Monday, August 15, 2011

DAY JOB SCHMAY JOB!

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?


25 comments:

  1. Thanks for this interesting thoughts on the "day-job." I hope to someday finish with my own novel but (unless I hit the LOTTERY) my day-job will always be a part of my life.

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  2. Hi Marty, I'm right there with ya. But DO finish your novel. That should be goal Numero Uno! :) Heck you JUST NEVER KNOW if it could pull you from the full-time abyss. :)

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  3. Best line of the day: You bet your sweet aspercreme. LOL!

    I was lucky to have already quit my day job before I got my super agent and sent out Splintered. Hubby paid off the house and after that, things weren't tight any more. He asked if I wanted to stay home and write full time. So it's a blessing due to his careful management of money since the beginning of our marriage. But the contacts and skills I acquired during my seven year stint as a library clerk in a middle school would help me get a job in any library in town if need be. So I have that to fall back on if necessary one day.

    What a great post about advances, marketing and taxes! Very informative!

    And I never realized that's where you got the Banks. Haha. Pretty clever. ;)

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  4. Anita, I just KNEW you were going to weigh in on this you big jerk! :) "He asked if I wanted to stay home and write full time." Why, I oughta...

    Oh yeah. Anna Banks is sooo clever. :)

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  5. It wouldn't take much for me, but you know that. If we were back home i wouldn't consider it so much. I'm hoping for the day, book deal or not! :) I'm hoping for pt time once L is in school. Good points though!

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  6. I've worked full time the last few years since finishing grad school. And, like you, wrote the book, queried, found the agent, (but I'm still waiting on the last piece of this puzzle...sigh.) But I did move into a part time position (starting today!) for the coming school year. In part, to write more during the day. Soooo, WHEN I sell my book (and it is a planned series) I think I would continue to work part time--but, who knows?

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  7. Well ... I make decent money at my day job, not to mention the fact I spent 8 years after college training to do what I do ... so, I guess it would take a lot. However, if I can make legitimate money writing, I would definitely cut back because I love writing so much. I absolutely agree with you that it is wise to be cautious and think long-term!

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  8. Smart blogging today. I hadn't thought of some of the marketing stuff and such. It's a very good point. My current day job is taking care of my kids so I guess I can't ever really quit that anyway and I could only dream of getting paid for it. I am also going to school because I would like to teach once they are all in school - the time could come when I could quit that too if I ever became THAT GOOD of a writer :D

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  9. Dream-killer. :)

    My husband calculated what my advance would need to be for me to quit. He didn't even calculate for taxes. *sigh* Good thing I don't hate my job.

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  10. I didn't mention it in today's post, but going part time is certainly an option. Thanks for pointing that out ladies!

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  11. Abby, I'm not saying it won't happen. I'm just saying it PROBABLY won't happen with you very first sale.

    Ha ha Robin! "Dreamkiller." I know. Trust me, I do. But I'm not giving up on the dream, nor beating it with a tax manual, just being realistic so the dream can come to fruition.... In the right way. :)

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  12. My current job is SAHM. We live off my husband's income, it's tight, but cheaper than daycare. We still have a few years before we could consider putting everyone in after-school care, so I have that luxury.

    In all honesty though, I'm planning on going back to school and work once the kids are older. Even if I did sign a triple-book deal with Very Nice Advance, that money is slotted for college tuition for the kids after the IRS and advertising take their share.

    Now, if I had 20+ books out, all regularly on the bestseller list and millions of books in print, I might reconsider. But the authors who make that money rarely (almost never really) make a living off their debut. They make the money from having a lot of books on the shelves that all sell well.

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  13. Lianna, being a SAHM is the most rewarding job, I think. THEN writing. And yes, it will be nice when we have 20+ best sellers under our belts, putting meatloaf and cheesecake regularly on the table. :)

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  15. Whoops...let's try this again.

    I HATE MATH.

    Great post, Anna. I'm still banking on return of the bartering system.

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  16. Excellent post. I think this is often times a misconception about authors. 99.99% of them NEVER get the chance to live off their writing!

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  17. Bethany, we don't use math at banks. We use calculators. :)

    Jamie, very true. It really takes commitment, perseverance, and a little luck to live ONLY "by the pen". But, it's still on my bucket list. :)

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  18. What would it take for me to quit my job? Marrying someone rich who wanted me to stay home so I could work on my writing. That would be the only thing that would get me to quit my day job.

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  19. Well, I work part time and I don't have kids, so writing full time and working part is not only do-able, but basically what I'm doing right now, lol.
    I guess my insanity can be kept at bay by interacting with other people. I'll just let them know if they ever piss me off, I'll quit right then and there since I have options. haha...my dream...

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  20. Nice job of laying out all the considerations! I'd like to think that someday this is a thought process I'll have to go through on my own! I can definitely see waiting for a second contract before doing anything radical to change your life. Like you said, plenty of people have one success, but then fade away.

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  21. Anjel, that's the spirit! :)

    Kaylie, thaaaaaat's nice. Glad that worked out for you.

    Michael, I'm tellin' ya! People automatically think millionaire when you tell them your book got picked up. Sometimes I think they're more disappointed than I am when I correct them. It takes hard work at every step of the way, but it's not impossible to (eventually) attain. And I'm certain you'll be faced with this decision soon! :)

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  22. I'd love to kick yee ole day job to the curb. It's the underlying theme to my blog. BUT, I'm the most practical person around when it comes to making leaps like that. If agents were calling AND the hubs could support us, then yes, I'd take the leap. But if he's underemployed (chronic problem), I think I'd wait a bit. Great post, Anna! Love the aspercreme. hhaaa

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  23. Anna, thanks for the words of confidence!

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  24. I sure was glad to get this info.I already stay at home but I'm so busy with our rental and keeping the roof on the house while hubby goes hither and yon, I still can't write full time. Poor guy will never get to retire at the rate I'm going. I should be querying now, but this caught my eye. Must be the siren call of those fish, right? That book is so tempting I might sign up on twitter after all.

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  25. 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.
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