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How soon after signing did you quit?

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by SeverinR, Sep 17, 2013.

  1. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    Sanderson lecture 7 a success story: He asks the guest how soon after signing her book contract did she quit her job?

    I heard most authors aren't able to live solely on book profits. So to promote the book you have to quit your job, but will have to find a new job after you settle down from the book promotion?

    Is this what authors do?
  2. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    Not the smart ones, I should think. Quitting a job you've held for who knows how long to promote a book seems pretty boneheaded. You found the time to write it while working - you can find the time to promote it, too.
    T.Allen.Smith likes this.
  3. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    Thats what I had heard from the LA that spoke at our library, and kind of what I've heard less then blockbuster writers but was shocked to hear that.
    Maybe she didn't have a "good" job. She was twenty-ish so maybe not much time with the company.
  4. Ayaka Di'rutia

    Ayaka Di'rutia Troubadour

    Based on what royalties you get from traditional and self-publishing, it's highly doubtful you can make a stable living off of writing stories alone (unfortunately). So unless you're an extremely popular author, I would keep the day job :)
  5. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    If she signed a contract, and was listed as a success story, are you sure she went back to her job?
  6. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    I think people who quit their day job after signing a book deal may have several factors that come into play:

    1. They'd been looking for a reason to quit the job for a long time anyway.
    2. They have a significant other that is working that can support them.
    3. They weren't really working a full-time, pension collecting job anyway.
    4. Their advance is a significant amount of money that they feel would be enough to live on. (A lot of writers are pretty frugal.)

    These are just some reasons when quitting a day job isn't necessarily a life-wrecking move. However, I'd say if you signed like a 3 book deal for a crapload of money, then OK, quit your job. But if you signed with an indie publisher, then maybe it's best to keep working.
  7. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    If you have been with a company for 10 yrs, have a good potential retirement plan, and quiting means you start back working odd hours and weekend, I don't think you will quit without a good reason. (Multi-book contracts could be one)
  8. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    I had to quit my job when my second son was born because I couldn't afford daycare... (I made $24k a year, daycare for two kids costs $12k a year...)

    So... If she's in her 20's... it's likely her "job" was not a career. That, and probably, no one advised her to promote her book full-time, she might have jumped at the chance (perhaps feeling a little self-important?).

    I can't see a person with an established career, leaving their livelihood for art (which notoriously blows so hot and cold). I think we all know in this economic clime, career suicide might as well be financial suicide.

    I'm pretty much unemployable now. Even if I COULD go back to work. Who would hire me? I've never gone to college, never had a job longer than two years, and have stayed home, technically unemployed, for five years. Not exactly a shining resume, is it? I might as well hand in a blank piece of paper.

    If she quit her job, I bet it was like, as a cashier or something. I'd quit that on a whim too.. oh, wait, I HAVE!!! :)
  9. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    Caged, I think you're selling yourself short. You've got experience in managing difficult and often illogical persons, including diplomacy, which would make you a perfect fit for customer complaints, working with vulnerable adults and in high-pressure social environments. You have experience in time management in fitting your various household tasks, personal projects and commercial enterprises around the needs of your children; you also, presumably, have adaptability in times of crisis and the ability to keep a cool head when others are angry, upset or panicked. These are very transferable skills.

    It's all about maximising what you have and putting the right spin on it.

    On topic, I wouldn't consider quitting my day job after one book. I'd have to be financially secure, by which I mean that I would need to have a buffer of several grand as well as an average income over 12 months that exceeds average expenditure (which includes luxuries, holidays, car, and other non-essentials), as well as the last four months each exceeding my minimum expenditure (what I need to cover rent, minumum car costs, bills, food and with a little left over for emergencies). And I'd need to have reasonable expectation that this situation will continue - so at least one book less than 3 months from publication and one other book in the works with reasonable expectation of publication within 12 months.

    I would say I'd need to average an income of £1,600 a month from writing before I'd even consider quitting my day job. But even then, I'd hold on a few months to get a bit of capital in my bank account and to allow myself to gather more data on sales and income. So actually I'd probably wait until I'd been bringing that in over 12 months, consistently, before quitting - and potentially longer.

    Assuming self-publication, selling for on average $3.99 (less for shorter works, more for longer; not including free shorts), I'd need to sell about 800 books a month, consistently, over a very expended period before considering quitting my job. And that's a lot - I'd need to be well known and have several books out, probably at least 4.
  10. Gustopher

    Gustopher Acolyte

    One of the most common mistakes new writers make is quitting their day job. I'm sure less than 5% of authors can support themselves based on the income from their writing. Even reasonably successful midlisters usually have a spouse helping to support their family even if they have quit their day job.

    General rule of thumb: you can think about quitting your day job when every minute not spent writing is losing you double what you are earning at your current job.
  11. Xitra_Blud

    Xitra_Blud Sage

    If you plan to go the traditional way, from what I learned, the publishing company has people to promote your book for you, so you shouldn't have to concern yourself with promotion. You shouldn't have to quit your job, either. I personally would never quit mine unless it was assured that my novel hit best seller, I was making big bucks off of it, and it was assured that I would be in the writing business for a long time. Like many people said here, most people don't make that much money once they publish, so I don't think it would be wise to quit your job right away. If you publish, wait to see where your book is goes first.

    If you want to learn more about what a publishers do, here's a really good article, written by a publisher himself, that explains it. What a Publisher Does
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2013
  12. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

    A big publishing house does have marketing people. A small press probably doesn't have that many, so you're likely to want to -- or have to -- help get the word out yourself.
  13. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

    Unless you're someone very famous, even with a big publishing house, you're going to have to do some marketing yourself.

    Quitting on the basis of one novel being a best seller...that won't likely pay the bills for long, unless it remains a best seller for years to come. Also, while you may remain in the writing/author business, there is never any assurance that you'll remain successful in the business. If your latest novel flops, your next contract (if you get one) will likely have a smaller advance and maybe less advantageous terms. Several flops in a row? You might very well be out pounding the pavement (checking online help wanted ads) for a job while working to re-ignite your writing career--if you're able.

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