Publishing Fear Freeself-publishing

Full-time Writing

All in.
All in.

When I decided to self-publish my first novel Charlotte Collins, it was with the intention of proving that a market for such a book existed in order to earn a traditional publishing contract. You can read about the details here and here.

I soon discovered the possibilities of continuing to self-publish, and for a while, I worked as a freelance editor while also writing and publishing my own novels. This was difficult, and I worked almost all the time. So in August 2011, after the successful launches of Charlotte Collins and Absolute Liability, I decided it was time to go all in. I terminated my editing contract and began turning down freelance offers. I decided to try to live off my writing.

And I haven’t looked back since. The decision to become a full-time writer was easy for me to make because I had been living off the crazy fluctuations of freelance editing work for twelve years, and my husband had a steady paycheck in case I made a huge mistake. But over all, I knew what to expect, and I was 100 percent committed to writing and earning a living.

Today, I sold my 75,000th book. I still cannot wrap my mind around that number. I honestly cannot believe I have the opportunity to share my books with so many people, and I have loved getting to know readers, writers, and bloggers from the book world. In addition, my historical fiction novels are (or soon will be) published in France. FRANCE! Again, unbelievable. Absolute Liability made the Amazon Kindle Best Seller list for 8 weeks and the Indie Reader Best Seller list for 3. Crazy! I am so lucky to live at a time when publishing is expanding as it is.

Thinking about becoming a full-time writer? Here are some aspects to consider:

  • Sales fluctuate, and that means paychecks also fluctuate. Sometimes, it’s a boom or bust cycle, and you have to be prepared to deal with wild changes in monthly income. Just because you earn well one month does not mean you can automatically expect the same results the next. Budgeting is important.
  • Be serious. If you are thinking of being a full-time writer, it’s likely you are already serious about your career. You are self-motivated. Keep it up.
  • Continue to invest in your business. That means hire professionals to edit, proof, and create covers. Make your product as good as you possibly can.
  • Keep writing. Based on some anecdotal evidence and my own experience, one new book every six months keeps your name in people’s minds. Allowing too much time to pass means you have to work harder to regain your readership, especially if you are writing a series.
  • Diversify. I’m a big believer in writing in multiple genres because you can cross promote and bring readers to new genres. Plus, it keeps your writing from getting stale.
  • Experiment. Try new advertising venues and sales platforms. And experiment with your writing too. The greatest aspect of indie pubbing is the freedom to do write what you want. Don’t allow yourself to follow the crowd. Write what you love.

9 thoughts on “Full-time Writing

  1. 75,000??? WOW! That is amazing, Jennifer. Serious congratulations. 🙂

    The boom/bust cycle is probably the most important thing to keep in mind. Unfortunately, I’m quitting my day job at just the wrong time in the cycle–mid-July. July’s checks will probably be okay, but they go downhill rapidly after that. My next book is out in October, so my December check should rebound. However, that means I’m starting out with three lean months… months in which I’m traveling.

    Good timing? Not really, but it’s the way it worked out. Because I know these things, I’m working hard right now to save as much as I can so I’ve got money leftover come July.

    I’m also working hard at mixing up the marketing tactics, but you know about that…

    1. Congratulations on your decision! I suspected it might be coming soon. I’m so happy for you! There’s no perfect time to take the plunge, and just the fact that you know about the boom/bust issue will help make you successful even if you are getting out in a lean time. Now, about that novel full of horses….did you read the post below?

  2. I am thrilled beyond words for you. You have worked so hard to school yourself in this business, and you deserve every ounce of success you’ve achieved thus far. I continue to expect great things from you and celebrate every milestone!

    1. Kelley, I am eager to read your books, but if you decide to write full time, I reserve the right to continue our editorial swapping!

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