Authors are a talented bunch. We’re adept at creating worlds and characters that engage our readers and keep them turning the pages. All these skills we learn—grammar, punctuation, pacing, layering, syntax—are valuable tools we can utilize in other forms of written communication to develop other income streams.
No matter where you are in your author journey, there’s the opportunity to use your fiction skills in different areas.
Content and Copy Writing
If you have a career in another field—IT, for example—you can find work as a content writer for organizations, magazines, and websites with a readership in your field of expertise. Alternatively, if you’re an excellent researcher and can understand industries you haven’t worked in, you can utilize these skills and write content. If your skill is writing content that is designed to sell a product or service, you may want to pursue copy writing.
Professional Writing Services
Manuscript assessment, copy editing, proofreading, and transcription are all excellent ways to earn money. However, not every writer will make a great manuscript assessor or copy editor, so it’s only worth pursuing if you are serious about this. It’s advisable to enroll in a writing and editing course, as it will strengthen your abilities and ensure you are offering a service clients are happy with.
If you have a talent for writing blurbs or polishing synopses, this a service you can offer. If gaming is something you’re passionate about, consider using your storytelling skills to create content for gaming companies.
Screenwriting and plays are another area authors can cross into, but, like publishing, it takes perseverance and time to build your skillset since writing these are different than writing a book. There are some great online and in-person courses to get you started, then it’s a matter of practice and networking. It’s certainly possible to write for the screen or theater if this is another area where your passion lies.
Some writers are able to use their skills and motivate writers by teaching workshops or running retreats. Many libraries and state writing organizations will hire experienced authors to teach workshops. If you have a background in education, have completed a training course, or work as a trainer in your day job, this will certainly help when approaching organizations about these opportunities.
One area of writing that is often overlooked as a way to earn money is ghostwriting. There is a huge market of celebrities, executives, film and book packaging companies, academics, medical personnel, and an array of other businesses in constant need of reliable writers. There is usually a confidentiality clause that keeps the writer anonymous, giving the client credit for the work—although sometimes the writer’s name will be credited as a collaborator on the project. As the writer (mostly) remains anonymous, ghostwriters often earn very good money.
To work in this area, you should be a good researcher, fast, flexible, and excellent at managing people’s expectations. You’d also need to have a strong business sense in terms of making sure your contract is clear with no room for misunderstandings, especially if you are working on a long project such as a memoir. Other helpful skills include empathy, so you can connect with the stories you are writing on behalf of someone else, as well as the ability to capture your client’s writing “voice” so it sounds like they’re the one who’s written the piece. Many ghostwriting assignments happen through word of mouth, so if this is something you’re interested in, make sure your network of authors, publishers, and agents knows you’re available for hire. You never know where it may lead!
Writers festivals, schools, and libraries love to have authors come and do a talk or workshop. Depending on the budget, the organization may offer payment. It can be quite lucrative and enjoyable, however, be sure to weigh how much time it will take to get to/from the destination, how long you’ll be away, and if meals and other expenses are paid for (if you are staying overnight). Most countries have writer’s guilds who can supply its members with a scale of rates for this kind of work; it’s advisable you use this when negotiating an appearance fee.
How about you? Have you earned money writing outside of fiction? If so, how did you do it?
Alli SinclairResident Writing Coach
Alli is an Australian multi-award winning and bestselling author whose fact-based fiction explores little-known historical events. Alli’s books have been voted into the Top 100 Australian novels of all time and when she’s not writing novels, Alli is working on international film and TV projects as a screenwriter and producer.
Alli hosts the Writers at Sea cruise retreat for writers, presents writing workshops internationally, and volunteers as a role model for Books in Homes. Alli is an experienced manuscript assessor and loves to work with writers to help their manuscripts shine.
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ANGELA ACKERMAN says
I think another thing to think about is business. A business’ story is what creates that emotional connection with their clients and yet most business owners aren’t storytellers. We writers have a great skill set to leverage in the business/marketing world, for sure!
Karen Lowe says
You left our technical writing, which is a great way to hone your ability to write clearly and succinctly. Businesses have a huge need for clearly written procedural and policy information. Whenever I find badly written or confusing instructions, I always contemplate sending that company my resume!
Abhishek Talreja (Abbey) says
Thanks for sharing some wonderful insights:) I could easily connect to all that you said above.
I’m an aspiring author/screenwriter and a freelance content writer. I have been writing in the content marketing niche for over five years and it has been a fulfilling journey so far.
BECCA PUGLISI says
I proofread someone’s book once, and I edited someone’s website. There really are a lot of opportunities out there for writers who want to apply their skills. It just takes some time to find them and get your name out there. Thanks for sharing, Alli!