Chris Marie Green came to speak last month at my local Romance Writers of America chapter. I wrote about her morning talk and the use of music for inspiration. Her afternoon talk delivered some practical advice to stay funded while writing. She called it “A Brave New World; Options for the Freelance Writer.”
Publishing has gotten crazy in the past 5 years. The Big Houses need to change course and seem to be turning slowly. We can only hope a new wave doesn’t swamp them during this maneuver like digital almost did. How do you make a living if you aren’t traditionally published and self-publishing isn’t working for you yet?
Chris wrote for several large houses until she wanted to write single titles. She had been very successful, but there was a change in editors and the new one didn’t have as much pull. She went back to teaching and focused after work on writing. Raise your hand if this is where any of you are at.
Then, an interesting thing happened through her agency. A job became available and her agent asked her if she would be the right person for this project: Ghostwriter! It’s very secret, she cannot mention the author or stories she works on. She didn’t even fall for my question if she could suggest a ghost-written book for our review. But to get this gig, you probably should be a known and successful author already. But keep looking. You have to apply for the position and they want speed in your writing. When Ghostwriting, she gets a plot points sheet and has to write within them. She gets 30 days to write it. There’s a flat fee usually, no royalties. And she makes the same per book as she did with Harlequin. Why do authors feel the need to have a ghostwriter? This varies from writer to writer. Is it difficult to get in another writer’s head and use that voice? That’s why they have a good editor.
Chris also works through an app called Hooked. Imagine telling your story through text messages or twitter posts. These are all text, no description. You post Episodes, not chapters. These are collected into a Season instead of a book. On the FAQ page for Hooked, you’ll see a link to send the company an email if you want to write for them.
You want your side jobs to be flexible, freelance, and come with subsidiary and foreign rights. If enough of your submissions to Hooked are liked, you’ll become a Content Provider, like Chris. More startups are coming along. If you have an agent, think of letting your agent do all that stuff as delegating.
Radish is another mobile reading app. It’s like WattPad but you pay for the content. Chris had to connect with another writer and get a reference for them to look at her work. They want the hook in the first page. You can’t use your backlist stories unless the hook is already there. Sex sells is true there. Keep your eyes open for starting apps like these.
Keep a finger on the pulse of the writing world. Follow Ink Talks, given at Ink Conferences. Novelist Inc. is a community of writers, helping each other, all genres, market-based. Sterling and Stone is the name of a writing studio created by three guys. They have self-publishing podcasts and lots of great advice. Their basic advice: Write. Publish. Repeat. These authors at Sterling and Stone also started the Collective Inkwell.
Other sidelines of income: Lectures, Merchandising, Signed Books. Watch for signings in your community and at local libraries.
BookFunnel is a way to wider distribution. For $20 per year and allowing them to data mine, they will help you market. These days, 80% of readers use their phones. You can send ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) through BookFunnel. You can bundle. Have a starter library. Get fans to read your books with trivia contests. BF does box sets. You can do sales through them. They are PayPal-enabled. Study how Damon Courtney announces his works. Become your own fan club. In the 80s Tiger Beat Magazine had sign-ups for fan clubs for all the cute boys; David Cassidy, Bobby Sherman, Davy Jones. If you joined, you would get a poster and a personal letter. You can do exclusive deals like that on BookFunnel. They are strictly digital.
Newsletters need added value like short serials, flash fiction or add sex scenes that aren’t in your book. Preview upcoming works.
Have you considered recording your books? Do Audible-type version and upload to Amazon. Check out Chris Fox‘s 5000 Words Per Hour, Write Faster, Write Smarter. Rretrain yourself. Give Dragon Naturally Speaking a try. Use it to get the words on the computer. Start a challenge in your writing group to write faster. Don’t watch the screen while using Dragon or you will get “He stopped in the doorway. No, wait, they are outside. No, don’t write that. Oh, crap, stop writing!”
I hope this overview has helped you and encouraged you to try something new. Any misinformation is strictly my goof and not Chris Marie Green’s. Thanks for reading. For the month of November, due to NaNoWriMo, I’ll be reposting my logs from past years.