I left my day job in September 2011 to become a full-time author entrepreneur, and I haven't regretted it for a moment.
BUT there are a lot of things to consider if you want to give up your day job to go into writing full-time.
If you want to make the best of it, then maybe listen to those who have already taken this huge step 🙂
In this discussion for the Indie Author Fringe as part of Frankfurt Book Fair, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author CJ Lyons and I discuss some of the aspects you need to consider.
You can watch the video below or here on YouTube and there's a transcript below.
Transcript of discussion
Joanna: Hey everyone. I'm Joanna Penn from TheCreativePenn.com and I'm here today with CJ Lyons from the Indie Author Fringe 2016 from the Alliance of Independent Authors. So welcome, CJ.
CJ: Hi, thanks for having me Joanna.
Joanna: Today is a bit different. We are going to have a discussion around when is the right time to go full time as a writer. We'll come to that in a minute but just an introduction in case people don't know who we are, and why should they.
CJ Lyons is the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of 30 novels, which she describes as thrillers with heart.
I'm a USA Today bestselling author of thrillers under JF Penn and I also write bestselling non-fiction for authors.
I left my day job five years ago now in September 2011 to become a full-time author/entrepreneur. We'll come back to me in a minute but CJ, tell us about, a bit about your story.
When did you leave your day job to become a writer, what year was it and why did you make that decision?
CJ: I actually left my day job in 2006. So 10 years I've been free. I was a pediatric ER doctor and then a community pediatrician. And when you're a pediatrician, even working part-time is 40 to 50 hours a week, so it's, pretty much no matter what you do, your full time job.
I got my first publishing contract and began to think of publishing as career in 2004, and I actually had two contracts by the end of that year. And I realized as I was working with my New York City publisher that it's a lot of work, and how was I going to give 120% to my patients and 120% to this new dream come true? Because, you know, who wouldn't want to be a writer?
I decided in 2004 that I was going to purse writing as a full-time career and I had started then, so this is about two years before I left my day job, planning ahead, especially finances. I'm single, so I have no one to rely on as a safety net. I also help support most of my extended family. I needed to make certain that finances were not going to be a critical issue.
For other people it might be different things. It might be time management, it might be family needs but for me, I really had to get my financial world in order.
I started two years ahead of time saving, looking at my expenditures. When I left my day job, I moved 1,000 miles away because I thought, “I'm never going to get a mortgage as a writer.” So I thought I better figure out where I wanted to live and spend, you know, a good chuck of the rest of my life. I basically moved to paradise, so I live at the beach now, and so I did a lot of planning on that avenue.
What I didn't do a lot of planning on, and it was fortuitous that I actually still have a career, was learning about the actual publishing business. I thought that was the job of the publishers, and you know this story. Maybe other people have already heard it.
When I moved, the book that was due to come out in 2006, which was going to be my dream debut thriller hardcover, you know, the whole nine yards, the publisher canceled it 90 days before publication day because of cover art issues. Something I had no control over.
So suddenly I had quit my day job, I was 1,000 miles away from home with no job, unemployed and no publishing contract. But, I kept writing. I dove into learning everything I could about the business because I refused to be in that position of powerlessness again.
That's when I realized no matter who I was partnering with as a publisher, I was CEO of me incorporated, although I wasn't incorporated then of course, but I took that professional attitude. Luckily by the end of the year I had another publishing contract. A wonderful publisher wanted to work with me and I had gotten the rights back, and so I had all my ducks in a row.
And I considered the money that I lived on during those six months of being unemployed and out of contract kind of, you know, taking a loan from that safety net of savings that I had built up. Then the first thing I did when I got the new publishing contract was I paid that back.
That's been my financial philosophy as, you know, a freelancer creative entrepreneur, is I always pay myself a year ahead of time, so no matter what happens I have at least a year of freedom in the bank to recuperate, to regroup, to re-plan, to do whatever I need. And for me physiologically, that has been so freeing to allow me to focus on the creative aspects.
Joanna: It was great to hear your story and you had a couple of years of preparation there and so did I.
I left my day job in 2011 as I said, but I started thinking about it in 2008. I started writing on the side, building my website on the side.
As you said about financial planning, we downsized. That was the really big thing and I think this is something everyone should think about. We went from a four-bedroom house to one bedroom flat. We sold a lot of stuff just to really clear our debt so I didn't have the financial overhead because I was a main wage earner at the time.
I was so miserable in my job, and unlike you who loved your job, I was really miserable. I said to my husband, “Look, I want to give this a go for a year. If it doesn't work I'll go back to my day job.”
I also saved. I had six months' money saved, so not a couple of years like you did but my husband was working too. I also first started out by going part-time at work. I only went full time as an author-entrepreneur once I had spent three years working four days a week.
I'd built up a whole load of stuff on the site. We can come back to sort of other preparations.
Coming back to the motivation, how did I know it was the right time?
I think for me it was, I was really over my job. I was crying at work. I hated it and I wanted to try being a writer, I really enjoyed it but also I had these other things going on speaking and the website and stuff which we'll come back to.
I want to ask you, how did you know it was the right time? Yes, you had these contracts and you enjoyed your job, didn't you?
How did you make that kind of mental final decision?
CJ: It was hard because I've been a writer all my life, so being able to finish writing a book was no big deal to me. I wrote my first novel when I was 15, which luckily no one will ever read. I wrote two novels in medical school despite the onerous hours that that entails.
So I knew I could finish a book. My thing was though, I didn't know I could finish a book and get paid for it and turn it into a career until about 2003. Several published friends of mine, we had been swapping manuscripts and had met at a conference. And they both separately hounded me into really pursing publication.
And I knew a lot of physicians who naturally become storytellers, even farther back than Robin Cook or Michael Crichton. You can go all the way back to, you know, ancient Greeks. Tons of physicians are storytellers.
I had that tradition behind me that it was possible. The real leap of faith though was after I got the contracts and I had to make that decision because I had already tried cutting back to part-time, but that was still like I said, 40 to 50 hours a week. And trying to juggle doing both.
As much as I loved my work, I was so intrigued by this idea of challenging myself and taking on this new career. It was a real leap of faith. It was a real leap of faith and I struggled with making that decision for several months before I finally did it.
I didn't even tell anyone I had made the decision until I'd actually turned in my notice to the guys at my jobs. And they thought I was a little crazy. They were like, “Do you want to take your time, maybe talk to a professional?” I was like, “No, I really I think I can do it.”
The good thing about medicine and I think a lot of careers maybe are like this, is that as long as you keep up with it, you can in the short term take a little sabbatical and still be able to get back into it. It's tougher in medicine because things change so quickly you have to really keep up to date, but I did keep all my credentials for the first couple of years.
Then when I realized I'm not going back, I let them go ahead and expire. But it's a tough decision. I mean, it's really hard and it's so individual. Only you can decide really why you're doing this and are you going to be able to achieve your goals?
That kind of thinking is really difficult for a lot of people, especially for writers. A lot of times our goals are, “Can I just finish this book or finish this class or story whatever I'm working on,” and we always think about, “Well, what comes next and why I'm driven to do this, and can I really do this as a fulfilling career both financially and artistically?” It's a real juggling act.
Joanna: Yes, and it's interesting there, talking about the pressure that comes from family is a really big one. My mum and my mother-in-law are kind of like, “Well you have this responsible job and you're in your mid 30s. Why are you downsizing? Why are you renting and selling your house? And this all seems very risky.”
And of course we believe life's too short to do stuff that you're miserable with. But I was thinking there about security and then that pressure. The pressure of, “Oh my goodness, now I have to write a book that earns me money,” as opposed to say people who love writing poetry or people who love writing literary fiction or you know, some of these other types of books.
I think we've got to address this creative vs. commercial aspect, because it's just not realistic to quit your job and make a living writing poetry or even literary fiction.
Last week, there was an article that came out that said, “I released a critically acclaimed novel and now I'm working as a postal worker.” Traditional publishing is not all it's cracked up to be. You can write a book that might be critically acclaimed and doesn't make you any money.
I write non-fiction, I write thrillers, and I have other forms of income, again which we will promise to come back to.
What are your thoughts on the types of books that people can write in order to make a living but also on trad vs. indie, because when you started out you were traditional but you've also adjusted to the market with your indie books.
Comment on genre and trad vs. indie.
CJ: I think there's a couple things to look at. People have to very honest with themselves and do the prep work. You wouldn't expect a brain surgeon to walk in on his first day of medical school and be able to do brain surgery. You wouldn't expect a chef to be able to prepare a wonderful soufflé when he never even learned, you know, how to crack an egg.
You have to do that work upfront and really understand what it is that you're wanting to write, not just what you're writing. I have heard so many stories from people that are just writing what they think will sell. And they aren't really writing what's in their heart and what they want to keep writing so they get very frustrated, very quickly.
You have to look at what the size of your audience is, how are you going to reach them? How you are going to meet those artistic needs?
Because a lot of people also, especially extroverts, they quit the day job and they're home alone and they can't write because they don't realize they actually need people around them. Those are often the artists that end up in Starbucks working away at the computer, because they need that buzz of the noise and the people around them.
I'm a hermit by nature, so for me, leaving the hustle and bustle of the ER and all that chaos and retreating into my solitude to write was heaven. So that really wasn't a problem for me, but you have to understand yourself to see if that is going to be a problem.
The other thing you touched upon, I don't think it's so much about genre because I have seen some people have literary successes by publishing stories that aren't quite genre-niche publishing. They're more women's fiction or literary fiction.
But here's the trick: they knew their audience, they had a plan to reach them whether they were doing it themselves or hiring someone to help them with that, and they were writing more than one book a year. And that's the real trick, is that I really think, and this is the advice I give to anyone just starting out, don't even think about doing it until you have at least three completed and edited books targeted to the same audience. And that's a real key.
I'm not talking about an erotic romance and an inspirational treatise and a YA novel. I'm talking about three stories targeted to your audience before you start to think about self-publishing those. Because if you hit that right chord with your readers, they're going to want more but they're not going to wait. You can't build a career by making people wait.
Think it out ahead of time and have a plan, which for a lot of us, we don't want to do that. We want to be spontaneous and we finished the book and, “Oh, I just want to hit click and publish it.” Or I want to submit it to New York City and get that seal of approval.
It's really important that you educate yourself, not just on how publishing works, both self-publishing and traditional publishing, but how you work and how you can get the work done.
It's funny because you think, “Well I'm right here. I can talk to myself and figure this out.” But that's often our biggest stumbling block, is figuring out what we need and why we're doing this and what we want out of it rather than what the rest of the world is needing or, you know, how we can meet those needs and make some money from it and make a living at it.
Joanna: Coming back on the traditional publishing vs. indie. I'm mostly an indie author. I have a couple of tiny deals, but most of my income is from indie published books. Now what's great about the money that comes from indie is that it comes every month. We get paid by Amazon and Kobo and iBooks and Draft2Digital and everyone else – every month. So as we record this it's the end of the month and all the money just arrived in my bank account.
CJ: I know what you mean.
Joanna: We love counting our money. It's fun, but I have 20 books, you have 30 plus books. We have a lot of books, so there's some money coming in. But what I like about it is that I know how much is coming in.
60 days before I know how much money is going to come into my bank account. I can do a cash flow forecast. Barnes and Noble has missed a couple I believe, but mostly people pay. We are paid on time at the end of the month and we know how much it's going to be. Now that might be a smaller amount every month for a longer period.
Whereas traditional publishing is a spike income and you might not know when the hell it's going to come. And it might not reconcile to anything. Would that be true?
CJ: This is an argument I have quite often with friends of mine that are traditionally published and just flat out refuse to ever consider self-publishing. As much as they love the idea of getting paid every month, and I'm very honest with them. I say, “I actually make more in a month with my self-published books than I do in a year from my traditionally published books, and that even includes years when I get paid my advances.”
Because when you're going for traditional publishing – this is how it is with New York City publishing. It's a little different with the foreign markets, I've been published now in 14 different countries, so you know, each one is a little different. But most people are looking towards New York City or London when they're thinking of big traditional deals.
The way it works for New York City is that if you're getting a significant advance, which is the money they're paying you ahead of time, you still have to pay that back. You have to earn it out. So you're not going to make any extra money until you sell enough copies to make back that advance for them. And often that advance is divided depending on how big it is, into up to three to four different segments of time.
If I sold a book to New York City today and I signed a contract today, in about six weeks I would get the first payment. My contracts are big enough that they usually want to pay them out over at least three installments. So there'll be a third of the advance.
When I turned in the manuscript on time and it's accepted, I have never worked with an editor that has responded on time even though that's in the contract that they have to respond within so many days, it has never happened. I've had 14 books published by major New York publishers, so they just work in a different time frame. That's just like, in the big leagues that's just how it works, so you can't plan on it.
Once they accept the manuscript then you get a payment, and then on publication day you will get a payment. If I sign a contract today, and if I turned in the book in a month, I still may not have a pub date until 2018 in New York City.
So you can't say, “Oh, I got $150,000 advance, that means I may get $150,000 this year to live on.” Uh-uh. You've got to divide up and it's going to be paid out over several years, and then you might not make another dime for your entire life. You may not see another dime from that book unless you kept sub rights and you know, sold those out. Or until you sell through, which means you have to pay that advance back and then you'll start getting royalty checks.
New York City publishers right now, they pay twice a year. I just got royalty checks from Random House in…so it's September, and those royalty checks were paying money from books sold between December 2015 and June 2016.
Joanna: I just got one here on my desk from my German publisher and it's wrong, and I'm like, “Okay, there we go.” This happens every six months and I won't get that money until that's sorted out. The reason why we're talking about this is because if you get a six-figure deal today from a publisher, don't give up your day job. That's basically what we're saying.
CJ: Do the math first.
Joanna: Do the math first. Basically take out your agent's 15%, take out the money for tax. We always have to remember to pay our taxes. And then, like you say, if it's split over the next three years for example, you are left with not very much money.
Let's talk about multiple streams of income. So I did not give up my job. And in fact still I call myself an author/entrepreneur because although I do make a six-figure income from book sales, I also make money from other things. So I sell online courses, I'm a professional speaker, I also have affiliate links which are commission payments for other things that I sell. These are normal kind of online business things. And I have as well as JF Penn and I have Joanna Penn writing non-fiction and I have thecreativepenn.com which generates money. And like, I'm flying off to America next week to speak at a conference.
I have these multiple streams of income and probably I can't even count them now. Probably 20 plus different forms of money coming in different days of the month, and I've built that up over the years. When I left my job in 2011 I was already making a couple of thousand dollars a month from other things.
What are the other multiple streams of income?
CJ: Here's the thing, Joanna. You were able to do that because you got in very early and you have an expertise that was valuable for people to pay you for that non-fiction side of things.
I was quite fortuitous that since I kind of figured out a lot of the things and it's funny, it's things that people are still creating courses on now. Like, in 2009, I was giving away free books with newsletter sign-ups and you know, now there's people that teach that and so there's all these things that people want to learn and they'll pay to learn it. I think as long as you are giving good value for that money it's an excellent income stream if you have the time for it.
Joanna: Writers as teachers: that's always been a business model, hasn't it?
CJ: That's what I'm saying. And if you're good at that and you have the time where it doesn't interfere with your creative schedule or your family life or you know, the other things that take that time away, I think that's a really great way to go.
And there are some excellent resources on learning how to do that and learning how to put together what they call passive streams of income. You know, like the online classes that you're not teaching live, so you only have to create them once and then they produce revenue.
A lot of people though, they don't feel comfortable with that. They don't have those kinds of resources. So I would advise if you're going to be writing full time, look at the alternative income streams that you can expect as a regular fiction author. Which means, take advantage of your sub rights.
That includes obviously the pie-in-the-sky, the TV or movie deal, but quite a number of indie authors have gotten that. I think both of us right now have movie agents and film agents shopping our particular books and series out there.
Look at your audio rights. Definitely use those. Audio's growing. You've done several podcasts on this. It takes an investment up front but it's well worth it. I have yet to have any audio book that I have done, and I hire some of the best narrators out there, so it does cost a pretty penny up front to invest in, but every single one has earned back that investment within several months. Definitely look at your audio rights.
Foreign rights. For a while there I was making more off of my foreign sales than I was off of my U.S. sales. So you know, you really have to look at those foreign rights. That was way back in the dark ages when Amazon was only paying 35% royalties. Now that they're 70, you know, that's no longer the case.
But there's a definitely rich and growing emerging foreign markets, global markets out there. So you know, there are ways to subsidize it. It's not just, “Oh I write this book, I sell only this book.”
Print as well, a lot of people forget about print. But you know, it's pretty easy and not very expensive to get your book formatted into print if you've created the eBook.
There are a lot of venues out there. I think the problem with a lot of them though is that you don't know how much money you will make. So it's hard to plan ahead and that's where people get jittery, because they're like, “Okay, it's going to cost me $5,000 to make an audio book. I don't know if I'm going to make that back or when I'll make that back or how much money I'll make on that project after I make it back.” And people get really concerned then because we don't like the unknown. We don't like the uncertainty of it.
Joanna: The point I want to make is that's much easier when you have a number of books. But what we're talking about here is people who might, you know, who are where I was in 2011, or where you were back in 2006.
I'm in a forum with a whole load of UK writers who, most of them, like 90% of them are considered full-time writers because that's their main income stream but they pretty much all have other income streams. Freelance writing I think is a really big one. People who write articles, but a lot of them have part time teaching roles on creative writing, like physically teaching creative writing at universities or classes.
What I wanted to do is take away any guilt or worry that people have. Like, if you give up your job to be a writer, you can be a writer/something else. A writer/teacher or a writer/freelancer writer.
There's a lot of pressure that says, “Well you should be making all your money from this particular thing,” but the reality is different. I felt that in some of the forums. It's like, “Oh, well you're not a proper writer because 100% of your income is not from fiction,” for example.
We don't agree with that. The way to consider it for the listeners is thinking about a portfolio career. It's, you know, having all these different income streams and hey, if you need to do some freelance writing to pay the rent, then do that while you work on your magnum opus, your epic fantasy.
CJ: When I was at that period where my first publishing contract had suddenly gotten cancelled, I was unemployed, I had no new contract at the time. I did some freelancing medical writing. I also did some developmental editing.
There's a lot of ways to earn money as a creative, whether you're turning it to copywriting and non-fiction or focusing only on the fiction or going with teaching, the income streams are out there.
To me, the biggest challenge was the time management, because I considered myself a novelist. A fiction writer. And I didn't want to walk away from my fiction and get so involved in these other businesses just to get a paycheck. Isn't that the same as, you know, going back to my day job?
So for me the biggest thing was the time management, the energy management. As an introvert I get drained very easily, it's hard for keep my creative focus if I'm trying to divided it in too many directions. So that's me knowing myself and knowing what I needed in order to focus on the real career, which for me was writing the fiction.
Joanna: I totally agree with you. Let's just talk a bit more about the physiological things, the mindset shift and as you mentioned.
We're both introverts and yet in that first year one of the things that really surprised me was cabin fever. Was being in my house. Now, I do, like today, I got up this morning and I went to a co-working space. I rent my own little room so I'm not in the open plan office, but I'm still getting out my house and going to a café. I'm walking.
I'm out on the fresh air, I'm drinking my coffee at the coffee shop and then I go and I do my writing and then I often walk to the next coffee shop.
CJ: You are just so much better at that than I am though. I'm a hermit and when I get up and I'm in the zone, it's hard to get me out of my chair, much less out of the house.
I have to set up alarms on my computer. Get up and walk for five minutes. Go get on the exercise bike. When I'm doing things that aren't the actual words on the page writing, but like editing, revising things, research, answering emails, I try to do that while I'm exercising if I can, whether it's on an exercise bike or what have you.
Definitely, definitely get out and walk. The sunshine, the fresh air, this is the doctor in me taking now. The rhythmic movements are all very important for creativity but if you're a real introvert, sometimes it's hard to get yourself to do that. So you need to know yourself and set yourself up for success. Even if it means just having a friend give you a call or send you a text saying, “Did you go outside in the sun and play today?” You know, whatever you need.
Joanna: What became very important for me was like, my husband would come home and he would go, and I would just talk at him. In the first year, it was like, “Why am I just spending all my time alone?”
The other thing is to grow a community and I think it needs to be people in physical life as well as online. We met a number of years ago online. We've since met in person, but some of my best friends now in real life, in physical life, are people that I met online, and they are not people I knew before in my old life. These are new friends that I've made since I've been a full-time author and I think this is so important to people.
Now, you can't just go out and suddenly make friends. But you literally have to start friend dating, in the way that you did when you started a new job. You actually have to make an effort to try and meet people, because you need that support.
Either if you're on your own or if you have a partner, they can't be everything in your life. You have to find the community and yes, so we're doing this interview on behalf of the Alliance of Independent Authors and that's a great place to start. Loads of business minded indies and creative people doing things differently.
CJ: And they're international so you can find someone who maybe doesn't live close to you in person but at least understands what you're going through no matter where you live. That's what I like about Alliance, is it's global reach.
I think you're right. The isolationism can be really hard for a lot of people to handle. I'm 10 years into this and I still struggle with that, because it is so much easier, especially when I'm on deadline. I can use that as an easy excuse to not go out to a book club or have lunch with a friend or something.
I try to make it a point to, at least once a week, have something that's social on my calendar, because otherwise I really would be a hermit and I'd have 20 cats or something like that.
Joanna: Are there any other sort of things that you think about? I mean probably one big thing to say is you mentioned incorporation earlier. You don't need to incorporate or have a limited company in Britain in order to do this full time.
You can leave your job without having a business in place, but what you do need is an understanding of income and expenses and a way to pay your bills. So that's important.
CJ: I would suggest go one step further. What I wish I had when I started out, because I did all these prep work on my own and you know, I've always been very frugal, so the downsizing and all that is easy. I wish I had had a financial adviser that understood the tax differences when you go freelance.
Here in the States we have an extra 15% self-employment tax, thank you very much, plus we have health insurance issues, things like that that other countries may not have to deal with. We also have this thing called Estimated Taxes that when you're self-employed you have to pay those quarterly based on an estimate of what your income is. Well as a writer, I have no clue what my income's going to be.
I wish I had someone that understood all these little details that were a little bit beyond me at the time and helped me plan ahead and helped me realize, “Okay I've got that part taken care of. I know what needs to be done. I have someone I can ask for help if I need to. Now I can go focus on the work,” instead of me trying to teach myself along the way.
I would advise anyone, especially if you're married and have a partner and it's both of you kind of making that leap of faith based on your creative career, sit down with someone and really look at the numbers. Someone that can be objective and give you good solid honest advice, because I think that might help you formulate a plan and feel more comfortable in whatever you decide.
Joanna: But in saying that we don't want to scare people off.
CJ: I'm just saying take that additional step. You'll feel more comfortable once you make your decision because one of the things that I have seen so many times happen to other people is their partners get so invested in their creative career, that if they don't make huge money right away and sell a boat load of books right away they start to withdraw and get disappointment because they were thinking of it like writers in a movie or on TV, like Castle. It's like, “Oh, yeah I wrote a book so I made a million bucks.”
Joanna: No, that does not happen.
CJ: But people don't realize, you know? They are programed and conditioned to think that, “Well if you're quitting your day job to be a writer you're going to be a New York Times bestseller and sell a million books and go to book signings and have a thousand people lined up to get your autograph.”
Then you realize, “No, it's showing up every day and typing something on the keyboard.” I think just taking that extra time to get that comfort zone established both physiologically and financially, takes a lot of the pressure off of your creative soul so that you can be a little more free to explore creative options.
Joanna: I also want to come back to that guilt aspect, which I hear a lot of people at the moment go, “Do you know what? I'm going to go back to my day job. I'm just not making it.” And it's so important to say right now, that's completely fine. Let's not be romantic about where our money comes from or how we pay the bills. You are a writer if you're writing books and you're putting them out there.
Just one more personal note and then I'll just hand back to you to say whether it's worth it. I've been doing this now for five years. I'm so happy to be an author-entrepreneur. This is definitely the life that I was meant to live. I'm creatively fulfilled. I'm now making more money than I was when I had a day job, but it's taken five years full-time to get back up to that, and I definitely took a big drop at the beginning.
What I'm saying is you can be creatively and financially successful, but you have to sort all this stuff out along the way and run a business as well as be a creative person.
Why don't you also just finish up by saying is it worth it? Have the 10 years been worth it?
CJ: Hell yes! I left a career that for a small girl town in Pennsylvania, even going to college much less medical school, was a huge dream come true. Then to be able to leave such a fulfilling career of medicine and turn to an equally fulfilling career as an author and touching so many more lives than I ever could as a doctor.
For me it's not just the creative fulfillment, it's not just the finances, it's the ability to really be touching that audience. When you get that first fan mail that makes you cry because you changed a reader's life, that's just worth everything. That's priceless.
Absolutely, I would never turn anyone away from this career. I would just say before you do it full time and burn your bridges, just step back and think because I want you to have a parachute. I want you to have that soft landing so that you can hit the ground running and go off and write all those wonderful books that you need to write and get out into the world.
Joanna: Thank you, everyone, for watching this. This has been the Indie Author Fringe in Frankfurt Book Fair October 2016, and there is a worksheet for you to download that has a whole load of questions and a whole load of bullet points which will help you think about all the different things we've talked about and a whole load more.
It's a hell of a worksheet and both CJ and I have worked on this so we've put everything in there. The Alliance of Independent Authors obviously has a load of help as to how you can make different forms of income and you can find me at thecreativepenn.com and I have a book “Business for Authors” as well, which goes into this. And CJ, do you want to give out your website as well?
CJ: Yes, I'm cjlyons.net but it's really only fiction books. I don't have any website for authors anymore.
Joanna: The Alliance of Independent Authors website is allianceindependentauthors.org or you can go to selfpublishingadvice.org which is also the blog, so yes thank you so much CJ for your time. That was fantastic.
CJ: Thanks again Joanna.
Many thanks to Joanna and CJ for sharing your distilled wisdom on what is required to be a successful author/entrepreneur.
ALESHIA ROBINSON says
This was a great discussion but, wow. Both of you ladies were EXTREMELY PRIVILEGED at your previous jobs. Quitting is alot easier for those earning six figures especially with a spouse. Not making any excuses but some of us don’t have it that easy. Great insight into the mindset though. I love to hear other peoples journeys. Are there any rags to riches stories in the indie publishing community?
This discussion with CJ Lyons was probably the most important one I’ve read on your blog since I started reading it. Even though, I’m not readying to go full time yet, my long term goal is to be a full time writer. I have two novels published and a third due out later this year. I can appreciate the realistic aspect provided in going full time. There are a lot of things to consider.
This section of the transcript is key: Because a lot of people also, especially extroverts, they quit the day job and they’re home alone and they can’t write because they don’t realize they actually need people around them. Those are often the artists that end up in Starbucks working away at the computer, because they need that buzz of the noise and the people around them.
I’m a hermit by nature, so for me, leaving the hustle and bustle of the ER and all that chaos and retreating into my solitude to write was heaven. So that really wasn’t a problem for me, but you have to understand yourself to see if that is going to be a problem.
The other thing you touched upon, I don’t think it’s so much about genre because I have seen some people have literary successes by publishing stories that aren’t quite genre-niche publishing. They’re more women’s fiction or literary fiction.”
I’m realizing that you have to know who you are as a person and why you are writing. Those aspects are even more important than what market or genre you are trying to reach. I will refer to this transcript quite often. Thanks.
Joanna Penn says
I’m so glad you found it useful 🙂
r. r. campbell says
Thanks so much for this video! Near the end, it’s mentioned that there is a worksheet available to download, but I can’t seem to find it on this page. Is there any chance you could pass along a link to where I can find it?
Thanks again !
Joanna Penn says
It should be here: http://selfpublishingadvice.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/IAF_GoFullTime-CJLyons-JPenn.pdf
Mr Potato Head says
You spelt ‘pursuing’ wrong twice, I think? You spelt it ‘pursing’, which to me means: ‘to purse your lips’ for example. Whereas ‘pursuing’ means to ‘follow’. I could be wrong…