“Making a living from writing books: what works, what doesn’t”

Good article by Emma Darwin on what it takes to make a living on your writing. “Item 1” is something I noticed a couple of years ago: that many successful new authors, particularly self-published ones, are immensely prolific. They turn out book after book in a relatively short time, and while they might not all be literary masterpieces they are good enough to keep readers coming back. These books are often parts of a long story arc, or a series built around a familiar set of characters, which builds a large audience for the next book. A number of success stories in recent years involved authors who put up a series of stories online, drawing in repeat readers with cliffhangers and multiple stories about favorite characters. Then they moved into self-publishing, usually e-books, and started to make money at it. Again, they put out a lot of books. In some cases, their sales became robust enough to attract traditional publishing contracts. You’ve seen these authors online–the enthusiastic ones with ten or twenty “works in progress” and two or three ongoing series. In the Romance genre, they’re legion. Unfortunately, while this discovery impressed me enough to post a picture of Scheherazade next to my computer, I also realized I’m not very good at this kind of writing. Ah, well. scheherazade_4x6 (Thanks to Elen Caldecott for flagging this.)

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