Write For A Living In 7 Easy Steps

This is a guest post from ghostwriter Grant McDuling. You can also listen to an audio interview with Grant on making 6 figures as a writer here.

As a full time writer, I get asked so many times by all sorts of people what it takes to give up the day job to become a full time writer. This was a question I too had pondered long and hard years ago.

You see, I had been dabbling in writing since a school boy back in the 1960s and always felt this inner urge or compulsion to write. But as time went on and I grew up, realizing this goal became harder and harder because I found myself going down a path I didn’t want but had to pursue because commitments came along that had to be tended to. Commitments like paying the rent, buying food, paying off a car, to mention but a few.

The road to becoming a full time writer seemed to be an impossible one to follow — until I couldn’t resist the urge any longer and decided to do something positive about it.

My experience in the business world convinced me that, if I was to be serious about it, I would have to treat writing just like any other business. I was going to have to set about developing a plan of action.

This I did, but mostly by relying on non-business-like behavior; a healthy dose of enthusiasm mixed with gut feel and a liberal sprinkling of trial and error got me to the point where I at least had a system to work with. And it was a system based on business lines.

This gave me the courage to take the proverbial plunge, and I have never looked back.

So what was my system?

In simple terms, it consisted of 7 basic steps:

(1) Take control of your own future. Here I am referring to assuming responsibility for your own future. And become accountable. Have a plan to get rid of debt. You can read more about this in my Kindle book Write for a Living in 7 Easy Steps

(2) Getting into the writing profession needs the right ATTITUDE. It’s about seeing yourself as a professional writer.

(3) Become a PRACTICING writer. Just like lawyers or doctors are in private practice, so too must you be. Understand and make use of the principle of leverage to achieve more with less. Syndication is a good example here.

(4) Concentrate on sales and marketing. Understand that, as a practicing writer, you should be spending around 50% of your time on sales and marketing.

(5) Setting up and running a writing practice is very important. Understand you need a vision, a mission statement and a set of goals to succeed in this business.

(6) Get clear about what editors want. You’ll never succeed in this business if all you do is cheese off editors by missing deadlines, writing for the wrong audiences or write articles that stray from the point.

(7) Be able to cope with common problems such as the lack of motivation that is sure to set in some time, keeping focused, and avoiding procrastination or writer’s block.

Launching out on your own in business – any business – takes courage and a great deal of faith in your own abilities. But it also takes a whole lot more; money, discipline, dedication and even, some would say, madness. But there’s another absolutely important ingredient that no university, school or college teaches, and that’s ATTITUDE. You have to think of yourself as a businessperson and not a writer. You are a businessperson whose business happens to be making a profit – through selling words.

Grant McDuling is a Brisbane-based writer who has written 35 books so far. He has published two as Kindle books and says that since buying a Kindle, his reading habits have changed.

Grant is a well-known ghostwriter, having written for a range of clients all over the world, Many of his books are now international best sellers with sales in the millions.

Write for a Living in 7 Easy Steps can be found on Amazon:

Image: Flickr Creative Commons John Althouse Cohen Montmartre

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  1. says

    Great post. I think I agree with Grant. To make a living as an author I feel one needs to treat writing as a business. And it’s interesting to see that he has put a figure on the ratio of marketing to writing of 50%. This is something you and your readers discussed in your post “Write lots of books or build an author platform”. 50% sounds about right to me because I think one needs to market, but also one needs to keep moving forward. Although it’s not yet working for me, as I have only sold two copies of my first novel “Call me Aphrodite” in the first three weeks. Still, ever the optimist :)

  2. Maribeth Oliver says

    Hi Joanna!

    Your blog is great. I am trying to promote the love of writing here in the Philippines especially for homebased article writers. Hope to follow each other (you and Christopher) in our twitter accounts as contacts. More Power to you!


  3. says

    This was a very interesting post, thank you. I was worried that I was frittering away too much time on marketing / social networking with my readers but I now see that I could reasonably be spending even more time on this. It is a shame that full time paid employment gets in the way :)

  4. says

    Very inspiring Grant, thank you. The advice on how much time to spend on promotion is very helpful. I’ve putting time in on my blog but been wondering, should I bother? I’ll definitely carry on.
    Turning on the Kindle now to buy your book. I am a Kindle addict these days – and aspire to be a Kindle author in the not too distant future.

    • says

      I’m a Kindle addict too Stephanie, and I hope we’ll see your book on the kindle too. On blogging, definitely keep it up – it only rewards those who persist past the 6 month mark in my opinion.

  5. says

    What a fantastic & motivational post! I also think of my writing as a business and rarely hear other writers actually come out and say it. I’ve given up a successful law practice to follow my passion and this has given me the discipline he is referring to. Thanks for sharing Joanna!

    • says

      I am absolutely a businesswoman Isabelle. It drives the income side of this site :) and means our writing is not just for personal use but for sale as a product. I am hoping to make it out of my day job in the next few years too.

  6. says

    More hard but sage advise for the non business oriented person!
    Nevertheless, the audio interview posed an unanswered question as Grant mentioned bringing one of his manuscripts from the country he had been living in, to the country he moved to, and then re-edited the script to suit that new country – so the question is, as international (aspiring) writers which many of us seem to be, why chose one country or market over another if you can theoretically sell your book anywhere?

    • says

      I seem to remember that Grant had a story that was focused on Australian wildlife (maybe wild horses?) which he switched to a US landscape in order to appeal to a different audience. It was definitely something country specific – as Australian outback style books often only sell in Australia (with the exception of The Thorn Birds of course!)

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