Inkwell Editorial

How to Balance a Freelance Writing Career with Your Self-Publishing Aspirations (Yes, It Can Be Done!)

Published by Yuwanda Black, Site Editor


Written by Yuwanda Black

Back in 2011 – sweet Jesus I can’t believe it’s been that long! – I wrote a post entitled “Freelance Writers — How I Do It All: Publish My Own Ebooks, Market for Freelance Writing Jobs, Write for Clients and Still Have a Life!

That was the year that I published 50 ebooks. Last year, I started writing fiction seriously (mostly romance). But, via New Media Words, I’m still open for business as a freelance writer and social media consultant for clients. It can make for some incredibly long days.

So how do I make it all work? How can you (I know it may seem impossible)? Following is some insight.

How to Make Time for Your Writing Dreams – All of Them

In the post linked to above, I laid out a lot of things that you should do. All of that advice is still relevant. I’ve got a few more years of dual-career (freelance writing/self-publishing) experience under my belt, so here I want to add a bit more to that conversation.

How to Balance a Freelance Writing Career with Your Self-Publishing Dreams1. Recognize that Dreams Change … that’s one thing you have to realize if you want to make time for your self-publishing aspirations. And I point this out because, when you really, really want something, then you make time for it.

For example, maybe you started a freelance writing career because you got downsized out of a job, or you wanted a mobile career, or you were just sick and tired of the 9 to 5. Now, you realize that you’re there. You’ve achieved that, but maybe it’s not quite as satisfying as it used to be.

Or, you love your clients and are grateful to have them, but you really want to earn money as a writer producing what you want.

Or, you’ve just heard so much about self-publishing and you’ve had an idea for a book you’ve been dying to get out of you – but you never seem to get around to it.

Whatever the reason … this could signal the beginning of dreams changing in my opinion. And if you keep doing the same things, you’re going to keep getting the same results (ie, working on client projects and not making time for your own writing).

This is what happened to me. When I totaled my income for tax year 2010, I realized that over half my income had come from info products (ebooks/eclasses) that I’d produced. Then I started fantasizing about what it would be like to never have to take on another client project; what would that mean for my life? It was powerfully motivating; not that I don’t like working for clients — but one day I want to retire. And what better way to do that than by producing products I control?

This is what drove me to dig in and MAKE TIME for my self-publishing aspirations. One thing I do nowadays is …

2. Create a Publishing Schedule: I’ve written exactly 30 romance novels; all the ones on this linked-to site (my publishing site for fiction works), and two under a pen name. Having a publishing schedule keeps my output and earnings goals on track.

I’ve been writing romance novels seriously since March 2014. I wrote my first one in 2013 and it was a year before I wrote another one, which I talk about in How to Make Money Writing Romance: Earn Up to $2,000 Per Month (Or More!) Self-Publishing Short Romance Novels.

My current goal is three per month. I tried to do four and it was just impossible. Writing three per month is working out great. It’s a lot of work, but one thing that keeps me on track is …

3. Giving Myself a Daily Word Count: Right now, my goal is between 4,000 and 5,000 words (this changes constantly — the point is, I have one at all times). I’ve started to write slightly longer books, ie, instead of 15,000 to 20,000 words, they are now 25,000 to about 40,000 words. So I have 10 days to produce this. Following is how I use that time, but first, let me say this.

Even if your word count is just 500 per day in the beginning, the main thing is to set one and stick to it. Five hundred words per day, written M-F, is 10,000 words per month. So you can ostensibly finish a short romance novel in a month and a half.

About Word Count

Most of my non-fiction books are short too — usually between 10,000 and 30,000 words. This happened by coincidence, by the way. I read an article once that said we can train our brains to write to a certain word count, so I think when I stared writing fiction, my brain had already been hard-wired to write within this length.

But it’s all relative … one of my best-selling romances was right under 10,000 words (Just Sex Please: An Erotic Romance). So even at a measly 500 words per day, you can still produce one ebook per month.

Ok, now back to how I use the 10 days I slot to complete a novella. The time breaks down like this:

a) Take day off: I find that I just need a break from all things writing after I push one out – 9 days left.

b) Do outline: This is usually 1,000 to 3,000 words – 8 Days Left

c) Source cover art: This can take anywhere from one to three hours. Upload cover to AMZ and put in all other info, eg, price, title, choose categories, etc. – 7 days left

d) Write for 6 days: Some days I might write just 1,500 words; others I may write 8,000 or 10,000. I try NOT to have long writing days like this, but with just six days to write, I know I have to get to between 25,000 and 40,000 words and sometimes that’s just the way it happens. 1 day left.

e) Edit/Proof/Write blurb: Usually I’ll have some crisis like the internet or power will go out (in the Caribbean, it’s fairly common). Also, during the editing process, I may add 2,000 to 3,000 more words to a story. This is why I rarely get to edit, proof and upload on the same day.

f) Upload: Right now, I upload to four outlets: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play and All Romance Ebooks. This usually takes 2-3 hours (Barnes & Noble takes the longest – their formatting process used to be so easy, now it’s a hot mess). The other three are pretty easy peasy. 0 days left.

After I upload I do some marketing, eg, FB posts, tweeting, hiring giggers on Fiverr to get the word out, etc. All of this is talked about in the ebook on how to make money writing romance by the way.

So that’s my self-publishing process. I put MY DREAMS front and center. I work client projects around my self-publishing schedule. One final thing before we move on to some specifics about this.

About Marketing Your Self-Published Books

Don’t worry too much about marketing your self-published books in the beginning. Focus on building a catalog of books. Why? Because that way, when you do start marketing, you’ll have much more for them to buy than just one or two books.

Trust me, in the beginning of your self-publishing career, your best marketing tool is your next book.

How to Handle Client Projects While Starting Your Self-Publishing Career

Following are some rules I live by these days.

1) Outsource work: Here’s how to do that effectively if you’re wondering.

2) Take on fewer projects: I don’t market for work anymore beyond the occasional social media outreach or touching base with existing clients. I’ve intentionally lessened my work load as my self-publishing income increases. I’ve been doing this since 2012.

3) Become inflexible with your freelance writing rate(s): I don’t haggle over rate any more. If new clients (I still give breaks to my old clients) can’t pay my current rates, I pass on them. Why? Because if I take them on – and at a lower rate to boot — it takes time away from my self-publishing goals. And even if it’s a good chunk of money, it’s just not worth it for me.

Three books a month – I keep that goal in mind when it gets tempting because books I publish can earn me money FOREVER. A project is just a temporary cash infusion. And you know what? It’s freeing when you have this attitude. Some days I think, “Heck, I should have raised my rates and turned down more jobs sooner!”


One thing that makes me stick to my self-publishing dreams is they’re tied to a goal. I want to make my permanent home in New York City (I was a New Yorker in another life, I just know it!), which I plan to move back to in a couple of years. It’s an expensive city compared to Atlanta, where I lived before I relocated to Jamaica, where I am now. But I will not move back there and struggle (been there; done that and will move back to Atlanta before I do it again (my Plan B)).

I want to be financially comfortable in New York. My fiction (romance) writing earnings are increasing nicely – I’m hitting milestones. Dreams of living full-time in the city again (and a trip or two there a year) keep me motivated. It what makes me hop out of bed most mornings, and stay up late working plenty of evenings when I have to.

So tie your self-publishing dreams to a goal. How much happier would you be achieving this goal? How much less stressed would you be? How much more productive would you be? What would your daily life look like compared to what it currently is?

How to Make Money Writing RomanceFYI, my days start between 8-9 am. I usually work until about 10 pm, taking time off to go for a run around 5 or 6. Like I said, the days are long, but I enjoy what I do immensely – and I have a vision for what I want out of life. That’s what keeps me pushing.

I hope this info helps and gives you some insight into what you’re in for if you decide to give self-publishing (while freelancing, or working a full-time job) a go. It’s a lot of hard work, but so worth it in my opinion.

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P.P.S.: Writing and Selling Ebooks Online: The Ultimate Self-Publishing Package — Get 4 Ebooks for 1 Low Price! Now just $29 (til the 27th, at 9 a.m. U.S. EST). Regularly: $47.


Posted on April 24, 2015 

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