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Thread: I've taken the plunge
January 5th, 2014, 01:26 PM #1
I've taken the plunge
As of today, I have officially resigned my management position in favor of a less stressful 3rd shift position. It is a financial risk, but one I have talked about for years. Call it a mid-life crisis, but after several years writing in spurts as the day job permitted, I have an opportunity to do what I always said I wanted - focus on my writing.
And it's frightening. Not mind-numbing terror, but I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge some trepidation over the last few weeks after I officially set the date for my resignation. I mean, it's one thing to *say* you want to do something. It's another thing to actually take a step, and one that will cost you in very real ways (my family's bank account).
With that said, my goal is to focus on writing for 3 years. If I fail to create any traction with my work(s) - both what I've already completed and new works - then I've at least given an effort.
Now for questions -
1. Anyone who's done this... any suggestions on pitfalls to avoid?
2. Any suggestions from freelancers (or links to solid information) to help with the business/taxes (USA) and such?
After working crazy hours for many years, and expending even more mental focus when I was off, it's exciting to have a chance to daydream, an increased focus on my craft, and a chance to do what I've always talked about. Thanks for reading and any suggestions you may have.
January 5th, 2014, 02:30 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
- Northern California
- Blog Entries
Congrats and good luck.
Michael J Sullivan has some wonderful articles about the business side of writing over on Amazing Stories, and I'm sure he has stuff on his blog too.
I think the first thing you have to come to terms with is a strategy for making money from your writing (if that is your goal). Will you focus on self-publishing lots of material to slowly gain a readership? Or will you focus on one or two novels that you can pitch to an agent whom will in turn pitch it to a publisher for a reasonable advance?
January 5th, 2014, 09:01 PM #3
I completed a novel several years ago, you could probably find some posts about it around these parts, but it has been difficult to find a way to pitch it. It sat on my shelf and one of my primary goals is to fix some of the plotting issues and get it into a state that would make it a viable product. This is a story that I feel has marketable appeal on a wide range, is epic in scope and wide in theme. I'd love to polish it and see if I can find a buyer for that story.
Also a couple of years ago I submitted to the Fantasy Faction anthology and got in their top 30 (of 1700 entries). IMO, that short story had one thing going against it - the 8k word limit. It just seemed to be busting at the seams, not matter how hard I tried to force it back into that 8k box. It's been incredibly well received by nearly every reader, and all have said they want more. I plan to expand the original short into a novella (shooting for 40k, but I'd be fine if it rounded itself out into a novel-length story). My biggest fear w/ it is that I don't let it get ahead of me. It's a fun story, easy for me to write, and scratches an itch that would probably do well in most markets. I may pitch it to a few agents, but I won't waste much time. If it doesn't get picked up, I'll immediately move toward self publication. If self publication is what happens, then my plan is to write 3 novellas and when all are finished, releasing them over the course of 6 months to hopefully gain some traction in the market.
And thanks for the information about Sullivan's blog. I've followed him, but not actively in the last year. I need to pick up some more of his work!
January 6th, 2014, 12:00 AM #4
Taking the plunge
WAY TO GO, Warfitz!
No matter how your great gamble turns out you've done the right thing. Storytelling is a need as much as a gift. If you never follow your muse the lack sours your soul. Been there. Not a good place. So take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back.
Now, as for ideas: I can't speak specifically to making enough money through writing (still working on that one myself) but I CAN speak to handling life on a no-steady-paycheck basis. I made the jump into opening my own insurance agency 15 years ago during the last downturn (anybody remember the dot com crunch?). I went out on my own with NO family to sell to, NO fallback support, & under a non-compete agreement with my ex-employer during what was then the worst economy of my generation. Ya learn a thing or two about making it work under those circumstances.
Step #1 - if you haven't already, switch to a cash & carry lifestyle. Credit can turn deadly when you can't be sure when (or if) that next payment is coming in. Pay off any debts you can; look for ways to restructure any long term debt to lower interest rates. Cannot hit this point hard enough: debt kills. Kill it first.
Step #2 - simplify-simplify-simplify. This is in many ways a mind game of defining just what it is you REALLY want, & then focusing on it so that a stroll through the mall remains a stroll and not an impulse shopping spree. TOTAL sympathies if you've got teenagers at home!
Step #3 - Again, K.I.S.S. it. Set a budget. Stick to it. Track income & expenses; your first year is going to be almost all expense, so be sure to work that in. Few things are as nerve-racking as watching money flow out when nothing (or not much) is coming in. It's a bit easier if you've prepared yourself for it. It also gives you a means of determining where you stand vis a vis your 3-year timetable. RECORDS: Set up your income & expense records on Excel. You don't need to spend money on fancy software; Excel works fine & provides perfectly functional database formats.
TAXES - Take a good look at how complex your overall situation is. If it strikes you as mind-boggling, then build a CPA into your budget. Otherwise, good, clean records go a long way in carrying the day with an IRS auditor. And I speak here as someone who spent 18 years representing Hollywood attorneys under pension audit to that august institution.
Step #4 - Treat writing as your profession. It's no longer your day-dream. Once you're out on your own, you can't afford it to be. Take a good, solid look at what kind of writing you want to do. SFF? Romance? Mainstream? NON-Fiction? What topics? Research the markets & payment scales in those fields. Do you have contacts in the areas in which you want to write? Contact 'em. Let 'em know you're out there BEFORE you want something from them. Do you have specific areas of expertise? Find out where the markets for your specialty is, who buys, how much they pay - the works.
Hope that helps. If I've missed the boat totally, I hope you'll accept my good intentions and forgive me.
January 6th, 2014, 12:01 AM #5
Have you tried creating a web presence? Publishing short stories would help. Also, have you considered blogging or content writing? I've been doing the part-time writing thing for a while and publishing short stories and blogging are good ways to get noticed.
January 6th, 2014, 11:14 PM #6
bonniemilani - expect me to refer to your notes over the coming weeks/months. I already have abandoned the credit lifestyle, though we still have a few outstanding bills (my wife took student loans to accomplish her Masters in Counseling and of course, we still have a mortgage), but we keep our bills low and manageable. I'll need to work out an excel spreadsheet to keep track of expenses. It won't be difficult, as I have experience from my day job (previous one, that is ). I do have some contacts, but they're authors and have already given me a great deal of information. Of course, he did send me an email thanking me for sending him this year's Christmas card and asking how things were going with me. His response was pretty similar to this topics opening post. Making writing my job? That'll be a challenge at times, but one that I look forward to mastering. I've done it for short spurts, sometimes w/ amazing results. I'll just need to keep that pace daily!
newberton2.0 - I have a website, though it's been ignored for the past year or so. Another goal will be to increase blogging, though I fear I won't have anything pertinent to write about (and tend to avoid the usual hot-button issues like politics and the like). I have written a good deal of short stories and attempted to get 2 published (one is mentioned above and the other was a historical flash fiction story that was rejected by the only publisher of historical fiction that I came across). If you know of any historical fiction publishers from the Pax Romano timeframe, I'd love the information.
To both - Thanks so much for your questions and points. This is a frightening undertaking, and this forum has always been a place I could draw inspiration and help. Thanks for being a part of my start-up.