Writing romance novels is one of the easiest ways to make money online as a writer. Here is how to make money writing romance ebooks and selling on Amazon.
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From reading romance novels to how make money writing romance novels
When I was a teenager, I volunteered with the Red Cross to help out with blood donor clinics. I basically had to greet people, have them fill out a form, and give them juice and cookies after. Easy stuff.
Sometimes there would be a lull in people donating and us volunteers would get bored. I don’t remember who started it but one of us teenagers started bringing romance novels. We took turns reading chapters out loud while waiting for blood donor. Those romance novels were definitely addicting and the time flew by quickly!
Recently I “met” (online) Yuwanda Black from Inkwell Editorial and she makes money writing romance novels! I asked if I could interview her to let you all know more about how to write your first romance novel and writing romance novels for money. She also created a no-fluff, all-action writing and publishing course to teach others how to have success self-publishing ebooks.
It’s so inspiring to read about how other people make money online and I’m excited to bring you this unique side hustle/online job today!
For other entrepreneur stories check out:
How to write your first romance novel
Suchot: Tell us a bit about you and your journey to self-publishing books – what do you do, when did you start, how much you work, etc.
Yuwanda: I’ve worked in publishing since 1987. I worked at a legal publishing firm in New York off and on for a dozen years between 1987 and 1999. One of my sisters, who worked at the company first, got me the job there.
The company was Matthew Bender, which was eventually bought by a subsidiary of LexisNexis (1998).
We started freelancing on the side for Matthew Bender, and eventually went on to start Inkwell Editorial, which I still run to this day.
Inkwell has gone through several rebirths. It started out as an editorial outsource agency. My sister and I took on proofreading, word processing and coding (SGML back then) projects for companies like Kaplan, McGraw-Hill, Random House, etc.
Then it morphed into an editorial outsource AND staffing agency. This happened because many clients wanted freelancers to come onsite to complete projects. So, we accommodated by starting a staffing division.
Then the company became an online information portal for freelance writers, which is what it is today. This happened because of 9/11. After that, business came to a halt, especially in our sector (editorial).
So I moved the company into my apartment and revamped it as an online company teaching others how to freelance.
Self-publishing my first book
I got into self-publishing because people wanted to know how to land more work-from-home assignments. I kept getting questions about it, so I put together a little pamphlet. It was a simple pdf file that I uploaded to the site.
This way, I could direct people to it instead of fielding calls all day long about how to land freelance writing, copy editing, (at the time) word processing, etc., jobs. That was my first official “ebook,” which was entitled, How to Really Make a Living as an Editorial Freelancer.
It didn’t even have a cover. And I published it just to get info quickly to those who wanted to know how to go about freelancing. That was in and around 2002 or 2004.
After that, other ideas for info in the editorial freelancing niche started coming to me, and I just wrote and published. I based most of them on questions that I got from blog/website readers.
I never thought that self-publishing non-fiction would turn into a real income stream. But when I was doing my taxes for 2010, to my surprise, I realized that over half of my income had come from products and services I created. So, I thought to myself, “This can be a really lucrative income stream if you took the time to develop it.” And, that’s what I did.
In 2011, I wrote and self-published 50 ebooks. Yeah, it was crazy! And no, I don’t advised doing that.
I learned a lot that year though, and it laid the groundwork for what has become a very lucrative way to make money writing for me.
I make money writing in various different ways:
- Writing for clients (which I don’t do a lot of at all anymore);
- I write and self-publishing fiction (romance);
- Writing and self-publishing non-fiction (like my first ebook);
- Creating and teaching online courses; and
- Blogging/ affiliate marketing
It’s all writing, and I love that it’s diverse because if one income stream slows down, then I have others. I never feel at the whim of a client or the market.
As for work, I’m a workaholic and I work a lot. It doesn’t feel like it though, because I love what I do. I also tend to work in spurts.
For example, I just created my latest ecourse this past summer (the one on self-publishing non-fiction). For about a month, I worked 18 to 20 hours per day putting the course together. Once it was done, I cut way back – only working maybe 4 to 5 hours per day.
Now, I’m in “turn-up” mode again, because I want to hit some romance writing goals and to systemize the sale of my ecourses more.
So, how much I work all depends on what goals I’m trying to reach.
How much money can you make writing romance novels?
Suchot: I understand if you don’t want to share exact numbers about your income, but IF this is something you share, we would love to hear what your average online income is per month.
Yuwanda: Hmmm … not really into sharing my personal income. But, I can tell you this – my most lucrative income stream overall is ecourses. For example, last month (July 2020) was my best month. I earned almost $18,000.
Self-publishing is my next best income stream. I earn four figures per month from fiction and non-fiction (sometimes, high fours, sometimes low). It could be more consistent if I published more.
But as I have so many income streams, something has to give and I do more than ok overall, so I don’t stress it.
How do you balance your online work of writing romance novels with family/self-care?
Yuwanda: I’m not married and I don’t have kids, so I really do get to focus only on myself. I have a boyfriend who lives in the Caribbean, so it’s long distance. I go back and forth every 2-3 months for 2-3 months.
All of this frees me up to be able to work a lot. I feel extremely lucky.
Suchot: To my readers with kids – please don’t feel like this is impossible for you because you have kids. It is also possible to be a successful writer while having kids. Read this interview with freelance writer Lisa who also homeschools her nine children.
As I said before, I tend to be a workaholic. I love what I do, so I have to guard against working too much.
I used to train for and run marathons, but my knees are not what they used to be. Now I just hit the track to walk, and before COVID, I’d go to the gym.
I’m a late riser and I love to read and watch TV. So I usually wind down around 10 pm most nights, and may be up reading and/or watching TV until 3 or 4 am.
I tried off and on for years to become more of a morning person, but it’s just not me. Now, I just work with my body clock. And since I work from home, time is just a number for me.
It really was a mind shift to get to this point though because it’s drummed into most of our heads that “the early bird gets the worm.” I’ve come to believe that the worms everyone else is after are not the worms most entrepreneurs (freelancers) should be competing for. So, I’m glad I made the mind shift.
What was the hardest thing about figuring out how to make money self-publishing?
Yuwanda: Finding a profitable niche and publishing regularly.
I publish fiction and non-fiction, and it really is all about nicheing it and publishing regularly. This last part is especially true for romance writing.
I have two courses on self-publishing. One that focuses on self-publishing non-fiction, and the other is how to make money writing romance (fiction).
In the one on self-publishing non-fiction, I go into grave detail about how to figure out of a book will be profitable BEFORE you write it. Because I’ve published some duds, let me tell ya!
If I’d known then (in 2011) what I know now about figuring out a niche, I wouldn’t have published half the books I wrote in 2011.
Niche is important in fiction (romance) writing too. If you nail down a profitable niche and publish consistently, it’s actually kinda easy to make a living self-publishing.
It’s a lot of work (a lot!) – not gonna try to pull your leg on that – but once you know what you’re doing, you can successfully publish money-making book after money-making book and make a very nice living.
Why do you think you have made money self-publishing books where other people haven’t?
Yuwanda: Perseverance and A LOT of trial and error. LOL!
Seriously though, it was learning how to figure out profitable niches, writing books in those niches, and having a reputation in those niches. As for reputation, I’m talking about non-fiction.
You see, I write from first-hand experience and I’ve been at this a long time; again, in publishing since 1987. My website has been online since 1999, and I’ve been blogging since 2005. So that’s a lot of content out there with my name and reputation attached to it.
Longevity builds trust. And that’s one of the most important things you need to make sales online, especially repeat sales, which is where the real money is when building a business – especially an online business.
To make money writing romance (fiction), you need to:
- Be a decent writer (notice I didn’t say brilliant);
- Write in a popular niche;
- Publish consistently; and
- Sell at a competitive price
If you have all of this, you’ll eventually build an audience; one that can earn you a part- or full-time living. It’s all up to you.
And that’s what I love about self-publishing. You can structure your business any way you want.
What is your best advice for how to make money self-publishing romance novels?
Yuwanda: Figure out a profitable niche and publish consistently. Where most people fall off is in the consistency.
You’re not gonna make a living publishing one book here, and another one there. Sure, you could luck up and have Fifty Shades of Grey-like success. But you could also win next week’s lottery too.
Seriously though, you must be consistent. And isn’t that true with most things in life, eg, diet, exercise, investing etc.?
To reach your goal, stay the course.
Woody Allen is attributed with saying that 80 percent of success is showing up. I’d say the rest of the formula is: 19% hanging in there, and 1% luck.
I hope this insight helps.
Final thoughts on making money writing romance
Suchot: Thank you so much Yuwanda for your goldmine of information about writing romance novels for money. Did you all enjoy that interview? I thought it was so fun to read! I can see why Yuwanda is successful at making money writing.
If self-publishing books is something you’re interested in, please check out Yuwanda’s online courses here. She has a course in self-publishing romance, and it is open for enrollment right now!
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