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The secret truth about writing books is that very few published writers are able to live off income from their books. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but I recall it being somewhere around 95% of people who have had a book published have to maintain a second job, or a third, to make ends meet. They teach. They write for magazines. They do speaking engagements. Or, like me, they start out working in the marketing/advertising industry and progress to a job in communications and design for a religious organization.
I would love to be one of those book-writers who can make a go of it based entirely on income from my books, but now that I’ve been writing books for six years and have several in print, it’s clear to me that — barring some sort of inexplicable The Shack-ish cultural explosion — that probably won’t be the case. At least not anytime soon. So I’ve always had a “real” job in addition to my writing hobby. Something that took up 40 hours/week alongside the 15+ hours.
But it’s always been my goal to make a living as a full-time writer, or at least as a full-time person who is self-employed in some way. I’ve been slowly building toward it for awhile now — it’s been the big bullet-point at the bottom of my list of career goals. I’ve been hoping to get there some day once a book hit big or whatever else. But you can’t wait around forever, you know? Sometimes you just have to jump and see where you land.
This weekend, I jumped.
It wasn’t exactly a huge jump. I simply transitioned from my former full-time job to become a full-time freelance writer and designer…but with my old employer as one of my major clients. So my actual work isn’t really changing much, but the geography (right now I’m at home) and the structure (right now I’m my own boss) are new. Hopefully, I’ll have more flexibility to continue pursuing more writing opportunities and more books and a select few new clients.
Is a stressed-out economy the best time to launch a new career as a freelancer? Um, no. In fact, it’s probably the worst time. But I’ve got a good base of work lined up to make ends meet, and I intend to watch it grow as the economy gets back into shape, too.
So I’m the new boss. I’m officially a full-time freelance hyphenate (writer-designer-marketing pro-painter-blogger). I’m not sitting around anymore waiting for things to happening. Goodbye, passive dreamer Jason. Hello, wildly optimistic new kid.
Now, get to work.