I STILL WORK FULL TIME AT A BANK. (Anna BANKS, get it???) Yes, I'm one of those saps who always told myself that I would quit as soon as my writing took off. But...has it taken off yet? Here are some reasons you might not want to quit just yet.
1.) Should you live off your first advance? That's a personal decision. For me, the answer is no. Know this: Advances don't come all at once. They're broken up into three parts: First advance after signing the contract. Second advance after acceptance and delivery of the manuscript to your publisher (which means it's how the publisher wants it after line edits). Third advance when the book goes to print. There could be months in between these payments. It's not like your bi-weekly serving of paycheck casserole. Be warned.
2.) You DO know there'll be taxes, right? In fact, literary agent Kristin Nelson suggests you skim the cream from the top and send it to the IRS IMMEDIATELY. That's a lot of money to part with all at once. And something to think about before you haul off and quit the day job. In fact, this entire blog post helped me make the decision to stay at my day job.
3.) Marketing. How much of this money are you budgeting to market your book? We're told over and over that publishers, even traditional publishers from large houses, are spending less and less on marketing. Much of the cost is left up to the author. Remember, this sparkly debut of yours will make or break you. If your sales are horrible, how likely are you to get another contract? Not very. And a direct link to sales is public awareness. I'm not suggesting you spend your entire advance on marketing, but at least make sure you know that if you want to promote your book beyond the scope of what your publisher has planned, you will bear the cost of it.
4.) Royalties. The startling truth about royalties is that a very small percentage of authors earn out their advance and see royalties. And most of the time, it takes years to see an earn out. So, if you're planning on living off your royalties, uh....
5.) The economy. Say after your first book deal, you NEVER SELL ANOTHER. Does this happen? You bet your sweet aspercreme it does. Now you've lived on your advance, you've got a few years yet to collect royalties (if you even do), and now you're heading back into the 40-hour army--if you can find a job at all in this economy. If you're one of the lucky ones who can, you're starting on the bottom again with benefits, vacation time, seniority. Was your two year hiatus worth it?
Now, this is all not to say that I wouldn't quit in a heartbeat if I felt I could. It makes me ill to think how much writing I could get done in the 40 hours I'm slaving for someone else. But until I get my baby feet a little more established in this grown up industry, I think I'll stick with the bank. The fact is, I wrote the book which sold while working full time. I edited it, queried it, edited it, then I edited. Also, I edited it some more. All while working 40 hours elsewhere. It can be done. And while things will get busier around release date, right now, I'm still sane. Is this the right decision? We'll see...
My question to you: What would it take for YOU to quit your day job?