Fostering Multiple Revenue Streams, by David Farland

David Farland

David Farland

(From David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants)

You probably know that I’ve trained a lot of successful authors over the years. I was listening to some of them teaching at a writing seminar last week, and it struck me that those authors who have succeeded best in this field are those who learned one of my first lessons best: Foster Multiple Revenue Streams.

What does this mean? Well, many authors, the ones who fail, typically publish a novel and sell the North American rights to it, then try to write another novel and do the same, again and again and again. Eventually something happens and their revenue stream gets blocked—either they can’t deliver a manuscript on time, or a publisher squeezes them in harsh negotiations, and the author suddenly runs out of money and has to go back to work in another field.

But successful authors look for ways to create several revenue streams. Very often, this means that the author might write in two different fields. For example, I write adult fantasy and middle grade books. If one revenue stream gets blocked, I’ve always got another.

You can have all sorts of revenue streams. For example, selling foreign rights can be very lucrative. Many authors who don’t make a lot of money in the United States, for example, might be very popular in other countries—the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and so on. I’ve known authors who don’t even publish in the United States anymore, but who make a living on foreign sales.

Authors can make money in a host of other ways—through speaking fees, by teaching, by writing in different mediums (for example, if you’re writing a novel about an entomologist, you might do some research on ants, and write articles for magazines on the topic in order to gain some expertise in the field).

So each year, I keep track of my anticipated revenue sources. Here are my sources for the coming year:

1. Screenplay sale for Runelords. (I’ve been approached by a producer to write the screenplay and put the film into production.)

2. On-delivery money for Runelords #9—plan to deliver the manuscript within a couple of weeks.

3. On-publishing money for Runelords #9—should go on sale by the end of the year.

4. US Royalties on Runelords and Ravenspell books.

5. Foreign sales anticipated for Runelords in France, England, and other countries.

6. Audiobook sales for Runelords and other books—book 4 is now out on audiobook, so I expect to sell the rights to books 5 and 6 this year.

7. Teaching fees for writing workshops—I’ll be teaching a lot this spring, but probably won’t do much if anything for the fall, since I have to keep my book-touring season open.

8. Short story sales to magazines—I have a couple of short stories promised.

9. E-book royalties from my backlist. I don’t push my e-books much, but I’ve been getting them up for sale and promise to do a better job this year.

10. Book on Writing (I’ve got a publisher that wants me to write a book on writing. I’ll tell you more when I learn more.)

11. Possible income from sale of MEMORY MERCHANTS. I have the book out to a couple of agents, and we’ll see if and when they want to take it out.

12. Producer’s fees for Runelords and other movies. (I’ve done some work as an executive producer on some small films, and should see income from those, as well as a little income as I put together the Runelords movie—engaging a director, actors, distribution, investors, etc.)

13. Book sales from my websites.

14. Speaking fees from schools and libraries.

15. Income from new publishing company. (I have some partners and an investor interested in starting a new publishing company.)

16. Income from self-publishing of IN THE COMPANY OF ANGELS. I’m still waiting for my last check from my distributor.

17. Sale of ANGELS—I’ve sold IN THE COMPANY OF ANGELS to a small publisher, Cedar Fort, and will have it reissued in June.

Every year, of course, there are some surprises—foreign sales that you didn’t expect, movie rights that sell when you didn’t expect it, and so on. Some of these are only minor revenue streams—such as book sales from my web site, or short fiction sales—but every little bit helps. I have some new projects that I anticipate sales for—a thriller, a new fantasy series that I’ll be starting—but I don’t know when those will be finished, or when I might get an income from them.

Generally speaking, the larger the author is, and the longer the author has been in the industry, the more revenue streams that the author will develop.

So if you’re a new writer, if you’re launching yourself in this as a career, look for ways to make more money from your existing novels so that you can maximize your income.

A final note: Currently, I’m getting ready to take my Runelords series to Hollywood. I’ve written what I believe is the best screenplay for a fantasy in many, many years. Worked my tail off. But in order to get the movie made, I’ll need to convince Hollywood that it is worth doing. One way to do that is to simply look at how many people are interested. If you would like to see a great fantasy movie—in line with Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, please go to my web page at and then like it and—this is important—share it on Facebook. We need a couple of million fans right away.

If you do that, I can do the rest.

New Short Story Writing Contest for All Writers New and Experienced Boasts One-Thousand Dollar Grand Prize, Published Story and Opportunity for Novel Contract. Sponsored by International Bestselling Author David Farland and East India Press.


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