I assume that you're asking this because you're considering writing for a living. The odds are probably at least 1,000 to 1 against a first-time, noncelebrity novelist earning as much per hour from a novel as from flipping burgers at McDonald's. The odds are even worse for children's book authors and, of course, for poets. The poet laureate of the United States, Ted Kooser, in an NPR interview, asserted that it is impossible to make a living from poetry. I've even soured on how-to books, which is the most likely route to making money in book writing. Today, ever more people get their information free, just in time, in bite-size pieces on the Internet. And if they want a book and are willing to forgo the public library, Amazon.com sells used copies at a deep discount.
Should you be a professional writer?
1. Are you willing and able to write at least 200 words of professional-quality prose per hour, at least 15 hours a week, day in and day out?
2. Is it easy for you to come up with story ideas?
3. Are people willing to pay for your writing? That's the most valid evidence of your professional potential–not praise from friends or even teachers.
4. Are you willing to spend at least 10 hours a week marketing your work? Remember, for the most part, you'll probably get ignored, rejected, or receive offers to write for near minimum wage–if not free.
5. Are you willing to do business writing: newsletters, business reports, press releases, brochures, catalogs, annual reports, copy for E-commerce sites, and so on? Business writing is the most likely to be profitable.
Top 10 Ways to Get Paid to Write
Still want to take a shot at being a professional writer? Here are ways to maximize your chances of success: Most are derived from The Freelance Writer's Bible by David Trottier:
Build a collection of work samples that would impress your target customer. Even if you have to do some writing free to get published, do it. Employers are much more impressed by published work than by Microsoft Word documents.
Pitch your work to art directors. They have connections with ad agencies and other employers of writers.
Use Writer's Market and/or your public library to find the best print prospects for your writing. Before writing an article, send a punchy query letter to a high-level editor in which you explain why the topic is right for that publication, how you'd approach it, and why you're qualified to write it. If possible, sell only the first right to publish it. That way, you can later resell it and thus get paid twice for one article.
As in all job searches, pitch everyone you know: "Do you know anyone who could use a good writer?"
Cold-call small businesses in a niche you'd like to write for. Ask if they need a brochure, a copywriter for their website, etc.
Try nonprofits. They endlessly need marketing collateral, fundraising letters, and telemarketing scripts.
Pitch online training developers. They are writer-dependent because, except for the graphics, all lessons must be presented entirely in writing.
More money is spent producing business and education videos than on the entire U.S. film industry. Check out your yellow pages and business-to-business yellow pages. Look under "audiovisual," "video producers," "video production," and "film producers."
Technical writing. For your first jobs, try fledging firms in manufacturing or software. They often need employee manuals and user's manuals.
Ghostwriting. Know a celebrity, politician, or famous expert? Propose ghostwriting a book. Make an agreement, and then approach publishers to assess the concept's viability. Also, professors, scientists, and technical people need help getting into professional journals and magazines. To find them, advertise in publications read by the types of people for whom you'd like to ghostwrite. Similarly, many professional and business executives would like someone to write their one-page autobiography or 300-page version. Some people want their life stories or family histories written with no intent to make money. They just want to give books to friends, families, and business associates.
Answered By: Sean Roberts - 4/3/2011