Winter draws closer, the weather is becoming wetter and colder, and the days far shorter. Gardening jobs are gradually getting a bit hard to find. This is the time to explore other opportunities, and I’m not just talking about trying to get more indoor home improvement jobs. You don’t have to limit yourself.
I, myself, will be taking advantage of my extra time to get back into writing. Before I had started looking for other ways to make money, I had been trying to become a successful full-time author. It soon became clear that the standard business model wasn’t going to work for me. I’ve had some other ideas while I’ve been busy doing odd-jobs, and now I’ll start to have the time to explore them.
For those who are curious, I’m going to highlight the problems I have with the standard procedure for writing a novel. First, you need to write something. It may not seem hard to write at least 1000 words per day, after all, I’m not a great typist, but I can manage 32 wpm according to a typing test. It should take only a little over 30 minutes to write 1000 words. 10,000 words per day should be easy to do if you work an eight hour day, right?
Sadly, this is not true. You’re not just copying from notes, you are also creating the notes as you go. There are some writers who will even create a set of outline notes first, before they even begin the rough draft, most (myself included) will skip this step, and start just writing. The rough draft will, inevitably, be full of writing errors and plot holes, and it will need a rewrite before you can even think about publishing.
However, if you’ve managed to produce an average of 1000 words per day, and allowing for the fact that you may have to cut about half of that out and add rewrite the rest of it, it would take about 100 days (5 months if you take weekends off) to write a novel’s worth (about 50,000 words).
If you had been working minimum wage instead of writing, I’d have earned about £5000 after taxes, but I wasn’t earning anything yet. Professional editors and proofreaders will offer to fix any remaining spelling and grammar mistakes that you may have missed, for a big chunk of money you don’t have. You can avoid this if you redraft again, painstakingly checking every line of your manuscript to catch every mistake, but at this point you might be beyond desperate to be done with it.
If you decide it’s ready to print, then need to make a choice. Appeal to traditional publishing houses like all the greats, or self-publish. If you choose to self-publish, you need to create, or buy, some cover art so that the book will catch people’s eye among the tens of thousands of other self-published novels available online. You’ll also need to create your own marketing, or pay someone else to do it. You’ll also need to choose a fair price, and most people seem to post their work for 99p.
I think you, as the author only get about 33p of that each time a book sells, so you would need to sell about 15,151 copies of your book, immediately, to make the same amount of money you would have gotten working full time that last five months, assuming you never got distracted or procrastinated while writing it, and you haven’t had to pay for editing, proofreading, formatting, cover-art, marketing, etc. Don’t expect to break even anytime soon.
If you want to go through the traditional publishing route, first you need to get you book accepted. You could be working on your next book, or doing further rewrites, while you wait, but as you get rejection letter after rejection later, you may find yourself losing faith in your work. If you are eventually accepted, it will still take a long time to make any money from it.
The hardest part for me was the soul-crushing fear that it would all be for nothing, and that while I was working on the story I had no real assurance that anyone would even like it. On the other hand, I have been working on three stories that already have an audience, and I already know people like them. This is where my new idea comes in. I’m going to polish up the three narrative roleplay campaigns I’ve been running, and republish them on this very website, and also Wattpad, Tumblr, Reddit and Patreon.
This might not make me any money yet either (unless I get a lot of new patrons), but it will, hopefully, get me some notice without making anything public that isn’t already publicly available. If I can get more followers interested in my stories, maybe then I will feel assured that the long, anxious, process of writing a full book will be worth it.
The money won’t flow as quickly or easily as it does doing Odd-Jobs, but I’m concerned that I depend too much on my physical well-being. I try to work safe, but one bad accident, a random heart attack, or even the early onset of arthritis and I’m done. I could still guide and coach other Odd-Jobbers, and help them gain more repeat clients, but so far I haven’t had much luck selling people on that idea either.
I have an idea for that too, so maybe my luck will change. If you want to see what I’ve posted on Facebook that will (hopefully) encourage more people to accept my help to become Odd-Jobbers, here it is. I would like to help more people to help other people. It’s part of a slow-burn plan since I won’t take much money for this. Once I have lots of experience I plan to write an online course/ self-help book on the subject.
If I get enough people interested, I’ll be able to spend all the time I’m not doing odd-jobs myself helping others to find more work and expand their skill-set. It would make me happy if successful odd-jobbers passed what they’ve learned on to others as well. Perhaps even (once it’s published) using my book to aid them. That’s a little way off though.
It would make me equally happy if they made enough money the rest of the year to explore their hobbies and interests, self-improvement, and nice, relaxing, time off. Speaking of hobbies and interests, I’ve wasted more than enough time writing about writing, without actually writing anything I set out to write. I’d best get to it.