3 Surprising Ways I Made Money Writing Romance
When I started writing romance novels, my dream was to have my books published by Harlequin Mills & Boon. In my teens and my twenties, it was what I aspired to – the pinnacle of greatness. The proof that I had indeed made it. I envisioned turning up to my ten-year high school reunion as the guest of honor, getting up to speak and saying – “I’m a Mills & Boon author. Yeah, I made it, b****es!”
Take that, Mr. Popular who never noticed me!
Truthfully, real life is never as glamorous as my imagination persists it is. I mean, really, who would have applauded and whistled if I’d loudly announced that I write for Mills & Boon?
I never made it to my ten-year high school reunion. I don’t even think it went ahead.
But I’m getting off topic.
My point is, I never dreamt that in my thirties I would create a publishing company with my Swedish bestie. Why? Because technology changes so quickly that we can’t always predict the future or publishing trends.
Years ago, vanity presses and traditional publishers were the way people published books. The introduction of self-publishing and Kindle Unlimited changed the game and turned the industry on its head. And in recent years, the importance of content marketing for businesses means that nearly everyone can call themselves a publisher. This means that making money from self-publishing is no longer limited to publishing on Amazon and similar platforms. If you have a story, you have content, and by publishing that content in different places, you can make money.
In this post, I'll explore 3 ways I’ve published romance and been paid for it.
After spending a couple of years publishing fanfiction on Fanfiction.net (where I met the Swede), I moved to Wattpad. The Swede moved first, and I followed suit because the Swede is clever and full of good ideas. Both of us fancied writing about our own characters rather than someone else’s, and I had a story – a romance, “Lights, Camera, Kiss Me” – which I had written for NaNoWriMo 2010, and I wanted to test it out on a new audience.
Fortunately, many of my fanfic readers followed me across when I began publishing on Wattpad, and I found new readers willing to give me a chance. When my story reached more than 1,000,000 hits, I was shocked and thrilled. I was then lucky enough to be featured on Wattpad, and – via Wattpad – on Cosmopolitan.com.
But my good fortune didn’t stop there. In 2016, Wattpad contacted me and offered me a place in their ‘Futures’ program. This meant that by agreeing to show ads between the chapters of my published stories, I would receive revenue from the advertisers.
I loved this idea because my readers were still able to read my stories for free, and if they chose to view the ads, I made money from them.
This was quite an exciting time, and in 2016, I was riding high on my successes and felt confident enough to brave new waters and publish a book on Amazon. Due to a lack of marketing, my book didn’t perform the way I wanted it to. In fact, it was a terrible flop. I really bungled it. After a year, I took the book out of Kindle Unlimited and kept it on Wattpad because it made me more there than it did on Amazon.
This Wattpad Futures program is now limited to those writers in the Wattpad Stars Program and to people – like myself – who were involved in the initial beta stage. However, Wattpad takes its role in helping writers make money seriously, and I hope they will trial more programs like this in the future.
If I’d never made the change and switched platforms, I wouldn’t have had these amazing opportunities. It’s also worth noting that having my work published on Cosmopolitan.com helped me land a couple of freelance jobs I applied for later on.
Radish Fiction is a mobile fiction website that has capitalized on the trend of audiences who want something to read on the go. Authors have three choices when they serialize their fiction on this site. They have the option of making their book free, premium or freemium.
Readers don’t have to pay a cent to read free stories, but must pay for every chapter on premium stories, bar the first three, which count as a sample. For freemium stories, readers may pay for chapters as they are released, or they can wait for the chapter to unlock and become free (which is dependent upon the author’s schedule for updating).
Initially, a lot of authors invited to write for Radish were big-name authors on platforms such as Wattpad, Fiction Press, and Tumblr, but now there are plenty of New York Times best-selling authors who have joined them in publishing on the platform, bringing with them their fabulously large fanbases.
The site is easy to use for both writers and readers, and if you have a large fanbase (or at least a loyal one), Radish is worth considering as a platform.
Currently, Radish is accepting applications from writers. More information is available here if you are interested in becoming a Radish writer.
I will mention that money does get split between the app stores, Radish and the writer. And while the story belongs solely to the author, there are some restrictions writers need to be aware of if they publish their books under the premium and freemium models. Still, I have found writing for this platform to be a very positive experience and will continue to use this site in the future.
So, as a ghostwriter I’m not the one publishing content, rather I create romantic content and others pay me for the rights to publish my work as their own.
When I tell people I’m a ghostwriter, I get a mixed response. Some wonder how I can write something that won’t be published with my name on it. Some think I am being taken advantage of, or that I am enabling some of the book stuffers on Amazon. Others think it’s pretty cool.
Ghostwriting wasn’t something I set out to do; I fell into it while looking for work on a few freelance websites. And I’m still at it because I enjoy it. I get paid to do something I love – write romance, and I don’t have to publish my books and market them in order to make money from them. You know, since I epically failed at that the last time I tried.
Truthfully, I don’t know where my books have ended up. Part of me doesn’t want to know. Part of me does. What I do know is that I like the people I write for, they treat me well, and I think they pay me fairly. I get paid per word rather than per chapter or per book, so I always know how much I’m going to make before I start writing.
I won’t ghostwrite forever, and sometimes it’s a hassle when I want to work on my own stories and I find myself working on books for someone else, but I’ve learned a lot from the experience. I’ve learned how to meet a deadline, and how to write books that are less than 100,000 words. It’s also affirming to know that others think my work is good enough to profit from.
In conclusion, I think it’s important to be open to change and trying new things. Always look at the fine print on every opportunity, weigh up the pros and cons, and make sure that the direction you’re looking to take feels right. Remember, as an indie author, you are an entrepreneur. Your future is in your hands, and multiple revenue streams never hurt.
The publishing industry we know and love will continue to evolve in ways we likely won’t see coming, so get ready to transform along with it! You might be surprised to find out where your next dollar comes from.
Have you made money writing or publishing romance using less popular publishing methods? We would love to hear about it, so leave us a comment in the comments section below 😊
Post Author: The Sheila