7 Writing-Based Ways to Fund Your Fiction
As good as it feels to see your fiction spreading among the masses, it feels even better to get paid for all the hours you’ve put into it. After all, you have to make a living one way or another. Why not make money doing what you love, and hone your craft at the same time?
Here are a few ways that you can finance your labors of love.
1. Traditional Publishing
Writers are fleeing from traditional publishing in droves because of increasingly risk-averse attitudes that shrink advances and put most of the burden of promotion on the shoulders of authors without established audiences. If you’re going to have to do most of the work anyway, why not claim a large share of the rewards?
Still, there’s something to be said for entering into a partnership with an organization that can provide an editor, access to reviewers, bookstore placement, and more. If you do decide to go this route, the number one best way to work the system is to make connections with people in the industry. Reach out to authors, publishers, and agents on social media (make sure to keep it friendly and non-spammy). Attend writers’ conferences, and pay to get into sessions with head honchos. Join a writer’s group, and attend meetings religiously. A little elbow-rubbing can get you a long way.
Ghostwriting sounds like something that you’d only undertake with the help of a trained paranormal psychologist or a poorly-rendered fuzzy blob from an early 90’s TV show. But, spooky as it sounds, it’s pretty straightforward in practice: skilled writers get paid a set amount of money to make sure that people with built-in platforms sound good on paper.
So, yeah, you do end up putting in a lot of the hard work, and someone else gets most of the credit. But the tight parameters of a ghostwriting project help you exercise your creative muscles. The industry always needs more skilled authors, and most people can make a better living this way than through their own work (especially if you aren’t a big fan of continually sharing your work – and yourself – with the masses).
This one is kind of a cop-out, but bear with me. Saving up a “book-writing fund” so you can limit the number of hours you work for pay while you give birth to your opus can give you the mental space that will help you see your project through. If you’re self-funding, you’re free to pursue a project that might not ever bring in an income. As long as you maintain connections with your industry, you can indulge in your own writer’s retreat and return to professional work refreshed.
Just keep in mind that having unlimited stretches of time does not a writer make. Any tendencies you have to slack off or procrastinate will be magnified ten-fold when the only person you need to report to is yourself. Consider doing some self-directed or freelance work first to see if you really have what it takes.
4. “Angel” Funding
Your friends and family keep telling you that your name deserves to be in print. Have them put their money where their mouths are, and chip in to help you on your journey. This is probably the most dangerous choice on this list – if you fail, you’re risking not only money, but valuable personal relationships that you might not be able to repair if things go wrong. Don’t even think of borrowing from loved ones unless you have a rock-solid writing and marketing plan, and the experience to know that you can follow through.
Okay, so maybe you don’t want to put the full burden of funding your fiction project on the shoulders of your nearest and dearest. Or, maybe those closest to you don’t exactly have the resources to see your vision through. Why not shout your intention to get published to the world, and see if strangers will get on board? Sure, you have to convince dozens or hundreds of people to believe in you, instead of just one editor or a few deep-pocketed buddies; but, as the rocketing success of platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have shown, that’s not always as hard as it sounds.
6. Crowdfunding With a Twist
How much would you need up front to release your book out into the wild for free once and for all? The new site Unglue.It has an interesting model for making sure writers get (at least some of) the money they deserve. Once you’ve put your work up for sale, you can choose to use the platform to raise a desired amount of cash to turn your work into a DRM-free, pay-free document that anyone can access, download, upload, and share. This is a great choice if you don’t want to spend every waking hour finding new ways to gain exposure.
7. Writing Contests, Grants, and Fellowships
It may seem hard to believe, but there are organizations out there in search of really great authors, who are willing to stake some cash on their hopes of finding what they’re looking for. You might not be able to live big and rich off of your contest winnings, but if you’re writing already, why not throw your hat into the ring? Poets and Writers grants is a great place to start looking.
Note that not all contests are created equal, and you will occasionally come across scams, so do your research before ponying up an entry fee or signing over your rights.
Although these methods aren’t exactly effortless shortcuts, they do give people with a real passion for expressing themselves through the written word a few more options to explore. Try one – or a few – of them out. You might find something specifically suited to your tastes!