How Can Writers Make Money in Second Life? Let Me Count the Ways…

by Joan Kremer on September 28, 2009 · 11 comments

in Benefits of SL,Opportunities

I get asked this question a lot:  Can a writer actually make any money in Second Life?

If I’m busy or have had a tough day, I may respond with another question:  “Can a writer make any money in any life?”

Cynicism toward the publishing industry aside, usually I answer, “Yes, of course they can,” and give some examples of how they do.


Literary fiction author Michelle Richmond made sales from an appearance in SL.

This is an important concern for professional writers – especially full-time writers.  For virtual worlds such as Second Life to become serious players in the writing and publishing industry, they have to be more than just a place to hang out.

Of course, as I’ve blogged about for nearly a year and a half, there are endless ways in which SL benefit writers — just skim through this blog’s archives to get a glimpse of the free opportunities, events, and places in SL where writers can learn and develop their skills and get to know other writers.  And of course, there are the many unique ways writers use virtual tools to support their writing.

But writers can also make money directly from their writing, and I’m not the only one saying that!  I was excited to see the topic included in the upcoming Digital Media Conference organized by the National Writers Union and Open Media Boston Oct. 16-17 in Boston.

The conference is titled, “Shall We Write for Free or Shall We Write for Pay? Writers Face the Digital Age,” and one of the sessions offered attendees is this one:

Introduction to Virtual Worlds: You’ve probably heard about virtual worlds like Second Life – online systems which allow millions of people to create online versions of themselves (called “avatars”) and pursue all kinds of creative and mundane activities in a completely human-created environment with global reach. But did you know that writers are making money in virtual worlds? This workshop will provide a general introduction to Second Life via live demonstration of the system – followed by an online presentation on writing in virtual worlds.

I wish I lived near Boston so I could attend the conference.  Or better yet, I wish the conference were also being held in Second Life, as is happening with greater frequency.  So I don’t know what the presenters — Persia Bravin, the avatar of a noted UK-based journalist for major media outlets and a key contributor to the Second Life Enquirer news organization, and Gary Zabel, UMass philosophy professor and SL innovator – will say.


Melissa Mayhue runs a literary salon in SL with links to online sellers of her own books, and also brings other published authors in for informal chats.

But if I could attend, I’d share the ways that I and many other writers have found to earn income in SL from our writing:

  • Paid staff and freelance reporting for digital newspapers and magazines that cover Second Life
  • Authors getting published in Second Life (self- or otherwise), where their books are also sold
  • Winning one of the many writing competitions offered in SL (including this one, which has significantly increased the prize money since the date of this post)
  • Adding Second Life to a book tour (if you’re a published writer), during which you can promote and sell books
  • Writing freelance blog posts and articles about Second Life for other Web sites
  • Setting up a permanent display for promoting and selling (via outside links) published works

FarPoint Media, owned by author Michael Stackpole, publishes books in-world

If you go to the Digital Media Conference in Boston, I’d love to hear about it afterward.  And if you know if additional ways writers are working for money in SL or other virtual worlds, please share them in a comment to this post!

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