Posts Tagged ‘finances’

Four things authors wish their friends and family knew

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

I’m now nearing the end of my third month as a published YA author, and I’m realizing that there are a few things that I, along with many of my author friends, wish my friends and family knew:

1. We’re not ignoring you.

The writing life consists of several phases, one of which I call the Manic Phase. During this time period, we’re so caught up in meeting deadlines and/or racing from event to event that we simply don’t have time to go out for coffee. Or chat on the phone. Or even answer your emails. We don’t want to ignore you, we just don’t have a choice. We can’t wait for things to slow down so we can give you the attention you deserve.

2. Don’t tell us you loved our book. 

Well, actually do tell us you loved our book – we thrive on positive feedback. But don’t stop there. If you really want to help us, please tell other people you loved it, too. Facebook it, tweet it, review it on Amazon and/or Goodreads, shout it from the rooftops!

3. Don’t ask us how sales are going.

Casually asking us how sales are going is like asking a terminal cancer patient, “So, how many days you got left?” In most cases, we don’t know exactly how many books we’ve sold. Unless we’ve made it onto the New York Times bestseller list, in which case, we’d let you know. If sales aren’t going well, answering that question is just, well…awkward. A better question might be, “So, are you having fun writing your next book?”

4. We appreciate you!

We know we don’t say it often enough, but we appreciate you. Thank you for supporting us in reaching our dreams and loving us through the great times and the crazy times. We couldn’t have done it without you!

 

How do you know when to quit the day job?

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Some of The Elevensies were having a discussion last week about whether it’s smart or even possible for a YA or MG author to quit his or her day job. Of course I’ve fantasized about being a full time writer, so the question interested me enough that I did some research.

Overall, the consensus among the sources I looked at was: DON’T DO IT! Most writers/bloggers/financial advisors say that, given the feast-or-famine nature of writing income, it’s probably not a wise move – unless you’re J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer.

I did find some interesting perspectives, though. Jeff Yeager, in an article titled “10 Questions Writers Must Ask Before Quitting Their Day Job” in the June 2009 issue of Writer’s Digest, opens by saying that he believes if he hadn’t devoted all his time to writing, revising and promoting his first book, it wouldn’t have been successful. I think this is the fear that many writers, myself included, live with: Will my need for a reliable, steady income undermine the possibility of having a breakout success? It’s difficult to know for sure.

Patrick Alan, the self-proclaimed “Money Writer,” reminds readers of his blog that because there is no monthly paycheck you can depend on, writing is actually a business, not a job, and that you need to have the temperament for running a business – including the ability to make an advance or royalty payment last over a number of years – in order to make a full time writing career successful. And from his perspective, the question isn’t just how much you need to make, it’s how much you spend.

I was surprised to learn, via a post on kidlit.com, that only 3-5% of published writers make a living on advance and royalty income alone. But the post also pointed out that many writers make careers using a mix of writing-related pursuits: writing, teaching classes and workshops, freelancing, editing, etc. The post’s author advocates writers setting up such multiple income streams to cover your financial bases.

Another question that popped up in my research, and one I’ve been asking myself, is “Do you really want to write full time?” It’s easy to have an idealistic view of the perfect writerly day, where you sit at your computer in p.j.s, drinking coffee and exuding inspiration. But the truth is that a life that’s just about writing can get isolating and crazymaking – not to mention sedentary. I think that even if I were able to quit my jobs as a dance and Pilates instructor, I might not. I’d cut back, certainly, but I would miss the interactions with people, the chance to move my body on a daily basis, and the opportunity to fill my well with the story ideas that being out in the world generates.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any definitive answers. It seems there is no magic formula for knowing when you can quit your day job. I guess you just have to look at how much you expect to make from your writing, how much you need to spend to live tolerably, if not comfortably, what other income streams you have in case of slow times, how comfortable you are taking risks with your livelihood, and how much you really want to write full time. If you take that all into consideration and still want to make the plunge, go for it! Sad to say, I won’t be joining you.