Making Real Money as A Full-Time Fiction Writer

Vincent Zandri
Feb 7 · 3 min read
(Courtesy The New York Times)

It takes a change in mindset. No, that’s not right. Allow me to rephrase that. It takes a radical change in mindset. Back in writing school in the mid-90’s we were taught to be writers. Never was there even a limited educational opportunity that focused primarily on making money from our words. Always it was about craft, and sometimes not even that. Or what I mean is, some workshops would get petty, and students could get pretty ugly with their comments if they didn’t like you. I recall one woman who was so upset by blistering comments on her story, she broke out in tears and walked out. She never came back.

But I digress.

For the past three years I’ve focused mainly on writing books, novellas, and short stories. I did this coming off a couple of my most successful years. I’d hit some of the major bestseller lists, nailed the coveted №1 overall spot on the Amazon Kindle Bestseller list at least two times with The Remains and Everything Burns, was featured in the New York Times, appeared on Fox News and Bloomsberg TV, won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Paperback and the PWA Shamus Award for Best Paperback (both for Moonlight Weeps) and in general made enough in royalties and advances to travel the world several times over, while spending my falls in Italy. Not a bad life I carved for myself.

My gut spoke to me and told me to write as much as I could while the stove was hot, and that’s exactly what I did. I wrote twenty novels, maybe ten novellas and a bunch of short stories. But here’s what happened in the process. While concentrating on the creative part of my job, I sort of let the retail side of things slip. For certain I took on too many publishing contracts (imagine the possibility of taking on too many contracts when you’re first starting out?) and, in the process, I stretched myself a bit thin.

That said, I’ve signed only enough contracts since then that I can handle reasonably, without one book and/or new release tripping over the other. Here’s what else I’ve done. I made a conscious decision to change my mindset for 2020. Instead of concentrating on being a creative all day, everyday, I would now spend half my time being a businessman.

With this in mind, I readjusted my day accordingly.

  1. Wake up at 7 and write/edit until 10.
  2. 10–12 exercise
  3. 12:30 Eat lunch at my desk while checking my Amazon Ads. I adjust the ads so that the ones making money are copied and/or scaled up, while the dogs are paused.
  4. 1:30 Take a quick nap, refresh my brain and body.
  5. 2–3:30 Work on newsletters, blogs (like this one), promos, social media, and whatever else will move units (I also work on my Bitcoin portfolio at this time, but I’ll save that for another blog).
  6. 3:30 Go for a walk, no matter the weather.
  7. 4:00 Edit the fiction I wrote that morning and make sure I know where I’m going with my story in the morning. I also might edit existing manuscripts at this time.
  8. 4–4:45 Finish up for the day.
  9. 5:00 Hit the local for a beer and plan out dinner.
  10. 9:00 Get in bed to read.
  11. 10:00 lights out.

You might be thinking, Dude sleeps a lot. I do get more than the average bear, but there’s a method to the madness. First of all, I’m an avid weight lifter and broken down muscle needs more rest for proper recovery. I also believe my brain needs more rest for much of the same reason. But there’s also another reason I get more than enough rest. The rundown person always becomes the sick person. What’s the best way to fight off seasonal flu and colds? Get your rest.

Mindset means everything in this business and now that we’re five solid weeks into the new year, I am happy to report that I have not only signed a new contract for my novel Paradox Lake with Oceanview Publishing, my sales (paper, audio, eBook) are up a whopping 75% That’s a huge improvement over the past three years.

Want to sell more books? Don’t just be a creative person. Change your mindset. Be a business person too. It will make all the difference in your bottom line.

Vincent Zandri

Written by

New York Times and USA Today bestselling ITW Thriller Award winning author. Want a FREE thriller? Go to WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM

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