Professional Fiction Writer: 2 Ideas To Go From Hobbyist To Pro

Are you a fiction writer who’s wondering about a professional career?

Perhaps you’ve written and published some fiction, with varying degrees of success. As you may know, I’ve been writing fiction for many years, both as a ghostwriter and as an author, under several pen names.

In this article on writing fiction for profit, we suggested that:

Ghostwriting may be the easiest way make an income from your fiction as a side hustle—you simply write. Someone else publishes and markets the material.

Here’s a secret: if you’re new to writing fiction, it’s much easier to make an income from ghostwriting, than it is from self-publishing. The biggest reason is the client’s brief (project description). Your client tells you exactly what they want; you do it. For a beginner, that’s easier than making the 1001 decisions you need to make about a novel.

Recently an author asked me about the difference between a commercial (professional) fiction author, and someone who writes as a hobby. She said she’s a hobbyist, but: “My husband’s upset because I spend time writing every day. He says that if others make money with fiction, I should too.”

So how do you go from a hobbyist to a professional? Let’s start by looking at the differences.

What’s the difference between a professional fiction writer and a hobbyist?

In my opinion, the biggest difference is mindset. A hobbyist is willing to spend time and money on their writing, as they would on any hobby. When you compare fiction to a hobby such as golf, it’s a lot less expensive.

A professional, on the other hand, invests time and money in order to make an income. Get some advice. Depending on the tax laws in your country, you can deduct your expenses from the income you make. (Please get advice from an accountant about your tax situation.)

Let’s look at some ideas to help you to turn pro if that’s what you’d like to do.

1. Write and self-publish short stories in a genre

I love writing short stories because they’re so quick. I can write a story in an afternoon, and publish it the next day. (Or even on the same day.)

Here’s a question I’m often asked: how long is a short story?

Let’s check with Amazon.

Amazon Kindle offers Short Reads. They’re popular because they’re short, so Amazon tells you the time it takes to read a short ebook and its page length. (On the left sidebar.)

A tip. Please be aware that Short Reads is Amazon’s own classification. As far as I’m aware you can’t choose it; these books are shelved via algorithm. They can be fiction or nonfiction.

The shortest Short Reads are one to 11 pages. Assuming that a printed page is 250 words—a very rough estimation, but it’s what I use… Then a short story story might be between 250 to 2,750 words.

FWIW, mine are usually between 2,000 to 10,000 words, but that’s just me. Yours can be any length you choose.

Of course, you don’t have to publish anything—you can jump right in and get a freelance gig as a fiction writer.

2. Get a fiction writing job: they’re out there

Any form of writing takes time. This means that many people hire ghostwriters, as we’ve discussed. They then publish the material, and make money from it; some make five figures a month and more. Some make hundreds of thousands each year because they’re set up to do that; they use extensive data-mining tools to choose profitable genres and niches.

So fiction writing gigs are out there. You can find them on freelance marketplaces like Upwork, online forums, and via your website.

No website? Why not create a simple and quick one-page site, as we’ve discussed here?

Promote your new service as a fiction writer via LinkedIn and other social media, and you’re good to go.


Should you become a professional fiction writer?

That’s up to what you want from your writing. If the notion excites you, I wish you much success.

Happy writing. 🥰

Story Spinner: Build A Lucrative Fiction Ghostwriting Business In 7 Days

BTW, if you need guidance on ghostwriting fiction, I created the Story Spinner program just for you.