Novelist, Graham Joyce, gave the closing address at this year’s Birmingham Writers’ Toolkit event. He stressed the need for writers today to have several streams of income, especially as publishing is moving away from traditional books towards e-publishing. He suggested the following areas from which writers could source their income:
- The traditional advance on a book – however this type of payment is becoming smaller and less common
- Digital downloads – writers can sell their own work directly via their website thus bypassing publishers
- Teaching creative and other types of writing
- Performing their work
- Giving talks – schools love writers to come into the classroom or try the after dinner/lunch circuit
- Writing non-fiction
- Screen development of their work – funding is often available for this (although not for actually producing the film)
- On-line drama – ‘Kate Modern’, which was linked to BeBo, is an example of this type of drama which can be simply filmed by the author
- Computer games – these now require more narrative and emotional content. Farmville is an example of this and,surprisingly, the average player is a 47-year-old female.
By diversifying and marketing themselves and their work independently, writers can continue to work even if the fickle publishing world turns against them.
It is worth taking note of this if you are trying to build up a writing career. It shows that it may be possible to earn a living as a writer without being picked up by a major publisher – if you are willing to think laterally, become digital savvy and go out there and sell yourself.