Dean Wesley Smith talks about how you can make a living writing short fiction.
As often happens when he opens his mouth (er, pen…er, keyboard) controversy follows. There’s a big thread over on kindleboards with a lot of blather back and forth that makes me wonder why I keep reading kindleboards.
He doesn’t say it’s easy. He doesn’t say you can just pound out a story a week and make a great living.
Everything he says is always under the assumption that you can write worth a damn. It offends some people, perhaps even rightfully so, but Smith isn’t talking to people who want to write for fun. If you’re looking at writing to generate some extra beer money, he’s not talking to you.
He operates under the assumption that you can write something worth reading, that you’re trying to get better, and that you want to make as much money as possible from that writing.
He’s an advocate of pricing your work higher than a lot of independent authors do. If you think you’re going to make a living selling stories for a dollar you’re probably wrong.
A lot of the criticisms of the blog post are criticizing things on the periphery. He dismisses people who price their work cheaply and those who edit their stories into insensibility. If you want to do that, go right ahead, I’m sure he won’t give a damn either way.
Here’s the nutshell version of what he said.
In order to make a living writing short fiction you need to A) Write a lot, B) Write in many genres, and C) Really love short fiction.
He doesn’t elaborate much on the third point but I would have to imagine that if you don’t really love short fiction, yours is probably not going to be that great.
There are five sources of revenue from each story. 1) Traditional publication. 2) Independent publication. 3) Grouping them into collections. 4) Audio versions. 5) International versions.
And if you do all that right, you can be making pretty decent money someday.
He gets a lot of shit for a lot of extraneous reasons but the bottom line message is pretty clear. Write well, write a lot, maximize the revenue from what you write and you may never have to have a real job again in your life.