What do most writers who either live off of their royalties or use them for a decent portion of their incomes have in common? Is it even possible to do this? I think… yes, perhaps more than ever with e-books and the publishing revolution underway.
Though these writers might have other attributes, these are a few I have gleaned over the past year of reading and thinking about their secrets to success.
1. They write… every day.
Even if it’s only for an hour because something came up that prevented more, they get words down on paper every day. Sound tough? It is, but it’s mainly about discipline and seeing the end game—being able to rely more on royalties and writing as income. Nora Roberts writes eight hours a day. Stephen King writes at least five, for example. If you have a day job, this can be tougher, but do you have thirty minutes you can write each night? Is there a television show you can skip seeing to get in more writing time? I suspect most of us can do thirty minutes a day at least, and that’s a start.
2. They never give up.
Whether it’s Stephen King or another author, stories abound of rejection after rejection. Did it stop these writers? No. They kept writing, revising, and querying until their work stuck. So, don’t give up, even if the going gets really tough. If you keep writing and studying the craft, you can make it.
3. They have a huge backlist of books.
Successful authors usually have more than one or two books. If you take a look at James Patterson, Stephen King, P.D. James, Nora Roberts, or any other number of authors who have made it big, you’ll notice they have a huge backlist, i.e., tons of books that were published a while back but that readers can still purchase. Just take a look on Amazon and you’ll see what I mean. Building a backlist takes time, but it’s crucial.
4. They are always working on the next project.
This one sort of goes along with writing every day. Basically, authors who make it don’t dwell on yesterday or sit on their laurels. Once one novel, novella, or story is done or sold, they start the next one. In fact, some of them have several projects going at once.They know that if you want to make money writing, you must have many products to sell–to give readers options. It’s sort of like going into a store. If there are only a few things on the shelf, you might turn around and walk out. Many choices will up the odds that you buy something as Dean Wesley Smith, a bestselling and prolific author argues. Many of these authors set a goal for how many publications they plan to have in a year as well.
5. They are having fun doing what they love.
This one might be the most important. If you’re not having fun writing, you’re doing it wrong. If writing isn’t fun, you’ll quit. So, what can you do to recapture the fun of doing what you love if you’ve lost it? Do you need to obsess less and just write more? Have you gotten too bogged down in being perfect? Fun ensures that you’ll look forward to writing every day, and that leads to all the rest.
So, what are you doing to up your odds of living off your writing or at least using your royalties to make life a lot more comfortable– if either of these is one of your goals?