“A Million Words: Turning Your Hobby Into Your Career” – Philip R Johnson


Last year, Philip came along to a convention my friends and I organise (I use that term very loosely) called Nerdvana. Having enjoyed himself, he offered to be on hand for the following year, by doing a talk on writing and hosting some form of writing competition.

This year, I hadn’t forward planned sufficiently to throw a writing competition ready for the event, but Philip was thankfully still up for doing a talk! (Phew)

Some background info:
Philip R Johnson (aka, growing up, my friend Sian’s big brother) is a writer from South Wales.
He writes an online series called The Deathworlders, a science-fiction exploring the idea that Earth is a “deathworld” (a planet with an extremely harsh environment that would be deemed unsuitable for life) and, as we’ve been successful at surviving on it, the human species therefore is one of the most dangerous in the Milky Way…

As an ancient and malicious threat slowly turns its attention towards this anomaly, how will the human race be changed by the revelation that the alien life forms we have long dreamed of meeting are vastly inferior to us in every way?

Philip created a Patreon page to support his writing; his series is so successful that he now earns over $2,000 per chapter he produces.


“Start early and work hard. A writer’s apprenticeship usually involves writing a million words (which are then discarded) before he’s almost ready to begin. That takes a while.” – David Eddings

Any talk that begins with an Eddings quote, in my books, is going to be a good one. He’s an author whose work I love and whose writing I admire very much.

Here’s what Philip had to say about getting to those million words…

  1. Writer’s Tip: Throw out your plot, not your characters. A story isn’t made, it’s grown.

    Creating characters that are believable and consistent is key; if you’ve spent a great deal of time developing a character, to then in the next chapter have the character do something against their nature for the sake of your plot, then your readers are going to question their commitment to your work.
    “If you don’t respect your own creation, your reader won’t”.

  2. From hobby to career: Any progress is better than none. Getting it wrong is good.

    Creativity isn’t something that comes easy. As Philip put it, creativity is a day down the mine: dirty, depressing, tiring; and you’ll get more rocks than diamonds. It’s important to get things wrong, as it enables you to learn what doesn’t work. “Explore the unexplored”.

  3. Your Website – How to make the perfect one: People won’t visit your website unless they already like your stuff. Use somebody else’s.

    “The secret to fishing – fish where the fish are”. Use social media to get your work out there and create familiarity. Take advantage of the platforms where you can access plenty of potential readers.
  4. Take some friends along for the ride: Knowing who your audience is is easy: Your audience is… You! “Knowing your audience” means getting to know them

    Carrying on from the point above, build a sense of community with those that follow you and read your work.

  5. Patience!: It won’t happen overnight. Treat every small gain as the victory it is

    Philip described his success on Patreon as a gradual build up; from earning enough to buy a takeaway, to being enough to contribute a quarter of the council tax bill, to where he is now. Each step is a step further than where you were yesterday, so “be determined, be consistent, and focus on the silver lining”.

  6. We live in the golden age for making money: Crowdfunding for donations… Advertising revenue is useful, but unreliable

    It has never been easier to make money from your work online than it is today; websites such as Amazon, Etsy and Deviantart for sales, Facebook and Twitter for advertising, Patreon and others for subscriptions. Philip warned of the unreliability of advertising revenues; on the one hand should you express views an advertiser is displeased with they could pull out and there goes your source of income, but likewise should the advertiser promote an offensive message (Philip used the example of the recent Dove controversy) you and your work will then be associated.



Thank you Philip!

2 thoughts on ““A Million Words: Turning Your Hobby Into Your Career” – Philip R Johnson

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