Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dollars and Sense

This week, I’m working on galley edits for THE FAR EMPTY, wrapping up first pass revisions on the sequel, squaring away Bio information and other promotional stuff for my publisher, as well starting to make plans to have my author’s blog/website revamped.

Serious Looking Author Picture

 But curiously, one of the most frequent questions I get asked by non-writers is when I’m going to quit my job and write “full-time.” The fact is, I do write full time! I write each and every day, and approach my new writing career as seriously the profession I want it to be. It just so happens that I also have that other “full time” job as well. 

I think the real heart of the question is: when are you going to make enough money from writing to support yourself? But even that is a tricky question, full of complicated suppositions and assumptions. Although there’s been more transparency in the last couple of years about the writing incomes of even successful authors (thanks to some brutally frank posts by Kameron Hurley and Saladin Ahmed, as well as others), the truth is that each author’s publication path is so uniquely theirs, so singular, there is no easy answer. Because I dove back into writing later in life, I’m somewhat "priced into" that life; this one I already have…three daughters, mortgage, cars, impending college, etc. In the last two decades when I wasn’t writing, I went ahead and built a significant, successful career, and I’d suggest that short of a GIRL ON THE TRAIN break-out, there’s very little chance of me making enough money off of any one book to give that career up. So even if THE FAR EMPTY does very well by most critical and sales metrics, I’m still going to hold on to both jobs for a while...probably forever. 

However, if we rewound the clock back those twenty+ years, maybe I would be supporting myself on my writing alone. Me, and no one else, and definitely not lavishly. But that wouldn't make the book's success any more or less significant.

See, I think this question is really often the outside world’s short-hand for measuring a book, or an author’s success. And although I understand the impetus, I think it’s a pretty small measuring stick. While everyone assumes every writer’s dream is to sell enough books to quit their “day job” (often phrased as if that job is a particularly heavy albatross) and pursue writing full-time, that doesn’t credit the many, many authors who for a thousand reasons already do both very successfully (including those writers who stay-at-home as a primary caregiver for a child).

For every Stephen King and JK Rowling and John Grisham, there are many, many more writers who sell plenty of books, get wonderful reviews, have a vocal and extensive fan base...and still have two different desks they have to sit down behind each day.

That's just my two cents...

As always, keep writing. JTS

J. Todd Scott was born in rural Kentucky and attended college and law school in Virginia, where he set aside an early ambition to write to pursue a career as a federal agent. His assignments have taken him all over the U.S. and the world, but a badge and a gun never replaced his passion for books and writing. He now resides in the American Southwest, and when he's not hunting down very bad men, he's hard at work on his next book. His debut novel, Bad Land, will be published by Penguin - G.P. Puntam's Sons.

Where to find J. Todd Scott: Twitter, Website

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for writing what needed to be said. Like you, I hold two full-time jobs, one of which is called "author." Quitting my day job will happen when I retire :-)