What to do when your books don’t give you to live as a writer
It’s hard when your books don’t give you to live . It is a reality that I have had to suffer on a recurring basis for years. Specifically, more than three.
The same time since I decided to quit my job as a consultant at Accenture.
After five years working in this consultant, knowing that I entered at 9:00 but without knowing if that night would leave at 20:00, 22:00 or 03:00 the next day, I ended up more than fed up. Not for having to work hard, that didn’t matter to me.
One day I realized that this job was the opposite of what I expected to achieve in my life . And I didn’t want to get up in thirty years and see how I had given up all my dreams for the safety of a job I hated.
I knew nobody would come looking for me if I didn’t do something about it.
I was lucky to find what I was passionate about soon: writing about strategy, disruption and business models of technology companies .
This is how I launched my first ebook, El Espectador Digital, which reached number 1 of iBooks for several days and got more than 3,000 downloads in two weeks. This helped me to open my eyes and discover what I wanted to do: live as a writer .
Reality, as many of you know, was very different.
Choose your income goal as a writer
It is impossible to dedicate yourself exclusively to writing when your books do not give you to live as a writer. Therefore, it is time to use mathematics.
Let’s take account . Let’s say our goal is to have an average “salary” per month of 1,000 euros. The calculation we have to do is find out how many ebooks we have to sell a day to reach it. Let’s see:
- We have written a novel and have it published exclusively on Amazon, partly because of the advantages offered by the Kindle KDP program .
- Having chosen the best price for our ebook , we have opted for 3.99 euros.
- With it, we can opt for the highest royalty on Amazon , with which we will get 70% of the profits.
- To simplify the calculation, we will leave VAT out.
This means that for each copy we will earn 3.99 x 0.7 = 2.793 euros.
If we divide the 1,000 euros that we have set, we will have to sell 1,000 / 2,793 = 358 copies a month or 12 a day .
So, on paper, they don’t seem too many. The difficult thing is to maintain that average figure and over time .
Which means that to live as a writer a few days you will sell 20 and other days you will sell 4 copies. But normal is that unknown writers do not sell any. Something that makes it very difficult to make a living writing books.
What to do when your books do not give you to live?
Luckily, there are alternatives when your books do not give you to live.
Ironically, it’s about continuing to write, but this time for others . I will give you four options that can be used to complement your income.
Alternative 1. Write as a freelance on other websites
As I commented at the beginning of the article, writing about the strategic point of view of technology companies is my passion. I had been reading the different publications about technology in Spanish for years and I always missed that same point of view .
I had already written my ebook and launched a blog with the same name. Thanks to this, I could show what I was able to write and contribute. It was a kind of training of what would come next . My goal was to be an editor in one of the great blogs of Weblogs, the largest media company in Europe.
How did I get it? When your books do not give you to live, one becomes more cunning. I developed a very detailed plan with which to achieve that goal. It was the following:
- I wrote the best entries I had written so far in my blog . I focused all my efforts on one in particular, it was this: The Android market share is literally a joke . More than 2,000 words, graphics, video and what counts most in these cases: a well-founded opinion with bombproof data.
- I began to share the articles of Applesfera (one of the means of Weblogs) mentioning their authors. I commented on the best entries and tried to add value to the conversation. Always in a positive tone, if I didn’t see something good to say, I’d better shut up. I tried to help other commentators if I could.
- One of the blogs of the same company organizes an annual event in which there are conferences and products for attendees to try. He also writers and employees of Weblogs & Assignmentbox, so it would be the perfect opportunity to network .
- I got a ticket for the event and made sure I was there in time to see and talk to people, even though I didn’t know anyone beforehand. I was lucky to be able to talk with some of those who are now partners, with whom I talked normally waiting for an opportunity.
- These events must always go with a specific objective. Mine was to exchange email addresses with someone from the company, if possible an Applesfera editor. After chatting with a group of them, I asked one if they were looking for editors for the blog. They said yes and I got a contact email.
- After a few days, I wrote the first email to show my interest and asking if they knew vacancies to be an editor. I waited for an answer but I didn’t get it .
- After two months I had almost forgotten the subject. Then it occurred to me to write a second time with a concrete proposal. In the body of the email I attached a couple of links to two articles I was especially proud of and asked them if we could do a test. I would send a set of five themes, with their titles, to choose one that I would end up developing.
The method worked and they asked me to write a first article, which was then accompanied by another and another.
Finally, I was proposed to become a senior editor at Applesfera, where I have been writing for two and a half years.
Alternative # 2. Use your books and blog as a cover letter
When your books do not give you to live, you have no choice but to be more hustler than average .
If your ebook is about a nonfiction issue, it is easier for you to use it as a cover letter at events.
Networking, a sophisticated word to say “make contacts”, is essential for the writer . If you are an expert in a subject, an ebook can be the perfect excuse to get new jobs or participate in projects.
People, in general, pay more attention when they know you have written something about a topic that interests them. It is a way to stand out from the rest of the homogeneous professionals in the world of work.
As long as you don’t harass people with your book or constantly talk about it.
In my case, thanks to my ebooks I have managed to work side by side with the ICEMD business school in Madrid. I have participated in talks and I have been interviewed in different media. Thanks to my blog British Essay Writers, I went on one of the Research Team programs on the La Sexta channel.
All this is a wheel that feeds on itself : talks, conferences, classes, projects, interviews, etc.
But it also takes time to take care of the relationships that get you to bear fruit . I know it sounds contradictory to invest time that you should devote to writing to other activities unrelated to writing, but it is the only way to have a sustainable way of “buying” that same time.
Alternative # 3. Become a copywriter or ghostwriter
The first of these words is how English is known in writing texts.
With the appearance of the web and the digitalization of companies, the need to have texts on their pages increases.
Believe me, finding someone who can write well is very, VERY difficult. Anyone can put words together , but from there to have the ability to create quality text, there is a very long stretch.
Even more so when it comes to companies that aspire to convince and convert those who read them into sales.
When your books do not give you to live as a writer, at least your writing skills can be very useful in this world .
The ghostwriter is what we call “literary black” in Spanish. It works as follows: one person hires another to write a book on a specific topic. At the end of the work, the first person will put his name in the book as if he were the real author , keeping all the rights and income generated by the sales.
This type of work is more frequent than you think. They require a lot of time, so their price is high.
Not only for the effort. Imagine writing a very good ebook and have another take the glory .
In my case, a couple of years ago I was offered to write a book for a third party. The offer was succulent, but the reality is that in the end you have to see how another takes all the fruits of your work.
Here, in Ebook Brothers, we have been asked several times with the intention of writing a book. When you answer with the figure (we have never proposed it seriously, just to see how the reaction is), people are surprised at what it costs .
In any case, if you are interested in this type of mercenary work , there are several websites that contact supply with demand:
- Freelancer : one of the most popular and reliable. You register, prepare your profile, look for projects and launch a proposal. The problem: it works so well that you have to compete with dozens of people in each offer. If you are new, you have no reputation or valuations so all you can offer attractive is a low price.
- Freelance work : similar to the previous one but less crowded.
- Twago : in the same style but with a more modern look.
Alternative # 4. Get a radically different job than what you’ve ever done
Last year I went to live in Canada.
Because my work can be done from home, it didn’t matter if I was in Madrid or in Vancouver .
So I packed up and left.
With the work visa I got, I could work if I wanted on Canadian soil. When living in a ski resort in the middle of the mountains, an interesting opportunity opened before me: work in the spring and summer months on a golf course .
It was the perfect occasion to do something that he probably would never have done in Spain. A different job, which required physical effort instead of mental and in which I met and made friends of the most diverse.
Thanks to this work, I could not only live in this country for almost a year. I also accumulated a precious experience that will serve me for my books throughout my life.
Of course, it is not necessary to go to the other side of the planet to acquire it. You can get it in your city.
One last recommendation
When your books do not give you to live sometimes you can fall into patchwork with those that “go pulling”. It is a good solution as long as you are aware that it is something temporary.
Do not make them your permanent works or you will see how your dream of living away from your books moves away.
It is very easy to fall into the routine and work every day without realizing that you are not approaching your dreams . You are moving away.
Therefore, you have to have a cool head and be able to say “No” to some jobs. To which? You will know when you face them.
If you know of any other useful alternative for when your books do not give you to live, please share it in the comments . I am waiting to know your experiences.