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I met Hildie at a conference years ago when she was just starting out as an author. Over the years I watched her grow her business into the thriving success it is today, so when I chose the topic of “When to go full time” for #IndieMonth2017, I knew Hildie was the perfect author to pass on this message. And I simply LOVE what she’s brought for us today. I hope you do too, and I encourage you to leave her a note in the comments if something she says touches you. <3
The term “starving artist” is not an exaggeration. Anyone who writes knows this to be true. So yeah, there are some Cinderella stories of authors who immediately begin making loads of money with their first book. Believe me when I tell you for every one of those fairy tales, there are about 10,000 of us who have had to struggle.
For every Cinderella story, there are 10,000 of us who have had to struggle.
So how do you know if it’s safe to go full time as a writer? Ask yourself these simple questions. If you’re married, are you prepared financially to live on one income? Or do you have enough saved up to go a few years without a full-time job income? Do you have emotional support for those days when things get rough? Are you the type that is self-motivated? If your answers are yes, then you’re probably on the right path.
The thing is, there is no right answer, but I will give you some guidelines that hopefully will make you fell better about whatever decision you make.
First of all, let me talk about how I ended up writing full-time. I was pretty happy with my arrangement in 2013. I worked for the government as a contractor by day and wrote in the evenings. At that time, I was with a very small press. I wasn’t making any money. I would say, in a good month, I made about $130 with my writing.
Then two things happened. I decided to write my first historical western, and my government contract was abruptly terminated. After working over thirty years for the government, I didn’t even consider I could do something different. It was my husband who stopped my job hunting expedition and suggested I follow my dream to be a full-time writer. I was both excited and terrified.
“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, after all, that is where the fruit is.”
~ Mark Twain
From everything I’ve read, it takes faith in yourself and in your ability to become successful. It also means stepping out in faith and taking a risk. Personally, I didn’t feel that we were financially prepared. But my husband is such a faithful man, he never doubts that things happen for a reason and that God will provide. Good thing he had enough to pull us both through. Those first few months were pretty rough. I was depressed about losing my job, and my writing wasn’t selling squat. But we adjusted and made some changes. I kept writing. It took about two years to get to the point where I replaced my income. Phew!
Becoming a full-time writer takes faith in yourself and in your ability to become successful.
All right, so here’s my advice. First of all, you should have a plan. I suggest a two-year business plan, because after all this is a business. If you’re quitting your job, you’re serious. Being serious means putting in the time and effort. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t know I was going full-time, so I floundered for a bit, not sure what direction to go in. It was a monumental waste of precious time.
Hildie’s advice: Have a two-year business plan. Write & edit a full series. Nurture your social presence and build a team of readers.
If you are planning to self-publish, then have a series written and edited. Have six books polished and ready to go. Publish them on a schedule. I suggest one per month. Have your ads, blogging posts, and all media advertising set up. Get the books to a team of readers (at least fifteen) that will post up reviews as soon as you publish your books.
Have a social presence. Ensure you have a good following on at least two social platforms. Twitter and Facebook are great, so are Instagram and Pinterest. Once you have a good following, get to know your followers. Set up a weekly schedule, so that at least twice a week you are posting about your writing. Settings, heroes and heroines, excerpts, blurbs and blunders make for amazing interaction. Readers want to get to know you too, so at least a couple times a week share something personal. It can be about pets, cooking, gardening, travel. Share something and ask questions. Once your books are released, post links and graphics once or twice a week. Don’t overdo it.
Don’t do a cover reveal without a link to where they can preorder.
Market your books. Don’t do a cover reveal without a link to where they can preorder. Set up your preorder for the first book and be sure all the advertising happens at the same time. Once the first book releases, ensure the next one is up for preorder and so on.
While these six books are going through the cycle, you’re writing the spin-off series. Why a spin-off? Because readers don’t’ want to start in the middle of a series. You can always attract new readers with the spin-off because it will be “book one” to them. The current readers will follow you into the spin-off.
What if you do all this and still are not making money? You’re freaking out because you’re on a ramen budget. Put the first book in your series on sale. Do a big sale and run it across all advertisers and especially on Facebook. Submit for a BookBub ad. That reminds me, make sure your first book is at least 150 pages long so it qualifies for BookBub.
If you’re still not making money, put the first book in your series on sale.
Another thing I want to mention is to join groups online for your specific genre. Author groups that exchange and cross-promote are great for exposure. Reader groups in your genre are a good place to get to know their expectations and also a place to introduce yourself and your writing.
Last but not least, like any other thing that’s worth it, writing is a marathon. It’s not, nor will it ever be, a get rich quick profession. You must be passionate, or I can guarantee you, you won’t make it.
Writing is a marathon, not a get rich quick profession.
An editor that rejected my manuscript once asked me, “What would you do if you never sell a book?”
My reply was, “I can’t not write. So, I’ll keep writing. It’s what makes me happy.”
Her reply, “That is the right answer.”
Good luck and get to writin’!
USA Today Bestselling Author
Check out Hildie’s newest release, Jaded: Luke, from her Laurel Creek series!Jaded: Luke by Hildie McQueen
Published by Pink Door Publishing on June 6, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Western
Add it to your To Read shelf: Goodreads
Buy or reserve your copy online at*: Amazon (Kindle) | B&N | iBooks | Kobo
Find the Author: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
Haunted by PTSD and a failed marriage, Luke Hamilton returns home to Laurel, Montana. Going home isn’t an easy fix, but it beats ending up in prison or dead. At first the familiar surroundings and open land seem to set things right, but soon his old demons rear their ugly heads and he realizes it's the wrong time to enter any relationship.
Leah Morgan’s experience in the corporate world has prepared her to prosper her father’s ranch in Montana. She knows everyone expects her to fail, but nothing will stop her from turning the ranch around and selling it to the highest bidder – especially not a rancher. The quicker she closes the deal, the sooner she can get out of Laurel and move on with her career.
But when Luke and Leah cross paths, they both discover that starting over can be a complicated business.
Nothing much scares Luke Hamilton these days, except maybe hope...
*This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.
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