had been focused on was doing great. At that point WMG Publishing had about three hundred titles up and three full-time employees and was growing.
The online lectures and workshops had just started and were helping WMG as well as selling collectables.
But my writing wasn’t helping much. So I warned everyone at WMG to be ready because I was going back to writing. I dug down into this challenge, started up Smith’s Monthly, and published from 28 to 36 major titles per year since that point. Twelve Smith’s Monthly issues per year, at least twelve novels per year, some nonfiction books, and other fiction projects such as Stories from July.
All that I wrote was what I wanted to write. Nothing to make money, all just to make me happy.
And now, three years later, from an almost dead start, I am making more than I ever made at writing and I now only play poker a few times a year with friends.
I am proud to say that not once, in those three years, did I ever think of trying a project because it was a hot area. Nope. Only wrote for myself. Western time-travel, massive space-opera, twisted superhero stories, retired detectives playing poker and solving cold cases, and so on.
All stories to entertain myself. All 100% Dean stories.
2015 was my biggest writing year for money ever and 2016 has gone way past that already. Great fun.
Yes, I said that. Making money is great fun. And that’s why I can talk about this topic of artistic choice right now.
I spent a decade writing for money, making good money, (most years past six figures) and I burnt myself out completely. I came to hate writing and even the thought of doing it.
Now I write for love, to entertain myself, to just have fun telling stories.
How did I get here so fast? From a basic dead stop in 2013 to now?
Simple. In three years I wrote more than most writers will write in their lifetimes and I kept learning as much as I could at the same time, about business and publishing and the craft of writing and telling stories.
I have cleared out most myths that hold writers back. And slow writer’s down.
And I’m having great fun.
So right now I am the poster child for writing for love and making money at the same time. Kris makes more than I do and she never ever writes for money either. Many, many writers make more than I do and write only for love of what they are doing.
But I have this blog and no worry about what you folks will say. So I can just put things like this post out here.
The formula for long-term success is easy.
1… Write what you love, what entertains you.
2… Learn continuously about the craft of telling stories.
3… Learn continuously about the business of publishing.
4… Learn continuously about how to handle a business and money.
5… Write more stories and novels than anyone else.
You want to study how I went from stalled to making lots of money with my writing?
Just buy all 36 issues of Smith’s Monthly and study them. 36 novels, 160 plus short stories, tons of articles and non-fiction, serial novels, and so on. And realize I laid out the first thirty of those issues out, from cover to interior to ads. Yes, I did the work on them as well until just last spring.
Write that much in three years, keep learning, and find innovative ways to get your stories to readers and you will be surprised how much money you can make.
But you can’t do that writing to market. At least not for long.
Only writing for love will allow you to maintain that pace and have fun at the same time.
So now I have, as Heinlein said, “Given away the secret.” Now anyone can do it.
Anyone can, actually.