Tuesday, April 12, 2016

How to Make Money as a Writer – Guaranteed

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

How to make money as a writer - guaranteed!
How do you make money as a writer? Easy. Write smut! It’s a guaranteed paycheck and if you play your cards right—fame and fortune can follow. Now before you go all self-righteous on me—hear me out.

Let’s face it. Once you are a published novelist, by the time everyone takes a bite of the profit, most authors, are no better off financially, than they were before they wrote the story. So the burning question becomes, why do I write if I never get paid?

That, my friend, is the age old corundum.

You could write today, submit (even if the writing it substandard), and probably earn a decent check if you chose to write smut. Or if you opt for the politically correct, “erotica.”

The market screams for trash.
The market screams for trash. And worse yet, daily writers are stooping to all-time lows, for the title. Not all writers go this route. Scruples still exist in the industry. However, more and more wanna-be writers are seeing that to be noticed in the industry, smutty works. Look at Fifty Shades of Grey. I can’t speak to the quality of the writing because I never read the book. But I can tell you, that author gained her notoriety and money quickly by glorifying bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism. (Which by the way, I find it a bit ironic as I look at reviews, that Anastasia falls for a guy named Christian.) But I digress.

My point is, if money and fame is what you are after, then erotica is the dirty elephant in the room that Christians don’t want to mention.

According to www.theguardian.com, 54% of traditionally-published authors and a staggering 80% of self-published authors make less than $1000 or less per year.

So why do I point out this elephant? Because it’s an issue that will test your beliefs and standards. Everyone reading this post are probably not writers in the Christian market. Secular or Christian – the fact remains, as a writer, you must set your standards. What will you write and where do you draw the line? Does your faith outshine earthly desires to have a book on the shelves?

Your standards, be them in your writing or in your daily living, speak to who you are and the hard part comes when your earthly desires fight against your inner beliefs. The easy way to being published is to go the way of least resistance. If the world wants immoral reading, then give them what they want. But it’s more than that. Writing is more than giving the world what it craves.

I have a multi-Christy winner friend, who remarked, “No one wants a good story anymore. No one cares about good, well-written work.” This, unfortunately, is true. Give the people a quickly written, cheaply told, story that promotes the ways of the world, and it will be read. But a book so beautifully crafted that its story churns the soul. . .that’s a different thing. It has to paddle upstream to find a place.

Look seriously at why you write.
I challenge you to seriously look at why you write. If it’s merely for the paycheck, you can go to Wal-Mart and get a job. But if you aim to be different—shoot for a higher standard, recognition comes slow, money comes even slower. The real paycheck are the lives you can change.

A well written, wholesome story can dig into the soul of a reader, grasp hold and not turn lose. A story well-told, becomes timeless, shared extensively because it’s just good. Good stories can have tragedy, hardship, and death, but they can also have hope—something a suffering world seeks.

Before you bend to ways of the world, ask yourself these questions:
  • Is this something I morally believe to be right? In your heart of hearts, you have a gage that your parents balanced in you as a child. You have the basic beliefs of what is right and wrong. Do not fall for the lie: But that’s what they expect. The world hungers for that basic core values to be reinstated. Remember, we were created with a void within us. One meant to be filled by our love of God. For those who have no guidance on how to fill that void, your option to write differently can most certainly point them in the right direction.
  • Would I be proud for my children or grandchildren to read this at show and tell? It’s a valid question and one that needs to be thought through before pen goes to paper.
  • How will this affect my career in the future? And it will affect your career in the future.
  • Am I raising the bar or bending beneath it? You can, after all, set the new standard. My grandmother once told me, “Life is fulla wants. But wants ain’t what a body lives by. It’s needs.” That, was her sweet mountain way of saying reminding me, if my friends told me to jump off a bridge would I do it? You don’t have to bend beneath the bar. Raise it.
Simply put, writers have valuable roles in the world and though the ultimate goal would be to seek payment and receive it, the reality is, that happens 1% of the time. What we do with the other 99% in our standards. 

Do not be afraid to set your standard high. Write quality work. Use your words wisely. A day will come when you make a meager living at writing. If you work hard, the day may arrive sooner than later that you make a substantial living. And it will be a day you can look back on with pride.

How to Make Money as a Writer - Guaranteed - @CindyDevoted (Click to Tweet)

Cindy Sproles is an award-winning author and popular speaker. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions ministries and managing editor of Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Cindy is the executive editor of www.christiandevotions.us and www.inspireafire.com. She teaches at writers conferences nationwide and directs The Asheville Christian Writers Conference - Writers Boot Camp. 

She is the author of two devotionals, He Said, She Said - Learning to Live a Life of Passion and New Sheets - Thirty Days to Refine You into the Woman You Can Be. Cindy's debut novel, Mercy's Rain, is available at major retailers. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com and book her for your next conference or ladies retreat. Also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Well said, friend. I'm staking my claim that writing-poverty in this world is writing-riches in the next. May God always be glorified through our words, stories, articles, blogs, and books.

    1. I agree. We have an important role as Christian writers. The payday comes, one way or the other.

  2. Brilliant. I am applauding you my friend. I have not made a penny on my writing yet, However one of my blog posts instilled hope and joy into a hurting friend. That is so much better.

    1. We all want to be paid. And working toward that is not a bad thing. But for me, I wanna do better. I pray for God's provision.

  3. Unfortunately, this is even true of Young Adult writers. The theme of the day in my genre is "diverse characters." And I have no issue writing in characters of all color and backgrounds. But I won't promote a homosexual lifestyle, which seems to be the #1 item every secular agent is seeking these days. Most of the best-selling YA books also include teen sex, often vividly described. There are writers keeping it clean, and Christian. But they will probably never be a guest on the Today Show. I write for an audience of One. That means money should never be my end goal.

    1. I know what you mean. It broke my heart to teach at a Christian conference where I did a critique written by a conferee geared to middle grade kids. In the first page, the author hit me with the "F" bomb 5 times. Even more shocking, when I asked what the occupation of this writer was, I was appalled to find out - middle grade teacher. I asked this writer 2 questions: 1) Why would you set the bar lower just because this is how you hear your students talk. Set it higher so they can strive to be better 2) Have you even thought about the ramifications on your current career should this story publish? Your students are not who will buy this book...Momma is. And when Momma reads the "F" bomb in the first page - she's gonna be standing the the principal's office the next day demanding you find a new job.

      My grandmother always said, "The choices you make are the person you become." Choose to be different.

      So you are right, Ron. Few are paid. Well said, "I write for an audience of One." I am grateful every time I am paid. And for the times I am not...I'm proud to say, God provides.

    2. Ron, my daughter (15) and I were discussing this again! We need good YA books without smut! We believe it starts with the junk they start reading in elementary, it prepares them for more junk. Like craving a burger and fries never knowing what a top sirloin taste like.

  4. EXCELLENT! The Word teaches us to set our standards not just high but higher than the world's standards. That goes for not only our moral standards but also our writing standards.

    1. Thanks Dennis. If we do not bend to the ways of the world, we begin to edge out the junk. But we have to stand firm. I want the things I write to be things I know my family will be pleased to read. But more so, I want them to be things I am sure will show the face of God. We don't have to preach when we write. We don't have to say "Jesus" in every line, we simply have to be determined to write with wholesome words and Christ-like ways.

  5. Cindy, you addressed a slope many writers are sliding down, but they don't think of it that way. They are adding to the pile that should be "shoveled out of the barn". :) It's sad. I want my writing to touch on issues we have today but not drag the reader into the gutter. I believe God can speak through our writing without us preaching, and finding a good clean book is such a relief. No, I'll never make big money! But that's okay. God gave me the desire to write.

  6. This article encouraged and confirmed what God has been telling me.
    I write because God has given me a message. Who am I to water it down? The God I love and trust tells me He will provide. That's enough.

    1. Good for you. He will give you the words and provide. I promise.

  7. Thank you Cindy. I totally agree. Would I like to make a lot money writing? Sure. But lowering my standards, no thanks. I write for middle grade students. I'm astounded how many of their parents ask if there is anything in my books their child "shouldn't read". They assume there will be. I'm glad I can assure them that there is nothing in Adi books they need to worry about. That means more to me than money. Thanks for sharing your words with us. Have a blessed day.

  8. Cindy,

    I confess.

    I laughed out loud at your first paragraph! I really did. Why? Because it echoes my own thoughts on the subject so very well.

    I haven't been wrestling with paths of least resistance. There are some things I won't read and some that I won't write. Period.

    My struggles have been with why I write in the first place and with the startling revelation that I had lost my first love when it came to writing. I had to go all the way back to the very beginning, to a little story written with a number two pencil on lined paper, to see how my writing had changed over the years.

    You know what? I have found the path back to that first love: Writing for the sheer joy of it.

    Money would be nice, but I've been writing stories since the eighth grade. Seven or eight finished manuscripts later, I'm still not published.

    But I still write. Because there are still stories to tell.

    All of that to say that I have always known why I write and money has always been icing on the cake. Not the cake itself.

    Those who write for some reason other than money, fame or fortune (or a spot on the Today Show, a dubious honor to me) will follow wherever that goal leads.

    Those who write for some other reason and who have that reason clearly in front of them at all times are better equipped to withstand market trends and declining societal conditions.

    Thanks for a great post.

    Best wishes,


    1. Stay the course. Publishing is like a wheel. Eventually what you write will rise to the top and you will be both ready for the plunge and writing at a level to be noticed.

    2. Cindy,

      My goal is, indeed, to stay the course regardless of whether or not I ever get published.

      Thanks for the note of encouragement, though.

  9. I loved how you pulled me in with the title. I was thinking "great, I need this". Then I read your article and I felt guilty. You are correct, it will be the lust of money that would lead us into the smut world. Thanks for reminding me why I write.