As of late, I have been thinking a great deal about my dream of being self employed and making it as an author without a day job. Most if not all writers go through these feelings, because they are often pigeon holed into jobs that are ill suited for them and far beneath their intellectual capabilities.
The gas station attendant who writes zombie novels in his spare time.
The waitress who is exhausted all the time and uses whatever energy she has to work on her fantasy series.
The single parent who barely scrapes by, and always wanted to write.
There are so many of us out there who struggle, in all kinds of different situations and we all look out the window at the rain falling and think to ourselves…”What if I could make a living just selling my books?”
Naysayers of course will tell you to “not quit your dayjob.” I’m going to challenge that, because what a negative, half hearted, and depressing thing to say.
First things first, you absolutely need to believe in yourself and your work.
I believe that if you have a dream and talent, whatever situation you are in you can change through hard work and positive belief and visualization. I write a lot. All the time, whenever I’m not at work or spending time with my SO. Set a daily goal for yourself, one that is reasonable. I tend to think that Stephen King’s 2,000 words a day count is unreasonable. I write half that on most days and am very successful with my writing.
Do not rely on other’s approval. Don’t lean on coworkers/friends/parents for approval. Just write, edit, and advocate for yourself. Look at what’s out there–quite a bit. There are some amazing indie publishing companies that will publish without an agent. When looking for a publisher: be wary, do research, and look for quality.
Two great indie publishers: Small Beer Press, and Two Dollar Radio.
If the goings get tough, your day/evening/night job is turning into a nightmare, depression hits, life crisis happens, watch an inspirational movie. Listen to inspirational music that says you can do it!
My personal favorite you can do it movie: Flashdance (the original.)
Stay in the headspace of your world and characters.
I think about my characters and plot while I’m at work, doing mundane tasks. When you are on your break, write these ideas into a notebook or on your phone. At home, store these ideas on your computer or in a safe place.
Go places that inspire you (depending on what you are writing.) I visited a castle, and became inspired for a plot development in my story. Here’s the link to that castle:
Do not let people at your day job push you around.
Set boundaries, and let managers/coworkers know if something makes you uncomfortable. Be polite, professional, and very clear. I have been bullied many times in my life, at school and work. Job stress is very real and can lead to severe depression and other health issues. Be good and true to yourself, and do not let yourself be harassed or taken advantage of. I am a very shy person, and this is hard for me. I have been in some pretty awful work situations in the past, and have had to really stand up for myself. Ultimately, no job is ever worth your health, and you need to take care of you.
Read other authors that write your genre.
Right now I am reading Robin Mckinley’s Deerskin, and after that I will be reading Moonheart by Charles de Lint.
I write abstract/New Age Fantasy.
Go to the library to do your research, not the internet (if possible.)
If you are able to, go to the library to do heavy research because a book will have a hell of a lot more information than a website will. Of course, cite the materials you use if applicable.
Make author pages for Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.
Grow your audience, and make contacts with publishers, illustrations, and whatever else you need. Find what YOU need, and advocate for YOURSELF. You are strong, talented, and you can do it 🙂
Keep track of your bills, and how much you make from book sales
If you consistently make the same in book sales OR more than your regular job makes I would say you are in good shape to make that next step in self employment and freedom from the horrible corporate world.
Make a WordPress and keep using it. Create tshirts, mugs, and hoodies advertising your novel(s) at Cafe Press.com and make it available on your WordPress.
Ask the Library For ANY Support they can give you as a local author.
A book signing or reading.
Permission to hang up a flyer.
If you are a self published author and use CreateSpace or something similar, that is seriously amazing and good for you!! When it comes to illustrating your cover, have a professional do it for you. Even if it is a good friend or family member who can draw or paint, ask them to do it and pay them for their hard work! Many books that are indie look terrible because the author slapped graphics on it that look worse than the toucan on a box of Froot Loops.
Be good to yourself, and do things that are relaxing for you.
Watch your favorite movie. Look out at the stars. Meditate. Spend the week at a Buddhist retreat. Never ever lose yourself in your work; for work should nurture you and not destroy you. There must be a healthy balance. Always make time for your significant other, family, and friends. Do not become too busy, just keep your compass pointed in the right direction and do what is right for you and dreams. Relax, enjoy your life, and pace yourself in a way that is right for you.
Finally, these are ideas that I have learned and lived by through research and my own hard work. They may or may not work for you, but I only hope that they are helpful to someone out there. I believe in you as a writer, and I know how difficult it can be trying to get a book published that means everything to you–and having to work a minimum wage job.
Advocate for yourself.
Be dedicated to your work and believe in it. Make it all that it can be, inside and out.
Never ever stop believing in yourself, and never give up.