I love to write, and I’m trying to make a living doing what I love. There are lots of ways to sell writing. Currently I’m working on three – fiction, non-fiction and corporate writing.
Fiction is self-explanatory. I’m going to lump poetry in here, too, because it falls into that category called “creative writing”. I write fiction every week, and every week I submit fiction to paying markets. About twice a month, on average, I sell something. It’s not enough to keep the bills paid, but it gets my name out there and, as I’ve said before, it’s publishing credits on my resume for grant applications. I make two or three grant applications a year, for larger or smaller amounts.
I also enter contests. Here I’m very selective. I entered Polar Expressions’ fiction contest and placed in the top third, but not in the top three. This meant that my story was published in their book, but I didn’t get any money for it. I also had to buy the book – at a hefty $29.95 – if I wanted an archive copy. As far as I’m concerned, this amounted to a cheap way to get content for the book, plus a sure bet on quite a few sales. Now I enter contests where only the prize winners are published.
Non-fiction – this is any fact-based article I pitch to a magazine, and any non-fiction I write on my own time, like the reptile book just completed and the others I’m planning in that series. Some of it’s on spec – like the books – and some of it is written to order. I also do book reviews by assignment.
Corporate – this is, right now, white papers, although I’ve been working on a ghostwriting gig for a while, and I guess that would figure here, too. Essentially I think of corporate writing as something I’m writing to order to someone else’s specifications. The main difference between this and a magazine article is rewriting. There’s a lot more rewriting in corporate work than in magazine articles. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked to rewrite an article once it was assigned.
So I have three income stream – trickles right now, but they’ll get better. Fiction is where my heart is; it’s slow, but great for my ego, and I love it. Non-fiction is a lot easier to write, and probably easier to sell; I enjoy it a lot, too, because I’m writing about things that interest me and that I know well. Corporate writing is a change and usually interesting because I enjoy custom work and learning new things. (It comes back to fiction – all grist for the fiction-writer’s mill!)
There are ways to make a living on writing, and I’m going to find them. On the other hand, if I’m going to be broke anyway, I might as well be broke doing something I enjoy. Looks like I can’t lose.