Many new writers want to turn their writing into a profitable side hustle. Freelancers create content, blog, produce social media calendars, and much more.
What about fiction? For hundreds of thousands of authors, writing fiction pays. For some, it pays exceedingly well; this means that they need help.
A former student, who’s now a professional blogger, asked me: “as a side hustle, is fiction profitable for freelance writers?”
Can writing fiction become a profitable side hustle?
The biggest side hustle in fiction is ghostwriting.
Beyond ghostwriting, authors need help with:
- Editing fiction;
- Finishing novels;
- Developing characters and outlines;
- Creating marketing collateral: material to use in newsletters and elsewhere. If you can write commercial short stories and novellas, you’re golden;
- Some successful authors actively hunt collaborators too, because today, the more you publish, the more you earn.
The collaboration may be a partnership (both names are on the cover), or unacknowledged (the collaborator is really a ghostwriter.)
Recently one of my former students was hired by a bestselling author to co-write a new series. The author wanted the first four novels in the series ready to go. Two would be published within a few days of each other, the next two would be published a month apart. All would be on KDP pre-order.
My student had no luck getting a co-writing credit: in effect, he was a ghostwriter. Neither did he have any luck holding out for royalties. Nevertheless, he was happy, and said: “The money is very good, and there’s a nice payment up front.”
My professional blogging student asked for tips to develop a fiction-writing side hustle, so here they are.
1. Write your own fiction, it’s your calling card
Always be writing. There’s a LOT to learn in fiction: you never stop learning. However, to truly understand what you’re doing, you need application as well as study. Nothing replaces that.
What’s your favorite genre? Write the kind of thing you read, and be aware that anyone hiring you to write fiction will want to read your fiction.
2. Love a prolific author? Join their mailing list
Successful authors need lots of help to free up their time. Whether they’re self-publishing, or using a trad publisher, they’re expected to market. And blog. And have a newsletter.
In the middle of all the hassle, they’re expected to write and publish. Obviously, they need help. They hire editors and virtual assistants, but life happens. Their assistants move on.
If you’re following an author, they may post on social media: “Gracie is leaving. Help!”
So, help. 🙂
3. Research: who writes what? How often do they publish?
Publishing today is high-powered and frenetic. There’s a lot of money involved: tens of thousands of dollars in advertising.
Research: indulge your curiosity. Believe me, this is work. The more you know about what’s happening, the more opportunities you’ll discover.
4. Use social media: follow graphic designers, editors (and anyone else in the book business)
As the saying goes, it’s who you know.
Authors often thank designers on their acknowledgements page. Follow the designer, book editors, and generally, people in the book business.
Be generous with compliments. Everyone needs help. When you’re engaged and enthusiastic, you’ll get noticed.
Your new side hustle: freelancing fiction
You’ll get gigs. When you do, be professional and reliable, because reliability is rarer than you might think.
Your books aren't selling. You've done everything right, but you may have missed an essential element of bestselling fiction...
That element is suspense.More info →
Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.