8 Smart Ways to Supplement Your Fiction-Writing Income

8 Smart Ways to Supplement Your Fiction-Writing Income

It probably wouldn’t surprise you to hear that most authors don’t make a living off their writing.

According to a 2014 survey, 54 percent of traditionally published authors and almost 80 percent of self-published authors make less than $1,000 per year, says The Guardian. Because of this, most authors stay at their day jobs to support their families.

But if you love the writing and publishing world, your skills don’t have to get stuck in hobby mode. If you’re not making enough money to support yourself through fiction writing, there are other careers you can pursue using your writing and marketing expertise.

Consider one of these other jobs in the writing and publishing industries.

Careers Outside of Fiction Writing

If your passion lies in the writing side of being an author, consider becoming a freelance writer. If you don’t want to run your own business, there are also opportunities to work with content agencies or on marketing teams.

As a fiction author, you have the unique skills to work in the following areas because they require storytelling skills and creativity. Writers must be able to appeal to an audience in a way that doesn’t come across as dry, and you already have experience in that! Some non-fiction writing opportunities include:

1. Copywriting

Copywriters write a variety of promotional content, such as website copy, email newsletters, advertisements, and brochure copy. The writer’s goal is to get people to take action. As a copywriter, you’ll need to become familiar with marketing, user experience, and headline creation.

Numerous free guides can help you learn the basics of copywriting, such as Quicksprout’s The Definitive Guide to Copywriting.

2. Blogging

When I suggest blogging as a career, I don’t mean starting your own blog and making money through ads (although that is a viable way to make money, and it can even help boost your book sales if you appeal to the same audience).

Instead, I’m talking about writing blog posts for clients.

Though I’m a fiction author, freelance blogging is my primary source of income. The types of blog posts I write look just like the one you’re reading! I personally make anywhere from $60 to $200 per post depending on the length and topic.

Not all blogs pay, but once you find clients to work for, it’s a good source of ongoing income since blogs continuously need new content.

3. Ghostwriting

Ghostwriting can be any form of writing, from blog posts to screenplays to full-length fiction novels. However, the content all has one thing in common: you’re not credited as the author.

Although someone else takes the credit, ghostwriting is a great way to turn your creativity into profit, and it can help you hone your writing skills.

Careers in the Publishing Industry

If you’d rather save your creative writing juices for your own projects, that’s OK.

As an author, you have more than just writing skills, and these skills can come in handy by helping out other authors. You might work through traditional publishers big or small or privately with indie authors.

These jobs will keep you immersed in the publishing industry:

4. Private Assisting

Becoming a private assistant (PA) to other authors means you’ll be marketing other writers’ books. With the connections you forge for other authors, you can also leverage in marketing your own books. PA duties typically include:

  • Setting up Facebook release parties
  • Organizing book-release blitzes and blog tours
  • Marketing book sales
  • Submitting books to advertising sites
  • Setting up Thunderclap campaigns
  • Writing authors’ email newsletters
  • Sending books to bloggers for review

The list goes on. I personally see author PAs charge around $100-$250 per month per client.

You may agree to spend a specific number of hours on that author’s work per month, but keep in mind that you can perform some tasks for all your clients at once.

5. Editing

If you’re good at spotting grammatical errors, issues with sentence structure, plot holes, and other story elements, you might consider becoming an editor.

Just remember that your own books serve as a sample of your writing and editing capabilities, so make sure they’re thoroughly edited. Keep in touch with other authors since these connections will be your most likely clients.

6. Cover and graphic design

If you’re talented with visual art and know how to use Photoshop, another option is to offer book cover design and graphic design. I typically see designers charging anywhere from $60 to $150 for premade cover work and around $125 to $250 for custom covers.

Some well-known and in-demand cover designers charge upwards of $400-$800 for custom work, and sometimes even more for custom photography.

Aside from book design, you can also design author logos, website images, teaser graphics, Facebook header images, release-party graphics, and more.

7. Book formatting

Indie authors and traditional publishers alike need someone to format their books for print, Kindle, and ePub. If you have experience with this or are willing to learn, it’s a great service to offer.

Some formatters charge by word count, and others charge by the hour. Industry rates typically fall between $45 and $85 per hour. You can charge on the upper end if you design graphics for the interior.

8. Author web design

Another service that’s needed in the industry is web design. If you have a coding background or experience with web design, why not offer this service specifically for authors?

Although you can branch out, focusing specifically on one niche — author websites! — can help you position yourself as a go-to designer for writers. Plus, it helps you build connections that could benefit your own books.

If you like the idea of staying in touch with the writing or publishing industries, consider one of these career paths to supplement your fiction writing income.

Which one of these roles would best suit your skills?

Filed Under: Freelancing
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  • Alan Danque says:

    Hi Alicia, I really like your blog! Thanks for creating this great list of ideas!

    Just wanted to hopefully add more money making options to this topic.

    There is a site named Helping Neighbor where you can register to become a Helper, setup your email alerts for the types of jobs you can complete in the areas you prefer so that you can receive paying project requests.

  • Hi Alicia,

    Thanks for this. As someone who is beginning my freelance career and 5+ years into writing fiction, it’s very inspiring to see someone doing both!

  • Ashri Mishra says:

    It’s Very informative post.. For me thank… you..

  • Hello Alicia, I loved the PA Supplement. Haven’t thought of that one yet. Right now I am starting to write for an online news wire and just had my first Book Review published the other day.

    If I wanted to start the PA Supplement, how would I go about it? Hay, there’s a book in there for ya. Just start cold callin’ book Authors?

    • Alicia Rades says:

      Hi. I’m so sorry I missed this comment. Yes, you could start by cold calling, but I personally don’t like that method. The best thing to do is to connect with authors, either at in-person events or online, like in Facebook groups. There are a lot of ways you can slip in a mention of your services just by engaging in the conversation.

  • Greg Levin says:

    Nice piece, Alicia, but your suggestions are far too practical and well-thought-out. I recently posted a slightly (read: VERY) different take on the topic. Check out “Ideal ‘Day Jobs’ for Authors” here:

  • Kevin says:

    Great blog post! Some excellent ideas backed up with links to great resources. Thank you!

  • Thank you for such an informative post. I would love to write posts for other people’s blogs.
    I feel it would be good to write on a different range of topics. How would I get people who are interested in having someone write posts for their blogs.

    • Alicia Rades says:


      The Write Life has some great articles about getting started as a freelance writer. Be a Freelance Blogger is also a good site to check out. You can get started by checking job boards, pitching to sites that pay, and networking with other writers.

  • Anna says:

    Great article. I’m a fiction author too but I leverage my other skills during the day to keep things going while waiting for the fiction to take off. It’s a huge challenge with lots of work and time but I wouldn’t have it any other way :).

  • How’s that joke go? What’s the difference between a writer and a pepperoni pizza? A pizza can feed a family of four 🙂

    But in all seriousness, this is a great post. I think most of us here are writing with the goal of one day getting out of the rat race and quitting the day job. Your ideas for extra income while we chase that dream are all great ways to help us get there quicker.

  • S. B. Jones-Hendrickson says:

    Excellent article. I am an Economist but I write novels, poetry and offer advice to budding writers through the Virin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair of which I am the President. I am going to share your ideas with our Team

  • Rachel Nichols says:

    Great post Alicia! What areas do you freelance blog about?

    I am drawn to blogging–either under my own name or as a ghostwriter for businesses online. The neat thing about ghost-blogging is not only does it pay relatively well, but can interfere less with your fiction-writing brand.

    Ideally the blogging would pay well enough I could work part-time, leaving 4-5 hours a day to devote to creative stuff. I don’t have kids, and at 43 probably won’t, so my personal expenses are low enough to make such a plan doable–for me.

    • Alicia Rades says:


      You can write about practically anything! I know one writer who specializes in writing just about dogs.

      I write about topics like blogging, marketing, writing, and freelancing. I also have clients who have me writing about health, crowdfunding, music, lifestyle, and more. There’s a huge range in topics.

  • Deanna says:

    Thanks for a great article! I’m a freelance copywriter, and I spend most of my waking hours writing sales copy for clients. This is a wonderful way to earn a good income, because most companies need someone writing online copy for them. To learn how to write sales copy, google AWAI, Bob Bly, and Copyblogger, for starters.

    However, if your dream is to be an author, copywriting has one drawback. (At least, it does for me.) Writing sales promotions all day long is exhausting, leaving little brain power to work on writing my books at night. Sometimes I wish I did something mindless for a living, so I would have plenty of mental energy left in the evenings to tackle my books!

    • Alicia Rades says:


      Some days, I feel that, too. But I love that being a blogger AND an author lets me explore two different creative sides.

      • Deanna says:

        Good point, Alicia. I am hoping to someday be able to focus on writing books and marketing them. That will put my passion and skills both to use in the best possible way! But, until then, a-copywriting I will go! 🙂

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