Everyone is always shocked when I reveal my big writing secret: I know my fiction book won't make money.
When I told Henry, a writing friend of mine, that I was writing a book, his first assumption was that it was a non-fiction book to supplement my blogging income. I revealed that I’m actually penning a rom-com, and he hastened to assure me that the real money is in non-fiction. He tried to guide me into just “throwing together a collection of my essays” that could become a profitable ebook.
And he was honestly shocked when I said no — I’m sticking to fiction.
I believe it’s worth creating even if you know it’s unprofitable, and sometimes that can feel like a really radical belief. These are the six reasons I’m writing a fiction book, even though I know it won't earn me any money.
1. I actually make enough money writing already
I know it’s a wild concept to say, but I’m actually happy with the amount of money I’m making by writing. I’m not convinced pursuing more will make me happier. I have a hefty chunk of cash in my savings and investment accounts; I’m on track to earn around $10k per month by the end of 2021 by creating content.
I’m satisfied with my writing income and don’t see a need to add another stream just for the sake of profit.
2. I believe in writing for love, not for money
I also believe every writer deserves to earn money. But every time I try to write a blog post just for the cash, it does terribly. For instance, check out this article I wrote solely in an attempt to generate revenue — it did not do well.
I'm not convinced putting together a collection of non-fiction essays with the sole purpose of earning money will actually earn me money. At best, it will take time and energy that I would prefer to spend on other things. At worst, I’ll produce a piece of garbage content that cheapens my brand, alienating my base.
Meanwhile, the content I produce that’s from the heart tends to do much, much better. While I’m certainly not counting on it, it’s always possible that by not writing a fiction book for money, I actually earn money by writing my fiction book.
3. My first dream has always been to be a published novelist
When I was about 8 years old, I read the back cover of a book and realized, for the first time, that books don’t magically spring into being. Someone has the job of creating those. And I knew, one day, that would be me.
For the first time in my life, I have the opportunity, time, energy, and motivation to write a fiction book, just because.
By allowing myself to pursue this project profit-free, I can give myself the gift of fulfilling my life-long goal. Why would I add a price tag on achieving my dreams?
4. I have to rejuvenate my love for writing
I am blessed with a fast typing speed and a lot to say. However, especially starting my freelance writing journey, because everything I write is contributing directly to my bank account, my creativity suffers a real blow that comes from never creating simply to create. Everything I write has to earn me money. Sometimes, I get burned out.
By giving myself a fresh, exciting, specifically unprofitable writing project to work on, I can inject a bit of life and love back into my joy of writing.
5. This fiction book may not make money, but my next one might
The reason I’m so convinced that this fiction book won’t make me money is that right now, I’m bad at writing fiction. But I don’t lose a single thing by working to improve.
Maybe this book won’t make me any money, but my early blog posts were bad and also didn’t earn me much money. The process of writing hundreds of them, iterating, editing, and improving, has allowed me to create stories that are well-written and highly profitable.
The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th fiction books might make me money even if the first one doesn’t.
6. It’s inspiring to create new things
My job is to create. While I don’t often struggle for ideas, by doing new things and learning new lessons, I have been inspired to make lots of other content types. My book project inspired this article, for example. I’m sure it will inspire more, as well as videos and other content types. With this book, I’ll be able to create additional (probably profitable) content.
It’s easy to assume that if an action isn’t directly profitable, it’s worthless. But everything has value. By writing a fiction book that won’t earn me money, I derive creative inspiration that can help me create other, more monetizable content.
I have a secret: if I could quit blogging today to be a successful fiction writer, I would. But because I live in the same economic system as everyone else, I need money to live, which means that for now, I will continue happily blogging and writing for money.
However, I won’t let that stop me from fulfilling a lifelong dream and writing my fiction book, even though I know it won’t earn me money.
If you take nothing else from this post, remember that your dream doesn't have to make you money in order for it to be worth pursuing.