Writing Mercenary Style

This week, I am coming to a shift in the way that I must approach my writing career.

Specifically, I need to approach it more as a career and less as a fanciful hope.

With the upcoming move, which is in every conceivable way mandatory for us to perform, I am realizing something kind of dreadful: we can’t really afford to live. We will be a bit short of income for the budget as has been laid out, and all but necessities have already been stripped from said budget.

Also, I am not having much luck in finding gainful employment in our new town. In fact, I am not having much luck with getting any response whatsoever. (The three ‘no’s I received are appreciated, insofar as a ‘no’ is at least a response rather than the eternally hanging question that one just eventually assumes is a negatory response. Plus, it’s just polite.)

Because of that, I have tossed around the idea of how to fill in the gaps, income-wise. If I cannot grab a part-time job, and it is looking like I should not expect to find one in the next couple of months at least, then I need to utilize what I have available to me to bring in some cash.

Let me go ahead and say, “No, I do not think I’m crazy. Probably.” Craziness potential aside, I am going to try and make some money by publishing books.

Ok, fine, I am crazy, but perhaps I am crazy in a way that can turn some profit.

I can write all sorts of things. Some I might be good at, others I might enjoy. (By Chuck Wendig’s Venn Diagram, I can often make a fair attempt at the happy author sweet spot.) I really want to write and publish the two novels I am working on. I am proud of both books and am happy to have my name attached to them.

I am, on the other hand, considering writing some shorter works which I would self-publish under a pen name, in a style and arena distinct from what I am trying to do as main me. I will not go too far out of my way to keep the identities quarantined, but I mostly don’t want people to expect the stuff that I write under the pen name from the stuff I write as ‘myself.’ Though I hate to apply the term when referring to myself, I mostly want to maintain Brand Identity.

The pen name stuff, like I said, will be shorter, and will go through a less rigorous editing process. I will design the covers and lay out the books in the various e-formats and pretty much handle everything myself. That might mean that the books are of slightly lower quality, but right now I have to be okay with that.

I won’t publish anything I am not proud to have written, but right now I am in the mode where I am content to self-publish something that is Pretty Good if it is a story that I am less passionate about.

Perhaps this seems silly. Perhaps it is a bad idea, a terrible idea from the pits of some smelly dude who could stand to be layered in Old Spice. (Though, really, does that ever help? I think Old Spice smells nearly as pungent.)

I am at the phase in my life where I feel the need to enter Mercenary Mode. Writing is my passion, and writing is something in which I take pleasure. The stories that I most want to tell will receive the greatest care that I can afford to give them.

These other less-meaningful but still-entertaining stories? Well, at the end of the day, author gotta get paid, and these stories might be how I afford to give the important stories the appropriate amount of attention.

A surprising amount of calm accompanies this decision on how to move forward. I always planned on writing on the side to make small amounts of bank while focusing the greater energy on my stories. Freelance work seems about impossible to break into, however, without some cred, and I have no cred. I am credless. These self-published stories may not give me any cred, but if they give me cash, I can call that good enough.

If I can trickle in even $50 a month with novellas that are out there while I work on my bigger projects, that would be enough to at least make a difference. If I can move that up to a hundred bucks, that’s a decent chip off the monthly block that Heidi and I must continually carve. I feel like these goals are achievable. I might need to put out five novellas to get to that point, or more, but I can produce one of those a month, by my estimation. Eventually, they will add up to something.

So here is my proposed workflow: for every hour that I spend working on the stories that I am really passionate to write, I will spend another hour working on my mercenary projects. Not only will this give me some income sooner rather than later, it will also give me a variety in my creative work and hopefully lessen the fatigue I get from working on one type of thing too long.

I think this is a workable solution to my problem. I know it won’t fix everything right away, but this might be a good investment from which I can collect in the near future.

I am happy to take any thoughts or advice on this matter, both from those in the trenches and from those outside, because I am sort of striking out into unknown territory here.

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