Do you want to learn how to make money writing romance novels?
Amazon forever changed the game of self-publishing. There are thousands, if not a few million, writers in the world today quietly pulling in six and seven figures per year writing and self-publishing.
One of the hottest niches in self-publishing is romance. And, it’s because romance readers are prolific readers.
Today’s guest poster, Yuwanda Black from Inkwell Editorial, talks about how to make money writing romance novels – without you ever having to write a word. She also has a course – Make Money Writing Romance in 60 Days.
Yuwanda has appeared here before talking about how to make money writing romance. She’s an expert in the niche.
So I’ll turn it over to her now to let her tell you about this really creative way to capitalize on the romance writing and self-publishing craze. Enjoy!
A Million Dollar Freelance Writing & Self-Publishing Business
I’ve been writing and self-publishing romance since 2013. To date, I’ve written almost 60 novels and novellas.
My plan is to grow my writing business to grossing one million dollars within the next two years (by Fall 2022). I make money writing in several different ways, such as:
- Blogging/affiliate marketing;
- Ecourse development;
- Online writing for clients; and
- Self-publishing (fiction (romance) and non-fiction).
Writing and self-publishing romance writing is a big part of this million-dollar goal. Why?
Because it’s some of the easiest, most predicable income I’ve ever made as a writer. And, it’s easy to scale.
Read on to learn how and why.
How to Make Money Writing Romance Novels
In my last guest post on this blog, I talked about my romance writing journey, eg:
- How and why I started;
- The types of books I write;
- My earnings; and
- Quite a bit more.
Here’s How to Really Ramp Up Your Romance Writing Earnings
In today’s post, I want to delve into another aspect of writing romance that’s not as widely discussed: ghostwriting.
Yep, you can hire ghostwriters to pump out novels for you, and never have to write a word! If you’re scratching your head going, “Huh, is that ethical?” I assure you, it is.
Hiring Ghostwriters is “Cheating”
One member in my private Facebook romance writing group had this to say about using ghostwriters:
“Isn’t that [hiring ghostwriters] kinda like cheating? Like hiring someone to write your college thesis for you and hoping you’re not found out? … Personally, I always feel cheated when I find out a favorite author uses a ghostwriter, and I never buy a book from them again. ..
Maybe I’m a bit romantic or naive about the whole thing, but I always felt that books were/are sort of a shared dream between the author and reader. Something special, a meeting of the minds, and in the case of romance, a heart to heart conversation in someways.”
Hence, it’s understandable that a lot of authors don’t like to admit that they use ghostwriters. But many do; even the rich and famous. James Patterson is a big-name author you may recognize who freely admits that he uses ghostwriters.
My response to the member in my Facebook writing group was:
“Nope, it’s not cheating at all. Unlike a college paper or a published work by a researcher, for example, no one cares if you do the writing of your own books. These are for pleasure; nothing else is riding on it….
Hiring ghostwriters is an industry accepted practice. Even big name authors like James Patterson hires ghostwriters, or co-writers, which is what I consider what I do, because I do touch every book. But again, even if I didn’t, I have no problems hiring straight ghostwriters.
As for “I always feel cheated when I find out a favorite author uses a ghostwrite,” I guess I can understand that to a degree. But I approach self-publishing as a business. My “business goal” is to put out as many well-written stories as I can. And that includes ghostwritten stories.
As a writer, my time is finite. IMHO, it can cause artists to starve b/c any time you trade time for dollars, you’re limited in your output.
Just b/c my trade is writing as opposed to selling manufactured gidgets that can be produced by the thousands in a factory, I don’t think my income should be limited if I can find a way to legally increase it. And hiring ghostwriters allows me to do that in that they can produce more than I ever could on my own.
Again, I see your point from a purely creative standpoint. But again, IMHO, it’s why so many artists don’t make a living at their craft.”
I have been an avid reader of romance novels since my early teens. I used to devour Harlequins, and as I got older, the more steamier historical romances. Historical remains a favorite genre for me to this day.
As I said in the beginning of this post, I’ve written almost 60 romance novels and novellas. In and around 2017/2018, I started experimenting with using ghostwriters.
You see, once you trade time for money, you severely limit your earnings. That’s why any business guru worth his or her salt will tell you to concentrate on developing passive incomes streams, like affiliate marketing.
And this is where using ghostwriters come in. Money is made in romance by output. And one way to easily increase your output is to use ghostwriters.
The reason I put $3,000 per month in the title of this post is because this is an easily attainable goal. In fact, in my opinion, it’s on the low end when using ghostwriters.
I’ve earned almost $4,000 per month writing romance – doing all the writing myself. Ghostwriters allow you to increase your output, which can increase your earnings significantly, because romance readers are prolific readers.
Romance Reader Stats
So if you find an audience, you will sell books. BTW, following are some romance writing stats* that underscore just how voracious romance readers are.
- 46% of romance consumers read at least one book per week. In comparison, the typical American reads five books a year.
- 29% of romance readers usually carry a romance novel with them.
- Romance readers typically begin and finish a romance novel within 7 days.
Now that you know that the audience is there, here’s how to start making money by getting your novels in their hot little hands.
*Sources: Nielsen, Bookstats, PEW Research Center, RWA, Entertainment Weekly, Author Earnings’ July 2014 Author Earnings Report, Harlequin
Hiring Ghostwriters to Write Romance: An Overview
Following are the main things you need to know about hiring ghostwriters to write romance.
What to Expect When You Hire Ghostwriters
To date, I’ve hired 15 to 20 ghostwriters. I’ve had some really good ones, some really bad ones, and some who just disappeared on me.
So expect this when you start hiring ghostwriters.
About Working with Good Ghostwriters
Good ghostwriters are hard to find, like any good writer.
So when you find them, keep them busy. For example, my goal is to grow my publishing company to the point where I publish 20 books per month.
Right now, I’m working with 5 ghostwriters. I’m crazy about the work of three of them. The other two are okay enough for me to keep them busy.
Note: It took me a while to find writers whose work I liked, and that I like working with.
As soon as they finish a project, I get them started on another one. If I have to have a break of a week or so, I let them know. And, I give them a definitive start date for the next project.
Why is this important?
Because again, good writers are hard to find. And, they tend to stay busy. So if you find writers whose work you like, keep them busy (if you can afford to). Don’t give someone else time to slide into your writing slot.
This works in your favor too because writers like predictable income. So they appreciate – and will be more loyal to – those who can keep them busy.
About Working with Bad Ghostwriters
The advice here is quick and easy: cut them loose. They cost you time and money. So like any other business expense that’s not adding to your bottom line, cut it.
And in the category of ‘bad ghostwriters,’ I put those who may be amazing writers, but can’t adhere to deadlines.
Again, if you’re treating your romance writing business like a business (and you should), time is money.
Too many freelancers and new entrepreneurs don’t treat time this way. It’s why they undercharge, and then wonder why they can never seem to make good money.
Whether you’re writing your romance novels or someone else is, time is money. And if a ghostwriter is consistently late, which screws with your deadlines, then that’s costing you money.
So again, don’t be afraid to drop writers like this – even if their writing is superb.
Where to Find Ghostwriters
I’ve used writers who approached me directly via my fiction publishing website (InkwellEditorialPublishing.com); writers from Fiverr and writers from Upwork.
By far, Upwork has been the best outlet for me.
I use writers from Fiverr for posts for my freelance writing blog sometimes. But for fiction, I had no luck there.
Upwork has been a goldmine for hiring romance ghostwriters. Like any freelance marketplace, it can be like mining for gold in that you have to sift through a lot of sand to find the golden nuggets (good writers). But, it’s worth the mining.
So just be prepared for this.
How Much to Pay Ghostwriters To Write Romance Novels
I pay a flat project rate as opposed to a page or word count rate.
So for example, for a 7,500 to 10,000-word story, I pay $100 to $150, depending on the type of story I request. And yes, short romance does sell.
One thing I like about Upwork is that it allows you to break the payments down into milestones. So if I order a 10,00-word story and pay $150 for it, I’ll break the payment up into two milestones, eg:
- Milestone #1: $25 on Completion & Submission of Outline
- Milestone #2: $125 on Completion & Submission of Entire Story.
For longer projects, I usually set payments up into three milestones, eg:
- Milestone #1: $XX on Completion & Submission of Outline
- Milestone #2: $XXX on Completion & Submission of 1st Half of Story.
- Milestone #3: $XXX on Completion & Submission of 2nd Half of Story (complete story).
This way, if the story – or the working relationship – is not going the way you want, you can get out of the contract without having to pay further.
Upwork holds the money you pay in escrow, meaning the freelancer isn’t paid until you approve the project and release the funds.
About Ghostwriting Contracts
In my romance writing course, there is a ghostwriting contract template that you can customize to suit your business needs.
And yes, you should use one. I usually have the ghostwriters I work with sign one once, and it covers the entirety of our working relationship.
One of the most important parts of it is to stipulate that it is a ‘work-for-hire’ arrangement, which means that you own all rights, in all formats, to all works submitted.
This is extremely important because if you luck up and get a Fifty Shades of Grey-like hit on your hands, the ghostwriter can’t come back and say, “I wrote that; it’s my story and I deserve some of the profits.”
Note: If that ever does happen, it would be nice to go back and give the ghostwriter a nice, fat share. The universe rewards good deeds.
When you use freelance sites like Upwork though, there terms of service state that all work is pretty much ‘work-for-hire’. Most freelancers understand this. But I still advise having any ghostwriters you hire sign a ghostwriting contract.
It just never hurts to have it on file in case there ever is a reason to go to court. And, you can cover other things in your contract, like a non-disclosure agreement.
What to Expect When You Get Your Story Back from a Ghostwriter
I’m a Type-A personality, which in the case of romance writing means I can’t keep my hot little hands off a story. No matter how well it’s done, I have to “put my stamp” on it.
Hence, if I order a 10,000-word story, I may add 5,000 or 20,000 words to it! Yeah, I just did that; got back a 10,000-worder, and added 21,000 words to it. Eek!
Romance Writing Tip: Try not to do this, and it kinda defeats the purpose of hiring ghostwriters.
But back to the point I want to make – for the rates I pay, which are not bottom-of-the-barrel, but are nowhere near the top either, I don’t expect perfection.
What I look for is a good story. I forgive things like grammar and punctuation mistakes. I have every story proofed, so that’s not a big deal for me.
What I can’t forgive are glaring plot holes, stories that are disjointed, and are stories that are just downright boring.
If it’s a good story, I can take it and doctor it up and make it perfect grammar and punctuation-wise.
So depending on what your budget is, expect to have to touch your stories when you get them back. You don’t have to add significantly to them like I tend to.
But if you’re not paying top dollar, you will undoubtedly have to go in and clean up things like grammar and punctuation. Then slap a cover on that sucker, upload it, and get on to the next one!
Remember, money is made in writing and self-publishing romance by output. So the more you upload (publish), the more you can ostensibly earn.
My $10,000 Per Month Romance Writing Goal
At the height of my romance writing career, I was publishing a new story every 7 to 10 days. Most of my stories were in the 15,000 to 25,000-word range, and I got burned out.
I quit publishing romance for about 18 months between 2016 and 2018. So when I picked it back up again seriously in the summer of 2018, I did so with the plan to use ghostwriters, and move mostly into an editorial overview role.
Moving forward, my plan is to write four to six books per year myself, because I have a lot of older titles that readers are clamoring for successive parts too. And, I have new story ideas I want to write.
So I’ll always write romance myself. But, the bulk of my titles moving forward will be written by ghostwriters, which will allow me to substantially increase my earnings.
Most people don’t realize that romance writing earnings can ramp up quickly, especially once you have a catalog of books out. And that’s because, every time you publish a new title, it drags sales of older titles along – if readers like your work.
It took me exactly six months to hit the $2,000 mark when I first started writing romance regularly. I’ve done this twice. When I quit writing romance and started up again, I repeated that milestone.
My next goal is $10,000 per month. I expect to hit that by March or April. Then, I’ll shoot for $20,000 – and keep building.
“How do you know you’ll hit these earning goals writing romance?”
Quite simply because I’ve been writing romance long enough to know the patterns. And every time I publish regularly – eg, at least a book or two a month – earnings steadily creep up. Then, they skyrocket.
You can easily jump from $500 per month, to $1,500 or $2,000 – in one month if you get a hot seller on your hands.
It’s when you stop publishing regularly that earnings nosedive.
Hiring ghostwriters is the ticket for any aspiring romance writer who wants to increase their output, and/or who just wants to run a publishing company, but not write.
I wish I’d done it a long time ago, but I have so many income streams, that it took clearing a lot of things off my plate to be able to focus on this.
Hiring ghostwriters to write romance novels is no magic bullet. It’s a lot of work – even without doing most of the writing. But, it is some of the most fun work you’ll ever do because:
- If you’re putting out good stories;
- Publishing regularly; and
- Growing your reading audience …
Making money writing romance is some of the easiest money you’ll ever make as a self-publisher.
Inkwell Editorial’s romance writing course covers using ghostwriters, how to start your own publishing company, ghostwriting contracts, and a whole lot more.
It’s literally a “Romance Writing Business in a Box.” Enroll today.
About the Author: Yuwanda Black is the publisher of Inkwell Editorial. She also develops and teaches online writing courses. One of her most popular is Make Money Writing Romance in 60 Days.
Are you interested in learning how to write romance novels?
What is the price point of these kinds of books?
Yuwanda Black says
From 99 cents to $3.99. I price most of my novels at between $2.99 and $3.99 these days.
Hi Yuwanda! I’d love to check out your blog if you’re willing to post it.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner says
Hey Shannon – Her blog is linked in this blog post. It’s at the end in her author bio.
Hugo Chandler says
Hi. We are freelance proofreaders and editors with quite a few self published authors who we have assisted. Would you consider using our services even though we are based in Cape Town, South Africa. We have two UK publishers who we do work for.
If you are interested in finding out more about us, please have a look at our website.
Hugo and Brenda
Yuwanda Black says
Some of my worst reviews are for proofreading/grammar errors in my books. So I have added proofreaders to my stable (in the beginning, couldn’t afford it), so I’m good on that front Hugo.
But thanks for reaching out.
For anyone reading this, if you self-publish, please use proofreaders. It’s a must. And it doesn’t matter where in the world they come from; as long as they’re good.
It’s one of my biggest mistakes as a self-published author. Those AMZ reviews stay live forever, so you don’t want to have a good story dinged for that.
That being said, I still sold/sell a crap-ton of books. My books don’t have tons of errors. But if you have a 20,000 word story, and readers spot 5-10 errors (even minor grammatical ones), some readers will ding you for that.
Most readers are very forgiving, but again, as AMZ reviews stay live forever, try to avoid getting a bad review for something that is completely controllable.
giulia lombardo says
This is really interesting from authors and/or ghostwriters…who loves write this could be anice side hustle!!
Yuwanda Black says
It really is, because romance sells. And the beauty is, you don’t have to sell a lot of books to make decent money.
Sara Bowles - Scribeworker says
It’s so nice to see you pay reasonable rates to your ghostwriters. I’ve come across so many companies who pay a complete pittance!
I’ve worked as a ghostwriter for the past 5 years, creating more than 50 non-fiction books on an unbelievably diverse range of topics. Recently I’ve started writing romantic fiction for an online app, and I totally love it! They pay well too, $3000 for a 90,000-word book at 10,000 words a week, which I can easily achieve. I’ve actually shied away from self-publishing, as my husband is an audiobook narrator for Audible, and many of his authors struggle to make much money from their books. However, he works mainly in science fiction and thriller categories, so perhaps I should look at self-publishing romance!
Yuwanda Black says
Thanks for saying that.
As you probably know, rates for writing (ANY kind of writing), are all over the place. So while some may think my rates are reasonable, others may say they’re too low. I work with a lot of newbies who want to get some experience. And, I “touch” every book; hence, I don’t expect perfection from authors, because I know my rates are not top-tier.
But again, it’s all relative — and as long as both parties are happy, that’s all that matters.
Thanks for your thoughts, and good luck if you decide to go the romance writing route. It really is a fun side hustle, one that you can grow to earn as much as you want. That’s what I love about it.
I had no idea there was a market for this! I’ve never heard anyone complain about having TOO much romance in their life, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
Yuwanda Black says
Huge, huge market, probably precisely for the reason you state. 🙂
I am thrilled to come across this post. Never thought there is a market for such products. I self-publish and I agree with using proof readers as you don’t always see errors when you have read a document many times. Great article! Angy – socialworkhaven.com
As a ghostwriter, I’m appalled by how little you’re paying your writers. That’s not even close to a living wage, especially if the writer has to do outlining or other story development. For $100 or $150, I would have VERY low expectations.