Books Magazine

Turn Your Passion into Profit by Donna Huber

By Theindieexchange @indieexchange

girl who reads So you love to read and would be absolutely thrilled to be paid to read all time. With a little know how and a healthy dose of entrepreneurial spirit, you could come close to realizing your dream. A few months back I read Mission: Adulthood by Hannah Seligson. It is about the struggles and accomplishments of Generation Y and one of the most notable traits of this generation is their ability to create the job of their dreams. More so than possibly any other generation (at least in the US), they are starting their own companies and willing to take on the uncertainties of freelance work.

Digital publishing has opened writing as a career for so many. It also has opened doors for readers to find careers in the publishing industry that were only available to the very lucky. If you have ever wondered “what could I do to be around books all day?”, here’s a list for you.

Book Reviewer – I know that the thought of a reviewer being paid to write a review leaves a bad taste in some people’s mouths. Do you think the writers of The New York Times Book Review are not being paid for their reviews? Of course they are. It is often the mechanism of making that money that is troublesome. If you are fundamentally opposed to authors paying you directly for a review, then you have two alternatives to making money from your reviews.

One, earn profit through ad revenue. If you bump up the caliber of your blog or turn it into an ezine, you could also receive funds from paid content. In this way, your review writing is supported but not necessarily influenced by payment.

Two, be hired as a freelance reviewer by a publication. According to Wikipedia, most of the reviews published in The New York Times are done by outside reviewers (non-staff writers). There are literary magazines who also employ freelance reviewers. I looked into it last year and it seemed the going rate was about $5 per review. The market is flooded with reviewers looking for jobs. If you are interested in going this route, my advice to you is do your homework. The more you know about industry standards and the requirements of the particular publication the more likely you will be selected.

Beta Reading – Many bloggers, writers, and general readers are offering beta reading and critiquing services. You must be able to provide constructive criticism. You should be able to provide feedback on character and plot development, both in a general sense (i.e. I didn’t connect with the characters) and specifically (i.e. this sentence is awkward, perhaps wording it this way would be better). Attention to detail is important – the character had green eyes in chapter 1, but in chapter 8 she has blue eyes. Your writing needs to be clear and concise. It does the author no good if they can’t make heads or tails out of your notes. To get into this line of work my suggestion is to offer to do a couple of short pieces for free or offer authors a free 2,000 word beta read and if they like your work discuss prices for the entire work. I recommend pricing based on word count. Remember to read through a manuscript for a critique takes more time than reading for pleasure.

Teach continuing education course – Most universities and colleges have a department dedicated to providing continuing education courses to the public. Often these courses are focused on professional development, but they also offer personal development classes (photography, painting, etc.). Even if you do not have a university local to you, there are options available. Distance learning is popular even in continuing education. At my local technical college, all the writing courses are online. Also, check with recreation centers, retirement communities, and libraries.

I’m in the process of developing a proposal for my local university. I have to create course objectives, a syllabus, recommended/required textbook or readings, number of hours, and target audience. I also have to submit a resume and two references that are familiar with my expertise on the subject and teaching ability. As you can see, a continuing education course requires a lot of prep work (if my proposal is accepted I’ll have to prepare lesson plans and lectures, too), but may provide the most sustainable profit stream.

What would you teach? I’ve talked to a number of people who, when told I blog, say they have always wanted to blog but didn’t know how. Teach others how you got started blogging and what you’ve learned so far. Write book reviews? Then teach others how to work with publishers and authors to get review copies and write reviews. Possibly there are even people interested in how to start a book club and lead discussions on books.

Publish a book - As readers of mostly fiction work, our go to thought when asked about writing a book is “I don’t write”. I’ve thought that for years (there’s a reason I’m Girl Who Reads). And maybe I’m not skilled at creative writing, but technical writing is a different story. If you are blogging, you are already writing. In fact, I’m currently editing my first book – a how to manual for authors – based on several blog posts I wrote. Much like teaching a class, what your book is about depends on what you are already doing. I’ve read books about blogging, using different social media platforms for marketing, and even ones on writing reviews.

As you can see there are a number of ways you can surround yourself with books and make money. I’ve just provided four options, but with some creativity and a lot of gumption who knows the variety of ways you can turn your passion into profit.


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