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What They Don't Tell You About Being a Writer

Updated on November 14, 2014

Before We Get Started

This article is meant to be a wake-up call. This is a cold bucket of water over the head, a slap in the face, and a large dollop of reality, all rolled into one.

Before I undertake any challenge, I gather all the facts, mull them over for a bit, mix and match different ways to attack the problem, and then devise a strategy. It’s just who I am and how I rock n roll, but I suspect most people, when facing challenges, want to know as many facts as possible. Eliminating the unknown moves us one step closer to the known, right?

So that’s why I’m here. If you have ever considered being a freelance writer, or if you have ever considered writing a book and actually selling that book for money, then this article should be of some use for you.

I’ll try not to slap you too hard.

Writing is not a nice stroll along a paved path
Writing is not a nice stroll along a paved path | Source

Traditional Publishing

So, you have your bookshelf lined with your favorite books. They are all there, those written by Hemingway, Lee, Steinbeck, King, and Koontz. You dust them weekly, pull them down occasionally for inspiration, and dream of the day when your own novel will sit among them.

You have heard that in today’s world of publishing, it is almost impossible to attract a publisher unless you have an agent, so you go out and get a copy of “Guide to Literary Agents,” and you proceed to write queries to them all, and lo and behold, two months later, you hear back from an agent who is interested in representing your book.

Success is yours! Your book will be published!

Not so fast, bucko!

Having an agent in no way guarantees that you will have your book picked up by a publishing firm. It increases your chances, but does not guarantee a darned thing. The latest estimates suggest that a full two-thirds of books represented by agents are not published.

Ouch!

Sorry about that slap. A bit harsh, ‘eh?

There are no guarantees in the ebook publishing world
There are no guarantees in the ebook publishing world | Source

Ebook Publishing

It’s the latest thing. It’s the wave of the future. It’s easy to do and easy money.

Three of those four statements were correct. It is the latest thing in publishing, it is the wave of the future, and it is easy to do.

Easy money? Are you crazy?

Here’s a statistic that will sober you up quickly: 87% of ebooks make less than $100.

Come to think of it, that statistic won’t sober you up…it will drive you to drink.

Literally anyone can publish a book these days. If your dream is to see a book with your name on it, then go for it, and may the gods smile down upon you.

If your goal is to make money from ebooks, then may those same gods take pity on you.

Yes, yes, I know, there are some great stories of people making six-figure incomes from writing ebooks, and those stories are correct….but….for every one of those stories, there are thousands of stories about writers making zilch.

Just so you know.

Writing a Book Is Not As Difficult As…..

For those of you who want to write a book and actually make money with it, consider this statement: writing the book is about 30% of the work involved in making money from that book. In fact, writing the book….six months of writing 100,000 words, is the easiest part of making money from that book.

Welcome to Marketing 101.

A writer must learn marketing to attract an agent and/or publisher. A writer must learn marketing to sell his/her ebook. A writer must learn marketing and then practice it with the fervor usually reserved for mothers protecting their babies from harm.

Let me share a true story with you. I’m not going to tell you the author’s name because I don’t have their permission, so you’ll have to trust me that the story is, in fact, true.

One day a fine writer finished their book, and decided to self-publish it. They contacted printing houses for the best price. It turned out to be $5.25 per book. They then took their life’s savings and ordered 10,000 books printed. Before this writer ever made a penny, he was fifty-thousand bucks in the hole.

He then purchased a used RV, and he and his wife set out on a massive road trip. He scheduled book signings and book readings. He wrangled his way on to radio shows and public broadcasting stations. He spent a year on the road and, through his tenacity and personal marketing skills, he sold 100,000 copies and was eventually contacted by a major publisher (Penguin) and signed a contract.

Six months to write the book….one year on the road promoting….a fifty-thousand dollar investment….but success was found.

How serious are you about marketing your book?

Making Money As a Writer Is Easy, But….

I’m dead serious. Hire me as a consultant and I’ll have you making a decent supplemental income as a writer in three months….but

There’s that but again.

If you want to make a living as a freelance writer, and by “making a living” I mean paying all your bills and having enough money to really enjoy life, then plan on working your butt off.

In other words, if your goal is to make one hundred bucks per month, then that is very, very doable in a very short period of time. If your goal is to make a thousand per month, then I would suggest you buckle your seatbelt and get ready for one hell of a ride.

And Speaking of Working Hard

Working hard is not as important as working smart.

I’ll let you figure that one out on your own.

Marketing means meeting real life people
Marketing means meeting real life people | Source

Marketing Is More Than Facebook

In fact, if you are relying on Facebook for the majority of your writing promotions, then you really need to get out of the writing business.

Let me tell you something about Facebook, or Twitter, or any of the other social networks. Are you ready?

They are SOCIAL networks, first and foremost.

Do a little experiment. Take an hour out of your day and read the feeds on Facebook. How many of your “friends” promoted their latest music gig, book, poem, art exhibit, etc. during that hour?

There are so many of them that they tend to just become background noise. I see one of my friends is having a book signing, but I really don’t pay much attention to it because, well, there are SO MANY and I have a life to live.

Close friends pay attention to your latest article or book; fringe friends could care less.

So your Facebook marketing campaign is just part of the picture. Sooner or later, and sooner is best, you are going to have to roll up your sleeves and get dirty, and that means going out into the real world and selling your product. It means establishing relationships in the literary world. It means establishing relationships with book store owners, with agents, and with the buying public. It means pounding the pavement and working your butt off.

And once you’ve done that, then do it again, and again, and again….and say a little prayer while you’re at it.

That’s Enough to Get You Started

You now have some information to get the ball rolling. Reality is harsh at times, but it’s necessary if you are to have any shot at all of making it in this writing business.

I hope my slap in your face didn’t hurt too much. I really do want you to succeed, so call this tough love, given to you in the spirit of friendship.

Best wishes on your journey.

2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • LindaSmith1 profile image

      LindaSmith1 2 years ago from USA

      I was thinking about writing a book a few years ago. I did my research. The biggest joke I found, which people fall for, is Vanity Publishing companies that will publish anything for a price, then it is up to you to sell and maybe recoup the thousands of dollars paid to one of these vanity publishers.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      Always such great and sound advice. I have truly sat on the book publishing for over 2 years and being honest lucky I have time in the day for what I do now, but I do know that if and when I am ready to edit and think of publishing my novel, I can always come here for your tips and also trust I could pick your brain, too. So, huge thank you always for this and more! Happy Weekend, Bill!

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 2 years ago from West By God

      Thanks for all the advice here. I was going to write a book, but decided not too. I cannot keep my mind on just one thing. If anything what has happened in just this week scares me. I had to get my husband to help me write my last hub. I simply could not think of descriptive words. He said that I was dry something and he doesn't ever write.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      Hmm, a slap in the face? Well, sometimes writers do need just that Bill. As writers we often tend to live in a fantasy land and need to be introduced to the real world.

      I would LOVE to have a novel published but first I have to write it. Then if and when I do, its not about the money but about someone reading it. Of course the money is a fringe benefit.

      So who knows where this will take me. Maybe I'll be the Grandma Moses of Literature!

      Well done as always my friend.

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      All true, Linda, and it takes one heck of a lot of work to recoup those losses, if you ever do. Thanks for that observation; it is right on.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Any old time, Janine. Free advice for you always. Thank you and I hope your day greatly improves over the past week of days. Have a great Friday my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Debra, at least you realize you could never write a book, and think of all the time and effort you are saving with that realization. :) Thanks for your honesty.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, at least you've got the steps laid out in the right order. LOL Yes, you do have to write that sucker first. :) Happy Friday my friend.

    • profile image

      DJ. 2 years ago

      There you go again - scaring the hell out of me - and, so early in the morning!

      The advice are sage words, to be sure. But, I did not accept the ice water

      bucket challenge, and here it is, staring me down.

      Such great advice!

      But, I have my fingers in my ears singing, "La, la, la, la, la!!" It does not seem to be working, as I can still see the words!

      Sending you a little Florida sunshine!

      DJ.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DJ, Florida sunshine is needed this morning...eighteen degrees is a bit nippy for our part of the country. Oh well, my fingers are warm so I guess I'll type. Sorry about scaring the hell out of you. LOL

      bill

    • Nils Visser profile image

      BOOK REVIEWS 2 years ago from The Low Countries

      Very useful article here, half of it familiar because I thought writing the darn bugger was the actual work.

      What strikes me most of all are the 'publishing' companies who don't seek to make a profit from selling books but from subtly (or not so subtly) twisting the writers' arms so they invest more and more money.

      It's a veritable minefield.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, Nils. I just want people to be aware before they have their dreams crushed. The hidden costs are...well...costly. :) Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      ArtDiva 2 years ago

      Good morning, Billybuc! I read somewhere that an even greater reality is less than 1/2 of 1% make a living—writers, artists, photographers et al— Pretty tough odds to overcome, why for most it's a hobby, or skills put to another use i.e. marketing, as several friends pursued. A wake-up call to smell the coffee and try to stand out from all the rest.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good morning ArtDiva! I'm sipping my tea and shaking my head at the odds we face. Makes me question my sanity at times, but that's nothing new. :) Have a splendid day in California.

    • profile image

      bradmaster from orange county ca 2 years ago

      billybuc

      Great article, and great info on the writing for dollars.

      I have a story that is sort of on point.

      Does it have a happy ending, maybe, I am not sure.

      A long time friend of mine, thought he was a writer. He had literally read tens of thousands, no exaggeration, of paper back novels. He retains a lot of what he reads, and he is a poor speller. The latter was mitigated through the use of computer spell checks.

      Hardly any of his friends, and none of his four wives would read his novels. I as one of his best friends took that bullet, and read his works. Unfortunately, I am not the best reader of fiction, but like the Supreme Court Justice said about pornography, I know a bad novel when I see it.

      His ability to retain and regurgitate his story reading, also is his liability in writing. He lacked original thought, and he seemed to think that writing a collage of his readings was the same as imagination, and creativity.

      For years he kept writing novel after novel, but he couldn't get it published through the publishing houses. No surprise there as many talented writers have been rejected entry to that club.

      Then came his fourth wife, and E publishing to the rescue. He has now been published, on the Internet pay for read type of publishing. Other than that information, I lost touch when he married his fourth wife and moved out of state. I found the Internet publishing through social media.

      This to me is an example that anyone regardless of talent can achieve their goal of being a published, or posted author. Does that turn the wheel of success? I believe that is the infamous eye of the beholder.

      I do know from the technical reports that he wrote when we worked at the same companies, that he was just average in technical writing.

      Do I sound envious of him, yes in the idea that he had such passion and desire for writing, while, I can't get enthusiastic about reading fiction. But not for being a published or posted author.

      My desire for better writing is to achieve better communication of my non fiction ideas, and opinions. Some say my opinions are writings of fiction, but what does the majority know about that.

      I must however admit that occasionally I do have ideas for plots for movies. But screenplay writing is to cumbersome, that is why I like watching movies, all that work has been done by someone.

      Thanks

      bradmasterOC

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Great slap in the face, Bill. Takes my mind off my foot. Ha ha.

      Seriously, good advice. I've been following Janet Reid's (Literary Agent) blog for quite some time now. This way, when I've completed my novel I have some idea of how to go about querying an agent, what they look for, and how the process works, etc.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brad, thanks for sharing that story. I've been asked by quite a few friends to read their unpublished novels, and it is very difficult to do and be honest about....sometimes honesty is greatly overrated when it comes to friends.

      Anyway, it is just my opinion, that ebooks have helped to dumb down America...and raise false expectations...and lower the standards of writing. That is not a popular opinion but oh well.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I highly recommend Reid's blog...very truthful and no nonsense...a very realistic look at the publishing business.

      Feel better soon my friend, and happy weekend to you.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 2 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This reminds me of an episode of Walton's Mountain when Johnboy sent his first book to a publisher. They wanted to charge a fee for publishing, He didn't read the small print before sending it in, it was a rip-off from the get-go. It is cold here too 29 degrees. Another helpful article with a sting attached....Hee..

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 2 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Thank you Bill for the reality check. I really work by the method you mentioned - working hard is not as important as working smart. My plan is slow and steady but I know the payoff will emerge at the right time. Thankfully I am not using writing as a sole source of income at this point as I would not even hit the charts of poverty level, but I accept my position. Even though completing my dissertation did not technically fall under "published" material I do agree that writing is the least strenuous part of being an author. I do appreciate the nuggets of knowledge you throw our way as we all make this journey - it's better to do in the company of friends.

    • russinserra profile image

      Russ Inserra 2 years ago from Indianapolis, In

      Thanks.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A loving sting, though, Ruby. I remember that episode....I can so relate to John Boy. :) Have a great weekend my friend, and stay warm.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, it really is easier with friends, isn't it? My hands are shaking, it's so cold here today, so I'll cut this short. Have a great weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure russinserra!

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 2 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      I've written a dozen novels. Yep--a few hundred a month at Amazon works for me. Everything is on target in your article and I love the comments too. Well done and thought provoking.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Reynold Jay, unbelievable, but I do believe you. Well done...a dozen? I'm on number three....I figure I can kick out another six before age renders me a non-factor in the literary world. LOL Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great slap in the face. Again it is applicable to all of life. Pretty much fits with how I make my wife happy too, Especially the marketing part ;-)

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 2 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      I've learned enough to know that I can hire a publicity team and purchase advertising in the right places when I launch an eight book illustrated children's series next year entitled "The Wurtherington Diary." I like the idea of "hope" that something will catch on in a big way.

      I suspect that the quality of the writing, the story etc. has less to do with it than the other aspects that you mention. I imagine that your three books are very likely as good as the big name talent out there. You have written a professional article here and that stands as proof enough that you write well and deserve to be read.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...great line, Eric, and I can relate. Thanks, buddy.

    • RachaelOhalloran profile image

      Rachael O'Halloran 2 years ago from United States

      If we don't hear the truth from teachers (writers) like you who have advanced farther than us in the publishing world, then the slap in the face might end up being a shove up against the wall. Thank you for continuing to educate us, even if it hurts along the way.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Reynold Jay. I appreciate that. It's a tough world out there in the publishing business, but I knew that going in. I'll just keep plugging away and doing my thing...and hope. Best wishes to you on that children series.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 2 years ago

      I think I needed a good slap!! Up useful and awesome!

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

      As always wise words from a wise man--well done!

      Kim

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 2 years ago from Minnesota

      This is kind of a "downer" for a Friday, Bill! Thanks for the kick in the head (or the more gentle slap in the face). :)

      After reading so many "anyone can be a writer" articles/scams, it's refreshing to see the tough love.

      On a separate note, in your blog post...I find it hard to believe that you were so insecure with your own writing--just three years ago! It is simply amazing how far you have come. And you are so honest and willing to share your journey with the rest of us. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, Rachael. Thank you for the kind words. I believe in your writing abilities...hopefully those abilities will equate to success.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Go get the, breakfastpop...and have a great weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, thanks, Kim. Have a lovely weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Melissa, so nice to see you on a Friday. It is true my friend, I did not think I could make it as a writer...had serious doubts about my abilities. If it can happen to me, then all of you have reason to hope. :) Happy Friday to you, and thank you.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Yep, marketing is that annoying 70% of writing a book (or anything else) for a living. But you know what? That's the way it is for almost anyone in business for themselves. I spend more time marketing my business than helping customers with their marketing. (You knew I'd understand, right?)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Heidi, I could have inserted your name into that section. :) Have a great weekend my friend. I hope it warms up there.

    • nanderson500 profile image

      nanderson500 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

      This is great advice. Definitely true that it's easy to make $100 a month, but much tougher to make a real living off of it. Nice work as always!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 2 years ago from South Africa

      Every word you have written in here is so-so true, Billy, and actually quite depressing. 10% of all people have the talent to write. Only 10% of that 10% ever make an effort to write. Only 10% of that 10% makes writing a hobby. Only 10% of that 10% achieve some success. Only 10% of that 10% becomes well-known writers. Only 10% of that 10% eventually hit the jackpot...

      But here we are, we write because we write because we write....

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 2 years ago from New York City

      Excellent summary of the challenges and opportunities. As I learned when I was much younger, the singular difference between a failed writer and a successful one is that the successful one never gave up. You can get there, just keep trying, just keep learning until you've got it. Great tips here to help keep your eye on the ball.

    • DrBill-WmL-Smith profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Reality check, for sure. Every once the truth. Hope it helps someone new, today. That is what you are about. Thanks for sharing, again! ;-)

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I'm sitting here waiting for a call from Hollywood, probably from either Clint Eastwood or Kevin Costner, waiting to film one of my westerns.

      But while I wait, I'm submitting stuff to publishers, just in case.

      Good Hub, Bill!

    • Availiasvision profile image

      Jennifer Arnett 2 years ago from California

      So true! I remember meeting with my short story professor and asking him questions about declaring Creative Writing as my major. I asked him what are my job prospects were. He basically said I was shrewd and that the only way to make it was to get a teaching credential. That's what he did, taught by day and wrote by night. He's got 6 novels in the can and no publishing deals. From the very beginning I knew I was on a precarious journey.

      Even if I never make tons of money writing--which is a horrible reason to write--I feel content and accomplished as a writer. I feel that the wind is finally catching my sails and I am proud of the work I have done. That's all that matters at the end of the day--was my life's work meaningful and I am personally happy with it?

      If I wanted to make money, I would have studied to be a doctor, but that is not my gifting. I was made to write. In fact, I just don't feel right and satisfied if I don't write. Stories literally keep me up at night and don't give me rest until they are written. Writing is an obsession!

      It's a long hard journey, but something magical happens when you start walking the writing road--more doors open. Before you know it, you look back and are stunned at all you've done. A mountain looks huge from the valley floor, but every step up it makes it look smaller. Before you know it, you're standing under the summit, that once looked impossible to climb.

      I know I have the talent, now it's time to focus on being tenacious.

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 2 years ago

      Thanks again for the guiding hub sir. Learnt a lot. At the end I realised that even slap in the face can be a privileged act. Thank God you didn't mentioned 'kick' along with bucket of cold water and slap in the beginning...:)

      Thanks again Sir, keep enlightening us.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan Robert Lancaster 2 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      It's what Alfred Wainwright did. AW walked the fells, climbed Lakeland mountains, crossed England between St Bees Head in the west and Robin Hood's Bay in the east (there's an Alfred Wainwright Bar at the Dolphin, overlooking the fishing and lifeboat slipway), made his own maps and drew diagrams as well as views of the landmarks along the way.

      Then he wrote about them, published and printed books with jobbing printers in his own area of North Lancashire, took them out on the road and sold them in batches to hotels, walkers' suppliers, B&B's, cafes, souvenir shops, post office/local stores. He had to travel by bus or train because he didn't drive, and put them in his backpack. He made a lot of money from them and autographed them cheerily when asked.

      A W was always amiable, although he was fairly shy, didn't like crowds and sometimes went out of his way to avoid people.

      Wainwright's books will become rarities, they're sought after - a signed copy is already worth £000,s - and when his prints come up on the 'Antiques Roadshow' (on TV) everyone drools. They almost fall backwards when experts give them a value in multiples of £000,s.

      Did it go to his head? He was always mildly surprised when asked for his signature, as though he didn't believe it was him they asked. A W died in 1991 aged 84.

      There's an Alfred Wainright Society and Julia Bradbury has made films of his walks, including the Coast-to-Coast, and the walks are waymarked. Yet he's hardly known outside England, let alone Britain.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you nanderson...Happy Weekend to you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow, Martie, now I'm depressed. LOL

      But what you say is true, and we write because...well...we are in love with the written word...and that's good enough for me.

      Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      David, I love that advice, and I think it is filled with truth. If you want instant gratification, leave writing alone. This is a marathon that required staunch willingness. Thanks for that great comment.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I try to be about that, Bill. Thank you and Happy Weekend to you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Will, I thought I read somewhere about a new Eastwood movie...was that yours? :)

      Keep on keeping on my friend. One of these days, right? RIGHT????

      Thanks my friend. Have a great weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jen, your comment should be a mantra that is required reading for every would-be writer. Beautiful thoughts and passion here my friend. Carry on...I believe in you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      m abdullah javed, you are very welcome. No kicks here...gentleness all the way my friend. Thank you an peace be with you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alan, in truth, I've never heard of him, but what a fascinating story, and an inspiration as well as guiding light for those who self-publish. As you know all too well, this is work, and those who shun work better take up another trade.

      Thanks for sharing that...great story and example.

    • m abdullah javed profile image

      muhammad abdullah javed 2 years ago

      Obiviously we do hope gentleness from the gentleman of our time. Thanks Bill Sir!

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago from Texas

      OUCH! that hurt Bill, lol. I never thought of making money so... no scare. I write because I love to write and read and make friends like you and all the other hubbers on here.

      God Bless you, voted up, UAFI and shared. I hope you make a million.

      Shyron

    • Genevieve Nicole profile image

      Genevieve Nicole 2 years ago from Providence, RI

      On the contrary billybuc!!! I find this hub motivational!! I love that with all things social media these days, an article like this brings the real, physical world and interpersonal skills necessary to succeed, into a writer's focus. It's a challenge in a way...love it!

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 2 years ago from Washington State

      Inspiringly true, thanks for your shining wisdom.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      You are really so helpful and always caring for writers providing them some stuff or other so that they can start walking and running on their feet. I love your attitude so much. Thanks for these harsh but true revelations.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Ouch! that hurt Bill :)

      No, seriously I know all you say is oh so true....lucky I write for relaxation and my own entertainment. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Great advice.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      thanks for this hair--rasing, eyebrow twisting, nose crinkling fact of reality.. I agree with you and share your opinion my friend.. for someone who needs a slap in the face wake up reality.. this is a start.. great useful stuff.. and someone might just hire you to consult.. because you are often dead on...:0

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting about the publishing world. I have made a substantial amount of cash on my online writing over the six years. I have great sales on my ebooks and quite pleased. You make valuable points. I have marketed and still am and doing fairly well for myself.

    • Theresa Franklin profile image

      Theresa Franklin 2 years ago from Hemphill, TX

      Very few people make a killing on one book now. The reason? According to my publisher, there are 15,000 titles released every day. So on the day your book hits the airways, you are 1 in 15,000. Easy to get lost in that number.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great advise Bill and oh so true!

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      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      LOL! Your are anything but not realistic. Thanks for telling us like it is. It is particularly difficult today to get a book published because so many are doing it through ebooks escpecially. That's why ebooks don't do that well. They are a dime a dozen because everyone publishes them and it is difficult for our books to stand out among the slew that are out there. It is best to get an agent and publisher to publish books, but so many are doing that also that it is difficult for that to happen. Writing is not for the faint of heart. As you say, market, market, market is how to get a book published and then people to buy it. Thanks again for a real thought-provoking article.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you again m abdullah javed!

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Shyron, I think those are wonderful reasons why you write. Carry on my friend, and thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is a challenge, Genevieve, and one we can meet. I love your attitude...thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      MJ from my home state, thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Venkatachari M....you are a kind man and I appreciate you greatly.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Stick with that story, John! Those are great reasons to write....love it and flourish! Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Frank! It would be nice to be hired as a consultant, but I'm pretty busy writing a novel right now. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DDE, it sounds to me as though you are doing quite well without my advice. Carry on with what you are doing, and thank you for the visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Theresa, numbers like that would discourage quite a few writers. Me? I just think it adds to the challenge, a challenge worth taking. Thank you for being here and sharing that.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Susan! Good of you to stop by. Have a great weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzette, my realistic outlook comes from so many defeats. I won't quit, but at least my eyes are wide-open now as I carry on. Thank you for your thoughts, which are right on.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Kay Badder 2 years ago from USA

      It all sounds discouraging, but worth it if someone wants to have a book published. I hate marketing, so I think I'll just stick to online writing. There is enough marketing doing that to last me for my lifetime.

      My daughter-in-law's Grandmother just wrote a book and put it on Amazon this year. The book amazed me because it was one of the better books I've read. She has sold about 5 copies to her relatives and that is about it. The reason is that no one knows the books exists other than family, because she hasn't marketed it at all. So sad that the world is missing out on it.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Very good advice Billybuc. I've written a book and self published. I suggest authors use print on demand to buy their books a few at a time. (10-20-100-100o--whatever you think you can sell in say a month's time.) I sell my books when I give a speech. I don't think I have sold even one book to a stranger out of the blue.

    • Blaber Blogger profile image

      Nischal Gurung 2 years ago from Muscat, Oman

      Facebook hasn't been much help to me.. maybe twitter did.. being a part of a lot of social network actually helped me market my blogs and articles... social bookmarking sites are also a lot helpful lile digg, stumbleupon etc

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 2 years ago

      Great advice billybuc! I don't think a lot of unpublished writers think much beyond finishing a book. Promoting one would require a very different set of skills. Voted up!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is useful advice, Bill. It's important that writers think seriously about the points that you've raised if they want to make money.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      You always tell it like it is billy, and that's fantastic! if we all looked through rose colored glasses we would soon smash them! lol! great advice as always, nell

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Barbara Kay, I agree with you. I hate to see fine literature go unnoticed. Thanks for sharing that story...maybe someone will learn from it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good to know, Catherine! Thanks for sharing that pointer.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good to know, Blaber...Pinterest has actually been my best social network for marketing...and I have no idea why. Anyway, thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It does indeed, Besarien, and many writers fall by the wayside because they lack that set of skills. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.

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      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      I have honestly never had any desire to write a book. I have written many short stories of my growing up "way back when" in the country. I have printed each story and given the stories to my family in a binder. They enjoy reading my stories, but they are just meant for my family.

      I do have a daughter who owns a barber shop. She wrote what I think is a great book on how to get a perfect haircut. She self published the book.

      I wrote a review about her book here on HP. I don't know how many copies she has sold. She could sell more I'm sure if she did a better job at marketing her book. I think it is an excellent book, but then I'm her Mother!

      Good advice for those people who want to write and publish their book.

      Voted this UP, and shared.

    • Laura Schneider profile image

      Laura Schneider 2 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Excellent article with sage advice! Any type of writing is hard work. Very, very hard work. I know someone with sixteen published books that are popular who gets peanuts in royalties. From a major publisher.

      Wanna-be writers need to know what you've said here! Thanks for putting it in perspective. (I'm a full time technical writer in the corporate world, and that's not easy but it pays living wages.)

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia. I appreciate your thoughts and comment.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And Nell, if we smashed them, then we'd have to go out and buy new ones, and who can afford that? LOL Have a wonderful Sunday, my friend, and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, I think there are thousands of great self-published book. Whether they die in obscurity or become known depends on that marketing aspect, something most writers hate doing. Best wishes to your daughter and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Laura, for sharing your thoughts. Good luck with your writing career. What you do I couldn't do, so you have my respect.

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 2 years ago from Florida

      Hi Bill,

      I stood for a long time pushing the elevator button, but the door did not open. I am tired from walking all-way-down---stop being so popular because women over 40 needs wings to fly after reading your hubs. This is raw and real advice, but wise to read before going forward.

      I am still typing away on two novels and I might be 90 when they are finished. By then I should be able to send them to the Internet by Parapsychological ways instead of ebooks or hardcopies.

      I wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving if I forget to tell you.

      Your Hub Friend,

      Bobbi Purvis

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bobbi, the first part of your comment had me laughing out loud. Too funny! As for you being ninety, who knows where the publishing world will go. I still hold out hope that one day real books will become popular again, so you can see that I'm obviously stuck in the past. :)

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, kind lady.

      your friend

      bill

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 2 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and interesting. You're coming in loud and clear. I know there are hits and misses in writing. First I most solve my desk top computer break down problem to get to material I was thinking of making into an ebook volume of poems. The problem? Suddenly I realized I was not too happy with my poems from years back so it's time to rethink my strategy. Passing this on.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Bro....I kept passing by this Title . I was positive I had read it and commented already. Today I checked.

      So OK, since you are always so generous with sharing important info with all of us and I believe in "Paying It Forward," let me share something here:

      As we age, for a while we get used to the subtle memory issues. Eventually we accept it, be courageous and carry on. Everyone forgets little things now & then regardless of age. Right?

      Alas my aging buddies....soon enough comes the time when you start to remember doing something.....that you did NOT do. If we take the time to think about this....it can be extremely frightening. You doubt me? Fine....THINK about it for 5 minutes.

      Your bucket of ice water and a few slaps is precisely what I need. Today, tomorrow and every day, obviously.

      I was rather aware of the horrors of writing, publishing, marketing and selling a book. I appreciate you reconfirming it all in black and white. I keep thinking, any book I may write will be simply for my family and friends. Id prefer not to set myself up any more than I have in this lifetime. Maybe next time around, when I come back as Sylvia Platt.

      I must go now to finish what I was doing. Don't you DARE ask me what that was..........Great work, Bro....it always is. UP+++ pinned & tweeted.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 2 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Great Hub realism is what we all need from time to time. No musician or writer has ever made it without the slog part. It may be possible to make a name for yourself on YouTube or Facebook, but is it really likely? Hell no you need to do the grind like it or not same for NHL, NFL, NBA etc players they all start on the treadmill and the ones that keep going longest might make the grade. All 5% or less of them!

      Interesting and Useful and best to remember as it is the cold hard truth of the matter just like climbing Everest or K2!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 2 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      The thing that I like about online writing is that I can do it alone. I put something up, then wait for people to find it. I probably won't ever make much money doing it, but at least I enjoy it. All that marketing really puts me off.

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      Chris Mills 2 years ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      Ouch! Now that hurt, Bill. You are a mean man.......just kidding. I get the message loud and clear. Your counsel about not relying on SOCIAL media for marketing is well taken. I have a job ahead of me if I decide to proceed with my current writing project. I appreciate your encouragement on that subject as well. Thanks for this very timely and important information. I know you learned it the hard way; by doing it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Rasma! Isn't it funny how we can go back to old stuff and find out it no longer pleases us? I wish you luck with the computer and the editing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sis, no joke, and no laughing on my part. My memory is slowly fading, and I find it a bit disconcerting. I hope it hangs in there long enough for me to write the next great American novel. If not, well...it's God's fault for not giving me enough time. LOL

      Thanks for being here...you are a joy.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dressage, you got it right my friend. Pay your dues is what my dad taught me, and I'm paying them daily. Will it pay off? Who knows? But I do know there is no chance if I don't pay them. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      And Sherry, it you enjoy what you are doing then fantastic! Carry on my friend, and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cam, it's a tough road, but it's worth it when you make it to the destination. Good luck my friend. You've got the talent. Now comes the other 70%. :)

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      I've just searched through the comments 3 times as I was certain I'd left a few words last night - obviously in my sleepy state I forgot to press the 'post comment' button!

      Anyway, this advice is necessary for many people. Yes, it's a slap in the face but you can get away with that where others probably wouldn't because you do it so nicely!

      We need to work hard to get anywhere, of course we do. There is too much of 'but it's not my fault' these days because so much is handed to us on a plate.

      Ramble over! Great hub, as always, bill. I'm off to London on Wednesday, to see what's left of the poppy installation at the Tower of London, then I can finish my related hub!

      Have a great week, bill.

      Ann

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

      Another great read and leaving much food for thought.

      I know that I need to work harder at my writing. I am so guilty of not promoting my books; as Ann points out Billy your message comes over loud and clear and we take pointers from you because you say it in a way as not to offend. A sign of a great and wise teacher I would say. Here's so many more lessons from you and lots of love coming yours and Bev's way all the way from Wales.

      Eddy.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for returning, Ann. That happened to me, too, as I was just too tired last night and forgot to comment after reading. Too much to do and too little time.

      And I don't even have a trip to London planned. :) Have a great time, Ann, and thank you.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, thanks, Eddy. I never mean to offend, certainly, and I'm happy to hear it does not come off that way. Thank you and have a wonderful week in Wales.

      billy

    • profile image

      lambservant 2 years ago

      Yep, a definite reality check. Thanks Billy.

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 2 years ago

      Hello Bill;

      Truth is truth and never hurts when coming from the one who suffered enough to know by experience to be a friend.

      A lesson of life or a lesson for living/ existing: You are so generous, unselfish and sincere in this article that all what you have said can be converted and applied in any field of work/ production: Provide an above average product and you'll be sought out ( by agents/clients/customers ). Your artistic performance will sell you out and a money won't be issue as a main goal...

      Awesome and beautiful

      Sorry my friend, I have to discontinue, getting late and tomorrow again at 5:35 my day is starting then on the road again, driving early under these weather conditions is quite demanding then again my beloved production...

      Good night and blessings.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      As always, my pleasure, Lori! Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael my friend, thank you, but more importantly, stay safe on those roads. I hope the weather does not cause too much of a problem for you.

      blessings my friend

      bill

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      This is why it's important to have one's goals straight, right up front whether it's earning $100 monthly or making a living off one's writing.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Where the heck is my comment? I know I wrote one, three days ago. Ah gee, did I forget to 'post comment'? Duhhhhhhh.

      Well...as I was saying...what was I saying?

      Thanks Bill for another great lesson and you can give me a slap anytime.

      Love,

      Audrey

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Exactly right, Flourish. I've been singing that song for a long time now. Thanks for the reminder.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Audrey, that's happened a couple times to me of late. I think HP has a few glitches to work out.

      Thanks for trying...twice....it's always a pleasure to have you here.

      love,

      bill

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Thanks for the slap, I needed that! I had self-published two books with Lulu, and one with Amazon's Create Space. The books on Lulu are personal and the one on create space was for business. The business book sold well only because it was basically a users guide for my phone system. But my other two books just have a trickle of sales every once in a while.

      The last thing you said near the end of your article made a huge impression on me... that we need to establish relationships with book store owners, agents, and so on. That is something I didn't do. But for good reason. I have a business.

      The conclusion I got from your article is that to be serious as an author who wants to sell books, one has to make it a full-time job. Oops, is that another slap?

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glenn, I'm afraid that's the truth that so many writers ignore. We are our marketing department. Who else will do it for us if we don't? I don't know about you, but they aren't lining up in front of me asking to be my agent or publisher, so it's all on me. Best wishes with those books, and thank you.

    • aziasaaa profile image

      Azia 2 years ago from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

      Ouh this is so so so true. The marketing has to come as a whole. Reading through this makes me want to break down and cry. Even writing a simple short story needs marketing and 'selling'.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Unfortunately yes, aziasaaa, and most writers never conquer their hesitation and fear of marketing. Best wishes to you, and thanks for stopping by.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Thanks for a dose of humility, billybuc. It is good to know the true facts about agents, publishing and marketing. You are right. Most people want the truth up front. It saves heartache in the end.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I believe it does, Rebecca. As long as they don't quit because of that reality. :) Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 2 years ago from Orange County California

      billybuc

      I hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

      Speaking of Thanksgiving, hp said that my Thanksgiving hub and my Color purple hub didn't meet hp quality standards.

      I made some changes in both of them, and I would appreciate your critical eye on what I didn't do to get the hp quality stamp.

      I did get it for the other three hubs.

      Thanks

      A lot of people on my street have already turned on their Christmas lights.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      A would-be writer can buy all the Writer's Digest books on effective writing, getting a literary agent, and getting published, but it's easier and cheaper to read this hub and reconcile goals with reality. The agent, if the writer gets one, won't do much leg work, the publisher may or may not get enthused enough to do much, and the writer in us wants to get on to the next writing project, definitely not marketing. The computer has made the writing and editing so much easier, and online marketing can sell some books, but two keys are (1) the soundness of the project, and (2) the commitment to succeed at what it takes for success. We all agree you have made that clear here.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks, Brad, and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well. I'll take a look at those hubs of yours and let you know, and I'm not sure how I feel about Christmas lights up this early..I think we tend to overplay Christmas as a society, but that's just me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Perspycacious, and I think you summed up the publishing game pretty well here. It's not like the old days for sure, and I'm not convinced that is a good thing...but it is what it is, and we either adjust and learn to play the game, or we condemn ourselves to obscurity.

    • Easy Exercise profile image

      Kelly A Burnett 2 years ago from United States

      Very practical advise. Yes, it is easy to make $100 a month writing - but self-supporting income from writing - wow! That is a tall order. Many people do it but it is akin to being an entrepreneur where you work long hours. And writing is work - if you know what you are doing, you know it is work!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Easy, you summed it up quite nicely. It is work. I write ten hours each day, five days a week, and I still haven't broken into the big time yet. I may never make it, but it won't be because of a lack of effort. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Nils Visser profile image

      BOOK REVIEWS 2 years ago from The Low Countries

      I have been following this thread with great interest. I have given myself a year to try to am now running into all sorts of things; unforeseen tasks and unforeseen expenses. There are few places to get good advice; people around me either think I sit around all day being supremely lazy or think I am in the grasp of some sort of insanity (I write non-stop). This shows the value the Hubs can have, as opposed to some interactive platforms which have writer's groups where the only thing accomplished is the endless self-promotion.

      A question: I may scorn those interactive platforms but am out there thumping my own chest as much as I can. I am somewhat concerned with this new habit. Does it help to promote your image as a 'writer' at all? To create a brand as it were?

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nils, I'm going to include this question in next week's mailbag, but the quick answer to your question is YES! If we don't promote ourselves, who will. This is a long process, and the sooner we plant in the brains of our readers and friends that we are writers, the better. Hang in there and keep plugging along.

    • newjerusalem profile image

      victor 20 months ago from India

      Great tips you've shared.

      I think earning is not that easy for every writer. One has to persistently try in many ways with the appropriate use of social media. But, it's possible to make a living by writing. I also find this common advice from many writers, " Don't lay all your eggs in one basket".

      Thanks for sharing useful information.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 20 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Newjerusalem, you are very welcome, and thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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