How to make money by writing

How to make money by writing

Do you harbour a secret ambition to be a writer? Would you like to see your work in print …. and make some money from writing? Here freelance writer Mark Hempshell shares his tips for getting started.

Getting started as a writer

Don’t be put off if your writing and grammar skills aren’t perfect. If your writing is basically sound editors will always polish it up.

What you do need is ideas and enthusiasm – a good idea is behind every great piece of writing.

You will need a PC or laptop as most publishers today expect your work to be available as a computer file.

What could you write?

Many would-be writers dream of writing fiction but there is just as much demand for non-fiction, and it’s sometimes easier to sell. Whichever you choose I’d strongly recommend you write on something you’re knowledgeable and passionate about. Something connected with a hobby or interest, or a story from your own life is a great place to start.

Books.  If you fancy having a go at a novel then crime, thriller, mystery, horror, sci-fi and most of all romantic fiction are the most popular genres. There’s strong demand for children’s books too.

Short stories.  These are an easier way to get started. Magazines and publishers of anthologies need lots of short fiction stories.

Articles.  Newspapers, magazines and professional journals all buy articles. Travel writing is a fun area to try.

Freelance journalism.  You can report for your local newspapers (although payments are small) and hope your story is picked up by the national or international press.

Radio and TV.  You could have a shot at writing a play, drama or even a film script. The BBC has a fantastic website which is aimed at supporting new writers: Writersroom at

Other ideas.  If you’re looking for some shorter, easier writing projects you can also make money from writing letters to the editor, fillers and even reviews.

You can find many more articles about the different ways to make money from writing on my website:

Finding a publisher

Mark Hempshall freelance writer

Mark Hempshall freelance writer

It’s more difficult to write something and then try to find a publisher. So do some research before putting pen to paper.   Spend some time browsing in a bookshop (or newsagents) or on a bookselling site like Amazon, and draw up a list of publishers who publish the sort of thing you want to write.

It’s usually better to send publishers an outline of your idea rather than a finished manuscript.

In the case of a book send an outline of your plot, chapter list and the first chapter only. This way, if they’re not interested you can re-jig your idea and try another publisher.

Self publishing

Self publishing is now easier and cheaper than ever. If you’re up for a challenge it could be worth considering.

If you want to self publish there are basically two choices: Publish your book as a paper book or publish it as an ebook.

If you publish a paper book you’ll need to get your book designed and printed.  You’ll also need a trade distributor who will supply your book to the book trade and help with marketing.

If you publish an ebook you can create and sell your book yourself on one of the many ebook bookshops that are available. Amazon Kindle is the most well known. You can also publish your book on the iTunes store for iPad users, on Kobo, or using Nookpress, part of Barnes & Noble.

Book publishing services

There are some services which offer to publish your book for a fee. If you’re considering this check exactly what you’re getting for your money. Often these services just design and print your book but don’t market or sell it for you.

What sort of money could you earn ?

Some famous writers have made millions, others made nothing until after their death. The reality is somewhere between. An article or short story could earn you anything from £50-£250. For a book deal expect a royalty of 7.5-10% for a paper book but up to 70% for an ebook.

by Mark Hempshell


Mark Hempshell is a freelance writer with over 20 years’ experience writing sales copy, manuals, articles and full length books.

You can find many more tips, ideas and useful articles on making money from writing on Mark’s free website: Make Money Writing.