If I tell someone I’m a writer – they generally have the impression that I sit down at my computer and write. It’s not entirely inaccurate – I do, but that’s a very small part of what I do.
If you want to make a living out of writing, you can add promotion, social media, a blog, graphics, competitions, editing, Facebook release parties, GoodReads events… seriously, the list is endless. It doesn’t stop there either. For new writers trying to make a living out of writing without the backing of one of the big five publishers, you’ll probably need to broaden your horizons. Magazine or newspaper articles tend to pay a little better than books and still allow you to do what you love – WRITING!
I’m NEW – help!
If you’re coming into writing without a clue of what to do other than write, my advice to you is to start some kind of promotion machine going. Usually that involves you working on social media and building up your followers. There are groups that can help you do this like the worldliterarycafe.com and asmsg.com, but you’ll have to take the first steps. Pick three social media groups – mine are FB, Twitter and Pinterest – and get them up and running. Follow people, some will follow you back and some won’t, but whatever happens, keep following people. If you want to put adverts about your work out there, you’ll need these channels and for the most part, they’re free.
There are so many companies out there that can’t wait to take your money and more often than not, none of them deliver very much. If you are going to pay someone to advertise your work – ask other people what works best or what they’ve had good results with in the past. BookBub, Booksbutterfly and BookGorilla have all produced results for me, but there are a LOT of promotion companies that you might as well just throw money at. There are some companies that will advertise your free books for free, if you search around a little, which is kind of handy as I despise PAYING someone to advertise my FREE book. Life is hard enough as it is, right?
If you’re starting out you’ll need to hop on over to google docs and make yourself a form for an author newsletter. THIS IS THE BEST way of getting and keeping your fans. This is your DIRECT MAILING LIST and you need to treat your subscribers like gold dust. As a new author, I didn’t bother setting one up until I was two years down the line, and I regret it now. This is the #1 way to sell books, no doubt about it. At the end of all your books put your mailing list link in to allow new fans to be updated with your new releases. It works. Trust me.
Whilst we’re at it, host a few competitions, or run your own blog. Your mailing list is only as exciting as you make it. If you constantly advertise your books and nothing else, your followers may stray. Talk to them, pop a link to your blog posts in, run some competitions, and showcase other authors work. In this industry, the more you help others, the more the love will be returned. (It’s like any other walk of life, trust me).
Running your own blog is a good way to regularly showcase your work, gain followers, and if you’re successful you can also make money by running ads and reviewing products. Set up a schedule for regular blog posts and try not to make the blog all about writing – you need to keep your readers entertained, too. Show videos that are relevant to you or your writing, note down humorous experiences, find interesting news articles, shower them with your poetry – just keep it interesting and varied and build up your followers.
Learn New Skills
Book covers were extortionately priced when I first started, not to mention advertisements or video trailers. I decided to take matters into my own hands and purchased photoshop elements for £60/$80. It’s amazing how fast you learn – I’m now happily using Photoshop CC and I still learn new tricks every day. Now I can design book covers, video/gif stills, and simple twitter and fb ads. Don’t underestimate graphics and book covers – good graphics sell. Even now I still pay for graphics. My last two vampire stories had covers that were over $99 each, but they worked. The books sold well. If you’re just starting out and are struggling – try canva.com for easy peasy graphics. These pictures showcasing your book are important. The world has gone visual and every post needs a picture to sell. Try to build up a bank of between 3 – 10 ads for each book you write. It’s worth it – trust me.
Don’t Give Up!
Whatever you do, don’t give up, but be realistic. Are you going to be able to give up the day job at first? Unlikely. But if you give it enough time and determination, you can make some decent money doing what you love. It probably won’t be a fortune at first, but over time – who knows?