Between raising 6 adorable little boys and pinning a ton on Pinterest, I find time to write and design, miraculously, about 5000 words a day. This is a detailed look into my author life, where I write books, blog posts, and nonfiction. I primarily work in the nonfiction world of my “write life”. But I do have five pen names which are kept private, so that I can keep my nonfiction career separate from my romance work.
Author life is different for many people, and we all write in a variety of different ways, systems, times, word counts, etc. Not one author follows the same path or schedule as another.
2018 was a fairly productive year for me – added a new version on Pinterest Strategy given all the updates, and started a workbook planner series. And while many authors don’t see the nonfiction market as exciting or thrilling, I feel think that education is sexy, and so is intelligence, so I choose to continue to write nonfiction, because that’s my forte.
The author life isn’t exactly “sexy” or “glamorous”, especially when you’re taxing yourself to write 5000 words a day. If you think that we sit on the edge of lakes with our typewriters typing up the next masterpiece you’re dead wrong. Many of us are piecing together books, writing in chunks (a tribute to Allie Pleiter), writing when we can, writing between nap times with our kids, writing at late hours of the night on “stints” with our writing buddies… whenever.
It’s not exactly a laptop-on-a-desk-with-white-curtains-blowing-in-the-room-like-nights-in-rodanthe type of feel. It’s paper scratching, laptop-thumping, cursing, saving, editing, revising, eating, stuffing our faces, coffee-guzzling, type of work. This is the writing life.
As I write this I’m sitting in our Montana 5th wheel, looking at my calendar of to-do’s for the day, checking in with our contractor waiting for our house to be finished (yeah, it’s only 25% complete and won’t be ready until June 2019), checking my social media stats, scheduling posts for the following week, and looking at my outline for the next project with a quizzical look. I know I need to research more. I need more depth and meat.
The 2020 pandemic hit and I hit a wall with writing. Just didn’t feel like it. I found out, not until 2021 though, that there were thousands upon thousands of other writers that just could not write during the pandemic. Writers suffered, just like everyone else. I honestly don’t know what happened. But I did focus on designing and creating templates, which kept me happy for the greater part of 2020.
How many words do you write a day? How much do you make as an author? Is the author life worth it?
I write, on average, about 5000 words per day. Some days, I write more. That’s just in my books. That doesn’t include the blog posts I write for people and brands, the scheduled posts I write, or the emails I write to educate. Or the messages and education I give my Mastermind group. There’s a LOT that goes into being a writer and making a business out of it.
If you’re curious about writing income…
One of the biggest questions I get asked by people that find out I’m an author (mostly my husband’s friends) is “how many books do you sell a year” or “how much money do you make as an author”? People are naturally curious. I get it. It’s a mystical profession from the outside world looking in.
But that’s also like me going up to some middle manager at a party and asking “so how much do you make a year?” Not exactly a great question to ask. But I will say that I’m fairly transparent with my blog income because I’m really into Pinterest and want people to know what’s possible to do as an author and blogger from an income standpoint.
I’ve written over 10 books, and plan another 12 this year in 2021. Writing 5000 words a day does get tiring sometimes, but I also think of it as my job. It’s an aggressive publishing schedule, I know. But I’m also building an ARC team that is helping me with letting me know what they like about my books and they get copies and review them, as well. Building an ARC team takes time. Sometimes years.
Building an ARC (Advance Review Copy) Team
Some people wonder how reviews happen on the first day – a book launches and there’s like, 100 reviews on it already. That’s in part, due to ARC reviewers who read books in advance for authors.
I’m still building mine. I know it takes a great deal of time and effort. I’m cool with that. Leading a “write life”, you have to be patient and know that not everything is going to happen overnight. For many authors, it can take five years before anything starts to gel together. For others, a year. And many, many others, sometimes ten years.
Is this author life thing worth it? Yes. Over time, you improve your craft. You pick up tricks of the trade, do’s and don’ts, and evolve as a writer. You may even find another calling or niche that fits your passion, too. And if you’re just starting out, you’ll eventually work your way up to writing 5000 words a day if that’s something you aspire to do.
There’s a lot of editing, formatting, legal hoops, copyrighting, cover design, marketing, mockups, and people you have to connect with to get your book noticed. I wish it were easier. I wish it were overnight. But it’s not. It’s something worth doing and that means that there’s a significant amount of effort and work that goes into it.
I’m fortunate that I’m able to design my own covers as a full-time graphic designer and have an editor on staff.
So that’s the author life, writing life or “write life” in a nutshell. If you’re ever wondering what I’m up to or doing, assume it’s writing SOMETHING. Or dreaming that someday readers will get as excited about a nonfiction book as they do a sexy romance novel with a shirtless dude on the cover. One can dream.
Do you do your own author website design?
Yes. So between writing books and raising kids, I work on my own website. Nothing I do (social media, website design, SEO, etc.) is farmed out to other people. I’m a one-woman team. I used to offer website design services, but found that I spent more time teaching people about web design and their site infrastructure needs and setup then I spent being able to design. Many of my projects went above allocated budgets, so I stopped. But I do offer suggestions and tips for author website design.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It really depends on the project I’m working on. There are subjects that are tougher than others; more technical. I’m much faster at writing non-fiction books, and can easily put one together in about 30 days. That’s on a book that’s coming along well and where I have a lot of knowledge stored up in my head that just needs to be translated onto paper.
Other subjects, which are more technical or require more in-depth research or testing take longer. So when I feel like I’m not progressing along with a book as fast as I could then sometimes it can feel exhausting, and like the book is going to take forever to finish. Or that I’ll never finish.
But that’s part of the ‘job’. Writing is a big part of my job. Creating 5000 words a day out of my head isn’t easy all the time. And if you don’t do the work or put in the time, then you don’t progress. You remain stagnant. So in a way writing can be energizing for me when the topic flows easily and the book is getting done. Otherwise, I have my ‘exhausted’ days where it feels like a chore typing every single key. To me, that’s just part of being a writer.
So you have to take the triumphs of writing and feeling good, along with the days of writing and it feels like a chore. Just the nature of the beast!
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Oh gosh. I try to be original and applicable to what I blog about. For my pen names, I write both for originality while writing to market. For me, in these days where I’m raising boys and balancing writing with homeschooling, it makes no sense for me to write things where there’s not a market for it.
So right now, I’m more focused on writing to market rather than originality, but all the same, putting an original spin on my own content or offering a different perspective.