Monday, March 16, 2020

Five Things the Pulps Can Teach Us About Making More Money as a Writer

Five Things the Pulps Can Teach Us About Making More Money as a Writer From the early 1930s to the late 1950s, hundreds of writers churned out thousands of stories in cheap magazines printed on yellow pulp paper for a hungry audience craving action, adventure, mystery, romance and thrills. Writing for often less than a penny a word, these writers produced the equivalent of two or three 40,000 word manuscripts per month! And that work ethic can help todays writers be more productive and profitable. Here are five things these famous (or sometimes infamous) writers from the golden age of the pulps can teach us about making more money as a writer in today’s changing publishing industry. Thing #1. Write faster When guys like Walter Gibson (creator of The Shadow) and Lester Dent (creator of Doc Savage) needed 40,000 words turned in every month, they didn’t mess around. They learned how to write fast, because the faster they could write, the more fiction they could churn out, and the more they could get paid. Traditional publishing, with its long time to market for books, used to punish writers for being fast, but thanks to self-publishing, those attitudes are changing. Your readers are out there starving for what you write. If you make them wait, they’ll just go read somebody else, and they might forget about you. Don’t give them that chance! Thing #2: Write more books I know what you’re thinking. You probably have a day job, a family, and other time commitments, and you’re doing good to finish one book a year. But you don’t have to already be a bestselling author free of the day job before you can churn out more work in a calendar year. I’ve met plenty of writers who were able to put out three books a year, with very demanding full time jobs. You can do it, too. Just try to work up to writing 1,000 words a day, seven days a week, and in a year’s time you’ll have amassed at least three novels’ worth of first drafts! Thing #3: Write shorter books Admittedly, this is a bit harder to get away with than it used to be, depending on the genre you write. To charge the purchase prices big publishers need to turn a profit on each of their titles, they’ve demanded more and more words from their authors over the years. But thanks to self-publishing and ebooks, word count isn’t as important as it once was. Your readers won’t feel short-changed if the story they just read was 50K or 180K words, as long as they enjoyed it. Thing #4: Write different genres Writing the same thing all the time gets old pretty quickly, so branch out. If you’ve been writing period romance for a while, give a mystery a try. Genre hopping will keep you fresh and your work feeling new. Worried about alienating your readers?   Use a penname for the new genre. Thing #5: Write a series Publishing today has only rather recently latched on to the notion that pulp hacks - and pulp readers - have known for more than a century: People love a good series. A stroll down the aisle at your local bookstore reveals dozens of series in every genre, from epic fantasy to paranormal romance to thrillers. Readers just cant get enough of characters like Easy Rawlins, Jack Reacher, or Sandman Slim. Writing a series lets you really get to know the characters, making them easier to write. There you go, a few tricks of the pulp trade that can help you be a writing success today. Now go write!

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