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How do I get a living by writing books - should I also have a side job?

I wrote a book and am working on the second in a series. How do authors get a living by writing because I don't really want to become an editor, agent, or anything like that. I just want to write books. Should I also get a side job?
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Priscilla’s Answer

It's fantastic that you have already written your first book! Has your book been published? If not, then you can self-publish, and continue writing your second book. You can publish on Amazon for free with Kindle, and paperbacks with Kindle Direct Publishing.

You may also use other self-publishers or publishers that do it for you. Each genre of fiction has its own rules for getting published. If you're publishing a Young Adult novel, you'll need to search for YA publishers. Then you need to write a query letter and synopsis of your novel. A query letter includes your introdution and your purpose for contacting the publisher.

As for getting a job on the side, by all means YES. I have been in public affairs and adveritisng for years working as a writer, and you could do that. I also was in the Navy, and wrote articles for various military publications. I have a friend who does very well writing and publishing mystery novels. He is doing so well that he picked up an agent and a well-kown publisher, and holds signings at Barnes & Noble stores throughout our state! But he still keeps his day job as a writer. You can also hold a day job as a high school English or journalism teacher. I obtained a teaching credential in English, and am qualified to teach. The more you teach writing, the more you learn about how to write well. Kudos, and good luck to you!

Priscilla recommends the following next steps:

Decide if you want to self-publish or contact a publisher.
Contact the publisher- remember Amazon is free. Send out queries to other publishers. Do not send your complete manuscript.
Explore different writing careers you can pursue while writing your books. Which careers will match your personality and talents? There are so many options: English teacher, college writing professor, corporate marketing, public relations, advertising agencies, military journalist or public affairs officer, and more!
Explore the genre of books you are writing, identify and write to your target audience (people who will read your books), read about what they are looking for in books that they read, read some of the successful books in your genre, and basically, just study and analyze what you want to write, and write it.
Keep writing, and don't give up! Don't let people tell you no, you cannot do it. If you believe in yourself and work hard, you can be almost anything in life: a writer, a doctor, a teacher, or ... write books that are published.
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Mauricio’s Answer

Congratulations on finishing your book (a lot of people don't get past the first page, let alone finishing one and starting up a second).

Has the book been published by a publishing house, or have you self-published/looked into self-publishing?

If it has not been published, the first thing you should do is consider which route you'd like to take to share the book with the masses (once you get readers, that's income potential blossoms).
If you'd like to go the more traditional route, send query letters to literary agents who represent or have represented similar books to yours (it's best to look for examples of good query letters online — they're a simple Google search away). If an agent is interested, they might ask you to send a full copy or excerpt of your manuscript, at which point, there's a chance they can agree to represent you, and then look towards selling your book to a publishing house.

You can also go the self-publishing route. You should also look into self-promotion, IE, creating a Twitter account where you share your stories, get eyes on it, make connections, build an audience, etc.

As per getting a side job, I'll be realistic. It's not that difficult to become a published author, but it is extremely difficult to make a career out of it. Getting a side gig to pay the bills while you pursue your dreams is the most practical, recommended course of action, but one thing to remember is the ball is always in your court until the manuscript is out there, being read. You control where your career goes!

There's a lot of work ahead that goes well beyond just finishing the book — wish you the best of luck!
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Julian’s Answer

First of all: congrats on writing a book! That's no small task.

I'm currently a college student focusing on writing, literature, and visual arts. In addition to my studies, I write short stories, essays, blog posts, and work on my own book. My school is known for its literature program, so I've been lucky to receive advice and guidance from many published, "professional" authors who teach or lecture at my school. I'll communicate to you what most of them have told me.

Being a writer is hard work, but not impossible for people who work at it. The unfortunate reality of being an artist in the 21st century is that you most likely won't graduate and immediately start a successful career. It's sort of like rolling a boulder up a hill: hard work, but if you put in the time and effort, you'll end up with a boulder on top of a hill (or in your case, a book or series of books, and a career as a writer that financially and spiritually sustains you). Most published authors I've spoken to held jobs while they wrote, and they usually weren't glamorous jobs. Some people took these jobs and used them as inspiration in their books. But the important thing was that they never gave up on writing.

You can make money with writing, but it's difficult. Websites like Submittable are good for writers who are looking to publish short pieces, or submit to publications looking for something specific. You can be a freelance writer, pitching your stories to publications. You can start and monetize a blog, Patreon, or Substack for your writing. You can build your portfolio by submitting work to paying, or non-paying, publications (if your school or town has a paper, this is good practice). And you can shop your book around, self publish, or have an agent do the hard parts for you. At the beginning of your career, you'll most likely be doing all of this while working side gigs.

Most authors I've spoken to attribute their dedication and steadfast pursuit of their goals as the thing that turned writing from their side gig to their main gig. As a published, successful author, most of them chose to teach or lecture in addition to continuing their work. Realistically, very few people achieve Stephen King level authorial fame or wealth, but you can live comfortably if you put in the work, stay passionate and realistic, and, for the most part, work on the side. Hope this helps!
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Joe’s Answer

I have a friend who became a successful author, screenwriter and producer after his career as a high school teacher. I'd say you are on the right track after writing a book. Way to go!

My friend would work all day and write at night and on weekends, so I'd say a job to support your passion is essential when getting started -- plus, it will help give you life experience and present opportunities to explore relationships, people, dialogue, etc.

The secret about the publishing industry: It's all about contacts. You need to find a literary agent who believes in your talent and your work. That agent will push your book and explore options in the industry.