Freelancing vs authoring Part 2: Authoring

If, like me, you enjoy writing and you would like to earn money from it, should you go down the freelance writing route or write books, or both? In the first part of this two-part series I looked at the advantages and disadvantages of freelancing, ie writing articles for newspapers and magazines. In this part, I consider the advantages and disadvantages of authoring, ie writing books.

Books not only mark you out as an expert, they look good too!

Advantages of authoring

Passive income

Once you’ve written the book you can sit back and relax and enjoy an income stream from it. That’s the theory, anyway. In practice, you have to write more than one book. This is because the more books you have out there, the more visible you are. Also, it stands to reason that the more books you have, even if you earn only a small amount from each of them it all adds up.

Authority

A published book, ie an actual book, not a White Paper or a bundle of sheets stapled together, still has a magical effect on people. The strange thing is, even of you have self-published the book it still signifies that you are an expert in many people’s eyes, though my sense is that traditional publishing still has the upper hand in this respect.

Business card

Some people have a short print run of their self-published book and give the books away as a business card. This is what the speaker Marc Prenski told me he does.

Further articles

Writing books and writing articles are not mutually exclusive. You can rework chapters in the book to sell as articles, and you can write articles so as to alert readers to the fact that you have written a book on the subject.

Less ephemeral than articles

Books are, by their nature, not as ephemeral as articles. Often, an article is only in people’s minds until the next issue of the periodical comes out.

Disadvantages of authoring

Speed

It is not as fast as freelancing to get to print, generally speaking—especially if you go down the traditional publishing route rather than self-publishing.

Deferred gratification

It may take a relatively long time to see a decent monetary reward for your efforts. See the next point too.

More work

It takes longer to write a book than it does to write an article, obviously. But once you’ve written it, the work doesn’t stop. Even if the book has been published by a publisher you will have to spend time and effort promoting it. Contrast this with freelancing: you write the article, send it in and, if it is accepted, take the money and run (so to speak!).

Dating

Although books are less ephemeral than articles, that can be a disadvantage too: a dated book looks worse than a dated article in my opinion.

Conclusion

As I said earlier, article writing and book writing are not mutually exclusive. Do both, but keep a balance between activity that gives you results now vs investing in a result in the future.