It’s a Fun Fact Friday!
Did you know…
Angels and Demons author, Dan Brown, was a pop singer and song writer.
Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was a Royal Air Force flying ace and intelligence officer.
J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, was unemployed and on state benefits. Five years later… Boom! Multi-millionaire.
While serving in WWII, Dr Seuss was the commander of the Animation Department, employed to create propaganda and promotional cartoons.
We all have to start somewhere. Sure, day jobs suck; it takes time away from writing. Everyone has to make money somehow. But never give up, because you just never know. What if J. K. had given up? Where would the world be without Hogwarts?
Since I began writing, I’ve been a registered nurse in Australia, an English teacher in Japan, an extra for commercials, a wedding photographer, and now a 400 ton dump truck driver in Canada. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
So what happens when you land your perfect agent, when you sign with a publisher, or even on the day of your novel’s release? You’ve made it! Do you quit your day job?
Before you put in your resignation, consider these harsh reality checks for your average new author:
- Authors only see approximately 10% of sales on each book.
- From the time you finish your beloved novel, it could be five years before your book hits the shelves. It can take months to find an agent. Then you need to get your novel ready for submission, which can involve major rewrites. It can take several months or longer to find a publisher interested in your novel, followed by negotiations, more editing, and finally the publisher can have up to two years to get your novel on the shelves.
- Marketing is left up to the author. When it comes to publicity, book tours, launch parties, and the like, it’s usually up to the authors themselves to not only organize these events, but also to foot the bill.
- An advance? If you’re an untested author, you might be lucky to get one. And even then, it won’t be the large sum it’s fabled to be.
- The chances of breaking-even with your first novel (ie. selling enough copies to cover the costs of producing the physical novel) are not great. Therefore, there’s a chance you won’t see any royalties beyond the initial advance.
- When your book hits the dreaded bargain bins, if you’re receiving royalties at this point, your profits take a huge hit.
- Just because you were published once, doesn’t mean you’re a shoe-in for your next novel. Finding that “publishable” idea doesn’t become any easier once you’re published.
So why do we do it?
Well, if you haven’t gone screaming for the hills after reading the above, it’s because you LOVE writing. You want to share your stories with the world. You’re not in this for the money or the glory, and if you are, you’re in for a rude awakening. But I suppose that’s what separates the writers who do it for love from the ones who are in it simply to get published.
The above points aren’t hard and fast rules. They’re simply generalizations for your average first time author. But look at how many books are on bookshelves today. Are they all best sellers? Nope. How do you avoid this? Think of your first novel like an investment in your career. Write a good novel, put your time in, work on your platform, build your audience, and enjoy the process. Don’t worry, after you’ve gone through the process once before, it will get easier. And remember, there is always the exception to the rule, those that breakthrough right away and experience success from the start. And I hope you’re it 🙂
But I want to know. What kinds of crazy jobs have you worked in order to live out your writing dreams? Please share in the comments below.