On Get Rich Quick Schemes

I was scrolling Facebook yesterday and came across an ad promoting a workshop that will tell you how to write a book in 40 hours (not a typo) and double, quadruple, even decuple (multiply by ten) your income (also not a typo). For privacy reasons, I won’t share the actual post, but if you’re in any way involved in the writing world and active on social media, you’ve likely seen any number of these ads already.

Is what they’re promoting physically possible? Well, typing non-stop for 40 hours at the average typing speed of 40 words per minute, you would get about 96,000 words. This does not include typos, editing, backspacing, breaks, or any kind of thought or planning process. It is literally just typing words non-stop.

A couple things you can accomplish this way:

  • manually copy an existing manuscript
  • write absolute nonsense in 96,000 words

Given the parameters, I feel 99% confident that the only one making money will be the guy people pay to take this workshop.

Here’s the thing: Writing never was and never will be a get rich quick scheme. Writing a book takes time. It takes time to come up with an idea. It takes time to research it properly. It takes time to learn the technical aspects of how a book should look (to say nothing of the nuances of voice, style, etc.), and it takes time to properly convey all those ideas onto the page. This is as true for fiction as it is for non-fiction. Is it possible to churn out a draft in a relatively short amount of time? Absolutely. But the less time the first draft takes, the more time you’ll likely spend in rewrites and edits. Ask any writer out there how long it takes them to get a book from the “chapter 1” caption to final publishing. Depending on the book’s length, it’ll be anywhere between a few months to a couple of years, because that’s what it takes to put together a good quality book.

As for the doubling of income, I have to assume this was a hyperbole meant to heighten interest and get people signing up, because… no. Assuming an average eBook price of about $4.99, and an average royalty rate of 60%, let’s say, you’d have to sell about 1,400 copies every month consistently to make a decent living, and I’m here to tell you that anything having to do with the sale of a non-essential product will never, ever be consistent. And if you’re thinking to sell hard copies instead, since they are priced higher,  your profit margin on those will go from a few dollars per copy to a few cents. There’s a reason hard copies usually cost more: they come with an immense production cost that eBooks simply don’t have.

I’ve taken a number of these free seminars on “how to make money as a writer” and the three things they all have in common are:

  1. they are mathematically impossible, given the unit pricing required to sell a book of fiction (or even non-fiction)
  2. they require you to spend hundreds of dollars on advertising on a continuous basis.
  3. they usually end on a sales pitch, hawking additional, ridiculously expensive workshops on the secret sauce recipes the “teacher” only introduced in this free part. I’m talking to the tune of $100s to $1,000s for that inside access.

The truth is, no matter how they are packaged, no matter how cool the ad looks, or how enticing the charts and graphs look, all of the ads I have seen to date are nothing but a scam to get your money. Trust me, if there was a proven formula for success, everyone would be doing it, rendering it obsolete. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another, and caution is always advised with “how to” courses. If it looks too good to be true, it is.

There are much better ways to spend your hard-earned money:

  1. Take subject-specific college courses related to your writing. History, mythology, science, political science, or music can all help for fiction books.
  2. Travel to the places you want to describe in your book to get first-hand knowledge of it so you’ll know how the air smells there after a storm, or what species of birds are the first ones to start singing in the morning. Those are the kinds of details that give a book depth.
  3. Study business, so you’ll better understand the money side of writing, and how to budget your money so you don’t go broke. This also includes marketing classes to learn about advertising, how to speak to your target audience, or even identifying your target audience.
  4. Hire a professional editor and cover artist to polish up your book to a shine. You know you will need them, so plan ahead of time and start saving for these expenditures while you’re writing your book. It’ll help you avoid sticker shock when the time comes.
  5. Learn to shop around for the things you need to spend money on. Try to avoid impulse buys. If you find one thing that would be great, odds are, there are ten more out there just as great or better, and probably cheaper, too.

There are also much better ways to spend your time:

  1. Work on your book. If you need a kick in the pants, find a writer’s group, or a writing buddy to get encouragement and support.
  2. Try NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month): A national challenge in November of every year to write 50,000 words in 30 days. A much more achievable goal than a whole book in 40 hours, don’t you think?
  3. Make friends with other writers, learn from their trials and hardships, get advice on things you’re struggling with (but don’t expect them to do the work for you).
  4. Build your platform early on by making a website and building up a social media following. This, too, will take time, and is absolutely necessary and worth it.
  5. Read. Read in your genre, and outside of it. Read the bestsellers, and the Indies. Read to enjoy, but also notice the nuances of what makes you like the book, and what makes you hate it. That’s how you learn your own style, and improve your own writing.

The information shared here is meant to be a guiding hand to new and aspiring authors, and is offered with a grain of salt and good intentions at no cost to you. However, if you found this post helpful and want to show your appreciation, a nice way to do it would be to buy one of my fiction books. Check them out on my author website at AlianneDonnelly.com. You might find something you like. 😉 Thanks for your support!

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One thought on “On Get Rich Quick Schemes

  1. Reblogged this on Alianne Donnelly and commented:

    Guess it’s a good time to officially introduce my business-side website. It’s a pet project I’ve been planning for a very long time to separate my writing from the author tips/advice/q&a side of it. It’s mainly for new and aspiring writers just getting their feet wet in the industry; something of an overview of how things work, and (because I get ranty sometimes, too) an opinion blog portion where I will share thoughts on current industry events, among other things. =)

    This is the most recent blog post. I already shared my thoughts on this on Facebook, but wanted to expand on it a little, so I wrote a blog. Enjoy!

    Like

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