Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I Want To Write For A Living

Yeah, well, I want to write for a living too. I'm serious. I never knew many New York Times bestselling authors have a day job. The truth is, it's hard work to sustain a writing career that will pay the bills.
In this day of self-publishing, and the fact that it's no longer taboo, or considered "vanity" publishing, being a full-time writer is more attainable than in the past. The have to write well, and write fast.
When I wrote Let Us Prey, I was so excited. I was a published author! And yet I didn't feel much like an author. In fact, I never told people I had a book published. And Let Us Prey was in the red from the start. I had to pay for editing, formatting, the book cover art, and I went down an unimpressive (and stupid expensive) road of advertising. I was so far in the hole on that novel that I didn't understand how others were screaming from the rooftops about being able to finally quit their day jobs. I was sick. What did they know that I didn't know? I had good, great even, reviews, a cover that garnered lots of compliments. Where had I gone wrong? I did everything they told me I should do.
And then I started actually paying attention. These authors had a minimum or 4-5 books published before they started seeing a profit. And lucky for many, they also had a backlist, which are books that they had written over the years that had never gotten published, but were damn good, or they got the rights back from out of print books. They were on a roll.
Well, hell, now I wished I finished all of those crazy stories I'd started. I'm still trying to find the manuscript I'd nearly sold to Silhouette. It had been typed on a word processor (back in the day before laptops), and it was good.
So when the second book in my Gotcha Detective Agency series came out, I had hoped to get "out of the hole" and at least see a profit. And guess what, I did! With the help of a very generous author, Martin Crosbie, who told me his secrets. But it wasn't until the fourth book came out that I saw I had a following. And people were asking when the next book was coming out.
Really? They like me? Or rather, they like my characters, my writing, the Gotcha folks. Well, I liked them too, and enjoyed the time I spent with my characters more than the time I spent with real folks.
But I can only write so fast. I wish I was as prolific as my New York Times bestselling author friend, Jennie Bentley. She has two mystery series, and several other books she's written in the time I've written four books and a novelette. She's the reason I had the nerve to publish in the first place. She was there with me from the very beginning. And every piece of advice she's given has been gold.
So, if you want to be a writer, don't hang your hat on one book, plan to write many, many more.
And don't be afraid to ask questions, be proactive, and when people ask what you do for a living, say, "I'm an author."
Also, find ways to get your name out there, inexpensive things you can give to people to help them remember your name. I use trading cards with my Gotcha characters, and pens. Everyone needs pens.

Happy writing.


  1. Great perspective on what it takes to be an indy author: write, write, write. Thanks for sharing your journey to profitability.

    1. The hard part is writing faster. If I had to do it again, I'd have 3 books ready to go, then be working on 4, 5, 6, as I released the second and third books. Live and learn.