It's been an interesting four months since I left my job.
Has it been worth it? Yes, and no.
First and foremost, there's the whole OMFG I fucking did it factor. A lot of people dream about taking time off to pursue their passion, but very few do. That takes balls and now I know that I have a rather healthy pair. I can go through life with a level of confidence I didn't have before. I believed in myself and it worked out fine.
I also got a lot of writing done and had ample time to get up to speed on the industry very quickly. Sales are improved and stable. Based on my sales rank, I'm moving around six-eight titles a day, which is a massive improvement to when the book launched. Reviews are trickling in and they're good. I wrote a good book that won't be a cause for embarrassment later.
I achieved a lifelong dream. Go me. I didn't plan on it, but I laid the foundation over the last decade. Any time I was unhappy at work, I chucked more money into savings. It's like a swear jar for worker complaints.
But writing is a lot like gardening. Most of the time you do something and then you wait. And wait. When sales are low, it can get pretty boring. Plus, I only have one plant in my garden (I like to think of it as a tomato). There's only so much you can do in a single day. At first it seemed overwhelming but now that I have the hang of social media and a working knowledge of the industry, it's not that much work.
To put it quite simply, it's not a full time job... Not yet, anyway.
The creativity aspect is great but the business side is kind of basic for someone who's used to the fast paced world of corporate life. When a pastime becomes a vocation, you start to need other hobbies.
The income isn't stellar, to be perfectly honest. I'm performing way better than most indie published books and from where I started (no marketing, no fan base) my numbers look great. But this is a very, very competitive business. It's not just other authors-- customers have tons of options when it comes to what they do with their free time (Netflix, video games, Facebook... It's not just books).
So I'm going back to work.
I've accepted an offer to work two days a week, doing reporting stuff at a company that makes a very fun product. That will take care of the money, plug any unsightly gaps in my resume and get me out of the house. It seems like a win-win for everyone.
And I never hated what I did for a living, it's just the parts of the job I liked weren't the core responsibilities. This new gig is everything I love. I enjoy coding and building things just as much as I like writing books. The most important thing to keep in mind is if what you're doing matters. My book matters, but I can do more.
It's not an either or proposition. I wrote my first novel in my spare time. It's totally doable if you commit to it. Going full time was the right for me at the time. I'd hit a wall with my last career and, seeing what was on the other side, didn't particularly care to scale it. I had a book and some savings so, whatever-- I went for it.
I'm glad I did.
In the end, though, I'd recommend new authors on waiting to pull the trigger on quitting their day job entirely. If you can stick it out, save whatever you can till you hit a
- It's 99.999% likely you won't make money off the bat. The money happens, but you need to think in terms of rate of return vs. return on investment. The first book is a sunk cost for most authors. But if you indie publish it's a potential stream of income for life.
- Writing full time is not that interesting. I compared it to gardening and I think that's an apt analogy. I'm not a gardener. You need to be out in the world, meeting new people, broadening your experiences.
Again, it was the right choice for me at the time. Just as it's the right choice to go back to work part time. Getting old, in general, sucks (And 40 may be the new 30 but it is not youth). But the one thing I absolutely love about being experienced and established is the ability to do whatever I want.
So live your dreams. Life does get better if you plan ahead. 🙂
Mike bode is the author of The Queen of Lies, the first installment in the ongoing series, Architects of the Grand Design. His next book comes out October. Sign up for the mailing list for more info. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest . (You can also follow him on Goodreads and even Amazon)