Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Guest Post by Jude Hardin

Pushing the Button by Jude Hardin

I’m sitting here with my finger on the button. I’ve been sitting here for a while.

I wrote the email days ago, saved it as a draft. I printed it out, and I’ve read it a hundred times. I’ve memorized it. I know it by heart. It speaks to me in my dreams.

My letter of resignation.

I’ve been with the same company for fifteen years. It’s a good company. They treat me well. I am comfortable there, and I earn a good living. New house, new car. I’m paying my bills on time every month, and I’m even managing to save some. I’m living the American dream, and I am very, very unhappy.

Because it isn’t what I want to do. It isn’t what I was put here to do.

I was put here to write fiction.

Really, Jude? What makes you so special? What makes you think you can actually make a living writing novels? Do you realize how many people have tried and failed? People way more talented than you? Are you delusional?

Maybe. But when you know, you know.

I know.

I’m sitting here with my finger on the mouse, just a click away from freedom.

But freedom comes with a price. Always.

I know I was put here to create stories. I know I have some game. I know I have a much better chance of making it if I can commit to writing full time.

Still, it’s a scary thing.

Not pushing the button means security. A steady paycheck, full benefits, paid vacations. How can I just quit a good job like that, with so many folks desperate for work these days?

I get up from my desk and walk away. No, I can’t do it. It’s too risky. I’ll just wait a while and see what happens, I tell myself.

And then I sit back down and put my finger on the button again.

Last year I signed a multi-book contract with Amazon’s Thomas and Mercer imprint for my Nicholas Colt thriller series. My wonderful agent Jane Dystel negotiated the deal, and I’m very happy with it. CROSSCUT goes on sale today. It’s my first book with Amazon, and the second in the series. I’m looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with Thomas and Mercer.

But does a deal like that guarantee my success as an author?

Of course not. If my books don’t sell, I don’t make money. I’m not at liberty to discuss the details of my contract, but that’s basically what it boils down to. That’s basically what every book deal boils down to, unless there’s a life-changing advance involved.

Amazon’s terms are way better than any other publisher I know of, but you still have to move product to collect coin.

So how in the hell can I even think about pushing that button? Why not just wait and see how the books do?

That would be the safe thing to do. Some people might even say it would be the sane thing to do.

But is it the right thing for me to do? Today?

I’m sitting here thinking about it, and it’s absolutely gut-wrenching.

From a very young age, I knew that someday I would write a novel. I kept putting it off, and life happened, and then one day I was forty-something. I decided it was time. Three novels and multiple rejections later, I finally landed an agent for an early version of POCKET-47, the first Nicholas Colt book. I was on my way!

After the book was pitched around New York, after it was read and praised by—and ultimately rejected by—multiple heavyweight editors at multiple big houses, the agent and I parted ways and I sold the book myself to a small press.

It launched to some very nice reviews, most notably a starred review in PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY, and suddenly literary agents and film production companies were querying me.

Which was nice.

But I knew the agent I wanted, and Mr. Joe Konrath was kind enough to give me a referral, and one thing led to another, and the rest is history.

And here we are.

And here I am, with my finger on the button, knowing that if I push it my life will be, for better or for worse, irrevocably changed.

Just do it, I tell myself. What’s the worst that could happen?

Destitution comes to mind.

But to get anywhere in life, you have to believe in yourself. And once you believe in yourself, you have to be willing to take a risk. You have to dance like nobody’s watching. You have to be willing to bet the house on a roll of the dice.

Once you know who you are, and know your purpose, you have to invest heavily, against all odds, in the one thing you have some degree of control over.

And that one thing is you.

I’m sitting here with my finger on the button, tears rolling down my cheeks, every nerve ending in my body on fire, and a booming guttural primordial yawp erupts from somewhere deep in my chest, and I push that motherfucker, I push it and watch it fly.

And now it is done.

And I feel better about it than I’ve ever felt about anything.

Joe sez: No guts, no glory. We've all heard that expression. But few people get to actually test it. 

Are you ready to quit your job and write full time? I was lucky enough to have that happen ten years ago, with my first book deal. These days, writers have more opportunity for sales via self-publishing, but we don't have the big advance money upfront that could make the decision easier. 

Every writer needs to figure out what their goals are, and decide upon the best ways to reach those goals. Quitting your job to write full time is a big risk, with no guarantees. Remember that luck is extremely important. You can write a great book and it could take years to find an audience. It might not find an audience within your lifetime. Betting your entire future on luck may not be a wise way to approach life.

If you are thinking about writing full time, here are some questions you might ask yourself before telling your boss to go to hell.

Do I Write Quickly? The faster you can write, the better chance you have at making a living. I can comfortably write four novels a year, plus a handful of shorts.

What Is My Financial Situation? You need to understand how much money is required to stay afloat, and when you guess how much your book income will bring in, guess low. Ebooks aren't a steady paycheck. Sales fluctuate. 

Do I Have A Back-Up Plan? Do you have money put aside if things get rough? Would your job take you back six months from now? Do you have an alternate stream of income (spouse, investments)?

What About Insurance? I couldn't afford health insurance the first seven years I was writing full time. I got really lucky my family had no serious health issues. 

Can I Write? Every writer thinks they can write good books. But not every writer actually writes good books. Obviously, some people are deluding themselves. Are you one of them? How do you know for sure?

We all have different goals, and there are many ways to reach those goals. There are no right ways and wrong ways. The best plans can be derailed by bad luck. The worst plans sometimes succeed. But the more informed we are, the more we understand, the likelier we are to make smart choices.


Jude Hardin said...

Joe, thanks so much for having me here. I'll be traveling today, but I'll pop in this evening and address any comments. Feel free to ask questions, or to simply stop by and tell me how crazy I am!

JR Holmes said...

Best of luck to you, and a gift of whatever confidence I can spare as you take a step that I'm not yet able to.

This is one of those steps that seems so easy, but carries with it a tremendous weight from all those years of security and playing it safe. It is a brave thing you are doing and I know that you must have some great family backing you up on the decision.

Sarah Wynde said...

The worst part is when you push that button and then your boss calls and says, "No, please don't go, what can we give you? We really need you." And then you have to rethink the decision, again and again. And when they say, "If you ever want to come back..." on your way out the door, then you still have the thought lurking in the back of your head as you face the insecurities of writing. Pushing the button becomes just a step on the road.

Best of luck to you, I hope it works out!

Shelley said...

Jude, kick ass and take names.

Mike Dennis said...

Way to go, Jude. I made that decision when I quit a corporate job to become a musician. I quit cold with only five weeks of gigs in front of me. It turned into a 30-year career during which time I never held another job.

Then I turned my back on music to become a professional poker player, which I succeeded at for about six years, until I made one last, lurching shift. Yes, you guessed it. I quit poker to become a writer.

What got me through all of this was never looking back. I was going forward, not backward, and I always kept my eye in that direction, seeking opportunities and options.

jtplayer said...

Nice post.

Good luck Jude. So few ever get to make a living at what they truly enjoy. Kudos to you for making the jump.

Unknown said...

Congrats on finding the courage, Jude. I've been having that same debate with myself, and while I make more writing now that I do with my dayjob, I am just too chicken to push that button lol. Good for you for following your dream and doing what makes you happy :)

Traci Hohenstein said...

Congrats on your decision Jude. I pulled the trigger last year myself. After 16 years, I quit my day job selling real estate in a resort town in Florida. I haven't looked back since!

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

Congrats, Jude! I can't push that button yet, but some day I will :)

Anonymous said...

Good luck, Jude!

I pressed the button seven years ago to launch a company and maybe one of these days I'll press it again for writing fiction.

But for those who haven't pressed the button, listen to Joe. And definitely me. You want to have a shitload of savings. No, I mean a shitload.

You want to write full-time? Start saving your money. For about a year. Really, two.

I ended up divorced, nearly bankrupt, and living rent free in a friend's basement.


Beginning today. And pursue your dreams. With grit and determination and love.

Unknown said...

My husband was in the cut flower business for 28 years. A year and a half ago he cashed in his stock options (or ‘our retirement’ as I like to call it when I’m terrified) and he bought a farm to grow his own flowers. He jumped. See, I AM the one with the job providing the security right now. Still, he wants me to jump too. He tells me that I can write all day long. But he’s brave, and I’m a big giant scaredy pants pooh pooh head. Am I a prolific enough writer to spend the rest of my life doing it all day long? Yeah. Am I crazy enough to give up this great job that I have with an insurance plan that covers both of us AND his son? Not yet, man, but I’m working on it. I’d like to get a few books on Amazon first because I like to wade in, (at least that’s what I like convincing myself of these days… I’m too old to be that crazy. I’m too responsible to let go. I’m a grown woman, for Pete’s sake, I can’t be that frivolous now). Meanwhile, tick, tick, tick…

My husband is an inspiration to me, as is Mr. Hardin. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Karen Woodward said...

Jude, thank you for sharing your story, it was inspirational. Best of luck.

Joe, great advice! There's nothing wrong with jumping off a cliff--people who bungee jump do it all the time!--provided you know the risk and have prepared to manage that risk.

kathie said...

Hi Jude, that was a really nice post--you showed a different side than I typically see of you here! Clearly you are talented, so congrats and good luck. You've made a strong choice--I'm sure you'll be rewarded. Work hard and enjoy every minute of your new work life. I'm sure you will...can't wait for updates!

Nancy Beck said...

Good luck to you, Jude! I'm not at the point where I can do that - heck, I still don't have enough product out there, but I will soon (life has been doing a number on me lately, sigh), as I near the end of the 1st book in a new series.

And, Jude, you always came off as a classy guy, so I couldn't be happier for you! :-)

@Mike Dennis - What a wonderful attitude you have! To quit a corporate job cold turkey and have a 30 year career in music, and then go on to be a (hopefully) winning poker player, and now to reinvent yourself yet again as a writer...I really admire you.

Well, back to finally finishing that first draft. :-)

Anonymous said...

Kudos, Jude! I wish you every success!

As someone with a six-figure annual income, I am walking the same path. It's a difficult choice to make: freedom (to fail, to go into debt, and maybe, just maybe, to succeed) versus current affluence and the facade of certain security (you know, if you can look past frequent lay-offs that whittle away more and more of your colleagues and friends while piling more work on your desk).

I hope to push that button in the next six months. Currently paying down debt and stockpiling receivables that will convert to cash, and building up passive income.

I like that I'm pretty comfortable with Joe's checklist. I can write and I can write quickly (part of that passive income stream is already published ebooks that are well-ranked and frequently chart on Amazon). I have an employed spouse with a job that has more than just a facade of security and great health insurance through him. My work history is damn near impeccable, so I can go back to industry, if not to the same employer that I'm so eager to get away from. And I've got the finances mapped out so that once I hit certain markers, I can push the button. The hardest parts are waiting (because part of the delay is pure caution) and convincing my husband he can't have a speedboat or a lakeside cabin or any of the dozens of other expenses he's eyeballing. :-)

Again, best of luck!

Adam Pepper said...

Very courageous, Jude! Good luck.

Merrill Heath said...

jtplayer said: Good luck Jude. So few ever get to make a living at what they truly enjoy. Kudos to you for making the jump.

My sentiments exactly. I hope to be able to do the same in a few years. Just not quite there yet.

Stella Baker said...

Jude, I bought and read Pocket 47 some time ago. You do have game and I wish you great success. Since this is a ‘push the button’ kind of post, I’ll join in: I pushed the button the day before Thanksgiving in 2005. I work part-time for steady extra income (I’m a librarian) and found that I really love working part-time (it doesn’t suck me dry like full time work). To add steadiness to the finances, a couple of years ago I took retirement benefits at the ‘earlier rather than later’ point. My husband works, mostly part-time, and we have significant savings, though I’d certainly not call us rich. The only financial worry is something both you and Joe mentioned: health benefits. We’ve got insurance but it is shockingly expensive.

I waited years for my husband and me to be in the financial position to push that button. Thanksgiving 2005 we decided we were. While you’ve got to be smart and prepared, you also have to live the life that makes you happy. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Good luck with the new book and Happy Trails!

Craig Allen said...

Jude, best of luck to you. I hope to be pushing the button myself some day.

Tim McGregor said...

That must have felt great pushing that button, Jude. Thanks for posting that. Inspirational.

And thanks Joe, for the pragmatic approach to preparing for the jump.


Unknown said...

Thanks, Jude. Great article. Best wishes to your success--I share your dream, and can relate to your, "freedom comes with a price" comment.

Jan S. said...

There's a quote attributed to Mark Twain that applies here:

"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So throw away the bow lines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails."

I've pushed that button a number of times in my life. Each time, whether the results were what I wanted/expected or something different - I never regretted it. It was always a step onto a new path in life, a path I wouldn't have lived had I not pushed that button.

Congratulations, Jude, and best of luck to you.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Congrats! And good luck Jude!

Aric Mitchell said...

A few questions I have for you authors, Joe included, who finally started seeing return on their writing time investment.

I know with quantity comes results, but has there been a sweet spot in your opinion for how many titles you should have out before you start to see $1k-$4k income per month. What have the experiences been for those of you that have achieved these milestones? 1, 5, 10 titles? And were all those titles short stories, novels/novellas, or a healthy mix? And if a mix, what would you say percentage-wise--50 novels/50 shorts, 60/40, 70/30, etc.?

Obviously, I know that if you suck, it doesn't matter if you have 25 titles out, you're not gonna be in Jude's position--by the way, congrats Jude!--but if you're a competent writer, who is seeing monthly four-figure consistency, what's the experience?

Todd Trumpet said...

I "pushed the button" over twenty years ago, and haven't regretted it...

...but that doesn't mean it was, or has been, easy.

I had just graduated college with two degrees in aerospace engineering, got a great job working as a liaison with NASA at a major aerospace company in Southern California, with frequent trips to Cape Canaveral and the Johnson Space Center in Houston to sit on console during missions. It was a dream job for a neophyte engineer in his early 20's...

...and within 2 weeks of getting it I was plotting a way to get out of it.

CUT TO: Three years later, three years of saving, three years of writing scripts every night after work - no agent, no sales, no prospects...

...but I pushed the button anyway. Quite the dream job. Spent two more years writing full time for no money...

...until Preparation finally met Opportunity and I got Lucky.

I sold my first script.

I've sold a few since then, too, but be aware: Even given Preparation, Desire, and Willingness to take that risk, there's no guarantee of success. I've applied those same factors to other endeavors and failed miserably.

"Jeez, Todd, what's the point? You trying to depress this guy?"

Actually, no. Because here's the thing: Success or not, "pushing the button" buys you one thing guaranteed - the ability to thumb your nose at the saddest words of tongue or pen...

"What Might Have Been".

Good luck, Jude.


Unknown said...

Just awesome. Congrats, Jude.

Suzan Harden said...

Way to go, Jude! I've been happy and I've been rich, but happy is much more satisfying.

J. R. Tomlin said...

It's a tough decision. I know because like several other people who posted here, I also made it. I don't think you'll regret it for even a minute. Thanks for posting about it.

Anonymous said...

Sine you love indies - maybe you could give a shout out to the IndieReader Discovery Awards announced at BEA. We all have to support each other :)


smober said...

Way to go, Jude!

I pushed the button a year and a half ago. There was a few months of struggle, and it was anything but easy.

It was totally worth it.

Marie Force said...

Congratulations, Jude! And may you never look back. I quit my 16-year director-level job Dec. 31, 2011 and almost six months later I can tell you I'm happier and more productive than I've ever been in my life. And I'm making plenty of money with my books--in fact, it was costing me money to work for someone else.

Good luck to you as you embark on the new adventure!

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I pulled the trigger about three years ago, Jude, and have never regretted it.

Congratulations on a new phase in your life. Here's hoping you have as much fun as I've had.

Mary Anne Graham said...

Congrats Jude - it's nice to see someone living the dream! It's my dream too but right now my day job is the major support for my family. My eldest is in college and my youngest is a 9th grader - college looms for him but at least I won't have 2 in at once!

Deciding to quit the day job may be like deciding it's time to have a baby --- if you think about it too hard, it will never be the right time. Yet, in retrospect, what parent would ever have made any other decision?

I better stop before I talk myself into taking a leap of faith myself. And I'll just go back to waiting for the phone to ring -- do Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg have my number? What about Shonda Rhimes?

Kristina said...

Congratulations, Jude!

I just happened upon your post and it couldn't have come at a better time, as I've been grappling with "should I stay or should I go" syndrome for over a year.

Thank you for your insight and sharing your personal journey. I look forward to seeing how your new career progresses.

Go get 'em!

Thom said...

That is the dream, isn't it?

I was lucky enough to live the dream as a full time writer of television: a certain degree of job security, an exciting job...

But fiction writing? I come to it late in my career. I'm only a few months in, nowhere near ready to give up the day job.

But I have a secret weapon: it's called retirement. With a full pension. It's only a few years away for me, and it takes away the financial risk of writing full time.

I wish you the best of luck, Jude!

David L. Shutter said...


Thanks for the emotional perspective. I thought you already were one of the successful few who was writing full time. Best of luck with it.

Off to buy one of Jude's books and knock out my 2K words for the night.

Unknown said...

Congrats Jude, I'm not sure I'll ever to be able to just push the button without having a job to trek to nightly. I published my first novel on May 1st and I fight tooth and nail for every sale even with good reviews. I'm hopeful though and continue to write and edit, there are no guarantees.

Jude Hardin said...

Thanks to everyone for the wonderful comments. I truly appreciate it!

Darlene Underdahl said...

I couldn’t do it for years. For every nickel I earned (and I earned a lot of nickels), my family took that nickel and demanded a dime more, and I got that dime through overtime. I’m not sure I made the right decision; my family is fine but not particularly noble.

I hope to live long enough to make up my losses (I AM having fun).

Naja Tau said...

Very cool! I might have to check this out!

Lisa Scott said...

Jude, awesome story. I was lucky enough to be let go from my job almost 4 years ago. Didn't know it would turn out to be a great thing at the time, of course. Now I work for myself as a voice artist and writer and couldn't be happier. I don't think I ever would've had the courage to leave on my own. I really admire you.

To answer Aric about the "sweet spot", I published my first novella in May '11. By Sept '11 I was making $2k a month across all venues (I had the novella and two romantic short story collections out (plus the ten shorts from the collections available individually.)

However, the advice to estimate your earnings on the low side is important. I now have 5 collections out (plus the 25 individual shorts and that novella--no novels) and I'm still making $2k-$3k. Sales on amazon have slipped recently and I really believed I'd be making more with so many titles out. I'm still very happy with the journey, though.

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

Congrats on having the courage to jump, Jude! I trust that you won't regret it... though there are sure to be challenges ahead.

Let us know what happens.

Off to check out your book!

wannabuy said...


Good luck. You have taken a brave step that we all hope pays off for you.

Best of all, you cannot help but like your new boss.


Mira said...

Congratulations on your courage and committment, Jude!

You've probably read this quote, but it came to my mind when I read your post. It's attibuted to Goethe:

"Concerning all acts of initiative there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and endless plans.

That the moment one definitely commits oneself then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise occurred.

A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Begin it now".

Best of luck to you, Jude! :)

Kiana Davenport said...


Congratulations, Jude.

Anonymous said...

Guest Post by Jude Hardin:

"I was put here to write fiction."

A clear sense of purpose, this is an indication of what kind of motivation you have.

"I know I have some game."

I assume this is a little modesty. Everyone has "some" game, and a "game" is what it truly is--a GAME with COMPETITORS.

"It launched to some very nice reviews, most notably a starred review in PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY, and suddenly literary agents and film production companies were querying me."

This indicates a certain level of talent--my guess is exceptional talent. But I could be wrong.

"What’s the worst that could happen?

Destitution comes to mind."

I hope that doesn't happen.

I don't relish the competition, but if you got it--flaunt it.

RD Meyer said...

I think staying with the same company seems to be a matter of security. And in a way, it might be like building a stock portfolio - you can play it safe and have modest to no real growth, or you can can a chance and either crash spectacularly or reach heights you never dreamed of. Bigger risk, but bigger potential payoff.

Paul Draker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Draker said...

Burn the boats.

Then victory is the only option.

John Hindmarsh said...

Jude - Marvellous. The suspense was too much - I was pushing the button for you!! Very good luck.

My button push takes effect as at the end of the year. Committed. Absolutely.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Jude! And Joe, thanks for the reality check. I'm nowhere as fond of my day job as Jude,and if I were to get a similar offer from someone like T&M, my impulse would have been to 'hit that button' and the rest be damned. Now maybe, not so fast.

Unknown said...

Way to go! I am envious- I have the same letter typed and waiting, but it is not the right time for many reasons to send it. Good Luck, and may you find the happiness you are looking for.

JDuncan said...

If I had a couple years worth of wages, money to invest in my books, and health insurance, I would definitely consider making that leap. That's a pretty huge pile though, and until all my kids are grown and out of the nest, not going to happen. It will have to be a long term effort, which is fine, of course. I'm going to keep writing regardless of the avenues pursued. It's too much fun not too.

Best of luck to you, Jude! I hope you find every success.

Anonymous said...

Jude, that's AWESOME.

And, while I don't want this to sound like the writing business is all rosy and such...

...you're probably going to do just fine. Usually, taking the leap of faith required to "push the button" doesn't turn out as bad as we envision it.

As humans, we tend to create "Defcon 1" scenarios, when really... there just might be a few bumps in the road.

Best of luck Jude. :)

Douglas Dorow said...

Congrats Jude, many of us are envious / jealous and wish we could "push the button" too.

Best of luck and enjoy the ride!

Jude Hardin said...

Love that, Mira!

Great proverb, Kiana!

Such wonderful comments from everyone. Thanks so much to all of you!

Anonymous said...

I'd add to Joe's ques someone needs to ask themself before pushing that button: are you disciplined enough? Is everyone else respectful enough, and if not are you willing to stand up to them?

Working from home is really challenging. There's the tv. The internet. The sink that's leaking. The laundry. Can you commit to making yourself do your job when there's no supervision and lots of distractions?

And will people be respectful of your job, and if they're not, are you willing to tell them to stick it? You'd be shocked how many people think you're home, eating bon bons. They'll have no problem calling, interrupting, or asking you to do stuff since you're clearly lounging around. I mean, how hard can writing be, anyway.

Anyway, congrats, Jude. No one should be doing anything that makes them unhappy.

Jill James said...

Jude, congratulations on making a hard choice. Wishing you mega-success in all you do.

Pentago said...

great move, congrats!

Anonymous said...

At 500 short stories, I'm making about 1.5k a month or under. Around 300 I noticed a huge increase in writing quality. Since then most of my sales come from the 300-500 works. (I'm a short story writer, so my market is smaller than yours.)

For a novelist it's usually between novel four to seven that they see their increase and tenth when they hit their 2k a month mark. However, skill makes a big difference. More skill = less time.

Interestingly enough, I've become a novellaist. I would say 20-30 novellas from square one (high school English and nothing but letters and emails as practice). Say 10,000 words+ each.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Aric. I'm still only upto 2.5 million words. 5 million is a nice level of skill. 10 million published words is pretty strong. (maybe).

Josephine Wade said...

Congratulations on your new life Jude! Celebrate and enjoy. There will be plenty of time for worry.

Have a great adventure!


Anonymous said...

Assuming one publishes ebooks via Kindle, say 30k words each with a retail price of 99 cents, an author would end up with about 69 cents, by my count. Making $2k a month gross means they'd have to sell about 2,900 books per month. To the ebook authors here, is that reasonable? Doable? Dreaming? I just have no frame of reference for what's a decent fiction ebook sales figure.

Walter Knight said...

Quit my evil day job? No way.

When I had 6 books published, I was selling 2300 books per months. Now, with 15 books published, I am only selling about 1000 books a month.

I thought I was going to get rich, but it's not going to happen. Besides, my job gets me out of the house where I can look and listen to all the stories swirling about, great material for more books.

Anonymous said...

Nice cover art, decent blurb on Amazon and some good reviews. It's like you've been listening to what Joe says.

Anonymous said...

Most writers have a day job unless they are J.K, Rowling or Stephen King. I've been destitute, know what it feels like to almost lose your car, your heat, to have to scrap up change for a coffee. So, no, unless you have another income, or you are James Patterson or Stephen King or Elizabeth Stout, no, I would keep your day job. Most writers, and I mean real published writers, need another income.

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Congratulations, Jude!

Jude Hardin said...

Thanks, Ann!

Marie Force said...

Anon 5:43,
For 99 cents you only get 35 percent royalty, so 35 cents per book, not 69 cents per book. The 70 percent royalty rate on Amazon kicks in at $2.99. It's 65 percent on B&N.

Jude Hardin said...

Most writers have a day job unless they are J.K, Rowling or Stephen King.

Well, you don't have to be nearly that big to make a comfortable living, but I hear you.

The thing is, I'll be 52 this year, and I don't want to look back a decade from now and regret not going for it. It's a scary thing, for sure, but also liberating like nothing else.

bettye griffin said...

Six years ago, when my husband changed jobs, we thought it would be okay to be without health insurance for the month of March while I gave up my job to pack up the house and join him (his government insurance kicked in April 1st).

The day before the movers came, I woke up with a quarter of the vision in my left eye blacked out. I rushed to the doctor and learned my retina was detaching. I wrote a check for about $700 to recapture my insurance (it had only been a few weeks since I declined) and had my retina reattached and saved my vision.

Over the years I've seen numerous pleas for donations to help writers who gave up their day jobs to write full time and then became ill. With health insurance costs skyrocketing, even writers who had health insurance are finding they have to give it up. If you don't have a working spouse and can't afford to buy health insurance, you can't afford to write full time.>

Good luck to you.

Patrice Fitzgerald said...

Anonymous @ 6:35 - Most traditional writers have a day job. Even with the current down trend in sales, self-publishers are looking at a different scenario. There is a living to be made by a good, savvy, self-published writer.

I am today getting out of my second KDP Select 90-day period, and since it has turned into a bottomless well of free books, I'm sure many self-pubbers will follow me in walking away from it. The market will settle again, and money will be made. Prices are rising from 99¢ and 35% royalty to $2.99 - $4.99 and 70% royalty. The folks who wrote one book and made nothing will get out, and though many will continue to cycle in, there will be an ongoing realization that this is not a get-rich-quick business.

Leaving those of us who are committed and hard-working to make a living at it.

Greg Sisco said...

Best of luck, Jude. I'm taking a very similar step with you in three weeks here as I move to Mexico for a less expensive life and hopefully don't wind up homeless and harvested for organs by the Mexican drug cartel. It's a thrilling feeling when you send that message, and it sounds like your job was far more secure than mine so I can't imagine what you must have felt.

Once again, I wish you the best.

Scott Marmorstein said...

Sounds like quite the dilema to be in. But you've pushed the button, so there. Sometimes I look around at friends and family and realize how outnumbered the writing populous is. I'm astounded. Really? Who doesn't want to throw down words on a page and feel a little green slip between their fingers (or get electronically deposited to the bank account as it goes)?

Have you done the right thing, Jude? I'm no fan of moral questions...but what's done is done. If there are powers greater than we know carried on the backs of gods and goddesses, then may they bestow you with every great fortune.

Enjoy the fun of writing for your life!

Unknown said...

Well done, Jude!

I also told my boss to "go to hell", but my boss happened to be one of the Big Six Pubs Returns Centers...so that was a no-brainer! LOL!

Anyhoo...I've been writing full-time for three years now (part time for nine years prior to that) and it wasn't until I devoted to it full-time that my stars totally started to align and I became an Amazon and B&N Top 100 Bestselling Author!

So, Go, Jude, Go! I'm cheerin' u on!!! And can't wait to check out your books!!!

Carole Di Tosti said...

OMG. We feel for you and are going with you on the journey...make it big and then you and Joe begin a Writer's Union...to come up with better contracts to deal with publishers...or PUT THEM OUT OF BUSINESS WITH A WRITERS' COLLABORATIVE.

So you will make it...but please give back to the writing community.

I, for one, am counting on you.

Hugs from one writer/author to another,
Carole M. Di Tosti, Ph.D.

Anonymous said...

Six years ago, when my husband changed jobs, we thought it would be okay to be without health insurance for the month of March while I gave up my job to pack up the house and join him (his government insurance kicked in April 1st).

The day before the movers came, I woke up with a quarter of the vision in my left eye blacked out. I rushed to the doctor and learned my retina was detaching. I wrote a check for about $700 to recapture my insurance (it had only been a few weeks since I declined) and had my retina reattached and saved my vision.

Over the years I've seen numerous pleas for donations to help writers who gave up their day jobs to write full time and then became ill. With health insurance costs skyrocketing, even writers who had health insurance are finding they have to give it up. If you don't have a working spouse and can't afford to buy health insurance, you can't afford to write full time.>

Good luck to you.

That stands repeating. If you can't afford medical care then its game over - don't write, get back to Wendy's/Mac/P&G/Nasa/Etc. and build a firm base to stand on before you write.

(I sorta want to keep my day job as it keeps me in local currency and gives me a source of income if things go bad - as well as creating a trail of experience I can fall back on. On the other hand, I'm a part time writer and part time worker - if that makes sense. I have the best of both worlds.)


Phew, I finally finished the series I'm working on! It's awesome to have that "That's finally done!" feeling. (The thing was a monster and really getting me with the 'mid-series blues' in a big way, which is something I find quite challenging to deal with. No more 14 story series for me. I'm trading down to 5!)

David L. Shutter said...

The thing is, I'll be 52 this year, and I don't want to look back a decade from now and regret not going for it.

I'm right behind you Jude, Turning 40 next week. Have three old desktops in the basement somewhere I've spent the last twenty years filling with slush. Finally getting serious about my goals and deadlines. We'll see what happens this year.

Michael J. Sullivan said...

Always glad to see authors daring to live their dream and write fulltime for a living. I've not regretted my decision to do so even though everyone always says, "Don't quit your day job."

With as much flux as there is...and lack of data (such as the Taleist report - who won't release their numbers, I decided to create a survey of my own. What I need now is authors - published and unpublished...indie...hybrid..big-six..small press. Please take 10 - 15 minutes:


What's more"Writers and Authors Needed for Industry Survey

What's more...I'll make the raw data available (minus any identifying information) to whoever wants it - so you...writers...can analyze it the way you want and hopefully help you decide what's the best route to go.

So please...take the survey...spread the word on other sites and to your writer friends. The more data we have, the better it will be for all people.

Thanks in advance.

Anonymous said...

Seeley James

Scary but fun, no? The story is the ultimate pass/fail. Good stories well written sell. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

You're a brave man. Kudos to you.
I hope that all success comes your way.
Andy Goodman

Eric Christopherson said...

Not enough conflict in this thread. I'm going to have to reject it.

But best of luck, Jude!

Anonymous said...

Good luck and congrats. When I quit and decided to write full time, I didn't sleep for days. I'm still not making money, but with only 3 books out and totally self-pubbed, I expected as much. Marketing (especially with such a tight budget) seems to be the biggest challenge.

Thank you Joe for bringing us another devoted hopeful!

Anonymous said...

Good luck, that was a big step. I'm retired, so don't have to write for money, but I want to write for the pleasure it gives. Just have to find a way to balance it with everything else!

M.H. Van Keuren said...

A bit late to the party here, but I made a blind leap 6 years ago. I'm extremely lucky to have an understanding and supportive spouse(literally and figuratively. If you have, or can find, one of those, I recommend you hold onto that person for all you're worth.

Red Tash said...

Congrats on going full-time!

I appreciate Joe's points on the topic, too.

Unfortunately, learning how quickly you can write can be an ongoing process. I write SO fast, but my process is changing now. I have several collaborations in progress, which is fantastic--but doesn't really get my own novels written faster. Still, though--what a process! I'm loving it! I know you will, too!

Anonymous said...

If you can survive w/out your paycheck, then congrats to you. Personally as someone who has been laid off, I would have stayed w/the job and written every free moment I had, and then when things take off I would quit the job.

Am I the only one who thinks this? I just find it foolish. I guess if you have a gazillion dollars saved up, it would work

Jill James said...

Anonymous, I'm pretty sure things have taken off for Jude. That is why he quit his job.

Mark Terry said...

Good luck. And I know what your day job is, so since there's always a shortage in that field and many opportunities for part-time and contingent work, the risk isn't quite as great as it would be for some. But still, good luck.

Jude Hardin said...

I just find it foolish.

Life is short. I find not doing what you really want to do foolish. I feel like I've finally come to my senses.

Sharper13x said...

Well done Jude! And good luck to you.

You said "Life is short. I find not doing what you really want to do foolish. I feel like I've finally come to my senses.”

Lots of Ray Bradbury stuff floating around this week. Here’s a couple from him this is bringing to mind.

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

"Stuff your eyes with wonder,' he said, 'live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds.”

Rebecca Knight said...

Best of luck, Jude! I hope it's the decision that changes your life in the best possible way.

I pushed the button earlier this year, and am now making over twice what I made at my day job, all from self publishing :). It's amazing the opportunities for writers these days!

Go grab the bull by the horns!

Anonymous said...

My job pays really well, multiple six figures, but it's also crazy stressful and I dream about being able to write full time someday. I doubt I'll ever match what I make now, but if the writing does go well, maybe I can cut back my hours. The good thing is that I work for myself, so that may be possible some day.

Jude, I wish you all the best. It must be exhilarating to take that plunge. I envy you!

Bikash Shrestha said...

thank jude, article was great. best wishes to you. i'll probably do it..

Gina Fava said...

It's just like pushing the button in the hatch in LOST--ultimately, you'll experience salvation.

Life is too short...push the button, write full-time, and enjoy the ride.


healthcare revenue cycle said...

So much prepared now. Thanks for the heads up.

bettye griffin said...

"Am I the only one who thinks this? I just find it foolish."

No, you're not the only one. But we all have to do what works best for us based on our own personal circumstances. My personal circumstances call for a mix of writing and less-than-full-time work. When I did take months off before looking for work after relocating, I didn't do any more writing than I do now...

Unknown said...

Best of luck to you. I'll have to look for your books!

Meb Bryant said...

While reading your post, I found myself getting nervous for you, as I felt your fear. I'm glad you pushed the button.

Don't you think it's better to have regrets over decisions made rather than choices never explored?

WTH? You can always get a job. A dream on the other hand needs to be fertilized with courage. Best of everything, Jude.

Jude Hardin said...

Thank you, Meb. Yes, I think that's exactly right.

Mark Chisnell said...

It feels like a deal with an Amazon imprint is about as dead-cert as it gets short of a five book, seven-figure advance from the big six. And maybe these days it's even better than that - you did the right thing, Jude!

Unknown said...

Hey Jude,

I noticed that Pocket-47 was up to 6 overall on kindle paid (yesterday, I think). Grats.