Over the past few years, since my first book, Shadow Tears, was published, I have had a number of people ask when I thought I would quit my job. At some of my book signings I have had even more would-be authors tell me that they can’t wait to publish their book so they can quit their day job.

Let me just say – don’t do it. Not if you want to pay the bills.

As writers we need to adjust our expectations of just what our book will do for us financially. If the only reason you are writing a book is so that you can quit your day job, you might want to rethink your expectations.

Gone are the days of $100,000 advances from well-known publishing houses for a first time author. In fact, were there ever those days?  According to the latest Bowker Report (October 9, 2013), over 391,000 books were self-published in the U.S. in 2012. That is more than 1,000 titles every day for readers to choose from.

And what about the cost of the book?

book retail

Let’s just do the math. The average mass market retail price of a book is just over $7.00 each. If you sell books on a major website like Amazon, you have to account for the cost to print the book and the cost of Amazon’s take. Which means you would have to sell about 50 books each day in order to make about $50,000 a year.

That is a harsh reality.

However, if you are a true writer, someone who just has to tell a story or share information; you are most likely motivated more by sharing your words than you are making a living. I would encourage you to set realistic expectations.

Now that isn’t to say that you can’t make a living out of self-publishing your books. I have seen it done and I look forward to that day, but it takes times. You have to be patient. You also have to be active.

Here are a few things I have learned as a newly published author:

  • It takes time to get the finished product ready for sale. I started writing my first book and it ended up being so long that when I finished the editing process, thanks to Lisa and her team at Halo, I discovered that one book was really more like five books.
  • Authors who have created a series of books and continue the story of characters that readers come to know and love; are more likely to make a living from their book sales. It isn’t a “one and done” job.
  • Life interferes with the best laid plans. I thought my third book would be ready much faster than it will be because of family circumstances. You have to be prepared for anything.
  • You have to actively market your book. Like the girl who sits at home waiting for someone to ask her to the prom, unless people know you don’t have a date – the phone isn’t going to ring. You have to get out there and market your book.
  • You have to love what you do. The only way you will persevere is if you really love writing. Unless you are wealthy and don’t have to work; writing will become a third full time job; behind the actual job that gives you a pay check and the full time job of caring for your family and home.

All that being said; it is all worth it. Holding your first book in your hands, seeing people read your books, watching the sale numbers on Amazon and Barnes and Noble; well there just aren’t words for that satisfaction.

Being able to tell friends and family that you are a published author is amazing. Going to a networking event and introducing yourself as an author is a true wow moment.

Consider the questions that Entrepreneur Magazine contributor Lisa Girard offers in the article 10 Questions to Ask Before You Quit Your Day Job. Being a writer is similar to starting a new business. Often entrepreneurs have to work at the new company full time while still working for someone else so they can afford their venture.

If you have a story that you want to share, I would encourage you to start writing and then continue writing every day. Keep at it. You can do it. Just make sure you set realistic expectations as it relates to when you can quit your day job.

 


12721911_sSince I wrote my first book, Shadow Tears, and subsequently outlined and wrote additional books in the series, while my children were still young; I’m often asked how I managed it.

It wasn’t easy.

Let me first start by saying that my initial motivating factor for the stories was as a way to distract and entertain my children during a very difficult time in our family. My husband was undergoing extensive treatment for cancer and there were hours, days and weeks that I spent alone with my children while he recovered.

The process began like any other nighttime story you tell your children: “once upon a time…” However, soon my imagination took over, characters developed in my mind and the stories just started to flow. It was all verbal. I had nothing on paper. Not until my son said, “So where can I get a copy of this book?”

And so began the process of writing down the stories I had shared and putting them into book format.

There are a number of great techniques for finding time to write. For me, I would use the times the children were occupied with homework, toys or even sleeping to let my fingers do the walking over the keyboard. My children weren’t infants, my daughter was a toddler and my son was in elementary school at the time, and they were able to entertain themselves for periods of time.

However, I would also involve them in the process. One of the keys to writing success is to write about something you know. And although I don’t live between two realms like my key character, Selena Goodwin many of her challenges, desires and dreams were based on actual stories from my life or from those close to our family.

The familiarity of the stories and the creative joy I felt from putting them into a compelling sci-fi, fantasy novel helped fuel my desire.  I MADE time to write.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took me a decade to bring the first book to print, Shadow Tears, but then the process was in place and shortly thereafter I published the second book in the series, Shadow in the Mist. The rest of the books in the series are already in draft form so I hope to bring out the next book rather quickly.

And it all started with finding a way to incorporate time to write while caring for my family.

They say that if you want something done, give it to a busy person, they’ll take care of it. The same is true as a working mother of two, caring for my husband; you just find time to get everything done.

For me, writing was also an opportunity to remove myself from the stress and seriousness of our circumstances at the time. I looked forward to those minutes, however, limited, when I could escape into the life of Selena.

If you are a young mother or father caring for young children and want to find time to write, here are a few tips:

  • If you are a morning person, get up 30 minutes before everyone else and attack the page while your mind is fresh.
  • Conversely, if night is best, wait until your children are down for the night. The dishes can wait – hit the keyboard for a few, uninterrupted minutes of writing.
  • Carry a small recorder in your purse or in the car. While carpooling your kids from one activity to another or waiting outside the school to pick them up; use the time to talk your book out loud. There is even affordable voice recognition software like Dragon that will turn your words into a Word document.
  • Trade help with friends. If you have neighbors with children, ask if they’ll take your children for an afternoon so you can write and then offer to do the same for them on another day.
  • Always carry a notebook; you just never know when you might have a few minutes to jot down a scene, a conversation between characters or just brilliant ideas that happen to come to you.
  • Depending on the age of your children; having an official writing time for all of you. Everyone sit at the kitchen table and you can all work on writing your book. This is also a great way to help young children with their writing, spelling, idea development and understanding cause and effect.

Whatever way you find to grab a few minutes to write, just keep doing it. It isn’t a race to type “the end.” There have been many popular books that took decades to complete before becoming best sellers. Hang in there!

Visit me on Facebook and share your story ideas and challenges. We can all help encourage each other to carry on. We must not disappoint the Muse!


7533827_sI started writing my Shadow Realm saga when my two children were pre-teens and they have now safely navigated through their teen years. If you are a parent, you know how changing those years can be.

Not only have my own two children experienced their teens but so have Selena and the other wonderful characters in my books. And as most fiction writers do, I have formulated part of their fictional journey using stories from the lives of my own children and their friends.

Our house has always been grand central station with all ages.  My family says I have a gift of listening without judging.  My children and their friends seem to feel comfortable enough to unload their concerns, fears and challenges while hanging at our house.

Some of their problems and my own problems as a teenager have been written into the Shadow Realm Saga with a twist added to it. Part of the reality of life is that we don’t always make the best choices; however, many times the lessons from which we learn the most are those that started out with a bad decision.

So like real life, my characters aren’t always going to make the right choice.

Matthew 7:1-2 ” “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

I hope the reason that my children and their friends feel comfortable sharing is because they know that, no matter what, I will listen and try to offer guidance without judgement.

I do have my own philosophy when dealing with issues. My dad is a great man and is the one who taught me how to listen.  Many don’t realize how adolescents can actually talk through their issues and come to the right conclusions by us guiding them with simple questions as they open up.

I have used this with my own children who are now 20 and 23.  As a parent I have a right to be upset but if they are willing to be open with then we discuss the problem without punishment. I have learned that if we allow our children to talk through their problems, they often discover the solution without any dictates from us.

It is gratifying to listen to them hash through their issues and then thank me for helping.  All I do most of the time is sit there.  Listening.  Adolescents and people in general are dear to my heart.  In some ways, I feel like Selena at times.

Listening has been helpful, not only as a parent, but also as a writer. Incorporating situations, dialogue and emotion from real situations helps to provide a layer of authenticity to my stories. It also helps bring them to life for me, as a writer, and hopefully for you, as a reader.

If you are struggling with a story idea or if you have teenagers that you struggle to connect with, drop me an email or leave a comment on my Facebook page. I’m here to listen.