Friday, January 22, 2010

Writers with day jobs - when do you know it's time?

Tip of the day: The 2009 Debs have banded together with the Leaky Cauldron Fansite to Help Haiti Heal. This weekend, donations will be taken for the cause, and random prizes given away to donors. For more information, go HERE.

Last week I mentioned that I quit my day to focus on my other writerly job.

I'm pretty sure many writers with day jobs dream of that moment when they can walk into the boss' office and hand him/her the letter that says, "This is to inform you of my resignation..."

So how did I know now was the right time?

For me, it was a few different things.

1) Royalty checks coming in. This was huge for me. No matter what else happened, I knew that in February and August, I would have some income coming in. My first novel, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, continues to sell well, and since the advance wasn't huge, I'm now earning money on those sales. With my second book, FAR FROM YOU, now out for over a year, I'm hoping sales for that one will start to produce royalties as well.

2) Two new novels coming out within a couple of months of each other. Up until this year, I was able to balance the writing and promotion fairly well. Mostly, to be honest, because I didn't do much in the way of promotion. I decided early on that the best thing I could do to promote my books was to write more books. So that's what I did with the limited amount of time I had. But with the tween and teen publishing world getting more competitive by the day, I decided I need to have time to write AND promote. I just couldn't do it all anymore.

3) For the past five years, we built up a savings account. While I worked and wrote books, advance money was used to do things we needed to do, i.e. paint the house, put new carpeting in the family room, etc. and then, after that, it went into savings. I never would have quit unless we had a good cushion there for emergencies or whatever.

4) New projects ready, plus agent and editor support. I have two manuscripts on submission right now. My agent feels good about the possibility of selling them both. My verse novel publisher is behind my latest book, CHASING BROOKLYN, in a big way and I feel supported there. I think they want to continue to see books from me. I believe, for any author considering going full-time with the writing, you have to feel like your career is going somewhere. If you're unsure, then it's probably not the right time.

and finally...

5) My employer wouldn't let me go half-time. This was my first choice, and they said no. For any author considering quitting, I think, if you can, going gradually (FT to PT to resigning) might be a good option. Do full-time as long as humanly possible. I know it's hard, believe me, I know! I did it for a LONG time. But the longer you can do it and put money in savings and build up your body of work, the better off you'll be. Then, if possible, drop to half-time, and do that for awhile. Unless your book hits the NYT bestseller list. Then never mind.

It's a scary decision, I know, and I may end up looking for a part-time job at some point, just because there is something to be said for not only having a regular income, but also getting out and being around people. I'm going to miss that, I know.

If you're considering going FT with the writing, good luck with your decision!!

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career


Kate Fall said...

This is great Lisa! People cope with financial insecurity in different ways (some people don't even mind it!) but I find it saps my creativity. Staying up late worrying how I'll pay the mortgage is exhausting.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Thank you for this thought-provoking post. I agree, I can't wait for when I'm in a position to do this. I do know that I'm a few years away! So happy for you.

DeenaML said...

I think a lot of people needed to read that post, Lisa. Like me, ha! Even though I love my job, I'd love to work at the lib PT and write FT, but it's not realistic now.

Emily Marshall said...

All good things to know!!!

Emily Marshall said...

Oh Lisa, I think you should do a schedule of a full-time author one post too. That would be fun.