Can I Make Big Money as a Writer or a Composer?

Last Updated on August 25, 2020

Can I Make Big Money as a Writer or Composer

Summary ↬ The odds of you becoming a rich composer or writer are against you. Success is possible but on a small scale. Don’t get discouraged, develop your own writing style, and start publishing. Otherwise, become an entrepreneur or a senior executive at a financial institution if money is your primary objective.

Probably not!

George Gershwin composer of Rhapsody in Blue and the Opera, Porgy, and Bess was originally a composer of popular songs. His genre was called “Tin Pan Alley”. 

Because his songs were so popular and he sold lots of sheet music, he was fairly rich and successful for his time. He wanted to merge jazz-pop-classical into a new art form. So he went to Europe to study composing with the leading lights of the time.

The Beatles did something similar.

But back to Gershwin. His first work in his new medium was a terrible opera that everybody has forgotten. But he kept trying and eventually created and mastered a new kind of music still appreciated today, almost 100 years later. His pop music always made money.

Today, a few pop music composers who are also performers do very well. Authors of novels and poetry are, I am sorry to say, very seldom going to get rich.

The same story is true for many composers and authors. Financial success is very rare on a big scale, and very common on a small scale.

Do you want to become a writer? Here’s how! Write.

Don’t be discouraged by conventional people. 

At the University of Pennsylvania, in an English composition class, sixty years ago, I wrote in a new form I “invented” and still use today. Part of it was asking a one-word question after most sentences, like “Why?” 

The teacher flunked me. Why? “Improper grammar.” I thought I could never make it as a writer (or composer piano player which I also tried). 

So I had a career as a detective that I wrote about in one of my reports and lawyer and then made money in real estate, but I always (secretly) wanted to be a more creative person as a composer, musician, and writer.

I discovered early on that I was best and most original at writing “How To” stuff with a bit of humor. It was to be my niche. Other “How To” books never made you smile or laugh. Mine were funny.

Unfortunately, my novels were pretty bad. So they never got published. One bio I ghostwrote when I was 19, did make it. Subsequently, over the next 50 years, I had over two dozen “How To” books and reports, make it to a printing press. 

My “How To” books are advertised as “The solution to all your problems.” They are widely read by maybe 100,000 plus people. My readers seem to like them. How do I know? We never get refund requests.

Final Thoughts

Ok so, here is my advice to the question. Do something else to make money because being a successful writer is like being a successful movie star. 

There are thousands of wannabees for every actor at the top. The odds are you will never be a Hemingway or write anything as popular as the Harry Potter series. 

How come? The odds are against you. If you want to write, WRITE. Develop a particular style. 

Write about what you know. These days you don’t need a New York publisher. You can self-publish and put stuff up for sale online. Learn a bit about marketing, and use it.