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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

The 8 Best Side Gigs for Aspiring Book Authors


It's no secret that writing books—aspiring authors or seasoned pros—requires a lot of effort, time, and energy. Not to mention if you're an independent author, practically speaking, it requires extra funds for things like editing, cover design, and formatting. And whether you aspire to be an indie author or traditionally published, you'll need to factor in marketing costs as well.

But it can be hard to afford the costs of creating books along with supporting yourself. Many writers have full-time jobs and write on the side but find that they need to take up additional jobs in order to afford the extras.

One downside to taking on extra jobs is that it cuts into your writing time. Success demands sacrifice, but your side hustles need not be a hindrance to your creativity. We have a list of side jobs that are pandemic-friendly. The best part is that these jobs can also be a breeding ground for creative ideas for your stories. You're bound to meet interesting people, hear fascinating, inspirational stories, or even witness things firsthand that you simply can't make up.

After all, art imitates life, right?

Check out the list below to see if these jobs could be right for you:

1. Book ghostwriter

This gig will literally pay you to write books. Oftentimes authors looking to break into a new genre with a new pen name might not have the time or the genre understanding to be successful. For instance, a science fiction author might notice that romance is a big moneymaker and wants to start publishing books in that genre. However, he's never written a romance and isn't sure he can write one satisfactorily but doesn't have the time to do the necessary research that would help him do that. So, he decides to enlist the help of a ghostwriter—meaning someone he will pay to write the story for him. If you're an experienced writer but aren't necessarily ready to take the leap to publishing your own work, or if you'd like to get a better feel for how the industry works, ghostwriting can be a great way to do this. The client will review your credentials, ask for writing samples, and explain what they're looking for. If hired, you'll be paid a flat fee for your work. This can be hourly or it can be per project. Unless clearly stated, the assumption is it's up to you to name your price. Do some research on industry standards to be sure you're being competitive but you're not low-balling yourself. Once pricing and pay schedule has been decided, the author should give you a relatively detailed outline of the story they have in mind, and then it will be up to you to flesh it out. This can be a fantastic way to earn money from your writing and also learn about the industry while you're at it, so you can prepare to launch your own writing.

2. Author personal assistant

If you're social-media savvy, know how to put together some simple but eye-catching graphics, and know the basics of what independent authors do to manage their businesses, then a side hustle as a PA to an indie author might be an awesome gig for you! For an indie author, the writing part is a small fraction of what makes up their day. There are social media posts for engagement to make, newsletter to write, book graphics to make, ARCs to manage. This can take up hours out of their day, leaving them with little time to write. Indie authors are always looking for a smart and knowledgeable person they can pay to assist them with these busy-work tasks. If this sounds like something you'd like to do but you're not sure how, start by researching all the things an indie author is responsible for, join some reader groups on Facebook for indie authors you enjoy, and ask other PAs who might be willing to give you some insight as to what they do and how they do it. Apart from bringing in some extra bucks, this can give you a front-row seat to managing your own career when it's time.

3. Online English or creative writing tutor

A great way to hone your own writing skills is to become an online tutor. There's a great demand for English tutors to help students who struggle with reading, writing, composition, etc. Not only do you have the reward of helping someone increase their knowledge and hone their skills, but it requires you to be at the top of your writing game as well, since you can't help someone succeed if you're not first very knowledgeable. While there's usually no certification necessary for a tutor, you are definitely going to want to have some credentials to prove why you're the best fit for the job. Maybe you spent several years volunteering at an after-school program to help kids better their reading and writing skills, or maybe you've taken several applicable college courses. You don't necessarily need to have a degree in teaching but having the experience to back up your skills and knowledge will help you succeed. If you don't have the experience currently but it's something you'd like to do, start seeing where you can get some volunteer hours under your belt to get a feel for what it's like to teach someone and monitor their development. Pay varies upon job and location, so it's best to have those discussions with each individual job poster.

4. Rideshare driver

If you are a good driver, working as a rideshare driver is an excellent way to earn some extra money on your own schedule. Rideshare services give you the opportunity to create your own hours while helping people get where they need to go. To sign on with most rideshare services, you have to meet some basic requirements, which include things such as a clean driving record and a four-door car. An added bonus is that you will get some great stories from the people you pick up. You might be able to squeeze in some audiobook listening, and through chatting with your clients, you can learn lots of interesting things about dialogue—what sounds natural, the kinds of accents people have, the way we speak to one another, etc. This will come in handy later when you're writing dialogue-heavy scenes in your book.

5. Dog walker

If you like dogs and enjoy getting exercise, consider becoming a dog walker. A lot of people think that dog walkers only exist in big cities like New York or Chicago, but even people living in the suburbs need to have their dogs walked if they work long hours. This is also a great way to use the time on the job listening to audiobooks for research for your book, or you can even dictate your writing to yourself as you walk.

6. Pet sitter

Looking after other people's animals when they go out of town is a great way to earn some extra money. You can put up flyers in veterinarian offices or spread awareness by word of mouth. You can decide if you prefer to care for animals in your home or if you want to stop by the owner's home a few times each day to look after the animals. If you provide in-home sitting, the good thing about pets is that they're generally less complex to watch than children, which means you'll have more downtime. You can use that time to squeeze in some reading for research or even some writing time.

7. Freelance writer

Along the same line as a ghostwriter, plenty of businesses are seeking talented writers to manage their content—this could be anything from blog posts to white papers to social media to actual published articles. Oftentimes these positions are called Content Editors or Content Managers and have a strong emphasis on both writing and editing. While it may not be the fiction you dream of writing, having a job that focuses on writing can help keep your skills as a writer sharp. You can learn new words, better ways to construct sentences, how to write on a deadline and write fast, and edit as you go—all valuable skills to have for your own writing. Also, if social media management is a part of your job, this can aid you when it comes time to market your own work. These jobs can be part-time or full-time, depending on the company's needs.

8. Podcaster

If you have an interesting topic to discuss and a voice that people might enjoy, you might be able to generate some extra money through podcasting. The majority of podcasts do not earn any money – especially at first – so podcasting should not be your only side gig. But if you choose a relevant topic, release episodes on a predictable schedule, and engage listeners, you might be able to monetize your podcast. An added bonus is that if your podcast is successful, you will increase your marketing potential and have a platform to raise awareness about your future books, especially if you have a book-or writing-centered podcast.

We hope this list inspires you to keep writing while making money with one of these side gigs. Happy writing!

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