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Anyone making a living from fiction writing?

(12 Posts)
MathairMahoney Sat 05-Jan-13 22:37:47

Just curious. I have a professional job but got a book deal last year writing a series of YA books. Am on maternity leave at the minute and not sure how I'm going to juggle family / FT work / book contract. Going back to work soon too!

Is anyone writing FT as a career? I could afford to be the second income in our household so wouldn't need to earn mega bucks and I got a good advance which I have squirrelled away for a rainy day. Ideally I would go part time at work but it's not a great time to change terms and conditions, especially as it's hard to get jobs in my sector.

notnagging Sun 06-Jan-13 12:19:21

What's a YA?
I'm sure it's much easier nowadays to write & sell due to Amazon/kindle. My friend self published a book & sold on Amazon which I think is a good idea.

InMySpareTime Sun 06-Jan-13 12:28:06

I assume YA is young adult.

TheSecondComing Sun 06-Jan-13 12:29:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MathairMahoney Sun 06-Jan-13 13:30:13

Yeah sorry 'question' was written between bouts of baby colic / screaming last night so doesn't really read like a question!

I guess my intended question was: do many people manage to make a half-way decent living writing fiction? I remember years ago reading something about writers making on average 5K a year writing. I have a good agent and got a really good advance on 3 books (which is how most YA seems to be bought at the minute) but I know you're only as good as your next deal - plus will need to sell a lot of books to ever see any royalties. I guess the temptation is to jack in my professional job and have a more flexible lifestyle but I can see the risks in that.

So the real question: has anyone here jacked in a secure job to have a more risky freelance lifestyle (especially as a writer)? And did it work out for you?

pinkdelight Mon 07-Jan-13 12:10:33

I get what you're asking - it's a big leap to make. Some people with bags of confidence/self-belief/sense of entitlement call themselves writers and go full-time right away. But I wasn't confident enough and also felt the need to have a job - not for the money as much as a sense of security and, I guess, self-worth.

So when I made the leap, I gave up my FT professional job, but got another job for two days a week, giving me three days for writing. It really helped ease the transition and around three years later, I gave up the part-time job and am now writing freelance full-time and call myself a 'proper writer'! For a long time I felt like if the writing went tits-up, I'd go back to my old line of work, but now I feel experienced enough that I could parlay my writing experience into something else like teaching creative writing, writer in residence gigs, writing for other media etc.

It sounds like you've made a great start, and are well aware of how precarious things can be. If possible, I'd go part-time. If not, I'd take a career break and give the writing my all. You can afford to and with three books under your belt, you'll be in a very different position if you need another job in the future anyway. Good luck - and well done!

WilsonFrickett Mon 07-Jan-13 17:19:02

You are not going to get a better opportunity than a deal with an advance so I, personally, would be going for it big time. Are you going to have time to deliver your books if you go back FT and have a baby, for example? There's also lots of different freelance writing opportunities, none of them make a fortune in themselves but you can patch together a decent income, especially if you don't have work travel, clothes, possibly less childcare to fund, etc.

I know it's a leap of faith but most aspiring fiction writers I know would give their left one to be in your position. If you don't jump now, when will you?

MathairMahoney Mon 07-Jan-13 19:19:17

Thanks pink and Wilson you seem to understand what I'm getting at! I worked really hard to finish the book while still pregnant and working FT so was overjoyed to get the deal but at the minute I can't really enjoy the feeling as wondering how the hell I'm going to do everything IYSWIM. And I do feel like it's the kind of thing you get one awesome shot at and if I blow it I'll probably regret it forever. And like most writers I always wanted to write books, ever since I was a kid smile

The flip side is it's very hard to get jobs in my area, especially in my profession / level so if I go part-time there will be no way back from that for years and years to come. I probably do want another child if this one will ever grow out of colic! which would be the better time to take a career break (after number two). I guess I need to give it some thought. But pink I'm really happy it worked out for you - congratulations! smile And Wilson tell your aspiring writer friends it can still happen. Conditions are incredibly tough (always were but apparently things got really tough about 3 years ago) but I'm the living proof you can still get a good deal.

underthebluemoon Mon 07-Jan-13 19:26:03

Congratulations on your 3 book deal, that sounds amazing. Would you mind telling us how that came about and how you got your agent?

MathairMahoney Mon 07-Jan-13 20:54:50

A mixture of persistence and luck really bluemoon so the typical story smile I went to a writing class where the tutor (unbeknownst to me) had a book deal and was waiting for publication. She read the first few chapters of something I wrote and really liked it. Her agency were very literary so didn't have a teen / YA agent but I asked her if she would ask them for the names of some teen agents. By good luck they had someone about to start so I sent her my chapters and she really liked them.

This spurred me on to finish the book (which was always my problem) and send her the book. Alongside this I went to another writing event and met an editor from one of the big publishers and she also liked the chapters so sent her the book too when it was finished. Her interest helped snare my agent and she signed me. Ultimately the book didn't get published for various reasons so I started writing something totally different - and it got the deal.

And I should emphasize - the writing course was run by the local council and that was where I met the tutor AND heard about the event where I met the editor. So you don't need to 'know people' to get published - just be proactive, take opportunities where you find them and most of all don't give up if you get a knock back - start writing the next book. Ironically my first book got a small offer just before the second one went out on sub and I turned it down as I had a good feeling about the new one - rightly as it's the one that got the 3 book deal. It was a gamble but it paid off.

WilsonFrickett Mon 07-Jan-13 23:29:44

Finishing your books and getting out there and promoting them isn't really a career break though, it's a new career. And your publisher will expect their pound of flesh (quite rightly so) when it comes to marketing etc, I think if you try and fit it in round another job you're setting yourself up to fail in both of them.

Put it this way. My first book is half written, I'm a copy writer, I work part-time round school and trying to finish the book and I earn substantially more than 5k a year. There's money to be made in writing, if not necessarily fiction writing, and you're not going to be able to exploit those opportunities if you're still tied to your desk.

IMO. Of course.

underthebluemoon Mon 07-Jan-13 23:50:52

mathair, thanks for your reply. I hope you make the best decision. Also let us know when the books are out!

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