Making money isn’t easy. And it’s definitely not easy when you’re an indie author. In fact, when you compare the amount of time it takes to write a book to the loose change that authors receive royalties whenever they finally sell a copy, they end up earning an hourly rate so low that it’d be more time-efficient to go outside and ask strangers for money.
Of course, writers write for the love of writing, and any money that comes along with it can be a bonus. And that may be the case, but the sad truth is that unless your books are in the bestseller lists, you’re unlikely to earn enough money from sales alone to make a living. Luckily, there are other ways to supplement your income.
Even legendary authors like Graham Greene and Ernest Hemingway had to earn money by working on commissions. Nowadays, in the era of blogging and social networking, good writing is at a premium. Indie authors often find that they’re able to earn extra money on the side by working with brands that need to source high-quality blogs and web copy.
This has led to the rise of the freelancer. The term originated hundreds of years ago to refer to knights whose lances were literally for hire, and it’s now used to refer to any worker who provides a service – such as writing – on a self-employed, often short-term basis.
Many writers find that offering their metaphorical lance to the highest bidder can be a great way to augment their income while they’re working on their next big release.
Events & In-Person Opportunities
Not all writers are outgoing types; in fact, many of them are more at ease behind their computer screens than in the middle of a crowded room of people. But meeting up in person can be a great way to build relationships with readers, and it can boost sales and even lead to other work.
Writers also have access to other opportunities, such as paid speaking engagements or working as a tutor. Some local bars and cafes may be willing to pay for authors to host workshops or spoken word events. Even working for free can be a great way to build a portfolio, but be careful not to do it too often – you’ll need to weigh up the time you spend working for free against the time that you spend earning money
Blogging & Affiliate Schemes
Many indie authors choose to run their own blog sites, and it can be a good idea because it offers up multiple advantages. It helps you to network, and if you’re freelancing, as per our first set of tips, you can use it to promote your portfolio.
Many blog owners choose to offer sponsored slots on their site. For example, authors who keep a book blog can offer up advertising space or promo posts to publishers and authors, and some even charge for reviews – although it’s best to avoid that because it can warp your perspective and lead to a biased review.
Authors who can offer up space on their own blogs – or who can write sponsored content for third parties, as is the case with this piece thanks to PublishingAddict – can also earn a little cash while simultaneously building their profile.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, for writers who choose to be self-employed instead of working full-time for someone else to pay the bills, it’s difficult to make a living by doing just one or two things.
For a start, specializing too much can be a risk in itself, because if the work dries up then authors can be left high and dry. And by applying a mixture of freelance work, book sales, events, affiliate schemes and more, indie writers can scale up and scale down the amount of work they do base on what’s most fun or most profitable, depending upon their priorities.
Are you an indie author? If so, how do you make money? Do you hold down a day job, or do you earn enough from your work to pay for food, rent, and an internet connection? Let us know what you think!