Wednesday, September 3, 2014
How to Make a Million Dollars
There. That ought to guarantee me a couple of thousand hits. Now I have to deliver. D’oh!
It’s been said if you want to be rich, you have to work hard. To which I say: well, kind’a. You have to work hard at the right things, under favorable conditions. And you can get rich working for other people—if you work hard at the right things, under favorable conditions.
True life example: my brother landed a job with a Big Corporation (think “soup” and “Mmm mmm good”). He negotiated with unions and assessed company plants and decided which ones could be closed. He was paid very well to eliminate other peoples’ jobs, thus saving the company money. His bonuses alone exceeded my yearly salary. In addition, he took advantage of offered stock options. He was able to retire at 50 with a million dollars in the bank and a hefty stock portfolio. He worked hard and he worked for someone else and in both cases it paid off.
My first full-time office job ended in layoff after a year and a half because the company I worked for took a downturn. (They were an engineering firm that specialized in nuclear power plants. I joined the team in the early ‘80s, after Three Mile Island.) My last full-time job (copy editor for medical journals) ended in layoff in less than a year when our biggest customer moved the work to India. In both cases, all the hard work in the world would not have made a difference. Those jobs were doomed by outside circumstances.
Nor would they have made me a millionaire, not at an hourly wage. Most hourly jobs fall under overhead, a drain on company profits. That’s why so many of them go overseas, where hourly wages are cheaper. If you want to get rich working for somebody else, take a position that brings money into the company. The owners will make you rich if you make them even richer. You’ll never become a millionaire behind the counter at McDonald’s, no matter how hard you bust your butt. Unless you’re Dave Thomas, who took what he learned as a McDonald’s manager and opened his own burger franchise. He worked hard at something that mattered, and it paid off handsomely for him.
And that’s my view on the relationship between hard work and big money. If you want to become a millionaire without working hard, I suggest you go into politics.
# # #
Since this is a writing blog, more or less, I should probably relate the topic at hand to writing. How can your average fiction writer make a million dollars?
Easy. Write Twilight. Or file the serial numbers off your massive (and popular) Twilight fanfic and call it 50 Shades of Grey.
Seriously, you can get rich writing fiction. Or at least make a comfortable living. There’s a huge and hungry market out there for certain genres and if you’re good at one of those you’ll do okay. Will you make a million dollars? There’s no guarantee. All I can give you is a solid “maybe.”
Right now it appears the most successful writers are writing romance, and they have a new release every month or so, usually as part of a series. I’m okay with the romance and series parts, but I don’t write that fast. Hoping your book becomes the next Twilight isn’t going to work. It might, but what if it doesn’t? If you want that million, you’re going to have to write more than one book. You may have to write a dozen. One of those could hit it big. Or none of them. What’s a writer to do?
Keep writing. Learn how to promote. Find your market. Work hard at what matters.
Here’s my plan for making a million dollars through writing: get a million people to each give me a dollar. Don’t laugh. It’s a workable plan. It might take a while, but working hard at writing the best damn book possible, and working even harder at promotion and connecting to my target audience, is bound to pay off eventually. All I need is one dollar apiece, one time, from a whole lotta people. That’s not asking for much. After all, the goal is to accumulate a million dollars. I never said anything about getting it in one lump sum. If you fall short—plateau at, say, $500,000—that’s still nothing to sneeze at.
And if that fails … I’ve got my Plan B in the works. It’s harder and will take far longer and require a lot more work, but it can be done. That’s the inverse of Plan A: sub a million manuscripts and hope each one brings in at least a dollar. That’s not as insurmountable as it sounds. They don’t all have to be full-length novels. There are markets that pay $5 for flash stories of under a thousand words. If you’re good at those, you can knock out a dozen stories in a day. If you sell even half, you’re ahead of the game. Those $5 checks add up.
Or write a series in a popular genre. Or write articles or short stories or advertising copy or whatever you’re best at and whatever brings in the income. The more you get out there, the better your chances. The more you write, the more you’ll improve, which also increases your chances. One of those books could become the next Twilight.
As screenwriter William Goldman once said of Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything.” That applies to just about everything. No one has the slightest idea what’s going to be successful, not until they see it. They can’t see it if you don’t write it and send it out.
Or you could just marry a rich person. Or blackmail a rich person. That works, too.
Hope this helped. If you’d like to help me become a millionaire, here’s my Amazon page. Jessalina’s Pets isn’t on Amazon yet, but you can get it here. Don’t look at me like that. Panhandlers make a pretty good living, but even they have to work at it.
If anybody figures out a way to get rich without the work part, please let me know. Maybe I’ll ask my Congressman.