Writing 101: the beginner's guide to having a profitable career as a writer
posted by Admin Goddy Ora on January 18th, 2021
Naomi starts her writing career as an eleven years old girl who writes short story books just for the fun of it. As she grew older, the length of her story books increases from her previous best of two hundred word stories to a five hundred word one then to a thousand and now as at eighteen years, Naomi has a fifty thousand word novel draft waiting to be published. She gets excited with her work well done: a product of long hours of writing, editing, proofreading and book styling. An Enthusiastic Naomi signs up to Amazon kindle store, okadabooks (for Nigerian audience) or submits her draft work to a book publishing firm hoping to make a killing out of her good job. A week passed by since her book release date and not a single sale made. One month passed, then two, then a whole year yet only a few sales have been recorded or even no sale at all! Little Naomi, disgruntled by the failure of her debut writing exhibition, terminates every one of her ongoing writing projects and deletes everyone of her author's account on various online books vendor stores after coming to a dreadful conclusion - maybe writing wasn't my thing after all?
Well many of us were once like Little Naomi and many other aspiring writers dreams too have ended just like hers. The writing world is very competitive and unforgiving one screwed to favor already made/popular writers in their field over new and upcoming writers no matter the height of their writing potential. This new era of online self publishing platforms has actually made it even worse compared to the era of physical publishing houses. Why you may ask? In the past, a well written book by a newbie writer has to pass through an editor of a book publishing house and if the editor finds it worthy then it progresses into the next phase before it finally becomes published and marketed by the firm with the author taking his/her cut (in form of commissions or endowment) from every copy sold. But now with online self publishing platforms like Amazon Kindle; one has to do everything from the writing to editing to proofreading to cover design before uploading his/her book online. While the newer online model has its merits like greater percentage of commissions earned per book sold and better credibility compared to crooked publishing houses of the past, the online model also has its many demerits. They include:
Deregulation of the Writing Community: With the ease of self publishing, everyone can now become a writer with or without the required skill sets. Millions of books are published on Amazon kindle every year with majority of them been trash reads or poorly written fiction books with little to no substance. If you were a reader and you once purchased a book of an unknown author only to find it filtered with tons of grammatical errors and cliché theme stories; will you ever patronize one of his kinds again? This is the fate of every relatively unknown writer hustling to market their books on the various online book stores. No readers want to buy a book without any assurance of getting a befitting reward for what they paid for hence, they rather rely on purchasing only the works of popular authors. A research found out that 95% of all the money earn via selling books on kindle store were earn by less than a 5% of the registered authors! The unregulated market of self publishing has made tens and hundreds of thousands of great books to rot in the archives of these online book vending platforms as readers becomes increasingly more inclined to only the works of established authors.
Marketing/Advertising Problem: In the past, an author writes a compelling novel and his job ends there but now he would have to advertise his published work aggressively to his target audience in order to get their attention. To do this, the author has to pay for such advertisement services before reaping its rewards in the form of increased sales revenue. This causes a major headache to upcoming talented writers as they can't afford to pay the big bucks to run such expensive ads not when they haven't even started earning a dime from their writing talent hence; they rather rely on free or cheap ads services like social media, online forums etc. Free or cheap ads converts way lesser sales than the well paid ones so an already established writer with a burgeoning fan base has it easy as he/she can afford to pay truckloads of money in order to push a recently released book to wider audience thereby resulting into even bigger returns. To make it in this writing business, one has to spend a lot of money first in form of capital investment before earning anything back in return. Not everyone can survive such an harsh reality so many next Shakespeares or JK Rowlings have been sent to their writing retirement way to early.
Patent and Piracy issues: Let's go back to our little Naomi story. While her book was rotting away with little to no patronage from readers; she gets frustrated and decides to start sharing her story to readers for free via posting it to online forums. An interested reader could compile her full story then remake it to his/her own book and upload it online under a different book title. Even a buyer of Naomi's book can remake a story from her book. These fraudulent fellows with the help of well paid ads services could start raking reasonable money from selling a brilliant novel they never contributed to its original writing. While the now dejected Naomi might not even be aware of the situation with her thinking the failure of book was down to lack of talent and writing skills on her part. Such a scenario have been played out on many occasions with piracy sharks turning good but poorly patronized books to a profit making machine after remodeling/repackaging them and subscribing to well paid ads services to market those pirated books.
How to turn around your writing career into a profitable one?
There are two kinds of writers: The Professional writer and The Non-professional writer. Both kinds of writers have something in common – skill, expertise and passion for writing – yet one basic thing separates them: the ability to earn a living from their writing talent. Not every writer aspires to become a Professional but if you have decided to turn out as one then you have to know the secrets to selling your talent. Here are some of our tips that you might find handy:
Write what readers want to read: The mistake most writers make is starting off a book project without any prior research carried out. Let assume Mrs.X is a physics professor and wants to write a physics textbook as part of a contribution to the physics society. She is fascinated with the Optics part of physics so she pours out her energy and time into creating the perfect introductory textbook on Optics. After the release of her book, the resulting sales return is nothing to write home about. Why did her book fail? Well the most probable cause is that her topic of choice has little to no audience with majority of her intending buyers preferring say a book on Quantum Mechanics, Atomic or Nuclear Physics etc. While Mrs.X has fulfilled her dream of contributing to the physics world, the profitability on her works would be almost non-existent. In simpler terms, if you want to make the most from your writing talent in term of profitability then you have to write a book that would interest the readers not you yourself because they are the ones paying for it! Always ensure that you make a little research on the must searched topics, genres and keywords so as to know where and how to tailor your work (/s) to match the readers’ needs.
Score the perfect score on your ads campaign: Advertisement plays an important role in every successful business. You can write the next “Harry Potter” novel and still you won’t rake in up to one hundred sales due to poor or no advertising strategy. In order to become a profitable writer: you have to use targeted paid ads services on Amazon and other eBook stores, promote your book via high traffic blogs in your book’s niche, send out free copies to interested "popular" readers for their reviews, reach out to book promoting clubs like the Oprah book club, make use of social media via active engagements in popular online writing communities and so many more. Always remember that while the actual writing might be fun and stressful at the same time; promoting your writing works is mostly all about the stress and perseverance with no fun in the picture. You might even have to pay someone professional to do it for you if you find ads campaigning too taskful.
Capitalizing on your existing audience: Once you have done all the right stuffs and your book finally gets the attention it deserves by raking in hundreds or thousands of sales quarterly then What next? It’s in your best interest to capitalize on such a beaming audience. A writer’s career has a multiplier effect just like that of an artiste or an entertainer. You toil day and night to get the right audience and then boom: your perfect monetization scheme is ready to take off. Think JK Rowling’s Harry Potter or a secondary school textbook series. Think Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich dad, Poor Dad. After you make your first breakaway project whether fiction or non-fiction, people tend to see you as an expert in your field, they are more than willing to buy more of your works thereafter. Let’s say Robert Kiyosaki releases a book on Financial Literacy (a field many of his books already fared well in). What do you expect the sales rate of the book to be? Of course, hundreds of thousands copies would be sold in less than a year after the book release because everyone already knows how qualified and reputable Robert is in the field of finance. The beginning part of a writer’s career is the hardest part but once that stage is conquered the multiplier’s effect troops in and it is much more fun from there on.
CONCLUSION: To avoid turning out as little Naomi, prospective writers have to understand the business of the art of writing and have a non-relenting passion for it. A writing career is not for the faint hearted nor for the weak nor for the “quick-money” schemers rather it is meant for those who are smart, well skilled and patient enough to reap the fruits of their talent.
Writing . Self Publishing. Career guide