In three weeks time, I’ll be completely free.
After seventeen years in full-time education, I finally pack my bags and head back home from the University of Birmingham, where I’m finishing up my English with Creative Writing degree programme. I’ve enjoyed my time there and learned a lot of life lessons, so it’s safe to say I’ve no regrets.
That said, I’m ready to leave.
For the last two years, I’ve juggled my fiction writing/blogging/marketing with my degree. Neither have suffered for my extended commitments, except perhaps my sanity (joke — I’ve never been sane). However, as scary and daunting as finishing up and leaving for the real world is, I could not be more excited.
On June 1st, I begin my full-time career of making stuff up and writing for a living.
I’ve thought long and hard about where I want to go in the future. I’ve contemplated journalism, with fiction on the side. I’ve thought about graduate programmes and masters degrees, but all of those would really just be delaying what I believe is my true calling: writing and publishing fiction for a living.
Don’t get me wrong — full disclosure and all that — I don’t currently earn enough from my fiction to make a living. That’s no surprise though, really. I only have one novel out and it’s a standalone. Even so, through judicious use of KDP Select, I’ve earned around $1,200 from the book since November, which is probably more like $700 when all costs are taken out. I’ve made enough to fund another novel, and that was my personal goal with this book.
The truth is, when it comes to writing for a living, I don’t have to make mega-bucks to be happy. I’m totally willing to live on the breadline for two years whilst I see out my upcoming projects. I don’t want to go into too much depth just yet but I’ve got a VERY comprehensive map of releases from this day right up until December 2015. Although the publishing landscape will change, probably for better and for worse, these releases will not. If I see out this goal, I’ll have enough good quality books out to call this fantastic little activity a career.
I have a fantastic family who have supported me through every stage of my life and I know they’ll support me in the next step. I know that this will require patience — financial results are never instant with a growing career — but if I follow my set path, I’ll be in a good position at the end of what I’m now dubbing ‘stage 2’ to consider myself writing for a living wage. Stage 1 was launching the first book, selling copies, building an audience; stage 2 is what follows.
The decision to make writing my full-time activity (I refuse to call it a job) wasn’t easy. I’m well aware that writing for a living isn’t a click of the fingers thing and that I’ll have to pursue part-time employment every now and then to make ends meet. Regardless, I totally believe in myself and know that if I can just commit to a few thousand words per day, this will only be a temporary scenario.
KBoards has been a great source of encouragement lately. Over there, there’s loads of members writing for a living and sharing their stories. See here and here for two fantastic and inspirational examples.
I’ve realised it isn’t about luck anymore. In the old days, it was: you crossed your fingers to be picked up by a publisher, and even then, success was far from guaranteed. Now, it’s just about creating professional products, and plenty of them. Well, that, and constantly seeking to improve writing craft.
I know I can do that. I will do that.
At the end of this month, I’ll be launching a new book (to be notified as soon as it’s available, click here). I’d like to dedicate it to my family; my friends; all the readers of the website; people who email; reviewers, whether positive or constructively critical; Facebook friends; Twitter people, and so on. Basically, to everyone who has supported me and continues to support me going into this exciting yet terrifying second stage.
Here’s to writing for a living and following dreams.
Who’s with me?
Thanks for the support.
I’m with you! Go get it, Ryan.
Awesome – let’s go for it!
Congratulations, and Good Luck!
Thanks a lot, Will! Really appreciate it. 🙂 And right back at you!
So happy for you, Ryan! Your blog has come to be one of my favorites. I also officially finish my university studies in a matter of weeks. However, I’m a middle school education major and it tears me up inside having to choose between writing and teaching. The job market is really tough for teachers right now, though, so I think if I can’t get a job I’ll just stick to writing,self-publishing,and my editing business. I love the fact that I’d get to be a stay at home mom and make my own work schedule. It’s just a little scary explaining all this, you know?
Thanks a lot, Yesenia. Still feels absolutely crazy when somebody says something like that about the blog. Can’t believe how much its grown in just a matter of months. Thanks for always being so supportive!
Regarding your dilemma, it’s a really tough call. It’s a nightmare trying to get a job in the UK at the moment too, especially for new graduates, so that definitely resonates with me. I know it sounds a cliché but I’d just advise you to keep on doing what you’re doing and follow whatever feels right. We only live once, right?
Not a doubt in my mind that there is at least one bestseller in your not too distant future! You have the wisdom and dedication, not to mention focus, of someone three times your age. I believe things will work out for you. Just don’t get too down on yourself when you hit the occasional snag. Otherwise, go for it. You live once. Kirk Alex
Thanks a lot, I really appreciate it. I’ve no doubt you too will be very successful.
And you’re right: we all hit the occasional hurdle in our lives and careers. What sets a true professional aside from somebody else is the ability to take on that hurdle and emerge at the other side of it even stronger.
Best of luck!
Go Ryan go!
I also follow your blog and love hearing the perspective of someone at an earlier stage of Self Pub’ing.
My story is a bit back to front. I basically was not allowed to write my whole life, so 2 years ago I struck out on my own moved to the big city and started to learn about writing, cue self publishing, and slowly tried to get some sort of writing discipline down. Im working on a 9 book series to start releasing 2014 but like you, I’ve made a list of fully formed future works, and there are over 70 in my poor brain. (I write pretty fast, so even if i can 10 a year thats still the next 10 years scheduled out… let alone any new ideas that might spring up!) So I need to get them out there before they drive me insane! I work full time in London, and write in my spare time, and of course the dream is to be able to live as a writer. If I was in your shoes I would have done exactly what you’re doing! Go for your dreams, and make them happen! I wish I had that choice today, but even thought i don’t I’m gonna give it my best shot! I’m excited for you!
By the by, when i moved to London last year, everyone said there were no jobs, which is simply not true. There might not be jobs paying what graduates deserve straight out of the gate, but if you’re looking for part-time work there is loads! I myself have worked 2 jobs since I got here, and several of my friends have gotten work/moved jobs as well. When i was interviewing I had to choose between a job that paid extremely well in the city and was high stress, and long hours. Or one 10 minutes away from my house meaning I save commuting time, and everyone is relaxed, the pay is much less, but here’s the thing. I come home, fresh and unstressed, and have hours to write! I don’t know about outside of the city though, i imagine its much harder. At least student life will have prepared you for melted cheese and beans on toast? which was my favourite staple back in Uni.
Thanks for the comment! Delighted to hear you follow the blog and enjoy the content.
A 9 book series certainly sounds like the way to go. In fact, putting a series out is one of the major ways to build a fanbase. It’s something I’m going to be concentrating on. Not to say I’m forcing it, but all my upcoming releases are merely the start of a bigger story.
Best of luck pursuing your own dream. We live in fortunate times, what with all these fantastic publishing platforms at our fingertips, and there’s plenty of digital shelf space for everyone to succeed. As for the jobs — that sounds like a great plan. I agree with you that lower stress and more time to focus on what we really care about is far superior to more cash + unhappiness.
Ha! Definitely prepared for a life of cheesy beans on toast. That and plenty of pasta.
Thanks again, and best of luck to you. Keep me up to date with your progress.
Im with you!!! Ive been following your blog for a while now, and as a writer myself, I must say that your experiences have been great eye openers and I truly want to see you succeed! 🙂
Cheers to following your dreams,
Thanks, Whitney! Appreciate the words of encouragement.
Best of luck in your own career.