A student I met online wrote:
Dear Mr. Moreland, I am curious about being a published author and what my chances are at being successful. My teacher says, "Do what you love and the money will come." Would you as a writer agree with that statement and say it is true?
I agree with your teacher, "do what you love and the money will come," eventually. Just know that being an author is a lot more than just writing fiction or non-fiction books. There's a whole business to it. I spend several hours each week focused on marketing, blogging, and writing the next book. It's a job where you do a lot of work up front and the rewards pay off later, in dividends. But I love being an author and that's why I'm willing to do the work.
Most book writers I know, including myself, have a backup career that pays the bills while we write books. Bestselling author James Rollins, for instance, was veterinarian. Stephen King started out as a high school teacher. David Morrell and Gary Braver are writing professors at universities. My "day job" is working as a freelance video editor, editing documentaries and corporate videos. I write in between video projects or early in the morning, (5:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m). If you write enough books, and one or more of them become bestsellers or made into movies, then authors can earn enough to write full time and be paid millions for the books they put out. Just ask Stephanie Meyer of the Twilight series if her royalty checks cover her living expenses. Authors such as Stephen King, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, and Jim Butcher have achieved the ultimate dream of turning their writing into financial success. Not every writer who publishes a book achieves this, but it's certainly possible. I'm willing to guess that every successful author has two things in common: persistence and belief in their writing. They never give up and they keep believing what they are writing adds value to people's lives.
I also know a lot of writers who build a solid career around being a writer, like public speaking, publishing blogs, teaching seminars, teaching at universities, technical writing, copy writing, script writing, editing manuscripts, proofreading, journalism, writing magazine articles, etc. There are countless ways you can make money as a writer. All you have to do is find your niche--what you love to write most--and see if there is a career you can build around that.
So, again I say, if you love writing, if you have a strong enough passion to put in all the hours it takes to be successful, then definitely follow your dream. You don't have to be a celebrity author to make a steady living in this business. Just keep believing and keep writing. And keep your "day job" until those royalty checks finally start arriving in the mail.
Special thanks to Tyler K. from Facebook. I love receiving questions from aspiring writers and posting answers here on my blog. If you have a question about writing, publishing, or marketing, feel free to email Brian@BrianMoreland.com. I receive a lot of these, so I'll get to it as quick as I can. Brian