Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Considerations Before Quitting Your Day Job

"I want time to devote to my craft!"
"There isn't time to write when I have a 9-5 job!"

I think we have all heard these comments before. In fact, there is a pretty good chance many of us have actually been the ones making these comments.  You, like many other authors probably get frustrated as you watch documentaries or feature stories on the TV about authors who seem to have this Utopian lifestyle of unlimited free time to write. You read articles about people who "quit their job to devote to their craft." A book I am reading right now openly states in the author's biography that after three years of teaching, this author gave up their job to focus on her writing.

This is the life.

Now, don't get me wrong. It is indeed possible to do this. But, like so many other things in the publishing world, it is crucial to get the complete "behind-the-scenes" picture of what is really going on. It is also crucial to consider a few things that you might be taking for granted or not considering at all. Also, before I go on, please understand that I am looking at this in a "general perspective." Are there going to be authors who are the exception to the rule? Sure. Again, remember I am looking at this in a broad perspective.

First of all, who are these authors that are quitting that day job to write? Time and time again I see the same general trend in these authors:

  • Spouse making enough money to support the two members in the family.
  • No kids in the house
  • Already had a huge "nest-egg" to float them for a while.
  • Doing "part-time" work to supplement their incomes
In other words, can you give up a day job when the need to make money isn't there? You definitely can! But for the majority of authors out there, this is simply not something that they can take advantage of.

So, now we move on to the second trend that we see. When did the author quit the day job? AFTER he or she landed that really big deal. In other words, those initial big selling books gave the author a head start! Because, with that money from the book sales, the author was then able to work with that success to start getting speaking engagements (that paid), to have that "nest egg" to float them until the next book came along, or to use that success to do work as book doctors and so forth.

I think there is also some things that many authors fail to think about as they go on and on about how they want to quit that day job. What about the "benefits" you get from that full time job?

Remember that writing is a 100% commission job. There isn't that monthly paycheck that comes in. Your "paycheck" is based on sales and success. No sales = no money.

Remember also that writing is "self-employment" and this means that retirement, insurance, time off, and so forth, come out of your own paycheck. Those bills keep coming in regardless of how much money you make from your book sales.

I don't want you walking away today thinking negatively about this business. I just want writers to think before they leap. You may not be able to quit that day job with the first book, but you may be able to do it on one of those later books.

1 comment:

  1. Depending on your job, your work also puts you out in the world where you interact with others and become involved in activities, situations . . . All of this can provide fodder for further plot lines, character development. Staying home alone, facing the computer screen, can be less inspiring. Of course, if you are able to travel the world, meeting new people, try out new activities after you quit your day job, that's a different situation.