It’s true: most of us can’t make our living solely on our writing. But if you need to take on another job, take advantage of it. Don’t think of it as a job, but as another avenue to promote your career as a writer!
Sure, we all do this in small ways. Who among us doesn’t use the water cooler and break room to promote our work? We subtly drop into conversations with co-workers such bon mots as “You know, I’m a writer; would you like to read some of my work?” or “Hey, Christmas is coming; a great idea for a gift would be one of my self-published books available at my website. Here’s a card with all the information!”
But surely we can use our jobs to greater advantage. While working for a popular department store chain, I learned from someone in the PR department that they slightly over-posted their flyers to insure safe and prompt delivery. I saw in this little piece of trivia an opportunity. I offered to deliver store flyers to the post office. And it just took a few hours to stuff in those flyers a flyer of my own for my (at the time) newest self-published work, "I Was a Shopaholic: How I Overcame My Addiction".
Not long after that, I found myself working in the fast food industry. Again, a little creativity allowed me to turn this job into a marketing opportunity! This particular chain of restaurants serves specially bagged meals for children -- let’s call them “Joyous Meals.” I, of course, would fill the bag with the appropriate food and franchise toy, but for extra fun for the kids, I began to include a sample chapter of my children’s picture book on nutrition, "Why Is Mr. Cow So Sad?"
Soon, I was again devoted fully to my writing career. But when a more lucrative option became available, I couldn’t pass it up.
Even on jury duty, I found ways to promote my writing career. When the lawyers asked questions, I found ways to slyly sneak in plugs. When asked if I had ever been the victim of identity theft, I said, “No, because the unique writing style I possess, exemplified in such works as "Be the Tiger: Establishing Authority in Dating Relationships" or "Revealing the Croak: If There’s Global Warming Why Are My Toes Numb?" (both available at my website) is unique and I believe unmistakable.”
Once on the jury, I positioned myself to become the foreman. Thus, I was able to read the verdict thusly, “We the jury find the defendant guilty of two counts of fraud and one count of assault. If only his parents had been able to read my book, "Raising Your Children Crimefree By Exposing Them to Procedural Dramas On Television.” That piece of promotion made the local papers and NPR’s weekly broadcast of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”.
Then came the greatest promotional opportunity of my career. A temp agency landed me a gig in a branch of the Internal Revenue Service. I was able to gain access to a marvelous database for sending out e-mails and mailings for perhaps my personal favorite of my non-fiction works, "Loopholes, Loopholes, Loopholes: It’s Not a Lie If You Can Deduct It With a Straight Face".
Even in my current position, I have found ways to promote my work. I have found a way to attach to the license plates a card to promote, "Don’t Always Insist On Your Own Way: How I Learned to Let My Cellmate Choose His Bunk and Room Décor".
(I can't remember if this was published in Absolute Write or not. If not, I hope the writers who used to depend on that website were able to muddle on without this masterpiece.)