Ditch job, become an author!?

(250 Posts)
Pigsmummy Fri 17-Jan-14 15:18:36

I haven't voiced this in RL, I would love to ditch my well paid job and write some gritty fiction. I read a lot, hundreds of books of different genres, I also really enjoy theatre. I have the outline story of about three books in my head currently and in my day to day life find situations that I would love to write about.

Where do I start? Do I type up my outline and try to enter competitions? Do I write chapters then send them to a publisher? (I work in sales so have developed a thick skin regards rejection). How much might a publishing deal be worth? (kicking myself that I didn't get this nailed before ebooks came along).

I have wanted to write for a long time (most of my adult life) but suppressed the desire, i have a good job, been in this position for 6 years, my colleagues would be astounded by my lack of motivation and enjoyment of my job as i hide it well, I often sit through high level meetings wishing the time away so I can get back to my Kindle.

Is this madness? Has anyone done this?

I am 39, married with one DC btw

MrsWedgeAntilles Fri 17-Jan-14 15:21:18

I'd love to do this, no advice but I'll be watching this thread with interest.

It's not madness to want to write for a living but I think to start off with and see how you go, you would be better to keep your job and just concentrate on your writing in your spare time. I mean, realistically even if your writing is good enough to publish, it would be ages before you got any money coming in from it.

It's one thing being bored at work and deciding that you want to be a writer........it's another thing actually doing it and being good enough.

I constantly wish the time away whilst at work, and no doubt writers feel exactly the same too sometimes.

WorraLiberty Fri 17-Jan-14 15:24:16

Why do you have to ditch your job? That's madness.

Surely you'd just write in your spare time?

Pobblewhohasnotoes Fri 17-Jan-14 15:25:25

I don't think you should ditch your job. It may not work out. Also, it's all very well wanting to write, but I would find out if you're good at it first.

rubyslippers Fri 17-Jan-14 15:25:35

you keep the well paid job and write on the weekends and in spare time

i wonder how many people make a good living from writing?

TigerTrumpet Fri 17-Jan-14 15:27:01

Disclaimer: am not an author or involved in anything in that field. I do have a friend who writes on a serious basis, although he still has a day job. He's in the US, so different routes might make more sense over there, he has submitted lots of short stories and a couple of novel outlines to publishers but without success so far. He self-publishes through the web and blogs about his experiences.

If I was in your position I would research MAs in creative writing, possibly ones that you can do part time or as distance-learning, to put your toe in the water and also to access practical advice, and help in honing your craft.

I know someone else who has self-published travelogues and has done quite well with that, I will PM you a link to her website if you are interested, she writes about her experiences with putting it together.

badtime Fri 17-Jan-14 15:27:57

It is not madness, but it is naive.

Most people with a desperate desire to write, write. They write their novels while doing their boring shitty jobs. Unless you have amazing connections, you should not quit your job until you are published and making money.

Oh yeah, and not many people make a decent living from writing novels. For every E.L. James-type publishing sensation, there are hundreds of better writers you never hear of, and who never get to give up their day jobs.

So if you want to be a novelist, write a novel.

JennySense Fri 17-Jan-14 15:27:59

Write your book, publish it and market it yourself - no need to ditch any jobs!

BarbarianMum Fri 17-Jan-14 15:29:22

<<you keep the well paid job and write on the weekends and in spare time>>

^^ This. If you want to write, then write and see how you go. But no-one starts off as a full-time novelist.

If you want to see just how tough it can be, research the author of 'The Help'

Sallyingforth Fri 17-Jan-14 15:30:58

1. Write your first book at weekends.
2. Try to sell it to publishers. If that doesn't work,
3. Self publish on Amazon. If you don't sell lots of copies, start again at 1.
After you've been round this loop a few times, give up.
You'll still have your day job.

FrauMoose Fri 17-Jan-14 15:33:18

Writing novels is also extraordinarily boring. I have done it. You need to sit down for long periods on your own. There are no colleagues. You shouldn't check email or go on Facebook. It is extremely difficult to get honest constructive feedback. (Friends who say it's marvellous are not really any help.) Mundane jobs are blissfully entertaining by contrast. Plus you get paid. (Nobody is going to offer you an advance as a wannabe author.)

The market is very risk averse so it is hard for new authors to break in/find agents/publishers who are prepared to invest in you.

Pigsmummy Fri 17-Jan-14 15:34:29

I wouldn't ditch job until I got some income. I would write in spare time but what do I do with it? i.e. send it to publishers? Enter competitions?

If a book gets published there is an upfront payment, if that happened then I would ditch job.

I have written articles for work, been published online, marketing collateral and in corporate journals but I am not interested in writing about business. I want to write fiction.

OhBuggerandArse Fri 17-Jan-14 15:36:13

Writing is not the same as reading.

Write first.

You don't make money out of publishing till you are well up the mid-list - even if you're surprisingly successful you'll need your job for a good while yet.

ElizabethBathory Fri 17-Jan-14 15:36:59

If it turns out that you're good at writing fiction and you start getting an income from it then of course YWNBU to ditch your job. But it sounds like you've never written a book - so give it a try! You might hate it.

Callani Fri 17-Jan-14 15:37:12

Personally I'd concentrate on writing short stories / chapters in your spare time at the moment and getting feedback on these before giving up your job no matter how frustrated you may be feeling.

I have some friends in publishing and they always say the same thing - it's a very difficult market to get into and it's shrinking too especially since the boom of eBooks (although you can now self publish as long as you're happy to earn absolutely 0p from it...) There are many fantastic stories that don't get taken on just because they're not marketable enough, are in the wrong genre, are written in an obtuse style, wouldn't sell well in an airport lounge bookshop etc etc.

It's not impossible, but you need to practice, practice, practice, before taking a big leap. Aside from anything else, writing can be really hard work and it's difficult to get from idea to story so it's good to see whether you have the temprament for it first!

In the mean time you can:
Write out the outlines for your stories
Develop characters
Get someone to read through short stories and give you development points (in particular focus on prose v dialogue)
Keep a notebook of characters / story intros / plot twists as and when they occur to you
Practice developing your writing style through writing short stories (unless you write like Dickens and then short stories may not be your style!)
Enter work into competitions
Join writing classes / meet other aspiring writers etc

Good luck!

ElizabethBathory Fri 17-Jan-14 15:38:29

Why, if you've always wanted to write, have you never done it in your spare time? It's scary, but if you don't know how to get started, join a writing club where you can bring along bits you've written and get feedback.

WorraLiberty Fri 17-Jan-14 15:38:40

Blimey, I can't see the upfront payment being enough to live on

Unless you're JK Rowling grin

ElizabethBathory Fri 17-Jan-14 15:39:45

Also - for details on competitions, publishers etc, buy the Writers Handbook or the Writers and Artists Yearbook. Really useful, lists everything from reading groups to literary agents.

whatsagoodusername Fri 17-Jan-14 15:39:58

Don't ditch the job! My mother is an author, has many friends who are authors - some quite successful, full-time authors. Set aside a place in your home or quiet space and a set time to write and stick to it!

My sisters and I were NOT allowed in her office when she was writing unless there was blood or serious injury from about age 5. Do not allow anyone to disturb you while you write unless it is serious.

Look up any writing groups near you, research agents who specialise in the genre you want to write. You can try publishers, but it is very difficult to get a publisher without an agent. Writing groups vary hugely - some are just amateurs writing for fun, some are serious writers with serious goals, some professional. Try the Society of Authors for networking.

Publishing deals are not worth much until you are a big name. That's when you get the big advances. But my mother does still receive small amounts of royalties from books she wrote in the 80s, so it can be a long-term investment!

Follow your dream, but don't ditch the job unless you can afford no income. Be very serious in managing your time to get writing time and do it. Make your family take it seriously. Get people to read it (not your friends - they will be kind and you need harsh - this is where the groups come in). It takes a lot of discipline to be a successful, full-time author.

And good luck!

98percentchocolate Fri 17-Jan-14 15:41:27

I'm afraid I have to second the advise above; do not quit your day job.
I know a lot of very successful authors and only one or two of these make even minimum wage. For every J K Rowling there are thousands of published writers still holding down day jobs. One author I know has published twelve successful books, been award nominated for many of these, goes into bookshops and schools to publicise them every weekend and holiday time he can get - and he only made £17k last year.

Research the practicalities first and don't assume that your first book will be published. It very likely won't be. I'm sorry to be harsh.

Callani Fri 17-Jan-14 15:41:34

Also, the cynic in me says develop a social media presence - some publishers seem to be rather taken in by authors who have large followings, it makes them believe there's a "strong fan base potential" or some other such stuff...

DidoTheDodo Fri 17-Jan-14 15:42:04

My lovely dad had over 45 novels published and was fairly well known in the world of writing.

He kept his day job throughout.

There's very little money in it unless you really hit the jackpot (JJ K Rowling) or maybe sell the film rights to a blockbuster.

Do it, but don't give up the day job just yet.

CailinDana Fri 17-Jan-14 15:45:11

Have you actually done any writing?

JackAubrey Fri 17-Jan-14 15:45:51

Don't even think about trying to make a living out of it. Advances are tiny; competition is beyond fierce. I worked out, based on my advance for my first book, which was by no means unusually small, that my earnings were roughly 20p an hour. It's one reason why there are so many creative writing courses - the teachers are all trying to supplement their writing income, and they are already established.
Try to write alongside the day job; Trollope did it!. I'm setting the alarm for 6 and getting 1 hour in every day before the children wake up. 500-700 words a day adds up astonishingly fast.

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