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RobertEvert
12-19-2012, 10:00 PM
I feel like dreaming....

For those of you who have made writing your profession, could you tell us about the moment you realized that you could quit your day job?

For example, Stephen King talks about getting the phone call from his agent and making his agent repeat (over and over) the amount of money his first book was making. I believe he was living in a trailer at the time and working in a laundry mat.

I'd love to hear your moments of success!!

ghost
12-19-2012, 11:51 PM
I was lucky. I signed my book deal two weeks before my contract ended with my job.

So I didn't have to quit my day job. The satisfaction was knowing I didn't have to run out and find another.

Stanhy59
12-20-2012, 03:09 AM
I guess I am lucky in that I don't really want to quit my day job (it's actually a cool gig), more like I would love to have writing fiction at least be some sort of second job.

Which leads me to a question I have had, that ghost reminded me of. Is there any way of finding out what kind of pay ranges that authors make? I don't know if there is a resource out there I haven't found yet? We all know the Stephen King and J.K. Rowling ranges. I'm interested in the bread and butter authors of fiction, and what the low to high scale would be.

Ken
12-20-2012, 03:44 AM
Which leads me to a question I have had, that ghost reminded me of. Is there any way of finding out what kind of pay ranges that authors make? I don't know if there is a resource out there I haven't found yet? We all know the Stephen King and J.K. Rowling ranges. I'm interested in the bread and butter authors of fiction, and what the low to high scale would be.

... my guess is around 10K. Making a living at writing is really difficult. It can be done. But not often. A stat on how many authors are earning $25,000 or more, yearly, might give a more accurate picture of how writing stacks up from an economic perspective. (No one should be discouraged of course. Money isn't everything. And stats also pertain to groups; not individuals.)

ChristinaLayton
12-20-2012, 04:05 PM
... my guess is around 10K. Making a living at writing is really difficult. It can be done. But not often. A stat on how many authors are earning $25,000 or more, yearly, might give a more accurate picture of how writing stacks up from an economic perspective. (No one should be discouraged of course. Money isn't everything. And stats also pertain to groups; not individuals.)


This.


I would never quit my day job (If I had one) for writing. For one I don't know if I'm going to be as successful as Stephen King or JK Rowling, which is very unlikely, more like impossible, because you don't see many authors today being as successful as they are, and like Ken said, living off of writing is very difficult. I've always been a full-time writer, but when i get my day job, writing will become a hobby to me, entertainment. I believe when you got a job that pays your bills and puts food on the table, you should never quit it by playing the guessing game with your writing. This is not as glamorous as it seems, much like the music business. People think they got it made when they sign recording contracts, but all that glamour and wonderfulness is only on the outside. Any celebrity can tell you. It's not all fun and games. It's more pain than gain, honestly. Writers, same thing. We can't count how many writers have believed they were going to be the next thing and failed miserably. I don't know what Stephen and JK's secret is, because there are writers out there that are just as talented (in my opinion) and they still haven't made even a tenth of what these two make.

Just my 2 cents.
Christina.

NeuroFizz
12-20-2012, 05:13 PM
It's not just the income, but also the benefits--medical, dental, and optical plans, retirement plans, college plans for the kids, taxes. Things like that. And it will depend on a number of factors: age, marital status, dependent children, supporting spouse (with the benefits mentioned above), dependent relatives, current debt load, current and desired standard of living.

randi.lee
12-20-2012, 06:02 PM
I guess I am lucky in that I don't really want to quit my day job (it's actually a cool gig), more like I would love to have writing fiction at least be some sort of second job.

Same here. I love my day job. Unless it becomes too stressful to do both, I'm sticking with my company.

Jamesaritchie
12-20-2012, 06:38 PM
I quit my day job when the check for my first short story showed up. It was for a bit more than my crappy day paid in a month, so I said what the heck. The nice thing about having a crappy, low-paying, going nowhere job is that it's easy to walk away. It worked out fine.

I think earning a living as a writer is only difficult on a percentage basis. Thousands earn a living as writers. Millions do not. But averages mean nothing, and percentages mean nothing.

The only thing that matters is how well an individual writes, how often he sits down to write, and how much business sense he has. If you write well enough, write often enough, and understand that earning a living as a writer means you're now a self-employed businessperson, it's no tougher earning a living as a writer than it is earning a living at any other small business.

Jamesaritchie
12-20-2012, 07:00 PM
Is there any way of finding out what kind of pay ranges that authors make? I don't know if there is a resource out there I haven't found yet? We all know the Stephen King and J.K. Rowling ranges. I'm interested in the bread and butter authors of fiction, and what the low to high scale would be.

I don't even know how such a resource would be possible. Pay ranges for selling writers start at a couple of thousand per year, and go up to a hundred million per year.

Pay is different for every writer. It depends on how well you write, how often you write, what you're willing to write, how well you understand the business, etc.

I think a better question is how much money do you have to make before taking the chance, and exactly what kind of day job are you giving up? I quit my day job based on a check for $450, which, at the time, was just over one month of minimum wage income. But I didn't take a chance. I could have replaced my day job in ten minutes just by walking down the street. If you're living on minimum wage, and with no benefits, quitting is easy.

If you have a 60K per year job with great benefits, walking away is a lot tougher.

Decide how much money you need to live on, and then double it. You need to make twice as much when you're self-employed because you have to pay for everything yourself, including insurance, you have to pay twice as much SS, and you have to give your agent fifteen percent.

Once you get six months income in the bank, all of it made through writing, I think you're ready to go full-time. Until then, I wouldn't do it unless, as in my case, you have a job you can replace in ten minutes.

Susan Littlefield
12-20-2012, 07:30 PM
I don't think I would abandon my career for writing. I love the type of work I do as a paralegal. I get to write, write, write, research, organize, and do all kinds of things other paralegals in my profession do not get to do.

I would like writing to be a small side-business. If it's a full-time business, I would be self-employed and I don't think I want that at this juncture.

Carlene
12-20-2012, 07:39 PM
Comparing making money writing my husband, (he's the smart one - I'm the pretty one), compared writing to acting. He said there are a very few at the top who make LOTS of money - the rest are waiters.

Phaeal
12-20-2012, 07:57 PM
It's not just the income, but also the benefits--medical, dental, and optical plans, retirement plans, college plans for the kids, taxes. Things like that. And it will depend on a number of factors: age, marital status, dependent children, supporting spouse (with the benefits mentioned above), dependent relatives, current debt load, current and desired standard of living.

So totally this. And I look at it this way, my writing money can now sit in the bank until I decide what shiny things to spend it on, instead of being "wasted" on the mundanities, like, oh, bills and taxes and food and heat, etc.

:D

Jamesaritchie
12-20-2012, 09:07 PM
Comparing making money writing my husband, (he's the smart one - I'm the pretty one), compared writing to acting. He said there are a very few at the top who make LOTS of money - the rest are waiters.

What about all those actors you see on commercials? I know two who do this, and they don't make LOTS of money, but they do earn a living.

But thousands and thousands of writers earn a living without being rich. The two professions really have little in common.

Jamesaritchie
12-20-2012, 09:11 PM
It's not just the income, but also the benefits--medical, dental, and optical plans, retirement plans, college plans for the kids, taxes. Things like that. And it will depend on a number of factors: age, marital status, dependent children, supporting spouse (with the benefits mentioned above), dependent relatives, current debt load, current and desired standard of living.

Yeah, those all matter, but millions are already living without medical, dental, optical, or retirement plans.

But, yeah, it all depends on age, health, dependents, current income, etc.

I will, however, say that very few really successful people I've known gave a damn about any of these things when making a decision. As Bradbury said, sometimes you do have to jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down. Safety first can lead to a good life, but seldom to an exceptional one.

Phaeal
12-20-2012, 09:59 PM
Yeah, those all matter, but millions are already living without medical, dental, optical, or retirement plans.

Speaking as someone who must daily turn away people because they have no insurance or the kind of insurance that you can buy for yourself on a limited income, I would say this is nothing to shrug off.

Calla Lily
12-20-2012, 10:04 PM
I happen to give a huge honking damn about medical insurance, paying the mortgage and power bills, and feeding and clothing my family.

I write better when I'm *not* worried where my kids' next meal is coming from or whether I'd be able to afford a doctor visit should they get sick.

I'm not as successful as many authors I know, but I agreed to certain responsibilities when I got married and had kids. I like to keep my promises.

Mr Flibble
12-20-2012, 10:08 PM
I don't have to worry about health insurance, medical bills, dental (or much - a check up and treatments are pretty cheap cos it's subsidised). The joys of a national health system! :) My retirement plan is not linked to my job.

Also I only work part time. I've been considering jacking it in (it's a replaceable job, like James said). One more thing to get into place first, then I'm outta there. Will it be for good? Who knows. Maybe only for a year or two. But that one last thing, and then I'm probably going to give it a go.

Jamesaritchie
12-21-2012, 12:14 AM
Speaking as someone who must daily turn away people because they have no insurance or the kind of insurance that you can buy for yourself on a limited income, I would say this is nothing to shrug off.

No, but fear stops far more than lack of talent. So many just assume they're going to fail, assume they'll have so little money they can't afford to pay the bills or buy insurance, are so afraid of taking a chance that they die still doing little more than making ends meet. That's a poor way to live. This would scare me far more than taking a chance.

The plain fact is that very few people are doing anything more than living hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, even if they have health insurance, and all sorts of other benefits. One little disaster, one crack in the economic dam, one emergency they didn't count on, and they're worse off than any writer who takes a chance.

I'd rather take a chance while the taking is good than to wait to long and be stuck living on social security.

And it really doesn't take very much money to buy excellent private health insurance.

It's been my experience that the great majority of people fall into one of two groups: Those who have so much money they don't need to take a chance, and those who have so little they can't afford not to take a chance, if they ever want to do more than work for someone else for forty years, and then retire on peanuts.

And I don't think many would just drop everything, but if you can take a chance, if you can earn six months income just from writing, it's really not that much of a chance.

Employable people do not stop being employable because they take a chance. Smart people stay smart, wise people stay wise, hard-working people stay hard0working, and there's a severe shortage of smart, wise, hard-working people in the work force.

Successful people take chances. If they fail, they take another chance. Sooner or later, they succeed.

thethinker42
12-21-2012, 12:25 AM
In my case, I didn't have a moment where I realized I could *quit* my day job. I had a moment where I realized I didn't need to *find* a day job.

I moved overseas in 2008 because of my husband's military orders. Naturally, I had to quit my job to do that. When I got there, I couldn't find anything, so my husband and I agreed I'd write full-time and see if I could make it work as a career.

In late 2011, we moved back to the States, and my income for that year was comparable to my last day job, so we agreed to see how 2012 went, but I didn't have to look for a job once we were settled into our current location.

In 2012, my income was triple what it's ever been with any job I've ever had. We have benefits via the military, and I'm not qualified for any job or career field where I could make anywhere close to this much, so basically, I'd be stupid to give this up for a day job. The moment I realized that? Coolest. Feeling. EVER. :)

Mara
12-21-2012, 12:32 AM
I'm unemployed, sometimes afraid I'm unemployable, and am a pretty good writer who is still fighting to overcome some pretty major emotional damage that's really cut into my self-esteem. So, writing is a pretty good option for me, I guess, since I don't have a lot of other ones right now.

If there was an option, though? I'd probably take it. I'd rather have security right now.

EDIT:
If you can't tell, I'm kinda desperate to make this work. So, seeing people who aren't Stephen King talking about being able to make a living off of it is kinda helping. Thanks.

Calla Lily
12-21-2012, 12:33 AM
James, I take all kinds of chances with my craft: writing in different genres, subbing to big markets because I'm starting at the top, pushing my creative limits. But I will not gamble with my responsibilities to my family.

I don't know where you live, but in NYS getting any kind of private health insurance is ruinous. And if you have even the mildest of pre-existing conditions, forget it.

Susan Littlefield
12-21-2012, 12:45 AM
In California, health insurance whether private or from your employer, is outrageously expensive. If you don't have insurance, good luck on getting a doctor.

My insurance is okay, I don't have retirement via my job, but I work with a great group of people and use my writing skills every single day at work.

Jumping off a cliff does not necessarily mean quitting that day job, it might be taking other creative chances. It could mean writing something you've never written before, sacrificing something else in order to sit down and write, anything.

blacbird
12-21-2012, 02:14 AM
And it really doesn't take very much money to buy excellent private health insurance.

Is your planet in the same solar system as the one on which the rest of us reside?

caw

RobertEvert
12-21-2012, 06:40 AM
It's not just the income, but also the benefits--medical, dental, and optical plans, retirement plans, college plans for the kids, taxes. Things like that. And it will depend on a number of factors: age, marital status, dependent children, supporting spouse (with the benefits mentioned above), dependent relatives, current debt load, current and desired standard of living.

Very true. The medical insurance alone...in the US at least...is worth going into the office a few times a week.

Beachgirl
12-21-2012, 07:53 AM
I feel like dreaming....



Be careful what you dream about.

I used to dream about writing full time, right up until my very well-paying, hard to replace day job was eliminated and it became a reality. Unless you're one of the very few authors who hit it big, full-time writers worry about the same things most self-employed people worry about. Things like health insurance, taxes, and paying bills.

And writing full-time is still a job. I now sit in front of my netbook for 10 hours a day instead of sitting in an office. Granted, now I choose where my office is going to be each day (and some days it's at the beach, just because I can), but it's still work. If I don't write, I don't get paid. And I, like most writers, really like getting paid.

slhuang
12-21-2012, 08:42 AM
I don't write as a living, but I do work in Hollywood. I've never had a traditional day job, but when I first got started I had day-job-gigs I didn't want to be spending all my time on, and the way I realized I didn't need them anymore was that I ran out of time to do them. It's a metric that worked for me!

I do pay through the nose for my health insurance though, and it's been a nightmare. And judging from the number of views a blog post of mine about the difficulties of getting health insurance as a freelancer got, a lot of people feel the same way. For some people it's not bad, but in the U.S. it's heavily dependent on the state you live in and the condition of your individual health. So do take it into consideration.

GrouchPotato
12-21-2012, 09:09 AM
Many years ago I read that earning a living as a writer (in the U.S.) is less likely than earning a living as a gambler.

I was able to make a career as a freelance writer but only because my wife and I also made a career, so to speak, of living within our very limited means. When I've taught writing, the first pearl of hard-earned wisdom that I share is, "learn to cook, because you won't be eating out".

I am in awe of housewives who write bestselling novels in between doing the laundry and sending the kids off to school. My best work requires my total and constant attention. When I'm in full creative gear I have no social life or other distractions. This would be impossible if my wife didn't help by answering the phone, fending off friends, and acting as my beta reader.

Needless to say, we don't have kids.

Is it worth it?

Yes, at least it has been for us.

Calle Jay
12-21-2012, 09:56 PM
While I'm by far not a huge 'success', I do make my living as a writer and have since Oct. 2011.

It's not easy, by any means, nor is it impossible, though. Now that I have to look at my passion as my way of helping pay our family's bills there is added pressure. I have to sit down four days a week and generate a product for the market. It almost requires two different mindsets working simultaneously. One=artist, two=businesswoman.

I didn't have a 'can quit' moment, either. It was more like 'our kid has allergies so severe she can't be a in daycare situation safely' OMG moment and I had to find a way to make my talents pay. I got very, very lucky (and have a very supportive DH who works hard and carries the insurance/benefits).

I also worked my tail off from Jan 2011 until that day in Oct ten months later. And I still work my tail off. I probably always will.

Phaeal
12-21-2012, 10:48 PM
No, but fear stops far more than lack of talent. So many just assume they're going to fail, assume they'll have so little money they can't afford to pay the bills or buy insurance, are so afraid of taking a chance that they die still doing little more than making ends meet. That's a poor way to live. This would scare me far more than taking a chance.

Depending on the individual's circumstances, this attitude could range from the romantic to the irresponsible.

Besides, holding a decent job while writing doesn't mean you're not taking a chance. Whatever time you spend writing is time you could have spent making money or enjoying life in another way -- you're betting that time will lead to publication and income.

In other words, we all take chances, and we all weigh the odds according to our situations. To accept the possibility of failure is not dismiss the possibility of success. It's not an act of cowardice to provide for all contingencies. It's an act of good sense.