Latest News

Making Money as a Writer (While You're Waiting for that Book to Sell)

I studied creative writing in college because I wanted to tell stories for a living. Right now, I am definitely telling stories - but I don't make much of a living at it. Shortly after graduation, I realized that a.) I couldn't publish a book in time to pay rent and b.) my B.A. was super shiny and all, but I was only qualified to write things, analyze books, and wait tables.

Your guidance counselors don't explain this when you decide on a liberal arts major.

So, I sat down and I thought really hard about how to make money as a fresh-out-of-school English student, and I discovered a few things.

1.) Writers have to be resourceful. We actually have some very useful skills - most of society just doesn't know it yet. But, if you poke around, ask questions, you'll soon discover that most everyone needs a writer. That little boutique down the street? The owner is a lovely old woman with no idea how to use a computer. She needs someone to update the boutique's ancient website, or maybe manage her Facebook page. Sell yourself! Ask questions! There are jobs everywhere, if you look hard enough; if you're bold enough.

2.) There are resources galore for freelance writers - but never underestimate the power of Craigslist. I've stumbled on at least three freelance jobs via this website - all of which were legitimate, all of which paid my rent for a solid six months. Sure, some of these postings are scams; but plenty of them are not. You'll never know unless you send that first email and apply.

3.) I've spoken to other freelancers who found publishing jobs simply by cold-calling / emailing local magazines and publishers. They scraped for internships in college; then, post-graduation, gathered up their courage and asked for a paying job. Again - be bold! Ask for what you want. You'll be surprised at the response.

Don't believe me? Take a look at what other writers have to say.

Kiersi Burkhart: "I'm a professional copywriter, and I got my first gig when I quit my full-time job. They hired me back as a contractor to write materials for them, and having one fairly regular customer got my business started... I get my jobs mostly through referrals."

Dahlia Adler: "I had internships - at HarperCollins when I was in high school, then at S&S when I was in college, and then I was an EA at S&S. I got my first freelance copyediting contract for a small publisher by referral from an author for that publisher (though you still have to take a test for any publisher, no matter who refers you), and then after that, I applied for openings and got them (still with tests)."

Kate Pannarale Fries: "I had an entry-level publishing job out of college but I got my writing jobs by cold calling and emailing local publications and editors. More often than not, they were happy to add me to their freelance pool. For freelance editing jobs, I got them from friends I had made elsewhere who happened to be in the industry."

Are you reassured yet? Good! Now go and become a professional writer! You can do it - I believe in you. :)
Kristin Briana Otts

Kristin is an aspiring YA author with an abiding love for her dog, ghost hunter tv shows, and rainy days.

Posts by Kristin

tumblr twitter instagram

  • Blogger Comments
  • Facebook Comments


  1. Great posting! I'm going to check out the resources links. Thanks for sharing!


Comments are moderated on posts two weeks old or more -- please send us a tweet if yours needs approval!

Item Reviewed: Making Money as a Writer (While You're Waiting for that Book to Sell) Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Briana Otts