For many authors, quitting their day job and supporting themselves through their book writing is a tempting dream. No more boss, all the time in the world to write and the ability to set your own schedule sound like the ideal way to live. Full-time authors know this isn't quite the case, but there are real benefits to being able to work exclusively on your own projects. Before you decide to take the plunge, here are some of the more important topics you should consider.
There are no guarantees in the book world, and even a bestselling book won't pay off for at least a few months. Publishing companies always hold back funds before cutting checks or making deposits into authors' PayPal accounts. Do you have enough money to live on until then? Most experts advise at least six months' worth of expenses in the bank before leaving your current job.
Do you have affordable insurance? That means affordable in your new lifestyle, where you have a variable income. If you have a spouse who can cover you through his/her work, that's ideal. Otherwise, look carefully at the options. One broken bone or unexpected illness can set you back years without proper planning.
Almost every self-employed person has more than one source of income. It makes sense, when you're planning an enterprise that won't pay you a penny for at least two months, to have some sort of income in the meantime. Set up a side gig you can do in your down time, something that refreshes the creative side of your brain. Create simple book covers on Fiverr, sign up to be a driver for Uber or Lyft or find some private clients for copywriting work. It might not be enough money to live on, but adding even $100 a week can make your savings last a few months longer.
Do you have a comfortable place to work in? You might get away with writing at the local coffee shop or balancing your laptop on your lap on the couch for a couple of hours on the weekend. Your writing environment is key to getting the work done. Working eight, ten, or even twelve hours a day requires a sensible work setup including a desk, a good chair and great lighting. Make sure you're happy where you're living right now, too. You won't be able to afford to move for the next few years, in all likelihood.
Are you really cut out for the self-employment lifestyle? Because make no mistake, being a working author is being self-employed and running a business. Are you a procrastinator? You can't afford to be. If you don't write every day your books won't get finished. Your readers will give up on you and you'll have to begin your marketing all over again. A writing career is a long-term prospect, and it has to be nurtured constantly if it's going to grow and sustain an author.
Do you have a five-year plan? A ten-year plan? Serious authors know exactly what books they're going to write five, six or more years down the road. They have a complex roadmap that shows exactly how their career is going to progress.
Do you like book marketing? How about social media? If your income is going to depend on the income from your books, you'd better learn to like them. Every author, whether bestseller or first-timer, has to work at marketing their book. It's a process that never ends, and there's always something new to learn. Get used to taking online classes and brushing up on skills a couple of times a year.
What's your plan for human interaction? No matter how much of an introvert you might be, you'll need some human interaction eventually. Most authors get a lot of their human contact through writer's groups online, but that only goes so far. Put a social circle in place before you leave your job for good. It can be something as simple as a group that meets for coffee once a week or a monthly craft club, but it's important that you see other human beings on a regular basis.
The writing world is unpredictable. Little books with no hope become bestsellers and the best-written novels lay dormant on virtual shelves. If you do everything right, it's still possible that you won't make enough money to live on. That doesn't mean you have to give up on your dream. It just means you should have a Plan B, an alternate source of income you can rely on, in case the books don't sell as well as you'd hoped in the beginning. It's not failure, it's just a readjustment. You can always do it again, that's the beauty of being self-employed. You'll always hire yourself back.
Keep the Faith and may the Force be with You!