While there are some amazing success stories, there are many more examples of writers who practice their craft for little or nothing and many relatively successful published authors earn less than the basic wage. There are however, several optimistic and creative ways in which you can use your writing to generate some income or to provide value to you in your daily living. I’m going to share with you here some examples from some writing colleagues.
Paul Caroll’s Writing Gifts, on a shoestring
A lovely project I heard about recently was Paul Carroll’s book ‘Writing Gifts, on a shoestring.
In Paul’s words ‘I know what it’s like to want to be able to give something to people, even just a simple card and not have the money to do it. Add to that the cost of food bills, heating, electricity and a mortgage and writers living on a basic wage could find themselves in an extremely difficult situation.’ Covering ebooks, short stories, poetry, picture books and scripts, Paul suggest ways that you can use your writing to give a unique and personal gift to friends and family ‘without the price tag,’ It’s a simple idea but one we may forget and is well worth checking out.
Rebecca Emin’s freelance self-publishing solutions
Our creative and financial circumstances vary over time. Rebecca Emin, a mother of three young children she says “I had been looking to build my income up a bit, so I looked around the job sites for a while and then realised I would much rather build up my own business at home to fit around my children. While my creative writing has been virtually non-existent due to external pressures,I have been working on helping other authors with their self-publishing ventures, which has germinated into a gradually-expanding business.
Rebecca Emin has published several books, including two books for children New Beginning and When Dreams Come True, as well as a book of short stories. She is working on a book of writing, publishing and social media tips. Having released her own books she was approached by others who were struggling with the technical and practical issues around self-publishing. It was through offering voluntary help to them that she realised that she could “translate my own experiences from publishing and self-publishing into tailored packages/self-publishing solutions for each individual who approaches me.” Her self-publishing solutions are proving popular and she is building up a client list and is open to all inquiries.
Helen Hunt’s short story markets
Helen Hunt is a writer that I’ve met through Twitter. What stands out about Helen is her strong work ethic, savvy and persistence in finding markets for her short stories. Taking a look at her publication list you can see how successful she has been at placing short stories in playing markets. She is focused, keeps up to date with what is required and keeps producing. Here is a recent interview with Helen and here is her blog. She will be running her next real life course on breaking into the short story markets later in the year. However she has an online course with flexible entry focusing on how to write stories that will appeal to the women’s magazine market. Follow her blog or Helen on Twitter for further updates
Catherine Ryan Howard’s Travel Memoir and Self-publishing Success
Catherine Ryan Howard’s life took an unexpected turn in 2010 when she self-published her travel memoir Mousetrapped. Sales took off suddenly in Dec 2010/January 2011 and she has sold 12,000 copies to date. She has brought out a subsequent memoir Backpacked. Catherine’s hard work in becoming a bit of a self-publishing guru by sharing her self-publishing adventure in an excellent blog (which has just been voted one of Future Inks top ten best self-publishing blogs) led to further opportunities and sales. She has also published an excellent step by step guide called Self-Printed on how to self-publish your book. I found this excellent when I took my own optimistic leap and self-published Housewife with a Half-Life. Catherine now lectures widely on self-publishing and social media (including a London course with the Faber Academy.) Although some of her success has taken her by surprise, she’s worked hard over the last few years and Catherine’s writing and related activities have allowed her to quit the day job and write full time.
Leaps of Optimism
I’ve talked about deciding what we want to do with our writing and what we want our writing to say. Last year, at the age of 42 I decided to self-publish my genre (and alternate world) hopping book. Housewife with a Half-Life and later some mini collections of short stories. You can read about my experiences here. This was an affirmation of a book I believed in and an adventure, a chance to participate in an publishing arena where I could learn, interact and reach out to others in my own way. I haven’t ruled out traditional publishing but I’ve gained so much in taking a leap of faith with my writing.
The examples here are of people who have through chance, adventure and their own hard work found and created opportunities for themselves through their writing. Once again, it is a positive thing, energetic decisions were made and these writers were able to be more financially resilient through their writing activities. Sometimes these opportunities took them by surprise but these writers seized the chances that came their way. I’d like to celebrate these writers and encourage you to check out the links to their sites and their books.
In return we’re (once again) offering some prizes. Catherine Ryan Howard is offering a hard copy of her fantastic book Self-Printed and Paul Carroll will give away a copy of his e-book Writing Gifts, on a shoestring. What I want you to do is visit and check out the blogs and books of the participants here and/or tweet or share a link to your favourite post/s of this 31 Ways to keep your Head above Water series. Then all you have to do is add your name into the comments. If there are enough entrants I’ll add a signed copy of Housewife with a Half-Life into the bundle. Winners will be chosen at random from the names in the comments. Thanks so much.