The Keys to Being a Successful Full Time Writer

Written by A Guest Author | April 27, 2017

“No one can make a living as a writer.”

“Don’t give up your day job.”

“But what do you really do?”

I think everyone who has broached the subject of writing a book has heard those oft-repeated and well-worn phrases. Interestingly, they are usually offered up by people outside of the writing profession – well-meaning friends, relatives, colleagues, a neighbor.

One year ago, when I decided to give up the corporate life and become a (gasp) professional writer, I heard those words so many times that I wanted to scream. The number of people who said, “Well done, great idea, I’m sure you can do it”, could be counted on two fingers and half a thumb.

Looking back now, I can state that along with my two true amigos, Persistence & Tenacity, it was a (nearly) unwavering Confidence that I could do this that carried me through. Of course there were days where I thought it couldn’t be done, but in each case within 24 or 48 hours I was back on track and proving that yes, it could be done. My first novel has now been accepted for publication, and I am working on another project for the same publisher. So how did I do it?

Firstly, I followed up on an approach from a publisher looking for a ghost writer. This may seem an odd thing to do, but wait and I’ll explain. I was asked to ghost write in a genre I’d never heard of: Wild West Christian Clean Mail Order Brides. I love a challenge, and I had plenty of hours in the day to complete this type of work (having, some may say foolishly, given up my 50-hour weeks and monthly salary as an executive). I researched the genre, found out all I could about 1800’s America, read up on Bible quotes, and presented my first 10,000-word story.

Over the next 12 months I wrote multiple stories for this publisher and my ghost-written stories now have a large following of fans, fans who eagerly anticipate the arrival of each new book. This exercise has been very much a learning experience. I write every day, I make corrections as suggested by the beta readers and editors, and I have built a greater understanding of what the reader wants. I get paid for the completed work and I forfeit all rights to fame or royalties, but I have leveraged as much as I can to my advantage and treated the whole experience as an intensive writing course.

The books are not under my name, but I have gained a lot of knowledge in the process. The day my publisher emailed me and said the latest book had been released to six five-star reviews, I made up my mind. Confidence pushed forward, quickly joined by Fearlessness, and Persistence & Tenacity cheered from the sidelines. My next book would be published in my name.

Of course, over all this time I was also working on my own manuscripts. Like many writers, I have a folder of semi-completed manuscripts and first drafts. I found a manuscript that could definitely use some tweaking/re-write/oh, I’ll just delete everything except the bones and start again – and that’s what I did.

Utilizing everything I’d learned in my year as a ghost writer, I made that manuscript sing. Or so I thought. I sent the completed manuscript away to a publisher who I had randomly selected from the internet, and I was lucky to have the document arrive in the inbox of a sympathetic editor.

She was kind enough to send a critique of my work, along with her rejection email, and she did so in such a way to inspire more Confidence and make me want to try again. Persistence & Tenacity did a slow clap and Fearlessness twerked to the strains of All Shook Up. I rewrote the manuscript, following the editor’s suggestions, and I submitted a copy to another publisher.

When I received the “We love it!” email, I couldn’t believe what I was reading for a minute or two. The first email was followed by a writing contract, signed and sealed, and my book is due for release in the Fall to the US and Spanish markets. We are currently working on a cover and a marketing schedule and I couldn’t be happier.

Yes, you can make a living as a writer, and you can be a published author. Keep going. I’ll send my friends over.

 


Cherie Mitchell a New Zealand writer living in the South Island city of Christchurch. She loves the lush greens and blues of the New Zealand outdoors, travel, and discovering the answers to a multitude of questions. Her first book has been accepted for publication and she has published articles for media including Woman’s Day Magazine, Writers Weekly, and New Idea. She works full time as an executive resume & biography writer and a ghost writer of Clean Christian Wild West Romance books, and has recently agreed to embark on the slightly terrifying mission of authoring a Haunted House series.