Long-Term Travel and Romance Writing: How I Did It

I ended up traveling in North America and Southeast Asia from October 2013 to June 2014. The trip was funded solely on the steam powered by my writing.

I don't know what to say about this except that it's bloody hard to meet deadlines when you're hopping from city to town to ass-fuck-nowhere every few days. It's impossible. We all knew that, didn't we? You have to stay put for months somewhere to do any real work. I can't tell you how many times I was sitting in a cramped bus for hours on end trying to bang out my word count for the day. 

And yet, I got something done and I got paid something and somehow I am now living in Mexico. Not dead in a ditch. I did go into debt to cover the gaps between pay cheques (and to cover some unforeseen expenses, which I won't go into here). 

But all in all, I wrote, I survived and I saw all the things.

The usual question after a long trip is now what? For me it was going back to Mexico City where my fiancee was able to get a job. 

Thankfully, my trip had given me two solid contacts who have been hiring me consistently since April 2014 to write romance for hire. So that's what I do now. As a job.

Most people aren't aware of how writing romance for hire (aka ghostwriting) works so here's the deal: 
  1. You get hired through Elance.com or Freelancer.com (in my case).
  2. The client gives you a word count and a genre i.e. romantic thriller or cowboy romance
  3. Sometimes the client gives you a specific plot to work with but this is rare. More likely they will say: "OK cowboy romance trilogy. Three books. 25,000 words each. Go!" Seriously.
  4. You sign a contract saying you don't own the rights to the book, you will get paid a flat fee upon completion and you can't contact the end client or know what happens to the book.
  5. The client puts your fee in escrow.
  6. You write the fucking thing. SWEAT SWEAT SWEAT.
  7. The client will release the funds. You do a happy dance and pay your credit card and your therapist.
  8. The client will probably not ask you for edits but if they do, they are minimal. You do another happy dance because you hate extra work.
  9. The book is then self-published or sold to a publisher. You aren't allowed to know anything about that. 
  10. The end.
Question: Bronwyn, if the client just publishes the thing on Amazon or whatever, why don't you write your own books?

Excellent question, knucklehead. Because I need money now and I don't want to wait for the royalties to kick in. But I definitely want to do this in future when my income is more stable.

Question: how much do you make?

Shit. I make shit. Then again, I live in a cheap country (Mexico), I love the freedom of being self-employed and I know how to live lean. I earn $525 for a 40,000 word book. $300 for a 25,000 word book. I also write plot outlines for clients. Ten plot outlines for $150. What do my clients do with these plots? I don't know. They don't pay me to know! I just write them.

I also still occasionally do copywriting for Demand Media and various corporate blogs to supplement my income. I do not teach English anymore in Mexico. Why? Because schools pay crap and steady private clients are usually old creepy guys who think they're paying for "the girlfriend experience."

Shudder.

That's romance writing, my friends. I'm also working with an agent in Toronto who will hopefully be selling my novel to some Big Ass publisher this fall. I'm trying to work all the angles, yo.

Post any questions in the comments below!

Interested in moving to Mexico? Here are some resources that helped me:

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