By Angela Booth
Fiction is stories. Tell stories, and you can make money from publishing them yourself, or you can go the traditional publishing route. Moreover, fiction can be profitable — it’s an added income stream for professional writers.
Fiction is the new freelance writer’s bonanza.
Five years ago, if you suggested to a professional writer that you wanted to make money writing fiction, he would have laughed. I would have laughed.
At that time, there was no money in writing fiction. Publishers were telling writers that they should use their advances to promote their books.
This was Insanity, since the advance was all the money the author was ever going to make — authors were writing books for free. I know how hard it is to make money writing novels the traditional way. I gave it up for many years because it was too heartbreaking. I never thought I’d go back to it. Big publishing and three New York literary agents knocked the romanticism right out of me.
That’s all changed, and Amazon changed it. These days, you can make money from fiction:
The e-books, which they self published, were a series of sometimes steamy romance novels. They started picking up buzz on the internet and quickly earned them enough to meet their $1,200 monthly mortgage payment.
So we just started writing like mad,“ Jasinda said. ”And I think in like six months we put out 20 titles.”
The Wilders have sold almost a million ebooks in less than 12 months.
Write first, publish later.
So, what do you need to make money writing Kindle fiction? You need to write. And write. Ideally, you need a publishing plan, because you’re becoming a publisher yourself.
You don’t have to write complete novels however; there’s a market for short fiction. Here’s an interesting thread on Writers’ Cafe from a writer who’s primarily writing short fiction:
1.) How long are my titles?
My shortest story is still 2,100 words long. Though this particular title is no longer published on Amazon because of an email they sent me.
My longest title is 50,462 words long (my novel). Though I do have combined serials that are much longer. On average, I strive for at least 10,000 words, which usually gets cut down to a little over 8,000 after editing.
2.) What is my pricing strategy?
I follow the Selena Kitt pricing strategy, which is as follows:
$0.99 > Short Shorts: Under 3k
$1.99 > Shorts: 3–7k
$2.99 > Stories: 7–15k
$3.99 > Novelettes: 15–35k
$4.99 > Novellas: 35–50k
$5.99 > Novels: 50–70k
It’s an interesting thread, although it’s LONG. If you’re a new writer, that thread will help you, because you’ll see that you don’t need to write a dozen novels before you start making an income.
Are you inspired? Maybe you are, but you’re nervous. That’s OK, because…
You’ll get better with every word you write.
If you want to write fiction, you can do it. Here’s what’s important: no matter how crappy your writing when you start, you’ll improve with every word you write. Seriously – remember shitty first drafts.
I started writing fiction again a couple of years ago, and soon realized why I love it.
- You can’t really make a mistake (no matter how strange your story people act, you can always create motivations for their actions);
- It’s huge fun: you get to tell yourself stories, and live in the worlds you create;
- You’ll keep learning. Fiction’s all about people, and people are endlessly fascinating.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to write fiction, it’s heartening to know that you CAN make money at it. Finally. All you need to do is write.
Post update: May 25, 2014
When I published this article a year ago, fiction was the hot new opportunity for freelance writers. It’s even more of an opportunity now. However, it’s not for every writer. You can’t expect to make an instant fortune. Expect to write several novels, and/ or many short stories before you make enough money to live on.
Years ago, bestselling author Robyn Carr commented that novelists should consider learning to write as they do learning any other trade. Amazon changed one thing for authors: now you can earn while you learn.
Have fun with your fiction. I’ve always maintained that the writing itself is your richest reward. Over the years, you’ll discover the truth in that.