Welcome to our new series for 2012, Making a Living: One Writer’s Story, which we hope will give you ideas on how you can make a living as a writer if your writing alone isn’t paying all the bills.
Today’s guest is Maryann Miller!
First, can you tell us a bit about what you write and your publishing history?
My career started as a journalist and columnist for newspapers and magazines. I wrote for some national magazines, as well as regional, and held staff positions at a newspaper and a regional magazine. I also did freelance public relations. Throughout those years, I always wrote fiction, too, but concentrated on the nonfiction as that was paying the bills. Later when I decided to focus on fiction, I started writing mysteries and suspense and eventually had books published. I’ve had fifteen books published, fiction and nonfiction, the latest being the first book in a mystery series, Open Season.
What writing-related work do you do to earn make a living as a writer, besides writing books, short stories, etc.?
I have been editing for some time, both as a freelance editor and working for small publishers. Most recently I was the Managing Editor of an online community magazine. Last year I resigned from the magazine and have focused on freelance editing and coaching for individual clients..
What prompted you to find a writing-related revenue stream aside from your novels?
As I said earlier, the revenue stream came before I was successful in marketing novels. Even when I resigned from my earlier staff positions, I always was open to any opportunity to generate some extra income.
How did you break into this field?
My initial break was writing a humorous column for a suburban newspaper. Not long after that I was writing theatre and book reviews for that newspaper and started placing stories in other regional publications. That led to the staff positions. I was the editor for a slick quarterly magazine for several years and learned a lot about editing from the publisher.
Do you have any advice for other writers who want to stay in the writing world, but aren’t currently able to make a living as a writer alone?
Find something that you really enjoy, otherwise it will be drudgery and you will resent the time it takes away from creating your stories.
What do you enjoy about this second business?
What I enjoy most about editing and coaching is working with new writers and helping them improve their craft. I recently edited a book for a young Nigerian woman who was so open to my comments and suggestions. Together, we created a really good book, but that only happened because she put her ego aside and was so eager to learn. And I put my ego aside and was willing to listen to her. (smile)
Do you think having a second income from something writing-related that isn’t actually writing helps your writing career, or does it get in the way?
There are times the editing does get in the way. This past year I took on more clients than I probably should have, so my time to work on my books was more limited.
If you could make a living from just one of these choices, which would you choose?
That’s a hard one to answer because unlike Jerry McGuire, it’s not about the money for me. Thankfully, I have always made enough to contribute nicely to our bank account, but the rewards of having a book published or helping someone else get a book published is more important. Revenue from book sales now matches or even surpasses revenue from editing, but I don’t think I would ever stop being an editor and a writing coach. Perhaps I’ll just take fewer clients in the future. (smile)
With the new world of publishing and the move to self-publishing by many authors, do you think new opportunities will open up for writing-related revenue? Where do you see a need aside from what you are doing?
One thing that I have thought a lot about is new avenues for agents. Instead of the traditional role of taking an author and selling her books to the big publishers, agents might consider taking on an indie author and selling the book to foreign markets. The agent could also set up promotions for the author and take over the job of marketing so the author can write. This could all be done for a percentage of sales, just like current contracts are structured. I would love to have an agent do something like that for me and I think it could prove profitable for agent and author.
How important do you feel it is for writers to support other writers both by providing these types of services and by hiring other writers?
It is absolutely vital for authors to support each other, especially in this new world of indie publishing and e-books. When I need a freelance editor, I will definitely hire one of the editors I have met online.
If writers would like to hire you, where can the learn more about your services, fees and availability?
Interested authors can contact me via my website, where they can find a page that outlines my fees and experience.
Anything else you’d like to add about trying to make a living as a writer or anything else?
Thank you so much for inviting me to be part of your series on writing-related jobs. I invite people to visit my blog.
Friend me on Facebook and visit my author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maryann-Miller/295149340518119
And follow me on Twitter.