Indie Authors Quitting Their Day Jobs

Self Publishing

I know I spent the majority of July blogging about the harsh reality of being an indie author but after exposing you to the awful truth, I thought I’d expose you  to another truth, this one sweeter and, believe or not, just as possible. I haven’t sold enough books to make writing my full-time gig just yet. In fact, on top of writing every day I also work sixty hours a week between my two jobs. It’s exhausting and I long for the day when I can give it all up and just live in my yoga pants in front of my laptop. But even though that might sound like a pipe dream coming from someone who has sold less than a hundred books in the past two years, the truth is it’s not. The truth is being a successful mid-list writer isn’t just attainable, but if I continue to put out quality books and build my readership one person at a time, it’s actually inevitable.

If you’re a follower of The Passive Voice then you’re probably already aware of their popular post, Indie Authors Quitting Their Day Jobs. It’s pretty infamous among aspiring and experienced writers alike because it’s a running list of indie writers who have had the pleasure of leaving the drudgery of nine to five behind. More than 500 comments have accumulated just in the past couple of months from indie authors who not only make a living wage from their writing but from writers who were able to pay off their mortgage, or bless their spouse with an early retirement, or build their dream home, or get out of debt all because they took a risk. Because they had the guts to publish their work on their own. Because they had the guts to believe in themselves.

I know I’ve often warned those new to self-publishing not to let their expectations get out of control or to craft a dream that relies more on luck than hard work but I also don’t want any of us to stop hoping. Because this is what can happen when we hope. When we believe in something so strongly that we’re willing to risk everything in order to make it happen. Not all of these indie authors are mega-rich. In fact, most of them don’t make much more than what’s required to pay their bills. But whether they’re selling thousands of copies a month or just a few hundred, these authors are still living the dream. Because they’re writing every day and no one is telling them what they should write about or how or when or to hurry or slow down or change this or change that. They are in control of their words and because they’ve stayed so true to them, they are in control of their lives.

Creative and financial freedom can go hand in hand, all it takes is a lot of drive and a lot of patience. For some of these authors it took years to build their readership, their backlists in the double digits before they finally started generating steady sales. For others it took even longer. But they kept going, hoping for success but never wishing for it. And then it happened. It can happen for us too. If we just keep writing, every single day, it can happen for us too.

11 thoughts on “Indie Authors Quitting Their Day Jobs

    1. I know, I wish they’d reopen them or create a new post because reading all of those comments was certainly inspiring. And addicting. I’m pretty sure I devoured all of them in one day. I’m just glad that indie authors who are still struggling can look to all of these real-life examples of attainable success.

  1. In the midst of so much staggering reality about how little indie (even traditionally-published) authors might make from their work, this is highly encouraging!

    Bad link though? I got an error 404 on the Passive Voice blog.

    1. Coincidentally they decided to reopen the comments and move the post back to the home page so it must have effected the link. I’ve added the new one if you want to check it out.

  2. “if I continue to put out quality books and build my readership one person at a time, it’s actually inevitable.” This is a very important point to remember. One I should have pinned over my desk for those times of self-doubt.

    1. I definitely think it’s a daily reminder worth putting somewhere important. After reading every comment on the aforementioned post I realized that building a readership is something that takes years. But regardless of how quickly or slowly you find your audience, as long as you’re building those connections, one day it’s inevitable that, out of the billions of people on this planet, you will find enough of them who enjoy your work to be able to make a living as a writer.

  3. Personally I’m not even sure I’d take the chance of going full-time even if it were possible. Writing would immediately turn into a job and I’m not sure I’d enjoy it any more then. At present, if I choose not to write for a week I still eat.

    1. They key word you’ve pointed out here is, “chance.” Going full time is a huge risk even if your sales are steady. Success is just as fleeting as failure and you never know when the tides may change. I took a semi-sabbatical last year and realized that writing full time can be just as draining and stressful, if not more, as a nine to five job when you’re not making enough to pay your bills. I blogged about the experience and consider that time to be a huge lesson learned. I would much rather be able to pay my bills and write on the side than to write full-time and constantly be worried about how I’m going to make ends meet. The only way I’ll give up either of my two jobs is if I reach a level of success that I truly believe can be maintained, although, it’s hard to know what exactly that means.

  4. Wow, I’d never even heard of this blog post and yet I find myself considering this same move. Thanks for the inspiration!

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