Monday, 31 December 2018

Being A Writer Full-Time - The Creative Process


BEING A WRITER FULL TIME

I've been asked about this before and wanted to do a whole piece on it as it seems to be something a lot of people want to know about. Firstly, a little background. I have been writing since I was 19, when I was retired from the working world on medical grounds. I was first published at 23 and started getting more serious about writing in 2011. I have now written over 24 books, and have 13 released with 3 more coming in 2019. I am a full-time writer in that I am unable to hold down any other job, and it's the only thing I can do.

With all that covered, I need to be honest and say that the bulk of my income does not come from book sales. I am not full-time because I made it as an author, but because of my disabilities and health conditions that prevent me from working a different kind of job. So a lot of my advice is going to be taking that into account and on top of that, comes from a place of someone who is very much a small fish in the writing world.

So, how do you know when it's time to quit the day job and become a writer full time? I wouldn't know, I also wouldn't advise that anyone follow the advice of someone who doesn't do that. I did however want to touch on the fact that the majority of writers don't make it to the point where they don't have to work a second job, or a main job, or have a partner who is able to provide for them. The norm as an author is to be juggling writing with everything else. And that's completely okay. Taking all that into account, I can give you a few ideas about what it's like to write full-time and how to maybe judge whether you're in that kind of circumstance yourself.

#1 - BILLS NEED TO BE PAID

This is, sadly, a fact of life for everyone. Some people have it easier than others, but the majority struggle with bills. If you're writing and your income isn't enough to meet your bills, then you're probably not going to be able to quit that day job and focus on your writing 24/7. However, one of the benefits of doing both is that you are getting some income from your books, along with some outgoings because of marketing and the like. The way I've heard it told, the majority of authors will only use the royalties they make to pour back into marketing and this allows them some wiggle room. That way they don't have to worry about spending a huge chunk of money they need elsewhere. Personally, I do this. The royalties from my books go into advertising and ARC copies and all the rest. It's the only way to make sure I have enough for my bills and for my writing.

#2 - ALLOW YOURSELF SOME BREATHING ROOM
Writing and books are something that fluctuates. One month you may make a lot and then the next you make half that, or nothing at all. And that's a big problem when it comes to the whole doing only writing. If you're not relying on that income for things like food and bills, then that gives you a lot of breathing room. Personally, doing it this way allows for me to not get super anxious when my sales are low at the middle or end of the month. On top of that you get royalties (as an indie author, I can't speak for traditional) two months behind, so things take time to get to you. If you have an amazing month, you're not going to see that money for two months.

#3 - BOOKS, BOOKS AND MORE BOOKS
Part of being an author is writing books. Along with writing comes the cost of editing, covers, publishing and the like. While a lot of people will say that the more books you have out there, the better you're going to do, not everyone writes at the same pace, which is more than fine. I write fast yes, but I also had a long time to garner up a back-list which helps me stay afloat. It also helps me pay for editing and covers and all of that stuff that comes along with a release. While I will be releasing three books in 2019, it's only going to be that way because I'd budgeted for that. Otherwise it would be completely beyond my reach.

So those are my three points. These are, I feel, pretty obvious and while I'm not someone who makes a huge amount, nor lives off the royalties, I do want to add a caveat. You are the best person who can decide what you need to be making before you're ready to start doing this full-time, and it's not common for that to happen. A lot of the other writers I know who do work full-time as an author are either very popular and a rarity or are, like me, disabled or have a partner who makes enough for them to not work. It's the dream for so many, but be careful with how you go about it. Just because you're not there, doesn't make you a failure and if you never get there, that's okay too. Just look after yourself. That's the important thing.


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