Construct Your Own Word Search Puzzle for Profit

Construct your own word search puzzle for profit in your spare time.

| November/December 1983

Word Key

Use the word key to solve the puzzle and know what words you have used as well.


You don't have to be a professional writer to make good money with words . . . and if you doubt me, spend a few minutes at your local newsstand looking through any of the numerous word-search puzzle magazines now being published. Virtually all of the games in those specialized periodicals — as well as the similar puzzles featured regularly in mainstream consumer and trade magazines — are produced by people who have simply exercised a little imagination and tossed in a bit of humor to turn their spare time into cash.

You can puzzle for profit, too! Just how much money you make for any given word search quiz, of course, will depend on the payment policy of the publication in question . . . and on the size of the brainteaser itself. An 11 X 11 square (that is, a letter grid containing 11 rows of 11 letters each) may pay as little as $6.00. On the other hand, selling a 21 X 23 "biggie" to a widely circulated national magazine could bring $100 or more. In my experience, though, $15 is an average payment for a medium sized square.

Those seemingly small amounts can really add up, however, when you consider that — with practice — you can construct a salable word-search puzzle in a little over an hour. I spend about 15 hours a week on this sideline myself and net more than $600 a month!

How to Get Started

To develop a feel for this unique craft — and for what editors buy — study a variety of word search magazines. Scrutinize each puzzle carefully (paying particular attention to the relationship between the title and the word list, and to the way words are fit into the grid), and try to imagine the process the author went through to produce that particular game.

Usually, your first step is to come up with a basic subject for the puzzle. You can build a theme around almost any topic: famous people or places, hobbies, activities, holidays, events, nature, careers . . . you name it. Then think of a title — and a list of words — relating to that subject. Some puzzles are fairly straightforward in this regard: One of my creations, for instance, was called "Eggs citing" and included words describing how eggs can be cooked (baked, coddled, scrambled, etc.). Others, however, take a somewhat less direct approach . . . as in the puzzle that I captioned "What's Up?", which listed such diverse words as balloon, cloud, elevator, heads, inflation, soprano, and Venus.

In any case, keep in mind that unusual titles, or those that employ a play on words, are generally preferred by submissions editors .. . and can spell the difference between a sale and a rejection. And to get more mileage out of your ideas, always try to come up with more than one title for any given puzzle. Then you can simply change the initial word list somewhat, tack on a different heading, and — presto — you'll have another moneymaking idea to turn into a puzzle. For example, I recently sold two different pieces based on similar lists of archaeological terms . . . one was titled "Can You Dig It?", and the other "Sticks and Stones and Ancient Bones".
11/29/2015 7:11:29 AM

i love puzzles and i would love to create word search puzzles and get paid for it also! i want to do things i love and get paid for it. thank you!

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