Over the years, I’ve wrestled with my identity as a writer. I earned an M.F.A. in writing children’s literature with the goal of writing young adult novels. Then, a story called Made of Shadows came along and I switched to paranormal romance. And then, recently, I realized that I wasn’t writing paranormal romance after all, but rather fantasy stories with a strong romantic element. Without knowing it, I was emphasizing the fantasy plot, and the romance was secondary. So that alone was a big realization for me.
But as I’ve worked on my short stories The Beltane Kiss and The Faerie Key, I’ve realized how much I love writing short fiction. So I started doing some research: Can I actually make a living writing short stories?
I found this article from Dean Wesley Smith: Can you make a living writing only short fiction?
He offers a compelling argument—actually runs the numbers—and concludes yes, you can. So I did something I’ve never done before with my writing. I crunched some numbers and started thinking about a formal business plan. How many stories can I realistically write in a year? My numbers are a little different from his. Most of my short stories are closer to 10K, whereas he estimates 5K, and he doesn’t include time for revising, which I need. And I still want to write some novellas and novels in addition to my short fiction.
So my numbers are this: six short stories/novelettes a year, four novellas, and one novel. That’s just under one story a month. Not much over the course of a few years, but given ten years, the numbers start to add up.
In short, his article got me thinking about my writing business model. Can I actually make a living at this? And, he concludes, yes. It takes discipline and hard work and consistency, but yes, over the long haul, one can make a living as a writer—even if one only writes short fiction.
By the time I finished reading his article, I was excited. Now I’m thinking like a businessperson in addition to an artist. I see a path forward, and that’s a good thing.
And, before I go, a brief ROW80 check-in…
Writing: Wrote 5,823 words in Winter Faerie, a novella-length retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I’ve been itching to write a fairy tale retelling for a while, so I’m excited about this one. I just got edits back on The Faerie Key from my editor last night, so I’ll be switching to that story for a couple days to get it revised and ready for the proofreader.
Reading: Haven’t read any books on writing craft/business this week. I’ve been reading The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2. It’s been fantastic!
A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.
What about you? Have you visited Dean Wesley Smith’s site? If not, I recommend starting with his series Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing. Do you have a writing business model? Have you read any articles that have helped to shape that business model?