The Ever Changing Demands on a Modern Writer

I've come to believe that there are four stages to any writing career.  They are as follows:

  • Stage 1: Nobody wants to publish your writing
  • Stage 2: People want to publish your writing but they don't want to pay you
  • Stage 3: People want to publish you and they'll even pay you a little bit
  • Stage 4: People want to publish you and they want to pay you a lot
I fit pretty much right in the middle of stage 3. If I were a single man, I could probably support myself on writing alone, as long as I didn't mind living out of a van (which I probably wouldn't to be honest).  I have a family though, so in addition to writing I also have to devote a certain amount of time to making money.  What I've found is that after spending significant effort attempting to sell your written work, you learn everything you need to know to sell more viable products with ease.

There certainly are paying gigs out there, it's just a matter of how much time you want to spend pursuing them. remains a great resource for finding paying markets for your work.  I'll still dabble in that from time to time, but I find it's a better tactic to have your work sold before you even write it.

For a while there, blogging seemed to be the answer.  Google Adwords made it possible to generate a regular income just from posting Google Ads on your site.  The result of that was that all bloggers became focused on producing "click bait" articles in the hopes of generating a million views (which lead to ad revenue).  These articles still proliferate the web, and you are probably familiar with them in the form of the links with the snappy titles that appear on your Facebook news feed.  The problem is that producing "click bait" isn't writing so much as it is typing.

I blogged daily for about five or six years on my Peru themed blog  In its lifetime, this web page has received 1.25 million hits...which seems like a big number but it's hardly remarkable for a blog.  I never made much from Adwords (maybe $400 to $500 a year) but for a while I did very well selling individually placed links on specified keywords.  I had two major accounts, Adbeans, which paid me $65 per link, and a travel page that was good for about $150 in advertising per month.  Adbeans used to provide me with 12 to 15 keywords a month which was perfect at the time because I was launching a business and I didn't have any extra money.

Eventually Google changed their search engine algorithm and I was summarily dismissed from both of my accounts because link placement on my site had begun to actually hurt the clients.  I began to receive emails requesting that the links be removed...which I agreed to do for a $5 fee.  Some of them balked at paying this, but the reality was that it took around fifteen minutes to find the article and erase the links, so I didn't feel I should be expected to perform that action for free.

I stopped writing Streets of Lima daily a few years back, but not before I had produced 2069 posts for the page.  Isn't that an insane number?  If we estimate that each article is around 500 words in length that comes out to 1,034,500 words.  Jack Kerouac once said that you must write one million words to forger yourself into a writer, and I think there is some truth to that idea, but, again, blog writing barely qualifies.

Beyond Streets of Lima, I also wrote (and continue to write) for  That page currently stands at 1359 posts.  There are other contributors to that page, but my guess is that about 1,000 of the articles are probably mine.  Using the same metric as before, that adds up to another 500,000 words.  My guess is you could find another 500,000 words of mine online (credited and uncredited) for stories, articles, and interviews that I've written throughout the years.  Wow...2,000,000 words!

Blog writing is not novel writing though.  As I write this I'm just composing directly into the blogger interface and when I'm done I'll give it a quick re-read before hitting "publish."  A novel is different.  For my upcoming work that is to be released shortly with Perseid, I'd guess I've reread and rewritten the novel in excess of 20 times.  These days I find that I'm most taxed by novel writing.  I do that in the morning when I'm fresh.  In the afternoon/evening I still have energy left over guessed it...BLOGS!

I signed a publishing contract with Rhemalda Publishing back in 2011 for my novel The Bone Sword.  Part of the agreement included writing 100 blog posts for the Rhemalda page...although some of the other authors complained and we weren't required to finish that (I wrote over 80 though I'm pretty sure--they were probably deleted at no great loss to posterity).  Rhemalda also published my second book Beyond Birkie Fever before finally ceasing operations about two years ago.  In a kind move, Rhemalda let all the rights revert back to the authors.  I kept "Birkie," and placed "Bone Sword" with Harren Press.

I'd seen the writing on the wall with Rhemalda and managed to develop a good relationship with the folks at Perseid Press before Rhemalda closed its doors.  Perseid is a wonderful publishing house run by Chris and Janet Morris.  They have an editing team that knows what they're doing and I've learned a ton from working with them.  Also, they're in it for the long haul, so there's no ridiculous pressure to try to write the next "trendy" piece of literary trash.  My first release with Perseid was The Reader of Acheron in January of 2014, and the next one will be a memoir about Peru which should be released in the next month or two.  A lot of my readers are patiently waiting for a sequel to "Reader," and I'm working on it diligently at the moment, but the book was delayed due to work on the Peru memoir.  I hope to have a first draft done soon...but again, submitting a novel to Perseid Press is not like writing for a blog.  I've got to distill some greatness because I don't want to waste the time of Chris and Janet Morris.

These days I get a couple monthly requests to provide articles for local publications.  In exchange, they give me advertising space to promote my business.  I also recently was selected to become a paid blogger for  They have suggested the pay will be around $200 a month, but my guess is that the biggest benefit to me will come from the exposure writing for them will give to my other work.  I also occasionally field requests for travel articles that pay in the $100 to $200 range.

I like that there is a lot of demand for my work, but it is just getting to the point now where I need to turn down "for the love" assignments.  If a magazine has major circulation, or they allow me to put an ad in for an event I'm promoting or a business I'm involved in, then it's worth it, otherwise it is not.  I've received a lot of benefits through writing, and I'm even starting to get review requests from Amazon that involve shipping me free products.  As a writer, you must be cognizant of the "trade" value of your work.  Rarely do you receive a check, but I once got to tour the Inca Trail for free in exchange for writing some articles...that was about a $4000 value.

Achieving writing success has basically seemed hopeless for the whole time I've been pursuing it.  In the beginning, there was some delight in the idea that I could write a novel, release it, and then never have to work again.  I was wrong about that idea. Go time yourself writing 1,000,000 quality words and see how long it takes you.

I still think there's a certain amount of luck involved in this whole pursuit, and I'm a long way from getting so much attention that my work really becomes valuable, but I'm pleased with the current progression of things.  In any artistic endeavor, there is plenty that you cannot control.  The only thing a writer should worry about is becoming a better writer.  Success will take care of itself.  But one thing I know for sure, you aren't going to find success until after you've written millions and millions of words.  There's nothing wrong with that though...after all, it's kind of what I signed up for!

If anyone is interested in receiving a review copy of one of my books, you can request one by writing to:

Best of luck everyone in everything that you do!

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