Photo credit: jwombles - Creative Commons - Flickr
Since announcing that I was changing careers from CPA to a full-time Authorpreneur, many people have congratulated me and wished me well. But many have asked difficult questions, too, like, “How did you know the timing was right?”
Here’s the thing (and this is not the advice part of the blog): I did not and do not know if the timing is/was right for me to leave the comforts of a 29th floor, spacious office with a view of the city and, more importantly, my consistent, twice-a-month paycheck. Many would say (and by many, I mean my dad) that I am crazy to give up the cushiness of a salary and enter a career of great unknowns and immense risk.
I’ve read a lot of blog posts on the subject of how writers make a living selling their art. I’ve also read a lot of articles of why authors need to be very careful about leaving the day job too soon.
All of the advice out there is worth considering. All I can do is tell you a bit about my situation. If is resonates with you and your personal situation, then great! Take it to heart. I warn you though, I’ve never met two people in the exact same financial, familial, or psychological situation. Every person’s decision-making process will be different. What is/was right for me, might not apply to you.
However, the following is a list of ten thoughts that factored into my ultimate decision. None of the points below, alone, were enough to make leaving the day job worth the risk, but collectively these points made the decision
super easy still very risky and difficult.
1. I was miserable 80% of the time at my day job.
2. 100% of the time that I was at my day job, I wished I was at home writing or building my side business as an author. Becoming a successful indie author is about WAY more than just writing. It is a lot of work, and I craved the opportunity to do that work full-time instead of on the side like I had been doing for the past several years.
3. For some months of the year, I was making more than enough to cover my monthly salary off of one book. But only some months, which is where much risk comes in.
4. Because my family didn’t need the money I was making from my side business as an author, I saved 100% of the profit from selling books for my future leap into a career change. (We would, however, need the income from my writing to replace my salary after I left my day job.) Deciding how much of a savings we needed to build up before I took the leap was a calculated risk. And this amount changed day to day, depending on how good or bad my work day was. This is where I had to be careful not to let too many of my emotions about item #1 take over.
5. I was seeing spikes in my sales based on free promotions and the launch of a second book. This gave me hope, but it was not enough of a reason to leap.
6. My readership and my newsletter list was growing, showing me the potential growth in future sales as I release additional content.
7. Based on the business model I created (Yes, it’s actually a written business plan), I knew that I need to get more content out in order to reap the benefits of this growing readership. Content is everything to an indie author. If you read enough indie blogs, you’ll eventually hear the phrase: The best marketing tool for a novel is to write another novel.
8. In order to release more content, I needed more time. Currently, it takes me about six months from start to finish to release a full-length novel. At my day job, I was working 50-55 hours for about four months of the year, and working 20-30ish hours for another four months of the year. (I had a complicated seasonal schedule.) But based on that schedule and the fact that I’m the mom of two busy children, I was only able to get a new novel out once every 10 months or so.
This is probably a debatable point, but my business model for the next couple of years is based on releasing a new full-length novel a minimum of every six months, and to release other new content in between. It’s aggressive, and I have no idea if it will work for me. Every author sees different results. But in the interest of being open, my research of other successful authors tells me that the key to making a living as an author is to keep giving your readers more books. (In some ways, it sounds like a no-brainer, but it is worth repeating: Every author sees different results.)
9. My family will be staring at college tuition bills in a few years. If I did not take the risk now, I might not ever get the opportunity to take the risk again.
10. Generally, I’ve never been a risk taker. But I was ready to take a giant leap. I NEEDED to take this leap. I think it’s part of some sort of early mid-life crisis or something. I simply did not want another 5-10 years to go by and find myself still working in a very stressful day job while trying to write and sell novels on the side. Everything in me was telling me that although the timing might not be perfect, it was not gonna get any better than this.
So, I’m going for it.
As you can see, leaving the day job to work full time as a writer was calculated, but at the same time a huge leap of faith. Only time will tell if the risks were worth it.
HEY, MIND READERS!!!! Here’s what I’m thinking…
I know we’re getting super excited to see what happens next in Lexi’s, Jack’s, and Jonas’s lives. I’m also working very hard on the back cover blurb in order to tell you guys what MINDSURGE is even about.
Mindsurge is due out in October. I’m pretty much thinking October 1 (YAYAYAYAYAYAY). Preorder buttons will be up on Amazon and iTunes very soon! What if I send you a little something-something in the form of Chapter 1 early next week?
Yep, that’s what I’ll do. Newsletter subscribers will get Chapter 1 on Monday. If that goes well, maybe I’ll send out another chapter each week until the book releases. What do you think about that?
P.S. You might want to sign up for the newsletter if you want in on this. Click on the link or simply complete the form below.
A few months ago, Passive Guy posted “Indie Authors Quitting Their Day Jobs” on his blog asking for anecdotal evidence to what Hugh Howey and Data Guy claim to be true in their Author Earnings reports: More and more Indie authors are quitting their day jobs to write full-time every day. The response to the post was incredible. The comments are filled with stories of authors who are earning enough to quit their day jobs or are planning to quit their day jobs in the near future.
Some commenters talk of success stories. Some share how they did it. There are also some warnings throughout the comments. Some share that they had to take a pay cut or how life hasn’t been easy writing full-time. Some share that they’re happier than they’ve ever been in their lives despite a pay cut.
One thing is certain from studying the comments. Life is not always certain. Indie writing and publishing is not a quick fix for escaping an 8 to 5 job you hate. Indie publishing is not easy. It is most certainly not a sure thing.
However, the success stories in the comments are inspiring, and what I loved most about the stories is that no two stories are the same.
My story is different from the other commenters. Your story will be different from mine.
But the bottom line is this:
Quitting your day job to write full-time is possible, and I am proof.
Tomorrow is my last official day at the corporate job working as a CPA for a large public accounting firm. I’m making the leap into writing and running my own indie publishing business, and I plan to tell you all about it.
I’m officially an authorpreneur. (I find authorpreneur to be a really odd word. I’m not sure who came up with that word, but it definitely fits me.)
What happens now?
So, here’s the deal. My main job now that I am a full-time author is to write more books. I plan to have a more aggressive publishing schedule. You can read about the novels I have planned here.
But I also want to give back and help you reach your dreams, whatever they might be. I’ve worked in the corporate world as an accountant for twenty years. In the coming days, weeks, months, I plan to share some of my thoughts about changing careers, and how I’m using my past business experience to try to succeed going forward. It will be fun! I promise!
Also, I have a high schooler who dreams of becoming a writer. I know that if I had expressed interest in such a career when I was in high school, my parents would have said, “Absolutely not!” They would have encouraged me to get a “real” and paying job first. Sometimes, those closest to us are not our biggest cheerleaders. We’ll talk about this.
I plan to be as open as I can be about this big decision and the thought-process and planning that went into finally making the leap. It has not been easy, and I fear the roads ahead might have potholes in them as well. We’ll work our way around those.
I’d love to hear from you! What kinds of questions do you ask yourself about making such a decision? What questions do you have for me? Do you have a success story you’d like to share? Or maybe you have a word of warning that you’ve learned from your own experience of jumping too soon. Let us know in the comments.
Coming this October!!!
Be sure to add Mindsurge to your To Read list on Goodreads.