Why Freelance Writers Should Consider Becoming Authors

Nina Amir

By Nina Amir

I always wanted to be a writer and make my living by getting paid for my words.

However, I didn’t set out to be an author. I set out to be a magazine journalist.

I began my writing career with dreams of working in Manhattan for a glossy consumer magazine like Self or Glamour. I wanted to write, but my degree in magazine journalism had trained me to edit as well. I knew I’d have to start in an editorial position.

Unwilling to take an entry-level position in New York City as a receptionist, I took an editorial job at a regional magazine instead.

I went on to work for several such magazines and later for a corporation and then a small business prior to taking the Big Leap and hanging up my full-time freelancer shingle. Although I considered myself a “real” writer at this point, editing jobs continued to provide me with income.

Then, one day a friend asked me to edit a book. That event was one of two that changed the trajectory of my career.

I remembered my college professor telling me, “A book is just a string of articles on the same topic. If you can write an article, you can write a book.” I assumed that meant with my journalistic and editorial experience I could also edit a book, so I did. And then I did another and another…

After a number of years, I began to wonder why I wasn’t writing books.

I entertained the thought of becoming an author. I soon learned that I first needed something called a “platform.” (A platform is everything you do that creates a base of fans ready to buy your book when released.)

So I started blogging to promote myself and my forthcoming book. That was the second event that changed the trajectory of my career.

I loved blogging. So I started another blog and another and another…And the popularity of those blogs helped me attract a literary agent.

Then I got the crazy idea to start a blog on which I would write a book post by post to teach other writers how they could write, publish and promote their books by doing the exact same thing. In other words, I blogged a book about how to blog a book.

And lo and behold, my agent got me a contract for a publishing deal! I went from freelance writer (and editor) to author.

Becoming a blogger and an author has changed my writing career in profound ways. It has helped me gain:

  • More writing work
  • More editing work
  • More freelance assignments
  • Higher pay for writing assignments

It also hopefully will help me get more book deals in the future. (I get paid an advance for these books and then royalties on sales.)

If you decide to author a book—even if you self-publish a book–a whole new world will open up to you. That published book means you know something about writing books. Thus, you can offer your services as a:

  • ghostwriter
  • book writer
  • ebook writer
  • booklet writer

You also become the expert on the topic of your book. This means you can get freelance writing assignments on that topic—and command more pay for those assignments.

Of course, you can write more books, make more money from those books, and then again increase the income from your freelance writing business in general, too.

Some writers and journalists don’t want to author books. Becoming an author has enhanced everything I do as a freelance writer and journalist. In fact, it’s made it more possible for me to make my living by getting paid for my words.

Nina Amir is an Inspiration to Creation Coach and the author of How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time (Writer’s Digest Books), 10 short self-published books and five blogs. Sign up for a free author, book or blog-to-book coaching session with Nina or receive her 5-Day Published Author Training Series by visiting www.copywrightcommunications.com or ninaamir.com.

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35 comments on “Why Freelance Writers Should Consider Becoming Authors
  1. daniel says:

    Wow!

    I’m speechless.

    Thanks Amir… I think I should start thinking of publishing my own book ( At least not for now).

    But this post really inspired me.. Thanks

    More Grease to your elbow!

  2. Sandra says:

    Thank you for this post, it’s timely as I’m currently rethinking my blogging strategy. What do you suggest a novelist blog about to gather an audience?
    Sandra recently posted..Lunch With My Lead Character – What Would She Say?

    • Nina Amir says:

      Sandra,

      Blog your whole novel scene by scene, or pull out the themes and topics and blog about those. Tie them into the news! Write about how you research your characters and the places about which you write, etc. There’s tons to write about for novelists. Plus, if you write about your themes, you can become an expert on them…and you could speak and promote the novel as an expert.
      Nina Amir recently posted..Are You Cut Out to be an Indie Publisher?

  3. Terri H says:

    I am in awe. You make it sound so easy. Although, I’ve written an ebook before, the idea of writing an actual “book” still intimidates me.
    Terri H recently posted..5 Types of People You’ll Encounter on Your Way to the Top

    • Carol Tice says:

      That’s funny, Terri — what’s so different? It’s just putting a physical cover on it.

      I’ve put out both in the past year, and the difference for me was just the surreality of knowing people in airports all over the U.S. were seeing the book in the airport newsstands. My ebooks feel just as real to me, otherwise.

      • Nina Amir says:

        I think writers should produce both ebooks and pbooks. You want a pbook in hand whenever you speak, for example–something to show.

        And there is absolutely nothing like going into Barnes & Noble or an indie bookstore and seeing your book on the shelf or even displayed cover out…And right now my book, How to Blog a Book, is on end caps at B&N for the holidays. To me, that’s “making it.” LOL. You can’t achieve that with an ebook. And having people come up to me at conferences and ask me to sign a copy…what author doesn’t dream of that happening?
        Nina Amir recently posted..Are You Cut Out to be an Indie Publisher?

    • Nina Amir says:

      Terry,

      Books these days are shorter. My first draft of How to Blog a Book was just over 26,000 words. I proposed about 35,000 words, The publisher asked for closer to 45,000 words. They are always looking for 100+ pages so you can print on the spine.

      Let’s break that down so you see how easy it is: 45,000 words is only 150 blog posts (if they are 300 words each–to satisfy Google’s spiders). Writing 3 per week, that’s 50 weeks. That’s 12.5 months. Write a few more per week or write a few that are more than 300 words, and you are finished with your book in a year or less not even writing every day–and you’ve build platform at the same time and expert status.

      Easy schmeasy.
      Nina Amir recently posted..Are You Cut Out to be an Indie Publisher?

  4. Tom Bentley says:

    Nina, I saw you speak at the recent Writer’s Digest West (Hardcore Author Marketing session) and was impressed with the clarity of your statements on how bloggers, and writers in general, can better position themselves to be seen in the market. Thanks for that and this post.
    Tom Bentley recently posted..Book Trailer, Whoo Daddy, Is This a Book Trailer

  5. Sandra says:

    I have been thinking about writing a book for some time now. The only thing is, I don’t have the audience base to sell it once I finish it. How do you do that? If you are starting to write a book should you just let it sit until you have a fan base on your blog? Would love some advice from anyone out there. Great post, thank you!!
    Sandra recently posted..camera phone pictures: food edition

    • Nina Amir says:

      Sandra,

      If you are a nonfiction writer, yes, sometimes you need to wait until you build up that platform before you approach agents and editors–or before you self-publish (if you want the book to sell). An author platform (or fan base) is what sells books, which is why publishers now demand them. Even for a novelist, it will help you land a traditional publishing deal and will help you sell books. Why are those great novelists going indie? They have a fan base and don’t need help from the Big Houses any more. Otherwise, they’d be thinking twice about going it alone.

      Start building platform from the moment you have the idea…from the moment you decide to become an author, which means published. A blog is the best tool you have to do this from the comfort of your home and via your writing.
      Nina Amir recently posted..The Immortal Ebook Fights for Survival

  6. Amandah says:

    Absolutely! I’m thrilled to report I landed a book deal with an up and coming publisher. A part of me feels like I’m moving towards focusing more on writing my own material in addition to editing (final) and ghost writing. I’ve already written a non-fiction book for teens and a children’s picture book along with several screenplays. I’m confident I’m on the road to success.
    Amandah recently posted..Exhausted? How to Grow Your Blog without SEO and Social Media

  7. Traci Browne says:

    I will also add to you great advice to writers that being a published author allows you to get much higher rates for your freelance work. But the key is published author, not self-published. Being published means you know how to meet deadlines and can work with an editor. That is very important to corporate clients. They want to know they are not the first people to take a chance with you. It also increases your credibility to have written for a well known industry publisher.

    I should also clarify I’m talking about published non-fiction books, I have no idea if writing a novel will help with your freelance business writing.
    Traci Browne recently posted..Check Back Soon…

    • Nina Amir says:

      That’s all true, Traci. However, these days a really good indie book can help, too–especially coupled with a great, well-written blog. The credibility that comes from traditional publishing is still a HUGE reason to look for a publishing deal, but they are harder and harder to come by. I don’t want to give false hope. And for nonfiction writers, you MUST have that platform.
      Nina Amir recently posted..The Immortal Ebook Fights for Survival

  8. Karen Lange says:

    Very encouraging – I’m inspired, thank you!
    Karen Lange recently posted..Book Review – 2013 Guide to Literary Agents

  9. Amandah says:

    @Carol…I’m not sure if I can say the title of the book since I have to complete it. But…it will be published in early 2013. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my children’s picture book will also be published in 2013.
    Amandah recently posted..Exhausted? How to Grow Your Blog without SEO and Social Media

  10. Amandah says:

    @Carol…Thankfully, my other two books are completed. My next order of business is to sell one or more of my screenplays. One project at a time. :)
    Amandah recently posted..Exhausted? How to Grow Your Blog without SEO and Social Media

  11. Thanks for a very inspiring blog. The idea of writing blog posts as if they were chapters in a book comes as a revelation to me. I have about half a dozen outlines of a book about life in Cambodia growing mold on my D drive, not because I can’t think of what to write, but because there’s too much to write about and it comes too fast. Therefore, I blog instead. Consequently, my blog has grown a fairly large following for its niche, so I’ve got that part of the package in place without even trying. I don’t really want to just pull blog posts and call them chapters, but I can certainly use many of them as rough drafts and to help me organize my chapters. Then I can fill in the blanks with blogs/chapters and get two jobs done at the same time. THEN I won’t have an excuse to keep putting off the book!

    Thanks again!
    Rob Schneider recently posted..The Dark Side of the New Cambodia (and the world)

  12. I have ‘write an ebook’ on my to-do since forever but I can’t spare enough time after writing for my blog and for my clients (and not to mention the daily chores). Maybe I should stop writing for others for a while.
    Ali | Writers Blog recently posted..10 Deadly Mistakes Almost Every New Blogger Makes

  13. Tiffany Hughes says:

    I can’t believe I waited a day to read this post! Very encouraging information.

    I have been wanting to start a blog and write books (creative nonfiction is my favorite genre) for a long time, but haven’t gotten around to really developing a blog topic that could develop a solid following and be enjoyable to write and read.

    I get pretty drained from by dull, low-paying marketing day job; it’s one of my biggest challenges. I don’t get the same creative energy from marketing as I do from writing and editing.

    Any advice? I welcome anything. :)

    Thanks Nina for the lovely article, and thanks Carol for the always inspiring blog posts!

  14. You are obviously a great writer. It’s NOT often that I read through a post without taking my eyes off — You made a point that every freelancer must pay attention to: Author a book and you enhance your earning opportunities.

  15. What a good perspective. Writers can get intimidated by the idea of writing a book, but as you’ve pointed out here, if you can write an article, you probably can write a book. As with any other goal, break it down into bite-sized pieces, if the idea of a book scares you. Think through the point you want to make, the chapters you need to write, the themes you’ll present. Don’t let the idea of writing a book paralyze you.

    One other thing I would tell aspiring authors: Don’t overwrite. Just get in. Tell the story. And get out.

    Writing a book is a deliberate process, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating.
    Monica Carter Tagore recently posted..Book Marketing Strategies That Work

  16. Deborah says:

    Thanks for your work. Much appreciated.

    I love writing. I am writing a memoir honoring my mother’s last wish to die at home, which is about global ageing, death, relationships, spiritual development, care, control, perception.
    I am also have interests in writing about relationships, my work as a facilitator/coach. My question is do I need 2 blogs – one for the book and one for the general posts or is one blog landing page suitable for both?

  17. Anne Galivan says:

    My blog was originally a book idea. When the internet exploded I saw the potential to reach people with my homeschooling expertise, and Homeschooling911.com was born.

    What I didn’t realize at the time was that my blog could eventually build a platform for me as a writer, so that when I get ready to write a book, I will have the “street cred” I need.

    Now I’ve come full-circle and while I plan to continue my blog for years to come, I’ve also decided my original book idea is still one that is needed and will sell. I’ve written an outline for it and done lots of writing in my head…I should start working on it next year. How long it will take to write it I have no idea since I have other writing projects planned as well. But I appreciate you sharing your story because it has reminded me that my plan can, and will, work!
    Anne Galivan recently posted..Is It Time for a Homeschool Checkup?

  18. I enjoyed reading your article. I recently became a published author for my book entitled, The Right Relationship Starts with You. I didn’t have a platform before writing it but have been developing one through my blog, helpwithyourlife.wordpress.com. I too, love blogging and connecting with other people who share a passion for writing and for self-growth. I hope to write for a magazine or get a publishing contract for another book one day. Your words were inspirational and very helpful. Thank you.

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