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It will make you rich

The Seven Myths of Novel Writing

The novel writing process does not happen like this: You write a book, someone hands you a cheque for £1000,000, it gets published, it gets optioned, you get even more money. Even for the few people who have come from nowhere, got large amounts of money (enough to buy a castle in Scotland) and had all their books optioned – it still did not happen in a linear, straightforward fashion. So Myth Number Six in my myth-busting series is: It will make you rich.

What other ways are there to get rich?

Let’s think about it another way. What other ways are there to get rich? It’s only going to take a bit of googling to come up with a list. Some of the results might be useful (say you took advice from a financial advisor on ethical investments and it paid off, for example), others might be fun but otherwise very unlikely to make you money (buying a lottery ticket this weekend, for example) and many will be downright dodgy. Even the phrase ‘get rich quick scheme’ suggests that you should adopt an attitude of cynicism. Maybe it’s the idea that you can ‘make buckets full of money’ and do it ‘quickly’ that’s the problem here. I think this myth exists because we’d rather treat writing a novel like a dream (like finding a pot of gold under a rainbow) rather than a reality, that involves hard work and business-nous.

Don’t give up

So the fact that novel writing is unlikely to make you rich doesn’t mean you should give up on your novel. Instead, put it in context. ‘It won’t make you rich’ applies to practically anything. Or to put it another way, almost nothing will make you rich without at least a couple of the assets below. This five step plan to making money may take several years to implement, but at least it’s not a ‘get rich quick scheme’. You need:

  1. a plan
  2. hard work
  3. to learn how it works
  4. some luck
  5. contacts

What to do if you want to make money from your writing

Firstly, consider writing in more than one mode. If you’re a novelist, you may not have considered:

  1. Writing articles
  2. Writing blog posts
  3. Writing nonfiction books
  4. Copy writing

As I said before, you’re still going to need a plan, hard work etc. (see my five step plan above) but there are some forms of writing that are more likely to pay than others.

Secondly, diversify. Yes, writing in more than one mode is a form of diversification. But there are other ways too. One that many people do is teach or lead workshops along side their writing. Some writers offer critiques of other people’s work. Or you might diversify in other creative ways. ‘Diversification’ is simply business jargon for ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket.’ Remember to leave yourself some time to write your novel, too.

Thirdly, think of your writing as a small business. Just as with any small business, you need to plan and you need to market your work. I’ve written about marketing for reluctant writers here. There are some books you can read to help you understand how to treat your writing like a small business, or at least how to put a ‘business hat’ on from time to time. I list them in this video. It’s a 45 sec extract from my online course called Find Time to Write Your Novel.

If you missed the other posts in this series, you can check them out here:

The Seven Myths of Novel Writing – all seven posts in one list



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