I'm terrible about updating this blog, but I'm trying to get better... I thought this would be an interesting place to start. When people find out I am a full-time author, they don't believe me at first. When they finally do, they inevitably ask the question, "What is it like?" I get it, prior to September of last year, I couldn't fathom it either.
First, being a full-time author is exactly as awesome as you would imagine it to be. I set my own deadlines, I report to no one, my work is 100% flexible. I can do it anywhere, anytime, any way that works for me. I am doing professionally what I did for fun just two short years ago! I mean, I literally just make up stuff and write it down for a living.
There's gotta be a downside, right?
Sort of. As Cypress Hill said, "It's a fun job, but it's still a job." If I pushed back that next book by 6 months, it would mean you couldn't buy it, and I won't get paid! There's no free lunch out there as an independent writer. I get paid when people buy. So, while I can set my deadlines, I still have to produce. Writing one book and settling into a comfortable retirement of tooling around at the beach is a myth. Modern independent, successful writers WRITE! One book does not make a career. If I didn't regularly produce, the fridge is going to be stocked with Natural Ice instead of delicious IPAs, and the kids are going to be wearing my old gym shorts as dress pants.
The other angle, which is good or bad depending on how you look at it, is that as an independent writer, writing is just part of the gig. The other part, which is just as necessary, is marketing. I could write the best book that has ever been put down on paper, but if no one knows about it, what's the point? Some independent writers fail because they don't WRITE, other fall out here because they don't MARKET. Art for its own sake is a waste of time, in my view. People have to experience it to have value, and for people to experience it, they have to know about it. You have to market.
Another curve ball for me personally, I'm running a small press on the side (Cobble Publishing). We have our first outside author releasing in April, then another in May, then another in July, then the second books start to come out... As you can imagine, there's a lot that goes into that with editing, production, marketing, and so on. That's something most authors don't deal with, but it's something I felt was necessary for balance when I went full-time. I can only burn the creative candle for so long before it burns out. The small press is my way of staying in the publishing business while I let my creative batteries recharge.
So, what does all of this look like in real life?
I have a home office, and that is where I work 90% of the time. It's comfortable, the commute is short, and the coffee is cheap. It also allows me to take breaks to play with the kids, walk the dog, and so on. I'd like to stick some naps in there as well, but I've been too busy recently.
Most mornings, I set the alarm clock for 6am. I take my time getting up, turn on the coffee pot, and I'm usually at the computer by 6:15am (ok, ok, I do fall back asleep a few days a week). I bang out my most productive hour of writing or editing until the kids wake up at 7:15. From there, I may keep going if the wife is up, or I help with breakfast and getting the kids out the door. The rest of the morning, I help with the kids off and on, walk the dog about a mile every day, go to the gym maybe twice a week, and work. Typically, my mornings are for writing or editing.
When writing, my goal is 3,000 words a day. I do about 2 months on writing, 2 months on re-writes and edits, and after that, it's off to the professional proof-reader for a few weeks, then final proofing.
Afternoons, assuming I've hit my writing/editing goals for the day and don't have a looming deadline, are for administration and marketing. I devote more time to this than other authors because of the small press. For me as an author, this includes things like this blog, advertising campaigns, organizing finances, putting together newsletters, Facebook posts, etc. For my own writing, this isn't more than an hour a day. The rest of my time is spent doing activities for my small press (and there are a literally endless amount of activities I could be doing).
I usually finish up my day at 4:30pm and switch into family mode. I do most of the cooking and beer drinking in the house. In the evening, I stay focused on the kids until we put them to bed, then stay focused on spending time with the wife until we go to bed. At this stage in our life, we rarely go out and party (do you know what babysitters charge these days!?!)
On the weekends, I keep most Saturdays free of work, but I put in 2-3 hours every Sunday. I also will work an evening every two weeks or so.
I could do this anywhere in the world, but we have 3 kids - 7 months to 5 years old - so we're not going on a lot of super exotic trips these days. In the old day job, I was traveling internationally 25% of the year, and that was simply too much with an infant at home. I'm slowly getting back into the saddle though, and have 5 business trips, and about the same number of personal trips scheduled in 2018. I'll share photos on my Facebook, if you're into that kind of thing.
So, is being a full-time writer all it's cracked up to be? Yeah, it is. It's incredible. But when people ask why I'm not writing this on a beach in Costa Rica, I tell them I'm still a parent, and that's one job I'm never getting out of.