Money for Books
Can I quit my job and make a living from writing? I’ve always loved books. I’m sure I’ve got a book in me. When I have time I’m going to write a novel. My life story would make a great book. Poetry sells well now, doesn’t it? There’s a woman in America selling a million poetry books a year. Look at Jane Austen, she was self-published. JK Rowling was turned down loads of times. I’ll do an ebook and put it on Amazon. It’s easy. The money just rolls in.
We’ve all seen comments like this. And, let’s face it, packing in the 9 to 5 and settling down at home to a life of writing and chocolate digestives has great attractions. There are lots of books about writing fiction and non-fiction. The internet is groaning with advice about learning to write and selling your book, from the useful to the downright dangerous. We all have the opportunity to research before taking the plunge into a life of literary letters or trashy bestsellers.
A Life of Crime
If we’re looking at printed books, crime is by far the best selling genre. If you want to make money out of writing crime thrillers you’d better get to know the police, criminal barristers or solicitors, and some dodgy geezers down the Dog and Ferret. How do you think Ian Rankin does so well? Research, research, research is the name of the game – and a brilliant writing style, of course. A good well-trained copy-editor and proofreader are also essential. An unedited book grates and jars and poor proofreading ruins enjoyment.
Sci-fi and romance were well behind crime in 2018 but did much better as ebooks on Amazon or as self-published titles.
Very attractive option. But so hard to break into the market unless you’re famous. Who wrote 40% of kids’ bestsellers last year? You’ve got it! David Walliams. They are good, mind.
If you get a publisher – one with proper trained editors, proofreaders, marketing and salespeople – how many books will you sell in your first year? Well, averages are pointless but endlessly fascinating. 1000 for a first novel would be great, but 500 is more likely. By the time you get to your third and you have a loyal following things will pick up. Having 20,000 Twitter followers would also give you a push.
So no one, or hardly anyone, gets rich from publishing, and certainly not quickly. But don’t be put off. Money should never be your only motive and never your main aim. Jeffrey Archer excepted, of course.
So don’t give up the day job just yet. Keep writing and maybe do a little freelance copy-editing and proofreading on the side to earn some money from home. Editing other authors helps to iron out your own writing glitches, too.