Home » Quit Day Job, Self-Publishing » Indie Authors Quitting Their Day Jobs

Indie Authors Quitting Their Day Jobs

25 July 2014

UPDATE: PG has decided to move this post to the top of the queue from time to time for the edification of visitors to The Passive Voice and collect more stories in addition to the ones that have already been shared in the comments.

He has the blog configured to shut off comments after 14 days so older posts don’t accumulate a lot of link spam in the comments. Republishing the original post will open up comments again.


PG received the following suggestion from Dennis:

What if you put up a post that asked anyone who has recently been able to go “full time”, quit their day job and write, to post their name. Maybe they could also put when or how soon they are planning to do it.

That would be anecdotal evidence to support what Howey and Data Guy have been showing since their first report.

If you care to contribute such anecdotal evidence in comments to this post, please do.

If you think it’s your private business, don’t be offended. Just don’t post anything.

Feel free to post anonymously or under an online pen name if you like. If someone points out a trollish comment, PG will probably delete the comment when he gets around to it.

Quit Day Job, Self-Publishing

559 Comments to “Indie Authors Quitting Their Day Jobs”

  1. Saturday is my last day at the day job. June 1st will be my first day writing full-time. All due to indie publishing.

  2. Well, um, I’m an RN, a Hospice Nurse. I’m married to a physician. Two and a half years ago I was able to quit my job in order to write full-time. My income is not quite what I made as a Hospice Nurse, not if you take into consideration how much I would/could make working full-time at $100 per hour, but it’s good enough to be considered our second income.

    Two years before I left my position, I’d cut down to working every other Friday, Saturday and Sunday– premium pay, close to $120 per hour. My income as an writer is comparable.

    Could I make it on my own as a writer? If I’d decided to stick with erotica, yes. But I decided against doing so.

    So I guess my answer is yes and no. Writing provides the second income we need (three kids, college), but it is not our primary source of income.

    • Keep building the snowball, Julia, and one day it will be!

    • Mad respect to you for working as a hospice nurse. That has to be one of the toughest jobs out there. <3

      • Thanks, Libbie. I love working as a hospice nurse. Backed off due to the increasing preponderance of regs, meetings, paperwork (computer work) and the lack of time to spend at the actual bedside.

    • Congratulations Julia, and also I admire your work as a hospice nurse. I am sure you could write many books on stories you picked up there! You mentioned erotica and that seemed lucrative for you? Why did you make the change?

      • Thank you, Carla. I did write a nonfiction book about my hospice experiences. It’s doing well. Really well. Might be my best book. It’s under my non-pen name.

        Erotica… yeah. I got asked to write a series by a pub– would have been super lucrative as in 5-6 figures. No shite. But I said no. I simply couldn’t write it. My romances are hot, won’t deny it. But they don’t border on porn-type stuff. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, even under another pen name. I’m guessing some people will think it was unbelievably stupid of me to decline. I’m a good writer. I tried… but it’s not me. Couldn’t look myself in the eye.

        I began my career editing, writing nonfiction, and lit fic. Had money issues (single mom, no means of support) and went back to school to become a nurse. Solid career move.

        I got into romance because it sells and I could get a publisher to actually look at what I’d written. Now that I’ve made some money I can return to my first love, lit fic or plain old weird-ass sub-genre stuff. Just published my first totally lit-fic novella. I’m very proud of the work even though it’s not selling worth beans.

        • I hope you make great art. I’m a retired Nurse Practitioner, and I’m almost done with editing my first novel. I’m starting the second one on July 1.

  3. My mother quit her job last…July, I think? I quit mine in November. We’re both doing just fine, thanks to Amazon.

    Edit: for the record, I belong to a professional writing forum with around four hundred members, and I’m guessing that between one-third and half of those authors have quit their jobs in the last couple of years.

    • OMG! You and your mom. So awesome.

      And please ask your members to come and chime in! I’d love to see all their responses.

      • Done. And yes, it’s pretty awesome.

        I have always written. I’ve held jobs doing everything – teaching, managing nonprofits, running offices, even driving a public transit bus, and nothing ever fit. I eventually grew miserable every time and moved on, writing for myself but always too contrary to *beg* for publication. That’s what it seemed like to me-begging.

        Now, I can do what I want and I don’t have to beg for it. Ain’t life grand?

    • Buttonfly, would you mind sharing the url for your forum? I’m on the hunt for a forum of professional indie writers.

    • Wonderful! My mom is just about to try her hand at writing romances (based on her career as a trauma nurse and CISM expert) and we are having so much fun talking about the potential plots of her stories and expensing the lunches 😉 I’m plugging away at science fiction (under my given name), erotica, and will soon be taking a turn at erotic romance). I’ll have to point my mom in your direction, buttonfly. Do you have a link?

      • Sorry, guys, I just saw this!

        I frequent eroticauthorforums.com. It’s obviously very niche, and behind a paywall, because trolls.

  4. A lot of the 804 authors who have shared their sales figures from this list are writing full-time


    I encourage all indie authors who are willing to share sales figures to add your name / sales to the list. More available info = the better for everyone.

  5. I quit my day job over three years ago to go full time with writing.

    But with the kids out of school and me not usually getting much done in the summer (and a new saddle to pay for–oy! horses!), I took on the day job for the summer again (childcare).

    Ebook sales aren’t what they were two years ago in the biggest part of the boom, even with twice as many books out, but I write SFF, not romance. Speculative fiction isn’t as hot of a genre as YA or romance.

  6. Two years ago, I quit my job teaching orchestra so I could write full time. I also stopped teaching private music lessons. A few months after quitting, my royalties exceeded what I’d made doing both (lessons and orchestra). They’re even better now that I have eight books published, even with a toddler keeping me busy. 🙂

  7. I’m a different case. My job left me.

    On Jan. 1, 2013, I worked my last day as a newspaper copy editor. I had published two books, one through Penguin, the other self-published. The latter book was bringing in about $200 a month, so I decided to go it alone.

    Now, I’ve published only two more books, plus a novella and a short story, and I have more in the pipeline. I haven’t been earning $200 a month. About $50 a month. It goes up and down.

    What’s saving us is an intense focus on our finances. We have savings, enough to last several years.

    So I don’t fit the “earning enough to quit my job” model, but if it weren’t for self-publishing, I would have been looking for work. And, yes, I’m optimistic that I’ll earn enough so I won’t have to job hunt.

    • Jacqueline Garlick

      Oh, gulp. I was really hoping you were going to say you were making it on your writing Bill, as I too, had a job quit me…sigh.

      Best of Luck…to both of us!

    • Bill,

      If you’re so inclined, check out my website (dogmysteries.com) and see how I’ve featured other writers. I’d be happy to do the same for you if you’d like.

      Every little bit helps, right?

    • Best of luck, Bill! You have great courage. That will pay off.

  8. I quit my full time job on January 21st this year, and began full time at a University as a student. It is now the summer and my only job is to jot down notes on my iPhone while i’m with my toddler, and when my husband comes home from work, it’s just me, my laptop, and my manuscript.

  9. I’m not making enough from my writing to quit my day job. But I did anyway. I just couldn’t take it any more. I quit the first week of April, this year.

    That being said, last year I made 1/3rd of the income I’d need to live on just from the writing.

    At this point, I’m on track to make 1/2 (or possibly more) of the income I need to live on just from the writing this year.

    I have two years of income in savings. Will I make it? Sales are uneven. But I’m hopeful. And I’m writing. And I’m working hard.

  10. I graduated in 2010 and never had a day job, though not from lack of looking. In an economy where a shady craigslist ad gets 400 responses in 24 hours, though, there’s not much you can do. I worked quite a few temp jobs and spent most of 2012 overseas teaching English (my AGI that year was about $3,000, and that’s still more than what the local teachers earned).

    I self-published in 2011 and sales have been steadily rising. Now, it’s my primary source of income, to the point where I’m no longer looking for a day job at all. The last temp job I did ended in February.

  11. I quit my professorship last January. (Yup. I went all in to focus on writing without knowing if it would do well.) In June, I self-published my first novel and then my second in the same series in December.

    My third’s coming out in the next week or two. To date, I’ve sold over 50,000 copies of the first two books in the Belial Series. (In fairness about 20,000 were free downloads.)

    I also make a lot more than I ever did as a professor.

    I am so glad I took the plunge and that I followed the advice of successful self published authors, such as Joe Konrath and Hugh Howey. In fact, after reading about the traditional verse self-published approaches, I didn’t even consider the traditional published route. I headed straight to Amazon. And I am so very happy that I did!

    • Sweet! You wrote a thriller involving Gobekli Tepe! Will read.

    • I like your all-in attitude. I’ve been working full-time, but I have spent my focus on traditional publication. I’ve sold a few stories, poems and essays, but have been hanging on to the novel. I have several others to write. I’m starting the next one in August. Until then, I will be looking at the Belial Series. 🙂

  12. I quit my day job back in August of 2012 after self publishing my second novel. I have now written five novels for total combined sales of over 125,000 copies. It never would have happened without Amazon.

    Also, I read the post about the cost of self-publishing. $1900.00? WAY. OFF. My first novel cost me ninety dollars to publish. NINETY. DOLLARS.

    And Kirkus Reviews? Seriously?

    • I’ve really enjoyed reading your “Surviving The Dead” series. Keep them coming!

      Your post gives me great hope for my own post-apocalyptic writing aspirations…

  13. I went full time July 2013. I was forced into it really when my engineering career of thirty two years went the way of so many people’s jobs during the recession here in the UK. A lot of us found ourselves thrown on the scrap heap around then.

    Luckily my writing has been more than enough to support me, and almost twelve months on I am earning more than I did as an engineer. This year promises to be a bit special with my books coming out in audio. Already I can see a doubling of income from just the first few released on Audible.

    My overnight success has taken roughly fourteen years. I am not a fast writer, and many would say not a fast learner either. It took me a long time to quit sending my “begging” letters to agents and gatekeepers and accept back in 2001 that I would never be published. I stopped writing for a time and concentrated upon my engineering, but writing was still my passion. It always remained a hobby of sorts until Kindle came to the UK in early 2011. That’s when the bug to try going it alone caught hold of me, and here I am living a great stress free life and doing what I love every day.

    Would I take a contract if offered one? No, I really don’t think I would now. I’m a control freak. I love doing whatever I want. If you’re a film director though or an agent who wants to make me rich with foreign translations, I’m willing to listen! Haha…

    Mark E. Cooper

    • I often have the same thought, Mark. “What would I do if someone offered me a contract?” Unless it was a mass-market paperback deal, which I would try just to see how it panned out, I don’t know what anyone could offer me to entice me to sign. Giving up my rights to my edits, my cover art and even my title wouldn’t seem worth it.

      • I don’t find the prospect of a deal that attractive for the same reasons you both mentioned. However, recently, I discovered a new one. Because of a scheduling screw-up (on my part), I’ve been sitting on a finished, edited, proofed novel for five weeks now, waiting on the cover. And it’s KILLING me.

        I don’t know how tradpub authors wait so long. I don’t know if I could do it tbh.

        • You expect it, having been given dates to start with. And in those days, nobody expected to publish a book more than once a year.

          I do my own covers now. Like them better than the ones my publishers provided.

    • Reading all of these comments has helped me to keep writing. I loved reading your personal stories. A lot of people don’t get why writers can’t do anything else but write. The thoughts and ideas keep pouring and writing is the only escape. I wish you all the best. And I am grateful to have found this post.

    • I have heard Audio books is the way to go. Nice to see it has doubled your sales. I will keep this in mind.

  14. I graduated in 2013 and have never had to have a day job thanks to independent publishing.

    I published my first novel in 2012 to mediocre sales. Tried Select, ads, all sorts, but no matter what temporary boosts I got, I couldn’t gain any lasting traction.

    Similar case with my second book. And third. And fourth. I could’ve packed in, but I stuck with it.

    Now I’m earning enough to make a living writing fiction as a primary source of income. I write under a multitude of pen names, have no best sellers — I’m just a steady mid list writer, like many more silent indies out there.

    Oh, my best selling books are priced $6.99. I have novels at $4.99, but price serial box sets at $6.99 with a loss leader entry book.

    I don’t have any perma-free novels.

    Stick with it. Growth does happen.

    • Wow. This is a really encouraging post. Thanks for sharing that. It gives me hope.

    • Yes, thanks for this. It’s hard to read all these big successes from first and second novels and not feel like a total loser. 🙂

      Not that I’d ever quit due to crappy sales. I have to write. There’s just no option not to.

    • Question: Are those books priced at $6.99 electronic or print versions?


  15. My last day of employment was February 15, 2013. I volunteered to walk the plank and receive the golden boot. It was a risky proposition as I left a six figure a year salary with good benefits at the silver age of permanent unemployment. But it comes a time when you have to follow your dreams, let go of the peanuts in the coconut, and be free. I’m only making enough money for a cup of coffee and a doughnut, but hope is eternal and I have a happier and stress free life. And I write full time.

    • Interesting. I’d always heard it was grains of rice in the coconut. Seemed like such a clever way to catch a monkey.

  16. I like all of this.

    I’ll like it even more come 20June when I join you. 😀

  17. These are all encouraging stories. I have only just begun and I write in the erotic romance genre which isn’t as easy to break into as they say. I only have three novellas and short story out. I’ve made a few sales. I’m hoping my novels will make a difference.

  18. Three years ago I was working as upper middle management at a large international manufacturing company main warehouse. I made decent money but, because of the nature of the job, I still had to endure back-damaging levels of labor. That Christmas my wife and mother bought me a kindle.

    Two years ago I published my first ebook, and have published an additional ebook roughly every 3-4 months since. Few of them are in the top 100 in their categories at any one time but they all sell a few copies a day at least.

    Last year, because of the small income I derive from my books, and with the support of my wife, I made the decision to quit my job, go back to college, and work part-time. I’m still managing to put out a 70-100k book every 4 months and our family financial was relatively unaffected.

    As of right now, based on a normalized income growth curve from my books, I’m projecting a conservative estimate of 16-18 months from now I’ll be earning $60k from my books. By the time I graduate from college (at age 31. Remember, returning student) I’m projecting about $80k, and at this point I’m focusing as much attention on my writing as I am on my degree.

    My wife likes to joke that I’m going to school, and taking on debt, to become a microbiologist when, by the time I graduate, I’ll be a full-time fantasy and science fiction writer. She’s not wrong. If gaining a college degree wasn’t a lifetime goal of mine I would probably stop attending university. Still, as it is, it’s always good to have a fallback position and my degree is turning into just that.

    If anyone had told me the Christmas I received my kindle that I’d be earning a better full-time income as a writer than I was earning at the time from my job I would have laughed in their face.

    The best part? I don’t attend conferences. I don’t participate in writer’s retreats, workshops, or book clubs. I’ll never seriously consider a “book tour”. No, I just write my stories, have them professionally polished and covered, and put them up for sale. I do a little advertising but, for the most part, it’s all word of mouth. I’m a no-name midlister, and yet I’m doing what I love. Patterson and his ilk can keep their fame; I’m happy where I am.

    • Can you at least tell us what name you’re writing under? I’m always on the lookout for new books in your area (at least to sample).

    • I agree with Bill, tell us the name you’re publishing under… would love to check out a book. In fact, I have been looking up everyone posting on this thread, to see if I’d like their stuff.

  19. Quit my PT job at the beginning of this month, but have earned FT pay (or more) since January thanks to indie publishing. 🙂

  20. I left the day job a year and a half ago, but it’s not because I’m making sufficient money from writing to live on. Let’s just call it a planned but premature retirement. (I meant to do it next year, but the college had other plans…)

    I write an odd mix of things, not the sort of thing that makes money.

    But indie publishing has given me a freedom that I never would have had. In the old world, I would still be living off my investments, and I’d be writing full time with mainly myself as an audience. (And the few editors who sent me “loved this! but can’t sell it” rejection slips.) In the new world, my work can find and build an audience, regardless of how small that audience is.

  21. +1

    With my first two books, both suspense thrillers, released in September 2013 and December 2013, I’ve sold 39,000 copies so far. Sales fluctuate wildly month to month — I’ve had $9000 months but also $1000 months — so I have no clue where I’m going to finish out the year.

    I’ve had unsolicited offers from big-name publishers. And turned them down.

    Because my sales fluctuate so wildly, and I only have a few months of history to look at, I can’t yet tell whether I can *continue* writing full-time. I hope so.

    But it sure is a crazy, scary-fun roller-coaster ride. Being indie is awesome.

    Right now I’m cranking away on book 3. And grinning. 🙂

    • Jacqueline Garlick

      Holy wow…this is inspiring…thanks. J

    • Right on Paul! would you please us how much marketing you did for your first two books and what kind? Im just starting out and would like to get an idea of what it takes. I write straight romance.

      • Hi Amy,


        When it comes to marketing, I don’t have a great deal of experience. But I’ve found BookBub, EreaderNewsToday, KindleBooks&Tips, BookSends, BargainBooksy, and eReaderCafe to be the most effective partners I’ve tried.
        I’ll run a promotion with them during short-term sales where I temporarily lower the price to $0.99.

        I’ve never priced my books free, so can’t say how well that works.

        Most of my social-media interaction is with fans who’ve already read one of my books before they contact me, so I don’t really consider it marketing.

        One absolutely fantastic resource you should check out is:

        The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing

        written by several of the smartest businesspeople and romance authors out there. It’s pure gold.

        When you’re starting out, getting some good, honest customer reviews is also key. Here’s a guest post I did last year on Joe Konrath’s blog about how to do that:


        Hope that’s helpful, and wishing you success! 🙂

  22. I’m a non-fiction author so it’s really different for me.

    I have a lot of titles (26 ebooks, 10 of which are also in paperback).

    I had a book about 2012 that was driving sales to all my titles. That was great, but that’s the past (literally).

    Now, sales are quite low, but that’s ok. The books do their job. They are a perfect way to document the teachings and they are there for when people discover me and want to dive in.

    Yesterday there was a blog post from someone (new to me) who heard a radio interview I gave and then explored my site. She talked about one of my books and other offerings I have.

    If a book gets me one private session booking or a retreat participant, it helped me earn so much more than many, many ebook sales.

    It’s all part of the larger picture which, for me, is a variety of offerings. All of which combine to make this my full-time occupation.

    All that said, I would love to have another book that jumps out of my immediate audience and connects with the public in the way the 2012 book did!

  23. Quit my job contracting with the DoD two years ago.

    Writing pays the bills now.

  24. I quit my freelancing business in late 2010, just a few months after publishing my series on KDP. I’ve been a full-time author since.

  25. I quit my day job in 2013 and my husband quit his in early 2014. My writing supports our entire family. We have independent health insurance and incorporated, running everything through the business.

  26. I got fired from my job in April, 2013, but I’d already been making money freelance writing for a few months before. Now that’s all I’ve been doing for just over a year.

    For a few months this year I was getting just about enough from Amazon to pay my rent, but for August I’ll get under $200, so so much for that.

    If I get elected next Tuesday I’ll be a shoe-in in November and that means I’ll be employed again in a “real job” come January.

    I always think back on Stephen King’s line “If you can pay your power bill with your writing then you’re a pretty good writer,” or something to that effect.

  27. I’m an entrepreneur, and I’ve been self-employed since the late 90s.

    I stopped taking on any other freelance work as of late 2012, and I have had steady publishing income since 2013.

    In my career as an author-publisher, I’ve produced 1.7 million words under a few pen names and in various book lengths and genres. I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded. I learned the most from the failures.

    My life/career story would be of no interest to any media, because it lacks drama. I’ve made a series of reasonable choices throughout my adult life, and that included publishing. I never took huge risks or maxed out my credit card or pawned my car to pay for editing, etc. It’s pretty darn dull. 😉

  28. I’m still not making enough to survive on, but between January 1 and the March 30 “semi-crash,” I made three times what I had in all of 2013. Having novels as well as short-story collections up seems to help, as does having an on-line presence. I write off-beat sci-fi, sci-fi/alt-hist and mil-sci-fi, none of which genres are exactly instant lottery tickets. I also can’t do as much publicity as some because of having a semi-deep pen-name due to my other jobs. But things are improving, and I hope to be self-sufficient within the next two years or so. My pen-name is Alma Boykin, for anyone who’s curious.

  29. I quit my 16-year management-level day job on Dec. 31, 2011, 18 months before the oldest of my two kids started what will be eight straight years of college for us.

    One year later, I hired one of my best friends to be my full-time assistant. The following year, I hired another of my best friends to be my full-time accountant. I also employ four other people part time.

    We moved to an incredible new house in Aug. 2012.

    My husband got laid off in September 2013 and is not seeking other employment. Rather, he is running our personal lives so I can write more.

    100 percent of my ability to do all this is due to self-publishing, without which no one would have ever heard of me or my books. My traditional publishing income is significant, but that happened after I made a name for myself in self-publishing. I’m a very happy hybrid author now, but I give self-publishing all the credit for giving me the tools to go from zero to ninety in what felt like 60 seconds.

  30. I quit my work as a behavioral therapist in schools with 65,000 income. I continue to do private practice because I love my therapy work and it informs and influences my writing, but I’ve fully replaced the state job income (and more) with writing.

    • Thank you, Toby, that’s so encouraging. I’m a coach and therapist myself, building an international practice, writing and working a part-time dayjob. I hope to be able to quit that next year.

  31. I ‘retired’ from almost twenty years in high tech to write full time. This was January 2013. It’s now May, 2014, and this month will be the first month I can pay the mortgage with my royalties.

    Every month my royalties have been tripling, which sounds awesome until you understand that my first month’s royalties were something like $.09 haha.

    Fifteen titles later, with another six or more to be published this year, I’m confident I made the right decision to focus 100% of my attention to writing. It has cost us (the wife and I) a decent chunk of cash (editing, cover art, formatting, etc.), but it is finally turning down the home stretch into making a true living.

    I gave myself four years from Jan 2013 to make a living at it, and if I couldn’t, I’d go back into tech (probably video game development this time). Looks like I’m going to beat it by two whole years, which either means I’m pretty okay at this, or there are a lot of people who do drugs and download random, terrible books (mine).

  32. Well, I’m a bit of a different case, perhaps? I didn’t have a day job. Health issues forced me from the work place even before the economic downturn. Now my hobby is looking like it will support me as well as a ‘real job’ would’ve, all within the next few years. Can I say hooray? 🙂

  33. I am currently earning a better living from my writing than I ever did working for someone else. I have a trilogy out, and the first volume is permanently free. The other two are doing the heavy lifting.

  34. I had a dayjob in an administration. In december 2013, this administration moved. It didn’t suit me, so I quitted, keeping an option to work back in that job for two years.

    At 42, I’m fortunate enough to own my house with my mortgage nearly fully paid. I sell only 20 to 30 ebooks a month, but I make most of my money signing books in bookstores.

    My wife has a job and we have two kids. I don’t have the impression to rely to much on her, but she certainly helps!

  35. I keep trying to save this all to Evernote. It’s that inspiring. But every time I refresh to see if it’s tailing off, there’s even more.

    Thank you, Dennis (and PG). This has reached Willy Wonka-level for me (Gene Wilder, not Johnny Depp). And no, I’m not being sarcastic—Wonka’s near the top of the scale.

  36. I indie-published my debut novel as an ebook in October of 2012. I am now a full-time writer, making mortgage-paying money.

  37. After getting the rights back to my previously NY-published books and going indie, I’m making more in one day than I did in six months with the big boys. Hell, yeah, I quit my day job!

  38. December 2010 I discovered that I was making enough from selling my books to cover what I was making teaching part time as a college professor (I was semi-retired)–and so I quit teaching completely to write full time. I now make 3 times what I had been making teaching part time. And no more grading papers!

  39. Two years ago I was working full-time for peanuts (seriously, it didn’t even cover the mortgage–and we didn’t live in a palace.) I quit to write full-time before I went completely insane. By December 2012 I had replaced my c-store income. By April 2013 I earned enough to pay ALL of our bills. Since then I’ve been the primary wage earner for our family, allowing my husband to close the business that was sucking all of the life out of him, and for us to move halfway across the country. He does bring in some money still, but even in my worst month we can pay all of the bills from my writing income. I’ve sold (real sales, not counting freebies) over 60K books in the past eighteen months. I’ve got audiobooks for most of my indie titles and I’m starting to see sales into bookstores. I would have to have one heck of an offer to even consider a traditional publisher’s contract. I’m very happy the way things are.

  40. Phyllis Humphrey

    This is totally awesome. And I’m sure there are lots more to come. I’m still very new at this, but my writing income does pay a bill or two. And I won’t quit.

  41. We (wife and I) still make a lot more money from my day job, but every buck made from the books is as satisfying as 100 bucks from regular work (and I like my job).

  42. Full-time since 6/12, talked my husband into quitting his job 6 months later and we’ve been supporting ourselves solely on my writing income ever since.
    Next month will be our 2 year anniversary of hitting that publish button and this month was our first five-figure month.
    And I’ll second what a few other people have said above, there’s nothing that a traditional publisher could offer that would make me want to sign away any part of this outrageously fun job.

  43. I quit my day job as a bookseller 2 1/2 years ago. Scariest and best thing I ever did.

  44. I’ve been a full-time writer paying all my bills with writing income for a couple of years now.

  45. I had pretty much quit my day job to get a Master’s Degree, but knew I’d have to go back to work as soon as I was done with classes. So, I began planning for it and while in the middle of writing papers – wrote my first two books. We can’t live without my husband’s salary / insurance yet, but I never have to work for someone else again and project that within five years, neither will he. I have the best job ever now, working horrible hours, doing exactly what makes me happy.

  46. Writing full-time and paying off all of my student loans from a four-year-college next month (thanks to a brilliant spring). Yes, it feels beyond amazing.

    • Stephanie Queen

      Congrats on paying off those loans! Bet that feels fabulous!!
      I have the same goal – to pay off student loans but for my two sons.
      So far I have a good start!

  47. I quit my day job on Dec. 1, 2011 to write full-time. I write epic adult fantasy (10 novels) and YA fantasy (3 novels). Of these, the first three of my epic adult fantasy novels of The Imago Chronicles series have been optioned for a major motion picture trilogy for worldwide theatrical release in late 2015. The first is in pre-production now with an Oscar-winning producer (Don Carmody of Good Will Hunting, Chicago, Mortal Instruments: City of Bones & Resident Evil fame to name only a few of his 100+ film credits). It took a long time to build readership (the first Imago novel was self-published in 2002) and sales are up & down, but much of the freedom to write full-time is due more to the movie option & renewal fees. Combined with ebook & print book sales, I doing okay!

    • Lorna, I love the detail and I’m so excited to see your books brought to life on the big screen! Seems like you have a great team!

  48. I didn’t really have a good day job to quit, just part-time work since college while trying to write novels and find an agent, but I did become a writer full-time about 3 years ago. And for the last year and a half I’ve made roughly double my husband’s income, and he is a computer programmer (a respectable day job if I do say so) and he makes a decent living, so I guess that’s my equivalent of it.

  49. I started off in 2000 writing flash fiction and working full-time. I moved to non-fiction. In 2008 life circumstances forced me to jump and move into writing fiction and editing. It was sink or swim.

    I swam.

    Now I split my time between editing Other People’s Words and writing my own. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’ve kept a roof over my head and food in the fridge. I’m happy.

    The future is wide open.

    • Netta, you were a large part of the reason I am self-publishing my own stuff. I’ll likely never quit my day job (being a dentist) for writing, but it’s a cool potential retirement plan. Can’t wait for Athena’s next exploit…

      • Wow, Scott. I’m really blown away 🙂 And you never know where life will take you…it’s never a bad idea to have a good retirement plan in place. Much, much luck to you!

        (Almost there with the second in the trilogy…)

  50. I haven’t quit my job, but am in a position after a year and a half of self-publishing that I could if I wanted to. For most of my adult life, I struggled with debt incurred in my earlier, less responsible years. Writing enabled me to get my head above water for the first time in years. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best thing I could have ever done. I’m making money, enjoying all the technical aspects of publishing for myself, and get the emotional fulfillment that comes with sharing my stories.

  51. Nice to see I’m not the only one whose job left me. In 2009, I got laid off at the age of 54. While I waited for the offers to pour in (hah!), I decided to focus on writing; something i’d planned on doing when I retired. Five years and a million words later, I’m still writing. Last year, I made my first pro (short story) sale and started my own indie publishing company. I’ve got 15 titles published, four of which are novels. I don’t make $$$hit yet, but I sell a little every month (I still cheer for every sale), and it’s only been a year. I’m living on savings, and trying like hell to make every story better than the one before. I’m betting on myself; working as hard as I know how to make it before the savings run out. It scares the hell out of me, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. I wish I’d started 25 years earlier, but I didn’t have the guts.

  52. I only started self-publishing this year and still have a LOT to learn about marketing, but if I can ever get to the point that book sales cover my essential bills, I will sprint away from my day job and never look back. Can’t wait for that day!

  53. Years ago I had an agent and she put my first novel out for auction, it didn’t get a bite, so I was back to the drawing board. Self-publishing carried a huge stigma at the time, but I decided to just jump in and do it. I sold a few thousand copies of my physical books over the years, but that was it. Then a few years ago I put the first two books in the series up on Kindle and saw an immediate increase to my income. In the last six months I’ve actually started to make a living wage as a writer. None of it would have been possible without Amazon. I am so glad I took the chance to be an Indie author. Legacy publishing deals have really lost their gleam in the last few years and it’s nice to see more and more of us indies making a living and forging our own paths- and most importantly, telling our stories.

  54. Christmas 2011 I received my last full paycheque as an administrative assistant making $30k. I knew I only needed to earn a minimum of $2k a month to prove to my husband I could do this full time. One month after self publishing my novel – I made $10k. A few months later – $100k. Last year I made over $380k. I’m not in the million dollar club yet but I will be!

  55. I was able to quit my job and live solely on my publishing income since January 2013 (I actually could have done it since June 2012, but wanted to stockpile some savings). This year I am on track to make six-figures and am earning much more than I did at that very nice paying day job.

  56. These have all been great stories of inspiration, thanks everyone! Currently I only write at night or when I get a chance. I’ve been published twice with small presses and have self-published a short story. I’ve seen maybe $100 all around in sales. I work full-time for a great company (40-hours) through an outside contract company. The project we are working on has me committed for another year at least of steady income. I also work freelance book cover design and that is also pretty steady. http://www.gobolddesigns.com I’m married and have four children. That’s my situation. I fear that if I jump into writing full-time it might impact our children with insurance and steady financial support. I don’t see a whole lot of income from book sales to justify a full-time career at this point, but not sure what I will do after my contract is up for my day job. One thought is to purely write the most I can and wait to publish my work once the year is up and see what happens as I hunt for something more solid. Any advice?

  57. I practiced law for 15 years but gave that up to write nearly 20 years ago now, getting close several times to the brass ring of a traditional deal and even a TV movie option, but never closing. Finally jumped into self-publishing in 2011, and now make a steady income from my own ebooks as well as a couple of other authors I publish. My husband works, and my income stream wouldn’t allow us to live the way we want to, but I’m going in the right direction so that he’ll be able to retire in about two years and I’ll support us both. I’m looking forward to the day I make more than the six figures I did as a lawyer way back when…

    • …and, your books are awesome 🙂

      • Thanks, Maia!! That’s so kind of you to say.

        I only reread this thread because of that idiot guy who lifted all the quotes and postulated ridiculous conclusions about women relying on their husbands to “play” at writing. But it’s such a great bunch of comments, I am once again invigorated!

  58. Peggy Henderson

    I’ve been an indie author for three years now (right out the the starting gate – I was never with a publisher), and for the last 18 months, my monthly sales have consistently been double or higher than what I earn at my “regular” job – a good paying career in the medical field. Five months into this year, and I’ve already earned what my total income from the day job was last year. I had my first 5 figure month last month, and this month is looking pretty good, too. I plan to stick it out with the day job through the summer, because I like my boss and don’t want to leave her “hanging” while other people take their vacations, but by this fall I plan to make writing my full-time career. I will have to learn a lot more about marketing, because up to this point, it has been minimal. Last year I paid off both mine and my husband’s cars and all of our credit cards, so I think I’m set.

  59. Two years ago (as of May 21st) I walked away and into my writing life. So grateful

  60. I write Science Fiction and Fantasy. You don’t need to be a romance writer to sell enough to pay at least a substantial part of your bills.

    Never had a day job to quit, since I’d been running a small business since the research project I worked on was closed down and we moved to a place where there was no work in my field (I worked as Research Scientist in agriculture; not much of that happening in a large city).

    The business was spinning its wheels (mainly due to the fact that I didn’t want to expand it by hiring staff and a warehouse). I didn’t enjoy it much anymore.

    Now I’ve more than replaced the highest income I ever got from the business without the risk of carrying stock and having rooms full of boxes.

  61. I also fall in the category of those whose job left them and with no employment prospect available. So I turned to writing. First book was released last year, second book is going to be released in about two or three months.

    In my case, the going has been pretty rough. I had been living off savings for so long, there was almost nothing left when my first book hit the market. I’m in that awful time period between the early adopters buying my book and my book finding a more solid audience. Hopefully the audience will find it before the banks start getting aggressive with collection activities.

    I have no doubt that this is going to work out. I’ve gotten nothing but excellent reviews. It’s just a matter of getting my title out in front of more people to find it. If worse comes to worse, I can always sell my car. 🙂

    • William, consider a cover re-do for your first novel. I think you can get a much more compelling one than what you have now. Nice colors and image on your second! Best of luck~ 🙂

      • Thanks! I have a new cover for Nobody almost ready to go, and the beta-version can be seen here: http://www.williamdrichards.com/images/nobody-b-thumb.jpg

        I gave up on trying to get responses out of artists and decided to do what self-publishing authors are good at: do it myself.

        • William, I like the new cover. Very attractive! I suggest you try changing the color of the type on your author byline from red to a cream that matches the sails of the ship. See what it looks like. YMMV

        • William,

          Nice cover and I’d second the change of colour to cream for the author name – but I’d also lose the red for the main name and choose a more legible N in the title. That blackletter is hard to read and that red only makes it more so.

          Good luck with the book.

  62. I could quit my “day job” if I wanted to but I don’t because I’m self-employed, and that job only takes 2 hours of my day. Plus, I really enjoy it. It’s one of my passions besides writing, and it’s good for 35K a year (not bad for a job where you can just spend 2 hours doing). I’ve only been self-publishing for 6 months but I could have quit that job without worrying about the bills. I have 3 books out so far. The first month I only made $250. The second month I made $5K. The third month, $15K. Month #4 will find Amazon depositing $21K into my account. I had no existing fanbase and I started publishing because it’s been a lifelong passion, and I never queried an agent and didn’t give a hoot about landing a publisher. I didn’t even advertise until I ran my first Bookbub ad recently. (Yup, that $21K is the result of that $200 ad buy.) Was going Indie worth it? Oh hell yeah.

  63. I retired with only 10k in the bank,a monthly Social Security check of just over $700, and no idea how I was going to survive. As of this month, I’ve sold over 100,000 books and my 2014 income as of April is over 80k. I now supplement the income of five other households and donate my entire Social Security check, plus some, to a local food bank frequented by the elderly. There, but by the grace of God go I.

    I have 29 books and turn out a new one every two to three months. Most are historical romance.

    Thank you, Amazon, Kobo, Apple, B&N, my fans who want more, more, more, and all the people who have helped me along the way.

    • “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.”

      (Incidentally, I’m not a traditionally religious person. However, I’m firmly convinced that this works. If I ever hit the lottery, I fully intend to fund a real-life Long Range Foundation.)

    • Fenella J Miller

      I’m impressed by the success of many of the writers here – I earn more from Amazon now than I did as full time, top of the scale teacher. Not in the same bracket as many, but more than enough to live on if I so wished.

    • I now supplement the income of five other households and donate my entire Social Security check, plus some, to a local food bank frequented by the elderly.

      That almost made me cry. Major kudos!

  64. I decided to quit my stressful day job at the end of Jan. I convinced my husband to allow me to pursue my dream of writing full time for a few months. I paid a few bills in advance to keep immediate pressure at bay and set out to do what I loved. For the first two months I worked primarily on my successful blog that helps other writers get information on publishing trends.

    After a bit of research I decided to start making writing my career. I write primarily in the erotica genre and published my first story on April 26th this year. So far I have five books live on Amazon as of today, many of those five titles were added at the end of this month (May) with over seven more in my pipeline. I have sold over 40 copies within my first month so I’m hopeful that it will increase with the amount of books I have for sale. I generally write under a pen name and have decided to write series under the romance genre as well.

  65. I left my entry level insurance-related job this year. I worked through various temp agencies, a warehouse, before finding myself in a data entry sort of position at an insurance company. I started publishing my current series, “The Wasteland Chronicles,” on Amazon in late 2012. Since then I’ve released six books, all while working, and my seventh is coming out in June. I plan to write a new book once every two months, faster if I can manage it.

    At first, sales were slow, enough to help out a bit with bills. I didn’t start earning enough to quit until September 2013, and even then waited a six months to make sure it stuck. I’d had three books published at the time, and I credit the books taking off to making the first permafree and BookBub picking me up, along with years of writing experience beforehand. Since then, I’ve sold more than I ever thought I would.

    It’s been an amazing journey so far. I credit showing up, waking up at 5:30 (while I had a day job), and cutting out habits that weren’t productive that kept me from writing. It IS possible to do, even in 2014!

    • I love the idea of being able to wake up at that early an hour and be productive and do the right things to live your dream. I’ve set my clock at 5 am, and manage to shut it off every time. So congrats on having the steel guts to get up that early!

  66. I write full time and have no day job. I’m earning more from my fiction writing than I ever did in my full-time job as a technical writer. A lot more, and that’s after accounting for editing, covers etc. There’s less stress, I get to work from home AND I make up stories all day – gotta love that.

    My genres are historical paranormal romance, historical romance, and contemporary mysteries.

  67. I quit/was laid off from my part-time job in October of 2012, and with no employment prospects I decided to try my hand at writing (having written fanfiction for years). I now make an ample living off my two genres, romance (mostly erotica) and young adult (horror and fantasy).

  68. Magda Alexander

    I took early retirement in 2012, but my social security income was barely enough to make ends meet. So I self published in July 2013 hoping to make a little extra. My first month I made $271; the second $1,680. During my first six months, I earned $6,500 plus. I published my second book in January 2014 and the sales exploded. In the first 5 months of 2014, I’ve earned $26,930.14 (so far). I will release another book, a boxed set and my first audiobook in June. Have plans to release two more books, one novella and another audiobook before the end of the year. And the best part? I’m having a blast. So thank you to Amazon, B&N, Apple, Kobo, and all my great fans.

  69. Quit in 2012. 120,000 books now sold. Film/TV rights in the works. Listened to a lot of different legacy publishing folks talk at BEA today about what I’m missing out on and left with reinvigorated commitment and confidence in the Indie route.

  70. My self-published books have been my sole source of income for the last couple of years. It’s been a while since I made less than 10K USD in a month.

    I write fantasy/steampunk and have never had a book take off and light up the bestseller charts, but I write religiously and publish new novels every couple of months. I’m a solid mid-lister with some awesome fans. 😉

    • You make a good point here, Lindsay. You can be a mid-lister and possibly never hit the big lists and still make a substantial income. I love awesome fans!! 🙂

  71. I quit my day job six weeks after I started writing my first fiction, a week before I finished my first book. (I know, I know. Everyone says, “Don’t quit your day job.” What can I say. I did.) Nine months later, my first month self-publishing, I earned more than I had been at the job (with three books out, in Contemporary Romance). In my fifth month (with four books out), I made 7.5 times more. I still can’t believe I had the guts (it’s not my usual style), but if I hadn’t gone for it, all of this wouldn’t have happened.

    Thank you, Amazon.

  72. I quit my day job this February to write fantasy and science fiction full time. I consider myself very fortunate to be in the position of being able to live my dream. Since quitting, I’ve published one novel (over 100,000 words) and expect to have two more released this year.

  73. Anomymous NA Author

    I quit my day job (actually I was laid off) January 3, 2013. In the past two months I made TWO YEARS worth of salary from self-publishing. I’d say my average monthly self-publishing take-home since October 2013 has been $6K. $3-4K is a bad month, $10K and up are counted as great. And then that one mind-blower month, which was the product of many months of planning.

    I think $6K is a decent paycheck, so even if you threw out my mind-blower, I’m still making three times as much money now than I was working my “day job”.

  74. I quit my 23 year career in fashion in December to write full time, a goal 20 years in the making. I make three times as much publishing than designing clothing.

    I’ve been self publishing since early 2011, but didn’t “hit” until June 2013 or so.

  75. I had to quite practicing law in 2007 thanks to health complications from the Pregnancy from Hell. I wrote to save my sanity. Once I was reasonably healthy, I worked part-time at a retail store, and I wrote a legal column for a local magazine. Left the retail job July 31, 2012, and the magazine went under four months later.

    I’m making more than the two end jobs, but not as much practicing law. In all fairness, I really haven’t been writing full-time either since I was homeschooling our son the 2012-2013 school year, then we packed up most of the house to move back to Ohio, and right now I’m working on painting rooms and re-tiling the baths and kitchen to put the house on the market. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when I can turn my full attention on writing and publishing. 😀

  76. I’ve been a self-employed musician for a couple decades, but since Sept. 2013 I’ve made enough from writing for a comfortable living. My husband’s still working his full time job, and our goal is to double my writing income and break him free in another year and a half. Since first self-publishing in 2011, my income has reliably doubled (or more) every year. I’m working hard to keep that trend going! 😉

    Note- starting out with two genres under two pen names (Historical Romance as Anthea Lawson and YA Urban Fantasy as Anthea Sharp) slowed things down a fair bit. As did publishing only short stories under Anthea Lawson for 2 years. Advice for someone starting now? Pick one thing you love and focus on that for at least two years, preferably writing connected or series full-length books.

  77. I quit my day job in May 2013 after 18 months of indie writing. I could have quit sooner, but I’d committed to that semester before I was sure I wanted to take the risk. THANK YOU, AMAZON!

  78. I retired to Mexico about a dozen years ago. After a year or two of navel gazing, I started a custom home design and build firm and did that for about seven years. I also started a wine business, blending and exporting from Argentina, which did okay, thank God.

    When the U.S. economy tanked in 2008, it took about two years for that to ripple into the Mexican luxury vacation home market, and the market stalled in 2010-2011. While I was certainly enjoying drinking away my wine company profits, a friend of mine had been after me to consider publishing a book or two after reading all about how Hocking and Locke were overnight successes, and in June, 2011, I published my first novel, Fatal Exchange. In that first year, I want to say I sold a little over a thousand books with 10 titles out by December, so not exactly overwhelming. I was in the red to the tune of $15K, but I’m used to that from being entrepreneurial, so it didn’t faze me. In 2012 I sold a little over a hundred K books. In 2013, more than triple that. I think as of right now I’m closing in on 680K since June, 2011, and should top out a little shy of a million by year end. The money is more than generous, Clive Cussler tapped me to co-author his Fargo series and the first in that line is releasing on Putnam Sept. 2nd, I’ve sold rights to two books in Germany and one in Bulgaria with more coming, been featured on the front page of the WSJ at the beginning of 2014, the reception to my work from readers has been humbling, and as I write this, I’m getting ready to make the last push on finishing my 30th novel.

    If I never write another word and just promote and market my existing catalog, I suspect I can keep myself in tequila. But where’s the fun in that? It’s the writing that’s the reward. Whether next year is an up, or a down one, and yes, the down ones will surely happen in this constantly evolving market, doesn’t matter as long as I improve my craft and enjoy the journey. Publishing isn’t a destination, and it’s not a goal. It’s a process that’s ongoing, and what keeps me vital is the next story. When crafting that stops being interesting, it’s time to go on to something else.

    So not exactly quitting my day job, but to me, something better. Embarking on a new life. Doesn’t get much better than that.

  79. I didn’t quit my job as I’d already quit it in 2010 to do the breeding thing. I started self-publishing in March 2013 and as of 2014 with four titles out I’m earning more per month than I ever did in my day job. I write light mysteries. I love self-publishing.

  80. I’ve been earning enough to write full time since mid-2012 or so. No day job to quit – I was unemployed and homeless at the time.

  81. I did quit my day job, but not to write full time–and I’m soon getting another day job.

    I’m in the zone where I make a LOT more doing IT work than I do selling books, and I enjoy the luxury of being able to write stories about anything I want without regard for marketability. I write in many genres and that’s the way I like it. I’m not worried about “brand” and don’t need to be. I have no one telling me what to write and when to write it.

    I can’t afford to quit my day job just hoping I will ramp up my book sales quick enough to support my family, so I am taking the approach of using the book sales as supplemental income and writing more books until that income grows enough for me to consider going full time.

    I think it will be a few more years before I join y’all writing full time, but I’m perfectly fine with that. I’m enjoying myself and making some cash.

  82. In 2010 I had a small public relations and marketing company, mostly dealing with small businesses – then the economy crashed taking most of my clients along with it. I had been allowing myself one night a week to stay at the office and write, so I had a novel that was nearly done. I did some freelance work, but had enough time to complete my novel. My sister had been traditionally published, so I thought that was the route I would take.

    A friend sent me a Wall Street Journal Article about Karen McQuestion and the sale of her 34,000th book through Amazon Kindle. I had heard a little about Kindles, but had no idea I could actually submit through Amazon. I emailed Karen and asked her if she felt this was a viable income stream and she answered and said yes.

    So, in August 2010 I published “Loose Ends – A Mary O’Reilly Paranormal Mystery.” The first month I sold 100, the next month 200 – I added another book that had been previously turned down by traditional publishers and in November added the second in the series. By the end of November I was selling about 1000 copies of each and Joe Konrath offered me a chance to have my books listed on his Holiday Book Guide.

    Now, I make far more money through my book sales than I ever did through my small consulting business. My first book has sold more than 300,000 copies and I’ve met readers from all over the world. I am constantly aware and grateful for the opportunity Amazon has given me.

    Terri Reid

    • Hi Terri:
      Glad you’re doing well! You won’t remember now, but a couple of years back you gave me some excellent tips for improving the immediacy of my writing, back when a load of us used to hang out at the “Laid-Back Cafe” forum thread on Amazon.co.uk Kindle forums. My stuff is trickling away slowly enough (fantasy, unlikely to take off for another couple of books at least) but one thing I do often get comments on is precisely that immediacy. Just wanted to say thanks for your help – much appreciated.
      All the best:

  83. I quit my job as a video editor/encoder in New York City almost a year ago and tried to freelance video work for a bit. However, the freelance job situation wasn’t quite what I expected and decided to quit the freelance gig and finish my second novel with the money I had saved up.

    I can’t say I’m making a living off the books yet. The sales I’m making are not enough to sustain a living, but my 2nd book has only been out for less than a month, so it could just be impatience. But the impatience is warranted, my savings are slowly dwindling down and it costs money to produce more books. Hiring an editor, getting cover art done, website maintenance, just thinking about it gives me anxiety.

    As much as I’d like to dedicate myself to writing full-time, I’m not sure I can go much longer without some kind of substantial income.

    I kind of set myself up for failure because I wrote stories about a female super heroine in order to fill in a gap where a woman heroine is taken seriously and not treated as a sex object. But all everyone talks about is Wonder Woman this, Wonder Woman that and I’m drowning in obscurity. I’d love to continue writing and to venture off into new genres like horror and romance, but $30 bucks a month just isn’t going to cut it.

    It’s either right more books and hope that the volume of books will make me enough income or find full-time work.

    Unfortunately, I just don’t have enough money to dedicate into writing another book, so I’ve decided to go back to finding full-time employment in video editing and motion graphics. Hopefully the books will pick up steam while I go back to the daily grind.

    However, I won’t give up on writing my stories. I just need to find a way to schedule it so that I can write and earn income at the same time.

    • Wilmar, give it a little more time – and do consider that you have an enormous price-gap between your first book and your second that is probably hurting your follow-on sales. Just something to consider. Take a look at how successful indies in your genre are pricing. Good luck!

      • Ditto. The price for your second book seems a little bit too high. Even for one of my “good” authors, I have troubles to buy at more than $5.00 , and with two books out, you haven’t yet gained the followers that are ready to pay that.

        OTOH, your website and covers are Great !

        • Yes, I realized the price change was quite drastic, but I looked at other authors with similar books and felt that it was necessary. The editor and the cover artwork was vastly more expensive than what I spent on the first and I felt that the new effort put into the 2nd book was worth the price increase.

          Also, because I realize it’s such a huge price gap. I actually tend to direct new readers to the 40-50% sample I offer on the website and goodreads. So, if they are hesitant about the book, they can always read half of it and then decide if they want to purchase the rest. (That’s how I prefer to buy products I’m unsure of anyway.)

          I had priced the first book at 2.99 and the amount of sales I received on that book didn’t justify what I received in royalties. I believe my biggest enemy is not necessarily the price, but the exposure. Then when the reviews came in, I let it go down to 99cents and chalked it up as a learning experience.

          Probably a mistake in hindsight, but I’ll leave it where it is for now.

          Thank you for the comments on the website and the artwork. It was a significant investment, but I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.

    • Wilmar – have you considered writing a webserial at all? Superhero stories seem to be fairly popular in that venue, at least based on what I’ve browsed through. If nothing else, it’s another avenue for exposure.

      You might also check out the Pen and Cape Society (http://penandcapesociety.com/). I’ve no connection to the group, but their stated mission is promoting superhero fiction.

      • I can’t say I’ve considered doing any webserials. If those are online comics, I don’t quite know any artists that would want to team up on a comic. Also, I’m not quite exactly sure -what- I would write about for a web serial.

        There’s already so many good ones out there already, like strong female protagonist, I’m not exactly sure what new voice I could provide.

        Thanks for the link to pen and cape society, I’ll reach out to them and see if they have any feedback.

        • Hi Wilmar! A web serial is basically a bunch of shorter story chunks that eventually get bundled into one volume. Think of it as episodes of a tv show that eventually add up to one season. Since you’re writing about a super heroine, you could do smaller story pieces with her journey and price them cheaper – maybe .99 for the first, then raise the price on later installments, until the story is concluded. You price the final collected book higher and entice new readers to just get it all at once. I’ve wanted to try doing this, but I’m not done my current project yet. I’m easily distracted! But, many other writers have done this sort of thing successfully. Anyway, best of luck on all your books!

  84. I’ve had discussions with my boss and told him I’m out the door in a few months time. We begin looking for my replacement in June.

    I’m not as fast a writer as some, but will be going full time with my fourth book release. I have two series, one turning over (dark fantasy), the other doing quite well (alternate history).

    I also used to work in a bookshop.

  85. I was laid off from my IT job in June 2010. I had a number of novels sitting in my computer that no publisher or agent in the US would touch, so I decided to self-publish. I was hoping I could make a few bucks to supplement my unemployment money until I found a job. Readers found something in my work that the traditional publishing industry couldn’t see. Once I came to believe my early success wasn’t just a flash in the pan, I stopped looking for IT employment. I had found my new career. Since then I’ve well sold over 300,000 copies of those books the trad industry rejected.

  86. I’ve been independently publishing since July, 2012. I published books through small presses and in ten years before 2012 may have made 100 bucks total. I worked full time, as did my husband. With two little boys we were barely making ends meet. Jan of 2013 everything flipped for me. I went from making a couple hundred bucks a month in 2012, to suddenly four figures, and then five. And now I’m making well into six figures a year. I’m a nobody, but I’ve managed to carve out a niche for my little books and I’m extremely happy.

    I’m a full time writer, and most of what we’re making now we’re saving so that when my husband retires from the military we can buy our dream home and he can retire as well, we’ll just barely be 40 by that point. Living the dream. 🙂

  87. Writing good reviews gives one a foot in the door. Interesting articled on Facebook, etc, do that as well (as I’ll explain below). I’m surprised at the rate some indie writers crank out books. Looking at the free Kindle offers on Amazon does show that many of them lack polish. Well-written, interesting articles do sometimes get noticed by the right people. It has given me (beg pardon for the hubris) a well-paying standby career as a translator.

  88. I -tried- to get a job. Eventually you get tired of rejections. So basically, I’m now living just barely off the income from my books, which has been on a slow but steady rise ever since I started. It’s not luxurious, and the fluctuations in sales make me worried sick at times. Still, it’s better than having nothing. 🙂 And writing full time is pretty great. Certainly feels better than sitting around on welfare.

  89. Wow! This is truly inspiring. I currently work for a very well known animal welfare charity but it’s taking its toll. I won’t bore you with the details. I’ve written on and off since school. Finally finished the first draft of a novel a couple of months ago. Crawling through the proof read now (I’ll be looking to pay someone next time!) hoping to put it out for the world to judge in a couple of months. I’d love it if even just one person bought it and enjoyed it. The thought that I could possibly make the 29k I currently earn by self publishing fills me with hope.
    I’ve also been brewing beer for a couple of years with a view to starting a microbrewery. But writing is a bigger passion with a much lower barrier to entry.
    So thanks to all for the Inspiration and to Hugh for relighting the fire.

  90. In Feb 2013, after lurking at KBoards and reading every thread started by Hugh Howey, HM Ward, Elle Casey, Russell Blake, SM Reine, Joe Nobody, etc, I put together a two-year plan and published my first Her Russian Protector story as Roxie.

    That first month, I sold 400 books–and was beyond ecstatic. This month I will sell just under 25K copies of my books across all vendors and formats (digital, print and audio.) Fifteen months after publishing IVAN, I’ve paid off our student loans, mountains of medical debt, paid for new vehicles, set up a medical trust for our special needs kiddo and started my retirement. I was able to take my sweet baby girl to Disneyland in April, and after hitting the NYT and USA Today lists, I’m celebrating by taking her to Disney World after the NINC conference.

    Indie publishing gave me FREEDOM. I’m a hybrid author who never made more than $16K in any year between 2007-2012 despite writing dozens of short stories, novellas and novels that were published with Ellora’s Cave, Samhain, Siren, Cleis Press and Mischief/HarperCollins UK. 2013 was much better on the trad end of things–but most of that was the hard work *I* put into my indie career spilling over into my trad career with readers looking for new books by me.

  91. I quit my day job almost immediately after I started earning more money from writing. It was a little scary, but considering I had a mid-wage part time admin job, it wasn’t a lot to give up.

    Being a full-time author has been fantastic. It was Oct 2013 when I finished my day job, and I haven’t looked back at all. I don’t think of my old job even in the slightest.

    Since then I’ve earned a pretty steady income from my royalties, and I’ve been able to set up a multi-author boxed set, and write two series at once. It’s not perfect, and I’m not perfect by any means, I procrastinate quite a lot. In some ways it’s harder to get on with writing than when I was part time, but even still, it’s really nothing to complain about. I’m doing what I love and that’s all that matters.

    Right now I need to focus on business matters. I need to step it up a notch and really get my head down. I’m working on building a mailing list and fan base. Writing two series at once is a bit of a mistake. Unfortunately, sometimes my heart rules my head and I have to write what I have to write!

  92. I took what I thought would be a year long sabbatical from my job as a press officer in 2011 to travel around Australia. That year off became permanent in November 2012 after I’d sold over 400,000 ebooks via KDP. Now write full time. Usually in a pair of Batman lounge pants, if I’m being honest.

    • LOVE this. I wear yoga pants EVERY day, even when I’m not doing yoga, lol. It’s like my work uniform and even after a year and a half of writing full time, walking by my closet and ignoring all the skirts and jackets in it is still one of the best parts of my day!

      • LOL — I can relate! I have a closet full of corporate suits I used to wear to work because I had to look respectable. Since I quit my day job in November of 2013, I wear nothing but yoga pants and big t-shirts whilst sitting at my desk in my home office. I love it!

  93. I took my last freelance job some time around October/November 2012. Some months are good ($7500) and then you can get a scary drop ($1000).

    It’s the nature of the beast but income fluctuation is something you are used to from freelancing. For those moving from a salaried gig: make sure to put a cushion aside during the good months. You will have fallow months too.

  94. Jos Van Brussel

    I quit my job 2 months ago because I hated it and I had some money saved. I self-published my first book one year ago but didn’t sell in my genre (humor) so I switched to erotica (under a pen name) in April. I made $1000 in my first month and month 2 seems to exceed the first one, so I think (hope) I’ll be fine.

  95. I’m not full time writing yet, but then again, I hit publish for the first time less than a year ago. I’ve got a great career that I love, but as of next year (February) I’ll be turning over a new leaf and writing full time.

    Well, that, plus living the life I missed while working 80 hours or more a week for most of my adult life.

    I don’t earn enough to replace what income I’ll lose when I retire, but it’s between one and two thousand a month currently. Best month is around 3.5K but that was only one month. That could be enough for a lot of folks, so I think it counts.

    The only thing that gives me pause is the variability of the income. There is no predicting it.

    • susan kaye quinn

      This post makes me so happy (that there will be more time for writing from you!). 🙂

      • Thank you, Susan!

        Seeing so many people responding is amazing. It’s truly a whole new world. So many people can do what they love and earn their keep doing it. Very inspiring!

  96. Just want to say a big thanks, to all the PV regulars and the KBoarders etc who’ve come on over, for sharing your inspiring and courageous stories.

    This is the true newsworthy stuff right here. This is the publishing sea change summed up right here in this single post. Can’t stop the tide now…


  97. I left my day job in October of 2011 and have been a full-time indie writer since. Zero regrets. I now have 14 titles available, including fiction, non-fiction and one children’s book.

    • And very glad I am too! Without you, Joe, I would still be procrastinating about going ACX and audio. Following your trail is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

      Mark E. Cooper

  98. Pamela M. Kelley

    I’ve been writing for about six months and when I released the second in my romance series, sales increased enough that I could support myself with my writing and do this full-time if I wanted to. But, I still like my day job (am self-employed) and am not ready to give that up yet, but I am scaling back my hours so that I can put more time into writing. This is a wonderful time to be an Indie author.

  99. This is my third year writing full time and living off the proceeds. I don’t make nearly the kind of money that some other people do with self-publishing, and sometimes, my income goes waaay down to the wire, but I haven’t needed supplemental income yet, knock on wood!

    (For those reading this who’ve been writing and publishing a long time and still can’t manage to “break out,” know that it’s not your fault you didn’t make five figures in your first four months. Sometimes, all the hard work and professional covers, editing, etc. in the world aren’t enough. Sometimes, you have to wait for your moment. And sometimes, you need more than one moment. But the only way you fail as a writer is if you stop writing.)

  100. You guys rock!!!! At the very young age of 69 years I’m writing my first fiction novella in the Romantic Suspense Genre`.

    This is something I have wanted to do for many years, but the negativity of my children has been holding me back.

    Last week my 41 year old son told me I was wasting my time because nobody bought books anymore, who did I think I was Danielle Steele? No, I’m not, I’m Azure Leighton. What? That sounds like a porn star. Hey, whatever sells books. In other words don’t mess with Momma Bear.

    Just last week I sent out a few pages of the book to a couple of people, who I knew would give me honest feedback. I knew they would tell me if I couldn’t write worth a hill of beans, and if I thought I could sell this I was nuts!

    That feedback was actually amazing, they both are hooked and can’t wait for the next section of the book, so my children think I’m a total failure, but my peers are anxiously waiting for more.

    I have to work part time to put food on the table and keep my car on the road, but approaching 70 I only want my daily commute to work to be from the coffee pot in the kitchen to my laptop in my home office. So looking to replace that income, which is $500 per month, luckily I have pensions and social security that pays my household bills. So although my financial goal may not be as big as some, to be able to write full time, anything over that will be more than welcome!!!!!

    • Your story is inspiring. I review lots of books on my website and would love to review yours when its done. It doesn’t matter how old you are to be successful and my wish for you is that your son eats his words later ‘Azure Leighton’

      • Thank you so much for your comments, I will definitely let you know when I finish the book.

    • Damn, Renee. I want to loan you my son. At four, he would drag my laptop case to me and say, “Mommy, you’re grumpy. Go write. You’ll feel better.”

      P.S. if you need any help or even a cheerleader, click on my name. I’ll even hold down your kids while you smack the s**t of them.

      • You will be at the top of my list for a cheerleader!!! You are all such an inspiration.

    • Good for you, Renee.

  101. I put my first paid book out in April. It’s my only job, and I’m making more than minimum wage, but right now, it’s mostly being eaten up by costs. I hope that will change as I put more books out.

  102. I have been writing full time since a few months after my youngest was born in 2011. I published my first book under my pen name of J. R. Tyger in October 2013. I published the second one right at the end of March of 2014. I am almost finished with my third book and hope to have it published with in the next month so I can work on the next one I have started. I unfortunately can’t say this would be able to keep being a full time job. My sales are very low. I write for the older teens and it is seems to be hard trying to find readers in that genre. If I could find a away to market without spending money that I don’t have I think I could do a lot more.

    I know I would love to stay at home with my two children and write, but being the fact that it is just the three of us, if I don’t start drawing a liveable income from my books I will have to be a part time writer until I start making more.

    If anyone knows a way to market with no money to start I would take any ideas. I’m a writer in teen genre. I already have a page on Facebook and a Twitter account. I’m also on instragram. I just don’t know what more I can do, but I would like to stay a full time writer.

    • Contact your local high schools and libraries about giving talks.

    • Jessica, I would have a look at redoing your covers, updating your blurb, and adjusting your categories. It’s saying that you’re listed in Short Stories for example, when the page count is 233 pages. Seems odd.

      Unfortunately your paperbacks leave a lot to be desired as well. ie. Blank white covers on the back.

      You should check out the Kboards. A ton of solid advice over there plus lots of people willing to share insights.

      • Hi Jessica – I agree with Adam. Closely study the top sellers in your genre. Go with a standard book-shaped cover (ratio of 3x height 2x width). Take apart blurbs to figure out what elements are missing from your own (last names, active, punchy verbs, a cohesive story question). If your story has elements of romance, you’d do much better finding an inexpensive stock art photo of a young couple embracing. A landscape isn’t helping the reader to know anything about your story. Back up, look at what the successful writers are doing, and then apply it to your own work. Good luck!

    • Have you explored building a following on Wattpad? It is very romance- and YA-oriented. I think it’s worth at least checking out.

  103. I haven’t quit my job yet. I’m 3 years into a 5 year business plan I set for myself and trying to be patient / build up a nest egg. That being said, my book income (10th book releasing next month) has surpassed my day job. I’d be lying if I said the temptation wasn’t there to dive in full time now.

  104. These are truly great stories and so inspiring.

    I work part-time as a scientist (I get to participate in a few far-flung archeoseismology projects) and lecturer and have a timed contract that will run out in 2-1/2 years.

    I started with my first novel in mid-2012 (thinking my contract was not going to be renewed), and I’m just getting ready to publish my fourth book in a fantasy suspense series. The fifth and last book will be out at the end of the year.

    Wish I could say I don’t need to finish out the contract, but my earnings aren’t yet like many who’ve reported here. But I do love my job, it’s only part-time, and it takes me to exotic places and gives me great ideas for my mythology-based fantasy and (next series) alt-history mysteries so I don’t mind living in two worlds.

    I’ll be happy to exit stage right, though, when the time comes and devote myself to writing full-time. Hoping that the income will increase to accommodate that if I just keep writing and publishing what I love.

    Would also be happy being a hybrid if the right kind of opportunity came along.

  105. Loretta Ellingsworth

    I don’t consider this a to be a down comment, but my experience hasn’t been magic. In mid 2012 I published several titles to the Kindle and essentially abandoned them there to sink or swim while I studied digital illustration (Photoshop, Illustrator, drawing, painting and computer 3-D design). They haven’t swum.

    I had, in the past, followed the ‘it has to be paper, published, and agented or it’s not real’ theory but that never worked out. I was writing long when the fashion was short and short when the fashion in manuscripts was long. I made my decision to self publish when I was standing in the back of a grocery store stripping covers off paperback books. Not my books, you don’t! (Only the covers are returned for the credit.)

    In the near future I need to get back to these books, accumulate an illustration portfolio, and publish whatever other manuscripts I have waiting. Publishing to the Kindle, if for no other reason, is a much easier read than lugging around a box of dusty curly manuscript if you want to revisit your story.

    I could use an opinion of ‘it looks like a book should look’ or ‘it doesn’t, etc.,’ so that I know whether or not to tweak my publishing template. If you are inclined to offer an ‘it doesn’t, etc.,’ don’t tie up Passive Guy’s blog, use my direct contact Loretta_Ellingsworth@verizon.net (it has an underscore between a and E) and the books are published under Loretta Ellingsworth.

    I’ve been lurking and reading TPV for a while now as my go-to sanity source in the popcorn kerfluffles that erupt regularly around the vitality of self-publishing. Thanks for the information, the variety of sources, and the friendly atmosphere.

  106. Next year I am going to be able to go part time in my job as a school teacher/counselor and devote more time to writing books. I only have three books selling, no substantial backlist to keep me afloat, but I am able to replace half my salary with my sales on Amazon. I am sure with added time to publish more books my income can only increase.

  107. Anonymous Author

    I quit my day job last year, although I’d been making enough up to a year prior. At my last job, I had hit the ceiling on how much I could earn annually in my position (50K). At the time when I quit, I was making an average of 10K a month writing. That seemed pretty decent and something I could work with.

    A year later, I make anywhere from 50-100K a month, and you can count my titles on both hands. In the past year, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about the kind of life that matters. I had spent my whole life hoping others would take a chance on me, but had to finally stop and asking myself if *I* was willing to take a chance on me.

    Make plans. Set goals. Take risks. Pursue happiness.

  108. I was ‘semi-retired’ when I started writing, and I’ve been self-employed for +25 years, so I didn’t exactly ‘quit’ per se. However, I published my first thriller in June 2011 and was making a living wage at writing by January 2012. Unfortunately, I’m a fairly slow writer, but my pace works for me and allows me to do other things I value. I published my second thriller in late 2013 and my third in March of this year. I made just over six figures in 2012 and almost that much in 2013, but sales are starting to slow a bit, probably because I need to get back to ‘tending the garden’ a bit better. It is, as others have stated, much more about the journey than the destination.

  109. I haven’t yet been able to make a living with my writing. I have fourteen books over three genres (Childrens, Fantasy, Slipstream)and I’m a SAHM (Stay at home Mum) so anything my writing contributes to the household income is welcome.

    I’d love to say that my main income is from writing, alas however, I am reliant on the Benefits system for that, but my aim is for the benefits to become a top up rather than the main income.

    Hugh Howey, Nya Rawlyns and a number of Indie Authors are my inspiration and my heroes. I will make it one day.

  110. While not an overnight success, I consider my story one of persistence and tenacity. I self-pubbed my first book in 2008. It did well and was picked up by an Amazon imprint and re-launched in 2009. Since then, I’ve become hybrid and published almost a dozen books, some self-published and some under Amazon imprints. (mind you, these are all China-inspired fiction, a genre that in 2008 agents and publishers told me was too obscure and would never sell well) Slowly my books picked up speed until 2012 I was able to quit outside work to write full time. I’m now earning more than I ever did in my jobs in the well-paid corporate positions. How well am I doing? This April (2014) was my biggest month ever and I sold 32k books across all the titles! It’s been a long, hard road but the long hours and loyalty to my brand is definitely taking off.

  111. Samantha LaCroix

    I was laid off from a job as a barista back in December 2013. I had been writing since January 2013 and figured I may as well keep going with it and if it didn’t work out I would just find another job.

    So I’ve been self-employed since the beginning of 2014 and, though January and February didn’t make me enough to meet my budget, March onward has surpassed what I need financially. So basically, yeah, I’m writing full-time. 🙂

  112. My wife, Paige Weaver, did not necessarily have a job before. She has been a stay at home mom for 10 years. Her first 2 books made 50% more than I make in a year as an experienced software engineer. So I guess technically she could have quit her job if she had one. I can say that we take a lot nicer vacations and leave with very little debt now.

  113. I’ve been a self employed writer for more than 30 years. And I have a husband who’s a freelance woodcarver/artist as well, so life has always been precarious. I made enough money to live comfortably on when I was writing a lot of radio drama, some television and theatre. But I’ve always had a portfolio of work for many outlets, always written fiction too. Which is what makes me angry with those writers who go on about having to give up if a publisher won’t pay them to write the next novel. I’ve been on the big publishing switchback and been thrown off it. Dusted myself off and started all over again only to have much the same thing happen. (The mid-list slump) This was before there were alternatives. Now, self publishing means a nice sum into my bank account every month. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but the more I put out there, the more it increases. And because I carried on writing, even when agents were telling me that ‘nobody wants …’ whatever it was I wanted to work on, I have a lot of material. The hideous pressure of trying to conform to whatever London saw as the ‘next big thing’ has gone. These days, I supplement our income by buying and selling antique textiles, very much as a part time job. Give me another year at this and I should be able to stop the textile business – though I may carry on in an even smaller way just for the pleasure of it! I’ve also just published a novel with one of the new breed of smaller independent publishers and have another project at the planning stage for them. They suited me and that particular project and they still do. Which makes me ‘hybrid’ I suppose. But I would never put all my eggs in one basket and they don’t ask for it. I can say in all honesty that I have never been happier with my day to day work. My only regret is that this didn’t happen when I was younger.

  114. What a great and very encouraging thread! I write romance, and while I actually quit my day job in 2012 after two years with small/”indie” publishing houses (most notably, Entangled)and make a good living doing it, I started self-publishing in March of this year. In March, I sold 30 books. In April I sold around 200, and in May I’ve sold 1800 or so. At an average of 2.99 a pop, that will net me around $3000 this month after costs (editing, cover, etc.)It’s not close to replacing the income I make through my publisher yet, but if the trajectory continues, it will by August. I do plan to continue being a hybrid author, mainly because I love my editor there and I really like the line I write for at that particular publisher, but I also LOVE the freedom of being able to write whatever I want and then have my hands in every bit of the process. Cover not working? Scrap it. Blurb not working? Tweak. Price not hitting the mark? Change it. It’s so unbelievably freeing, I can hardly stand the excitement :oD

  115. I only have 3 books out, the 4th coming in June. I writing mystery/suspense and since putting the 1st permafree in Oct. have just started making enough to pay a couple bills each month. I’m nowhere near ready to quit my PT job, and I go back and forth as to whether I should even if my books increase. The biggest problem for me is I’m a slow writer. I MARVEL at those who can put a book out every month or so. I’ve got fibromyalgia and there are weeks at a time when I’m struggling with fibrofog and/or exhaustion. I will say that because of that, I’m supremely grateful for being able to self-pub. There is no way I could meet deadlines by outside agencies, and I would probably do more damage to myself trying to. 🙂 Self-publishing is a God-send to me. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I would love to see some “real” income coming in, but I’m just going to keep tortoise-ing my way to the end of each book.
    PG? It would be wonderful if this could somehow be a “sticky” post or its own page. It was *so* awesome to hear about real authors and their journeys. It would be a shame to have this post sink into the Previous Post dungeon.

    • Hi Donna,
      I just had to reply to your post. I too have fibro. I wanted you to know you are not alone. 🙂 I’m two weeks away from releasing my first book. The second book is almost halfway written, and I hope it too will be out before the end of the year. I have author friends who can release 4 or more books a year. To me, that’s just astounding, and I can never hope to copy that. But just remember – we fibro sufferers face unique challenges, and even having a single book published is a huge accomplishment. Just keep taking steps, however small, and you’ll get there!

    • Hugs–I’ve got an autoimmune thing, too, and it’s everything I can do to write and do day-to-day tasks. It took me 18 months to write my first mystery, which came out at the end of February this year. I’m 1/4 of the way through the second book, and fully intend to get it on Amazon this fall. Like you, I have grave reservations about being able to meet a publisher’s time frame–flareups can be unpredictable, and knock me out flat. But I’m also trying to create a system where I can do two books per year, which still isn’t being a fast writer, but it’s twice as fast as one per year. 😉

      I find the biggest problem with being a slow/energy challenged writer is the marketing side of things–keeping up with the blogging, social networks, etc. I wish someone could show me a non-draining way to succeed at that part!

  116. I left my last crappy joe job in April 2013, and have been a FT writer since then, though I’m making only about $1000-$2000 gross per month (and a lot of the $$ goes into production for the next books). I write under two names. My fairy tale fantasy doesn’t sell at all. My romance stuff does. With several novellas and two novels, I’m making enough that I don’t have to look for a FT job right now.

    My partner does work a salaried/health insurance-giving job, which is essential for us. My hope is that over the next two years, I’ll keep putting romances out and start matching his income so he can quit and work on the publishing/marketing stuff (which he really enjoys doing) as his full time job.

  117. Started writing: 1993
    First novel sale: 1997
    Started indie publishing: Dec 2010
    With trad. romance release, went hybrid: Feb 2012
    Lost 3rd corporate mgmt job to recession: Sept 2012
    Quit the job hunt and became full-time writer: Jan 2013
    Best decision ever (other than marrying my wife)

  118. I lost my job two years ago after 18 years with the company. I had no prospects for other employment and honestly no desire to work for another company who could capriciously take away my livelihood.

    So I self-published a science fiction book I was working on. In the last two years, I have put out five books and several short stories.

    I’m still not making ends meet, but it’s getting closer and closer. Every month sees the upward drift of my sales inching their way to success.

  119. Danielle Bourdon

    I published my first book in June, 2010. By December of that year, I’d made $159, not quite enough to pay the electric bill. Some time in 2011, I hit critical mass, a do or die juncture where I thought I’d have to give up writing full time to get a day job. I stuck it out, and kept writing. Skip forward to May, 2014, and I’ve sold well over 300k books and make in the high five figures a month. The journey is different for us all. Some get there with their first novel, and others, like me, get there years later with twenty books out.

  120. I’m now a full-time self-published SF/F author.

    Before, I was following the Charlie Day philosophy of making Plan B so crummy that you can’t help but stay focused on Plan A. So when my books started to sell in early 2012, I didn’t have much to lose, day job-wise. I took the plunge within weeks.

    That year had a lot of ups and downs. Things got much more stable the next year, once I had a few more books out. This year, two weeks from now, I get to retire my fiancee. Can’t wait. 🙂

  121. I started in February of 2012, and quit my day job in December of that same year. If it weren’t for self-publishing I probably would have been working in retail for the rest of my life. It’s given me a completely unprecedented freedom, and even when I’m banging my head on the keyboard to try and get another scene written, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

  122. I was actually laid off in 2012 after publishing my first indie novel. In hindsight it couldn’t have come at a better time. I struggled to get by while writing four more books, doing some independent contracting and burning through my savings. However, I am happy to report that things are looking up. With monthly royalties now exceeding the totals of my old pay checks by a considerable margin, I have stopped “looking for a job” and embraced my new career as an indie author.

  123. I’m now a full time freelance editor for indie authors, if that counts.

  124. I bit the bullet in 2013 and went full time as a writer(previously part time). I may not be making Howey type wages, but I am not doing too bad. Monthly sales can fluctuate like a boat in a hurricane, but I am averaging over a grand a month. I am pretty sure I have made every mistake possible; you just have to learn and do your best not to repeat them.

    My genre(s) include speculative fiction and various non-fiction works. I now have five more fiction works in the process of being written.

  125. Holy crap, you take your eyes off a little thread for a day and look what happens.

  126. My “day job” is running my own freelance business (graphics, editing), and I haven’t closed it yet, but I am trying to taper off so I can concentrate on writing full-time, since it earns me so much more. I write SF romance, paranormal romance, and fantasy romance, and am working on book #19 right now.

    For me it’s been a slow climb (I published my first indie novella in 2011), but now I’m making about twice what I did at the best “real” job I ever had, which was as communications coordinator for a medium-size city in Southern California. By the end of the year I plan to have 22 books published (all either full-length novels or longish novellas). You definitely don’t have to write blockbusters to make a very good living as an indie writer.

    • Christine, the first book of yours that I found and loved was Dragon Rose. I’ve read a number of your books now and love many of them. It’s great to hear how you’re doing. Thanks for sharing here!

  127. This thread is so inspiring!

    I wasn’t going to write since I’m not one of you but, at this point I can’t really resist since I’ve had a few beers.

    I’m about halfway through my first novel and my hope is that I will join you all one day as I really can’t take much more of the daily grind.

    In the last 6 years alone, since moving to our present city, (my wife’s hometown,) my wife and I have each lost more than 4 or 5 jobs through no fault of our own (ie. economy, restructuring, downsizing, laid off.) In the past, this had actually never happened to either one of us. When we got married we thought we’d have the time of our lives, little did we realize that it occurred at the exact same time as the economy going to hell. This was followed up with our cat being put down becuz we couldn’t afford the surgery, our car needing too much work (which, might I add, had massive issues with the braking system and it was any wonder we made it home safely from Montreal,) a grandmother passing away, and typically we just so happen to lose our jobs just before Christmas. So Christmas in itself has been very… sad? I’m not sure what the right word is… It also happens to be my wife’s birthday so you can just imagine how the last 5 or 6 birthdays have been for her.

    It’s safe to say, our time in this city has been a struggle. We’re in a city where the unemployment rate has skyrocketed and employers are paying very low wages across the board. But then again, they can get away with it. Why pay more, when you can pay less?

    I’m not entirely sure why I’m writing this… but I think my goal was to put this into writing. To make a post to say that I was here, at this moment, on this day, at this point in my life where everything looked so bleak. Where my wife was crying the other night trying to figure out how things were going to work. Trying to figure out what may lay ahead of us. (We’re actually going to see a psychic for the first time in our lives if you can believe it.) I think I wanted to be able to look back at this post and say, I understand now. I understand what defeat is. But, I also understand what hope is.

    And sometimes, you just have to reach out and take it.

    My hope is that I will finally hit that Publish button and it will all be worth it. My hope is that I will make my wife proud. My hope is that I will be able to provide the life that we desperately want to enjoy. To be able to get our passports and go on a trip for the first time. To be able to just live… and not have to worry so much.

    My hope is that if I hit that button I will be able to continue to sit at home in my jammie pants and instead of looking for work that on paper I’m apparently unqualified for, that I will be able to sit down and write and dream up unbelievable characters and stories. I don’t have to be a superstar. I don’t have to be famous. I just have to make enough to get by.

    I didn’t start out this way. I actually started in comic books. But I’ve always been a creative person. Dabbling in marketing, illustration, writing, etc. It’s weird how things work out.

    But then again, I’ve always been a control freak. So maybe it makes some sort of sense.

    • Finish the book. Publish. Rinse. Repeat. You’ve shown you have the ability to put your “self” down on paper. You will sell.

    • Think of this as your declaration of intent. Now that you’ve said it publicly, we’re all going to hold you to it! 😉

      Good luck! Hunker down, set your nose to the grind stone, your fingers to the keys, and get writing! When you finally reach the words, “The End,” go find an editor and clean it up. Once editing is done, send it out to three or four proof readers.

      When all that is done, press the publish button!

    • That chick in Galveston

      Adam: I have a phd in English, so I know whereof I speak. You have the chops, buddy. Do what John said. (There, you don’t need the psychic now.)

    • I figured I’d post an update to this and thank you for the comments!

      It’s now almost a month later and I’m happy to report my first book is almost done! I’ve also booked an editor for Oct 1st and in the meantime will be focusing on cleaning it up and getting started on Book 2. I’ve also got a small non-fiction book that I’ve been writing simultaneously and I think it will be released within the next month. Thank you for the encouragement.

  128. As a lawyer of 40 years I decided to retire this coming (2014) Dec. 31.

    But, being a high earner but damn poor saver, I had little to retire on. So I decided to get my MFA in creative writing and try to get published. I’ve written all my life, had an agent (Al Hart of Fox Chase) back in the 90’s, the legacy folks went thumbs down, so I continued being a lawyer. And continued writing, only because it’s a genetic impulse or something I haven’t quite figured out.

    For my MFA I applied to Iowa, Brown, Cornell, Wisconsin, Michigan, and UC-Irvine. Every last one of them flat turned me down. Though Iowa had admitted me 40 years ago but I went to law school instead. So I said piss on you, I’ll write a novel and get an agent.

    So I wrote a novel about a new lawyer, Thaddeus Murfee, and sent query letters to 35 agents one snowy Sunday afternoon. Dead silence. Nothing. Then a couple of email turn-downs. Nothing. Dead silence.

    So, I looked into self-publishing, found Amazon, sold 400 books my first month, selling many more now, four months into it. I have since written and released my second Thaddeus Murfee novel, sell around 300 of those a month (second month) and the third Thaddeus Murfee novel is now at the proofreaders doing all that good stuff. My first novel has stars ranging from one star (“too many typos” — that taught me. Fast). To five stars. All over the place. My second novel is all 4-5 stars. People seem to really like it. Which absolutely turns me on because I loved writing #2 so much.

    Now I’m writing number four.

    Yes, I’m making enough to supplement my meager savings so I can retire in December. Thank God. And thanks to Amazon, and the attorney who makes this site possible, Joe Konrath–who showed me the way, and all of you, for having the courage and the willingness to put your stories here, which only give me hope that I no longer have to kill myself to pay the bills. Thank you.

  129. I didn’t have a day job. Couldn’t find one in the economic downturn and so hit the publish button in July of 2011. I made just shy of 40K last year. With a couple more books slated to come out later this year, I’ll make the same or more. Life is good as an Indie.

  130. Loretta Ellingsworth

    Update: Between breakfast and dinner today, May 30 2014, I don’t have a dayjob, my company lost its contract. I guess I’ve quit my day job to become a full time indie writer/publisher. Sometimes you choose something, sometime it chooses you.

  131. Wow. Seriously. Just…wow.

    So many lives changed. This is glorious.

  132. I sold my small business on December 31st, 2009 and began my journey as a full-time writer Jan 1st, 2010. The most liberating day of my life. I was fortunate enough to be hired to write for a web series in the first six months and didn’t self publish until August 23rd of 2011 after signing with two traditional (small) publishers. Since then, I’ve written and published over 50 books under my own publishing label, and have been making a living (replaced my income from my other successful business) within 6 months of self-pubbing my first book.

    Best. Job. Ever. I’m grateful every day for the chance to write and for the readers who vote with their money and their enthusiasm for my work. Took the plunge without a single prospect and haven’t had a moment of doubt. Is what I did for everyone? Probably not. But it was right for me.

    AWESOME to read the other posts–so many of us out there living the dream.

  133. I first self-published in 2009. After 22 years, my day job as an administrative assistant/bookkeeper let me go in January 2011. I’m not a fast writer and haven’t produced a lot of books (eight so far, plus contributions to anthologies), yet I now make three times as much from them as I did when I “worked.” 🙂

  134. I quit my day job in June 2012 after releasing my first SP full-length novel in late April of the same year.

    My first traditionally published book came out in 2010 and the second in 2011. I’m very very happy I made the leap and self-published.

  135. I’ve been doing this full time for 1.5 years now, 2 books out, a novella coming out next Friday. I was making a very good living before I quit my corporate job, but I could not have been more miserable. My husband and I have a tiny house and no debt, a minscule footprint, and I saved a whackload of $ so I could live off it if needed. (I haven’t really needed to.) I’m not quite making a living from my writing yet, but I should get there this year.

    I could not feel happier or luckier. I really feel blessed that I’m able to do this.

  136. I quit my day job as a writer and creative director at an ad agency in 2012. Taking the plunge was bolstered by a traditional book deal with Chronicle Books as well as a successful indie art print business (both online and off). I’ve learned a lot as an indie artist selling prints that’s applicable to being an indie writer selling books.

    I just published my first title and it’s exceeding my expectations.

    Fingers crossed I don’t have to sling taglines ever again.

    I am so thankful for the supportive self-publishing community.

  137. Outliers.
    Outliers all.

    • Right, because anyone making a real living in traditional publishing *isn’t* an outlier?

      I’m guessing what you said was intended as sarcasm, but I know there are people in traditional publishing who would say that and actually mean it. Not realizing that it’s true either way.

  138. I was laid off from my corporate writing job in July 2011–mere moments before I discovered the whole Indie writing world. I’ve always been fast and since that time, with four series and fifteen titles “out there,” I now make almost double what I made at my old (largely-loathed) corporate gig. My husband and I still have trouble believing that I’m able to work at something I LOVE and get paid for it! (Mind you, he often teases me that I’m a “writing-cyborg.” Last year I wrote seven 85K books. And loved every minute of it.) Now we’re hoping to replace his corporate salary with my book sales.

  139. Have been writing full-time for about half a year now. I literally owe my success to Hugh, David, and Holly since they took the time to give really thoughtful advice to an unknown newbie like me when I wrote to them privately with certain questions about self-publishing. 😀 Their advice gave me the confidence to quit my job and take a risk on self-pubbing my books. (I also have to say that I’m lucky enough to have joined a forum of business-savvy self-pubbers and the people there have helped me immensely as well.)

    P.S. Royalties from my first month of self-pubbing were four times what I earned on my best month working on my EDJ.

  140. I didn’t have a day job, my wife was the sole supporter of our family while I wrote. Three years ago, when my self-publishing income exceeded her six-figure job she was able to quit. I’m grateful to be the sole-income support for my family, and that my readers support my writing which allows me to write more content for them.

  141. Started self-publishing in the summer of 2011, using a permafree strategy, which has been very effective. Since then I’ve sold over 300, 000 ebooks. I do still have a day job (because I love the job) but for the past few years it’s been very much a secondary income. I certainly don’t need the day job income. I still can’t quite believe what’s happened since 2011. Dream come true 🙂

  142. I just told my boss I’m quitting this year; my sales have been in the five figures monthly for the past 6 months now, so it’s time to move on! I love my day job and would have quit six months ago but I really do care a lot about the people there. I’ve been self-publishing for 2.5 years now, one year under this pen name.

  143. Kevin Kauffmann

    I quit my job waiting tables back in September 2012, thinking that it was only a matter of time before my first trilogy would rocket to the top of the charts, considering the way people were talking about my books. By the next January, I ran a free promotion that had all three of my current books in Amazon’s Top 100, so I was confident I’d start having a decent income pretty soon.

    I had to go back the following May with almost nothing to show for it.

    While it’s cool to see all these success stories, every one of them makes me feel like I’ve made some huge mistake along the way, like I should have already succeeded. I’m about to self-publish my sixth book, people absolutely love both of my series(at least they say so), but it’s a good month when I push more than ten units between all of them.

    Seriously, how do you guys do it? I’ve tried everything I can think up to spread the word, from pumping way too much money into advertising, to going to conventions and dressing up just to attract attention. Nobody seems to care no matter what I do, and I fight tooth and nail just to throw free books at them. Reviews are even harder to get.

    And while I know I probably shot myself in the foot, I’ve promoted my books for free through KDP Select enough times that I’ve moved more than 50k books(mostly in the first year), but fan support is nowhere to be found. I figured that it’s better for people to read them for free rather than not read them at all, but other than the odd fan coming out of the woodwork to heap praise upon me, I don’t have much to show for it.

    I’m not going to give up, the writing is the only reason I’m around, but it just feels like I’ve already lost my chance to succeed. I know my books have massive potential, but if I can’t get people to read them in the first place, I really don’t know what to do.

    Sorry to vent, I’m just hoping that one of you might have some amazing hidden secret that will let me join your ranks as a successful indie author.

    It’s a goat sacrifice, isn’t it? It’s always a goat sacrifice.

    • Kevin, don’t lose hope. I have books that sell in the single digits every single month despite great reviews. And I have books in a different genre that sell really well every month (not blockbuster well, not top 100 well, but enough for us to get by on.) I didn’t do it with the first or second book, or the fourth book, I had nine books out before I started to make pay-the-bills money, and most of the money, even now that I have 18, comes from a single series. The others make very little. Maybe give the genre a twist and try something a little different, but still in your general area of interest. Try a different genre that interests you, or just hang on and keep writing. Get feedback, learn more, and keep working at it. I wrote for nearly a decade before I had a book good enough to be in print (before Kindle really took off, or I had enough trust in myself to go it alone, so it was with a small press.) This is a craft, you can’t learn it overnight and success rarely comes overnight.

      Having three books out making six figures a month is crazy good, and definitely not the norm, and yeah those kinds of numbers can be discouraging, but a lot of the other stories here show that it can come. Most people who persevere eventually start to make decent money in indie publishing if they’re doing everything else right. Your covers are pretty good, so try changing up the descriptions and see if that helps. And keep writing.

      • Kevin Kauffmann

        Sorry to reply so late, the email notification system didn’t seem to be working.

        In any case, thanks for the encouragement and the perspective. I guess I just need to write that one series that will support the rest of my writing ventures. Luckily, I’m well on my way, and I do tweak up my genres with every series. My next one is basically general fiction, which I’m sure will surprise some of my dedicated readers.

        Again, thanks. Hearing back from someone with experience like this definitely helps lift my spirits.

    • Some authors seem to achieve overnight success, but in all honesty, even with a major motion picture trilogy in pre-production now with a 2-time Oscar-winning producer at the helm (Good Will Hunting & the musical Chicago), it took me 12 years to build my readership! Even now, with the first of the film trilogy slated for release late in 2015, I have a small but loyal fan base. In fact, with the first of the movies heading to production, if you follow my stream you might notice many of my followers telling me, “I can’t wait to see the movie!” and some have even admitted they’ll just wait to watch the film because “reading is too time consuming”! Can you believe that! lol
      I also found the more ebooks I gave away, it didn’t matter. The ones who came back to read the other books in my YA series & the movie optioned series were the readers who purchased the first book! They were also the ones to leave reviews where all the freebies I gave (about 40k) didn’t garner 1 review! I even had some tell me they load up on whatever’s free, but often forget about it when they have so much on their reading device!
      Don’t give up & please don’t sacrifice any goats, at least for now! 😉

      • Kevin Kauffmann

        Wow, you definitely have made it if you have that kind of producer attached to your movie. It makes me feel a little better about slowly building my fan base, if your success was the result of twelve years.

        I always get comments about how my books should be movies, as well, and my friends will tell me straight to my face that they’ll wait for the movie because they don’t like to read. I definitely know where you’re coming from on that part 😉

        And that’s good to know. I’m obviously familiar with the rate of return on reviews for free books, but it’s nice to know there are some loyal readers out there. If nothing else, I think my dressing up at the conventions garners a lot of good will from the people who download the books, so I’m hoping that will help turn things around for me. It’s just difficult because I don’t know if they read it and forget to post reviews, or don’t read it at all. I’m sure you know the insecurity that comes with waiting for feedback, so I won’t go further, but that’s kinda the idea.

        Anyway, thanks for the encouragement, I do appreciate it. The goat can stay alive. For now…

    • You want my secret? Treat it like a full time job. Write 40 hours a week. Or, if you’re like me, put in a ton of over-time. I don’t get days off. Just days where I’m not productive. I get up early and stay up late writing, editing, and marketing. 6 days a week.

      You want to have my success, working 50+ hours a week for under $20k a year? Have at it.

      My real secret is that I don’t mind because there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than writing. This is my job, my leisure time, my obsession all balled up in one.

      So that’s it: Work hard and be satisfied with the act of writing.

      • Kevin Kauffmann

        Trust me, I got that part down. I’ve been on a hiatus the last month or so, editing a bunch of projects instead, but when I’m writing, sleep becomes a distant priority. The only reason I took a hiatus at all was because I wrote two entire books in three months and burned myself out. I think I’m just still mired in that first stage where you work constantly and have little to show for it, so I’m frustrated and whiny.

        Thanks for taking the time to comment, though. After commenting on reddit, I didn’t think you would look through all the comments for little, ole me.

    • Kevin — sometimes I wonder that myself — what is it that separates a high selling book from one that sells only a trickle or not at all? I have both kinds of books for sale — some that sell one or two a day to ones that sell hundreds a day — what is the difference?

      I think it depends on a few things:

      1) genre — do you write Romance, SF or Thrillers? They seem to be the best genres for indies to write. If you write in other genres, it may be harder to sell because the audience is smaller.

      2) What does your cover look like? Does it fit in with the top selling books in your genre? Go check out Amazon’s bestsellers in your category and see — does it have the same quality and look? A new cover might attract new readers for a very low investment. Some authors are afraid to invest in cover art because they are afraid they won’t earn the $50 – $300 back but think of this as your hobby. Would you spend money pursuing your hobby even if it did nothing but give you pleasure and enjoyment? Until you have success, think of any investment that way. You’re doing something you love. Invest in that.

      3) Is your blurb on your product page attention-grabbing? Does it compel a reader to try the sample? Work making it as compelling as possible. It’s key, along with a great cover, to getting interest in your book.

      4) Have you had your book professionally edited? The first sentence, paragraph, page, and the first chapter — hell, the entire preview has to be compelling and as error-free as possible. Most important is a great hook to get your preview read and then your book purchased.

      5) Is your book priced right? $2.99- $4.99 seems to be a sweetspot for indie books. Can you use the first book in your series as a lost leader and either have it permafree or 99c? You say you gave a lot of books away — that can help but many many of those freebies stay unread on a person’s Kindle. People are more likely to read a 99c book than a freebie, although I gained a lot of new readers through my freebies. I think I get more new readers through 99c sales.

      6) Do you hold regular sales and promotions? When you’re just starting out, perhaps use any revenue to buy promotions. You need visibility in order for Amazon to start showing you to readers and linking your books to others.

      7) Do you have good reviews? How many? Try to get more if you can — send out ARCs to book bloggers and offer to give free copies in return for honest reviews. Ask for beta readers who will help you with improving your book and who often can be counted on to leave reviews. The more reviews the better.

      8) Do you network with other authors? Maybe arrange a boxed set / collection in order to cross promote and gain new readers. Promote your fellow indies on social media and they will promote you — it’s a great way to build a community and gain new readers.

      Just some thoughts beyond sacrificing that goat. 🙂 Although, given this strange new world of indie publishing, do that too. 🙂

      • Kevin Kauffmann

        Since you took the time to write such a detailed message, I’ll reply in kind.

        1: I switch up genres from series to series. My first trilogy was Sci-Fi, my second is Dark Fantasy(so it’s under the umbrella of Fantasy and Horror), my next book is general fiction with Philip K Dick flavor, and then the rest of the books I have planned are going to be more Sci-Fi than anything. It might be that I just have to wait for the next big project that will resonate with my audience, but I’ll admit that when it came out, my first book definitely seemed like a first book. I may have just made a bad impression.

        2: I’ve heard this before, but I don’t necessarily want my covers to look like the others. I want them to stand out. I paid a decent chunk of change to get the covers I wanted, and it may seem foolish, but I love them to death. The covers for my apocalypse series are just gorgeous, and I can’t imagine having anything different. I have heard some criticism for my first series, however, but I don’t know if I could or would change them to something more appropriate. It would feel like a betrayal, especially since *I* still like them.

        3: I think my blurbs work, but then again, I’m not really selling books these days. When I get feedback on them, nobody seems to think it’s the problem, so I don’t know.

        4: I’ve tried in the past with my first trilogy, though that editor apparently wasn’t up to snuff, but I’m unfortunately stuck editing my own work because of financial constraints. I would love to have a copyeditor and do it right, but I just can’t justify the cost. I’m kinda working paycheck-to-paycheck right now.

        5: Yeah, I don’t think the price is wrong. All my books are in that range and my first book is permafree, which has had its pros and cons. Unfortunately, that book is just not the best one to start off a series, since it’s a very slow start. As far as the $0.99 approach, I’m going to try out KDP Select’s price reduction promotion at some point in the next couple months and see if that will help out the first series. Maybe I do need to charge just a little bit to get people’s attention 🙂

        6: Yes. Except for the writing and editing, it seems like all I do are promotions. I try to line them up with going to conventions up and down the East Coast, which isn’t the worst strategy, but it’s very tiring. I just spent an entire weekend throwing books at anime nerds while dressed up as a video game character, so I’m fairly committed. I think I dropped ten pounds that weekend just from sweating in my costume.

        7: What reviews I have are really good, but this is definitely one of my biggest problems. I just can’t seem to get people to take five minutes and write something nice about the books. Whether this is because they forget or whether they haven’t read the book yet is anybody’s guess, but I’m going to say it’s because it’s lost in their kindle libraries. However, whenever make a thread on reddit for a promotion, I’ll have half a dozen people talk about how great my series is and how it made them better people, yet maybe half of them will even promise to write a review at all(which they usually don’t).

        Frustrating, that’s what it is.

        8: This is something I should probably try, I just don’t exactly know where to start. I’ve tried with a few authors, but what tends to happen is that I read their books or talk about their stuff, only to have the other authors/creatives neglect talking about or reading my work. I’d like to think they’re just very busy, but the doubt is there. I had one particularly famous creative read my fourth book(for a hefty fee), loved it, and then never spoke about it or responded to any of my further emails. If he had just explained why, I probably wouldn’t feel such resentment toward him, but the ordeal definitely left a bitter taste in my mouth.

        Hoo boy, that’s a great big wall of text. Thanks so much for writing all those points, it’s definitely food for thought. Don’t worry about replying if you don’t want to, I know that’s a giant comment and I didn’t expect such a detailed response in the first place. Whoever you are, Anonymous Author, good luck on your pursuits, and thanks for taking the time to write all that out.

        Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to find myself a goat. 😉

        • Kevin — thanks for your responses!

          All I can say is that if you are not having the kind of success you desire, mix it up. Try again. Even if you love your covers, try different ones to see what happens. Don’t underestimate the herd mentality of readers who want visible signs that your book is what they want to read. Which means it fits your genre. Revise that blurb even if you think it is OK. Use the right (or different) keywords. Something isn’t working for you so mix it up. Being a self-published author of eBooks is playing the long game.

          Visibility is the second most important factor in successful book sales. A good story is first. You need a good story. In this huge market for books, there is practically a market for everything. But if readers don’t see your book, it won’t matter how good it is.

          Of course remember that ‘good’ does not necessarily mean ‘sales’. Books that are not ‘good’ by someone’s standards sell well while well-written books languish. It’s impossible to predict with 100% accuracy what will sell and what won’t. Even the ‘pros’ can’t do that.

          Above all, if you love to write, keep writing new material. If and when you get a hit, all your other work will be ‘discovered’ and you will do well.

          Good luck! 🙂

        • Hi Kevin – hang in there! Two things strike me:

          Do you have a newsletter (with sign-up links in the back of your books, website, everywhere)? A reliable fan base you can reach out to directly is key.

          I hate to say it, but jumping around in various genres before you reach your target income level is counter-productive. Most readers won’t follow you, so you are basically starting over with every new series. I recommend you really commit to the genre that seems to be selling best/you are most excited about.

          Good luck!

    • I must echo Heather, don’t lose hope. I’m in the same boat you are, my coffers have been emptied and I have nothing left. I can really relate to how you are feeling right now.

      I love what I’m doing. Focus on why you started writing to begin with: because you enjoy it. If you focus on the money and the hardship the lack of it brings, you will lose your motivation to write.

      Even in traditional publishing, the question of why one book does well and another equally good book doesn’t is a big frustration. I’ve read quite a few excellent books and wondered why the authors didn’t become bestsellers.

      One thing that is clear is there seems to be a delay between the release of a book and when its audience finally finds it. Hugh Howey’s “Wool” took about that long before people began to notice it. H.M. Ward had the same issue—she released and nothing happened. She only sold a handful before months later the audience discovered the book and started buying.

      Keep plugging at it.

      • Kevin Kauffmann

        Yeah, it does seem like you understand. I think for me it’s just because I had this massive spike in downloads around the six month mark and I haven’t been able to do it again. My expectations might just be completely thrown off.

        But whether or not I succeed, I’m at least going to finish off this first saga, so I have fourteen more books to go. I think one of my biggest issues isn’t about the love of writing or money, but that I feel burdened by all the stories in my head. Instead of loving it and having this positivity about the process, it’s more like the release of negativity. I’ll really appreciate the beautiful moments, but it’s more responsibility than love.

        I don’t know, maybe I’m just weird. Seems like everybody else just loves to write.

        In any case, enough of the pity party. I’ll do my best to keep my head up, and I hope you do the same.

    • Kevin, try reading David Gaughran’s ‘Let’s Get Visible.’ I bought it on Kindle, and for just $5, it taught me a whole lot about discoverability like Amazon’s algorithms and how to properly use ‘free.’

  144. I love these posts! So encouraging! And it’s great to see so many new (to me, anyway) names in the comments; it really isn’t just the big names earning a living anymore.

    As of this year, I’m a full-time freelance editor who focuses on self-published fiction authors, and many of my authors are transitioning to the writing-only lifestyle or are already there. Some of these numbers definitely make me want to switch teams, though. I’ll never have a $30K month as an editor!

  145. I confess I quit my day job as a traditionally published author, but I’ve spent the last two years as an indie and am making more money… Of course, now I’ve jinxed it. 😉

  146. Okay, here goes.

    I quit my day job to write full time in 2012. It came at a very odd point in my life. In January of that year I was a busy chap. Working full time, adjusting to living with a pregnant partner, and half way through writing Lacuna: The Sands of Karathi, the sequel to Lacuna. In it, the protagonist Captain Liao — revealed to be pregnant at the end of the first novel — goes through a threatened miscarriage.

    A week after I wrote that scene, my ex miscarried. It basically followed the events in the book right down to a T — I’d done my research well — except that the fictional fetus made it, and the real one didn’t. Just to add a little icing on the cake, on her first day back to work after the whole thing, she was told her contract wasn’t renewed.

    Things slid off the rails pretty quick from there. The whole thing broke her. She decided that she wasn’t going to get another job. As we had just bought a house, where the repayments were essentially equal to my full salary, this wasn’t possible.

    We fought. I really did understand that life was pretty shitty for her, I did, but the bank needed to be paid. Bills needed to be paid. We both needed to be working.

    She ended up playing World of Warcraft, which I had introduced her to, to the point of obsession. 60 hours a week on average, I worked out. Pretty soon I figured out why, when her phone kept buzzing and, to shut it up, I unlocked it and saw the “interesting” pictures and texts she was sending to one of our guildmates.

    I still tried to make it work, but by the time March rolled around it was clear it wasn’t going to. So a fairly messy breakup was followed by a whole bunch of financial problems. The car broke down. The rent still needed to be paid. All her stuff had to be moved. The end result of it was: I got bailed out by my parents, aged 27. Not exactly a triumph of adulthood.

    But I kept working, cut down expenses (such as by switching my home loan to interest-only), and my book sales kept increasing. I got some housemates to help with income. My financial situation improved a lot; I was able to save a lot. Since my folks had helped me clear out some of the cruft from the failed relationship I was pretty unburdened.

    I saved up a bunch of cash, consolidated a bunch of debts, and with $20,000 in the bank I decided to make a go of it. On the 20th of August, 2012, I quit my job to be a full time writer.

    The job had been killing me. I was so glad to be rid of it. I wrote and I published and I started new series and everything seemed to be good. The books weren’t covering my expenses yet, but every new release bought me closer.

    Living in that house with all those memories was killing me, so in 2013 I moved back to Canberra, where I’d been a student. That was very good move for me personally, not so great financially. The house was unoccupied for four months. $20,000 will go pretty quick when you’re paying rent on two places.

    I finally found someone for it, but that cash reserve — comfortable, sufficient, I thought — was down quite a bit. My books were selling better and better, but still weren’t covering my costs. I cut back further, lived cheaply, did some paid formatting and cover work, and managed to stretch it out until the end of last year.

    The feeling when that account ran dry and I knew I wouldn’t be able to pay rent next month was pretty much the worst feeling ever.

    Once again my folks bailed me out. They’re totally awesome, but it called back a whole bunch of dark memories. I didn’t cope very well. I stopped writing, I stopped doing basically anything fun. Just kind of sat there, doing nothing. I became nocturnal and stopped talking to basically everyone.

    Fortunately, sales picked up after Christmas and the release of my sixth novel. For the first time in a long time, I was covering my costs. That helped a lot.

    But I was only one minor unexpected cost away from disaster. I didn’t want to hug that red line so close, so last month I went back to the day job. A one year contract in a slightly different field, with much lower pay but a significantly reduced workload.

    It’s been good. I have money again and I’m frantically saving it. 12 months are going to pass quickly and after that, I’m going to give full-time another shot. I’m even being more productive… I’m getting more words out per week now than when I was full time.

    Still feels like total shit, though.

    My author page still lists me as “self-employed” and I haven’t told my readers yet. I don’t know how to. How can I say something like that? Everyone celebrates losing the day job and it’s basically every writer’s dream, but what happens to those who don’t make it? I feel bad even mentioning the whole thing, surrounded by all this positivity and inspiration.

    I know I quit too early. I should have held on for longer, but hindsight is 20/20. It’s been a really amazing journey — awesome at most points, shit-tastic at others, but despite everything I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.

    11 months to go on the contract. Then I’m full time again. I’m hoping to have $30,000 saved up this time, and my books are doing nearly five times better this year than they were last year, so my financials will be in much better shape.

    This time, I think it’ll stick.

    • David,

      I didn’t know your full 2012 story before – that’s all kinds of heartbreaking. Happy to see you staying the course with your writer’s journey.

      I see the world of indie publishing as brave and bold and robust. Back in 2012, I came across Konrath and Darcie Chan, and indie author David Adams in a writers’ forum. That was my intro to self publishing. And I’ve never looked back.

      • Thanks Anya. 🙂

        I’ll be okay. Just gotta get through this year and I’ll be back at it full time!

    • Haha thanks Arno. Well, I’m glad I help you write and publish, that’s all I can say.

      Go for it! 😀 MAN HUGS.



    • Helluva story, Dave. You’ll use that in a book someday (and some of it you already have). I hadn’t heard all the details before.

      So glad to hear the writing (and selling) is going well. You’re going to make it, and you’ll only get better as time goes by. Plus, you’ll have more of a backlist. It only takes one break-out series, or several books with low but steady sales, to keep you in the black. And when readers discover and love your work, they will go and buy the rest.

      Carry on!

  147. I quit my day job in November 2013 after working for 13 years as a writer, researcher and policy analyst for government. I write paranormal and contemporary romance.

    After trying the traditional route and having some success winning agent pitch contests, and getting my partial and full manuscripts read by top agents, it was “you’re good but no cigar” and “the market for vampires is saturated”. Then I read JA Konrath and saw that Snooki was published by the Big 5 and decided WTF am I doing? Am I going to write book after book until I write one some agent thinks they can sell? Or will I put my books out there and see if I can sell them?

    I self-published my first series in 2012, a paranormal romance series. The first 3 books were released in June August and December 2012, then my second series, a contemp romance trilogy, was released in 2013/14. I currently have 6 novels, 1 novella and 2 collections published.

    My first series is a small seller $700 – $1,000/month , but it alone pays my mortgage. My second series was a bestseller, in the top 100 Amazon kindle store and top ten at one point — high enough in the rank (#2 on Amazon for a few brief days) to garner the attention of a major Manhattan agency.

    I have the final book in the paranormal series and another novella coming out this summer and a new series starting this fall. Unless someone offers me a 7-figure deal (yeah right!) I am staying indie. As an indie romance author, I make three times what I made as a mid-level bureaucrat.

    I’m collaborating with a number of other indie authors on two boxed sets / collections and have had one of my novels included in a boxed set / collection that made the USA Today bestsellers list in the second week of its release. This collaboration is a great way for indies to gain new readers as we swap readers and grow our own audience.

    It’s great! I happen to be writing in a genre that has a lot of voracious readers who read a lot of indies. I love being self-published and being in control of every aspect of publishing — from concept to execution, design of covers, promotional campaigns, releases, and ongoing promotion. I hire pro designers and editors and publicists. I’m thinking of hiring a personal assistant because I have so much to do, but as Hugh Howey said, I only write 3 hours a day. The rest of the work day is spent in promotion and planning.

    I made a six-figure income last year as an indie author. I am very lucky and know it.

  148. My story’s a bit different. Was traditionally published w/Bantam Dell starting in 2007. The contract for my 4th and 5th books was enough that I was able to go full time writing in fall 2008. Then chaos rained down and imprints were merged, and suddenly my books were no longer a priority, so there was no contract for book 6. This was fall 2010. I love writing, and had/have no desire to do anything else, but I was seriously looking at the possibility of having to take a day job again. With fingers crossed, I jumped into indie publishing in the spring of 2011, was able to eek out that first year without having to get other work, and then things took off in 2012 and I now do better than I ever did when trad published.

  149. I’m another indie who’s only earning enough for a fancy chai each month at this point (I’m just past the 2-year mark on having hit publish for my first book). I still work full-time, though I’ve been through three layoffs in the past eight years, so there are no savings to carry us through the rest of the 10-year full-time-writing-income plan. (I’m also working on finishing my MBA as an additional back-up plan.) My strategy is to release at least 3 books per year; so far I’ve released seven. This year is definitely better than last–which was worse than 2012. These ups and downs tell me back-up plans are important, but also that the harder I work, the more likely I am to experience a bit of luck. (Cribbing variously from Coleman Cox or Thomas Jefferson, depending on your source…) 🙂

  150. Thanks for gathering this here – it’s so exciting to see all this!

    I left my day job as an IT business business in September 2011.
    I am an author entrepreneur – which means I combine self-publishing fiction and non-fiction, with other income streams including professional speaking, affiliate income and course sales.
    I have just done my accounts for the last tax year and I could live modestly on the income from my books alone and it would definitely go further if I didn’t live in central London! The bulk of my book income is from Amazon, but increasingly also from Apple iBooks, Kobo and Nook as well as ACX for audiobooks (still technically Amazon!)

    I only made the decision to focus more on fiction in Jan 2013, so that now has a 3 year plan to ramp up that side of the income. I will continue to be speak though, as I love to have multiple sides to my business.

    • Joanna, I just want to take this chance to thank you. I remember reading your wonderful advice on your blog a year ago, which directly inspired me to sit down and write. Which I did, and my debut novel is now on Amazon and doing very well. Thank you for giving back to the community!

  151. This is all incredibly encouraging! I’ll become a full-time writer in December 2014. I’ve currently three psychological suspense titles published and am writing the fourth. My ideal life will be to travel the world with a laptop, writing as I go. It’s been a fascinating and sometimes frustrating journey so far, but indie publishing has transformed my life.

    • Maggie, your ideal life is mine as well! An author can write anywhere, so I have a two-year plan to arrange my life so I can live three months here, three months there and so on. I want to travel and see the world while I write. I’ve spent the past 20 years either in university or working a corporate job and being mother to two children. I want to travel now that they are almost adults. No two-week vacations for me. Being a self-published author has allowed me to imagine that future. Thank you Amazon for the opportunity. 🙂

      • Hi, Anon! Let me know if you want to partner up for motivation/mutual cheerleading etc. Sometimes I feel as though I’m the only nomadic novelist around, although I know that’s not true. You can reach me via the link above in my name. That goes for anyone else who intends to combine travel and writing!

        • I have 15 payments left on my mortgage and 20 payments left on one of my student loans. I split my time between freelance content writing and a small family business that I took over.

          Goal is in 2 years to close the business and writewritewrite (as opposed to just write like now.) Also travel. For me it will be my little RV, small enough to tuck into a parking space, and some couch-surfing with friends and fam.


        • I have been traveling all my life and have recently returned to the United States after 35 years abroad in such places as India, Bangladesh, Italy, and Greece. Besides my novels and short story collections I have written three memoirs about it. For me writing, no matter where I am, is part of the ongoing journey. Moving back to the States as a single parent with some of my five sons after the Greek financial crash threw me for a monetary loop, but as soon as I can get back on my feet I want to get back on the road again. Can’t think of a better life than traveling and writing. I want to travel the U.S. in a camper, and then travel Europe in a camper, and then return to some of my favorite places in India. And do it very, very slowly. And write about it all. Unfortunately, unlike many of those who share such wonderful testimonies above, my 13 indie books are not selling so well yet, and my youngest son, 12 years old, needs a base from which to attend school. Still, traveling is my goal. No matter how comfortable I get, I am still a nomad at heart. See Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” where he says: “Allons! We must not stop here, however sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here…” “You but arrive at the city to which you were destined, you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction before you are called by an irresistible call to depart…” Read the whole poem – the perfect description of a literary nomad.

  152. I’ve been writing and self-publishing for four years, and was finally able to quit my day job this past March (of 2014). It feels good to be my own boss, and to do what I love to do.

  153. I haven’t (yet) switched to writing full time, but I took a huge step in that direction: going from a full-time day job to a half-time one. It was also a switch from a publishing job to one in an unrelated field, so I feel like my writing-editing brain power is no longer being sapped by my day job.

    For a while I yearned to write full time, and it’s still an eventual goal, but for now I really benefit from the structure and social contact of the day job. And I’m finding that I need a new mindset to keep my writing productivity up now that I have more “free” time. I’m still working out the kinks in the transition, but I have no regrets.

  154. I published my first book in 2011 and am about to pub my 6th next week. I used to be a high school teacher but now Im a fulltime writer (and mother of five young children) and I earn about the same amount with my writing – and (hopefully) will never have to mark another student essay again. Im grateful for the opportunity to be doing what I love AND that I can also help support my family at the same time. Writing allows me the flexibility I need with all the demands of parenting. I also am increasingly asked to speak at schools, literary festivals and community events which also are often (small) income earners. My readers are an amazing part of this journey. I live outside the USA and readers in NZ, Australia, various Pacific islands and in the USA have partnered with universities and community groups to organize book tours and speaking events. My books are being studied in several universities in the USA, NZ and Australia and are recommended reading in high schools in the Pacific region. My sales are modest but Im happy to be a little midlist author – writing fulltime.

  155. If all goes according to plan, I should be switching to part-time January 2015. Why part-time and not full-time as an author? Because I’m the kind of person who would start talking to the houseplants and teaching the cats to knit if I didn’t have some interaction with other humans. But my goal is to get to the point where I can write and do volunteer work instead of having a part-time job. That should be doable by 2016 at the very latest.

    I should also add that the only reason I’m not a full-time writer right now is because I live in a freakin’ expensive part of the country, I am single and totally financially self-supporting, and I have old debt to pay off. 😉

  156. I’ve been indie publishing full-time for three years (after close to a year in which my publishing income outpaced my “day job” income.) Things have gone very well for me.

  157. Two years ago I was working one full-time job and for a medium-sized traditional publisher. At the time, my writing had gotten to the level where I was making more money through it than at my day job. After consulting with my spouse, we decided that I could quit the day job to write full time. Differences with my publisher coincided with my desire to write outside my genre. I turned to Indie publishing, and never looked back… I’m not getting rich *grins* yet, but I’m writing what I love.

  158. I politely “fired” all my editorial and programming clients on May 1st in order to write full-time.

    I am blessed with a wonderful husband who has a well-paying job; as such, the amount I need to contribute to our budget is relatively small. Even so, we waited until I had earned enough to cover that amount for twelve months before deciding I could take the leap.

    It was the most freeing action I’ve ever taken, and is working out damn well so far :).

  159. I’m planning on leaving the day job one day.

    My first short story is free, my second short sells for 0.99p. The second book is currently making me fifty pounds a month (!!) and increasing. I’m about to publish the third short story, with five planned in total for that series.

    Then it’ll be the first novel. Then the other 14.

    One day, my time will come!

  160. Me. I’ve been supporting myself as an indie since August 2011. How am I doing???

    I can say that since then I’ve moved to 4 cities. My short lease is up here at the end of October and I’m deliberating whether to go to Manhattan for a month, trip to the La Costa Azzurra for a month, or just move downtown L.A. These options are NOT inexpensive. I also make enough to growl at the tax man, and possibly change political parties! LOL (joke–it’s so a joke).

    I write a lot. All the time. Probably 14 hours a day give or take. My stories are “cable TV” and not “commercial TV” and if it weren’t for the self-publishing platform, I would be a MISERABLE human being at the moment because agents didn’t want to see the stories I write coming from a person like me–or just see them period! And my teeth were never sharp enough for Hollywood. Basically, I would be screwed.

    As of today I have 12 books released (new release today). I plan 2 more releases in mid September for my more lucrative series. Today’s release is for my PNR series. PNR is dead says Fred. But alas, I love the PNR world I’ve created whether it brings me a little or a lot.

    That’s all… Just wanted to raise my hand.

  161. There’s hope for me yet! I’ll keep plugging away! 🙂

  162. PG, any statistical compilation out of this? Perhaps post the data on the main page:
    How many Indie Authors contributed to the numbers
    How many are writing full time
    How many are making a living from writing

  163. My day job for many years was writing– 42 books with traditional publishers. Going indie was very liberating and much more lucrative.

  164. I should add my numbers, in case you are going to collect:

    Year 1: 1200 books (represents 2 books)
    Year 2: 85,000+ books (represents 5 books)
    Year 3 is on track for another 85,000+ (represents 6 books in 2 series, 2 collections (1 for each series) and 1 novella)

    Plus, I have a novel coming out in July, a novella in August, a novel in October and December.

  165. As to the question of when to quit? It all depends on circumstances.

    I quit after my income from indie publishing was three times my income from my day job. I did a cost benefit analysis and each hour I put into writing a novel was worth 17x an hour put in to my day job. I used the extra revenue while I was still working the day job to do some renos on my house and pay off bills, and then I decided that it was no longer worth my while to maintain the two careers.

    I talked to my father and said, “When should I pull the plug?” and he said, “Now.” So I did. 🙂 But I did that because I knew I had material for several new series and my sales were doing really well. Some people might be free and easy and able to take the plunge before they have the sales. I was newly divorced with two teenagers and a house to maintain so I had to feel comfortable that I could do it on my own.

    And now, I’ll shut up! 🙂

  166. I was already a SAHM, writing for small presses as a hobby, while my husband’s job paid the bills. But in 2011, I started self-publishing and, three years later, my book sales have tripled my family’s income. My husband could retire now if he wanted (but he doesn’t, which is just as well, because his job provides insurance). Being an indie writer isn’t always easy and it’s not always fun – some days it’s just work. But it’s work I get to do at home in my PJs, while spending time with my kids, and that makes me pretty lucky.

    With my self-published earnings, I’ve paid off my credit card debt and my daughter’s hospital bills, renovated my kitchen, and built up a nice little emergency fund. I’m about to pay off my car and, by the end of this year, expect to have my mortgage paid off twenty years early.

    On top of all that, I’m living my childhood dream of writing books – and people besides my mom actually read them! Sometimes it’s exciting, sometimes stressful, but this indie publishing thing is never boring.

  167. Really inspiring, but it would be so helpful to know/examine success in genres and sub-genres–all of them. I’m traditionally pubbed but have a contemp YA romance I’ve been hanging on to. Is anyone making it in Rated PG YA romance yet?

  168. I just had my best month.

    I made about $25.

    In addition to a few things (short stories) under pen names in other genres, I have three short stories out and three books (all released since August 2013). I am in the editing process on a prequel and am currently writing the fourth book in a series (cozy mysteries). So very soon I should have four books out and then a fifth (planning on getting it out by the end of the summer).

    In my day job, I have become very frustrated (with salary, the work itself, and career opportunities) and writing has been a great creative release. Recently my writing for the day job was VERY publicly mocked–not for being bad or wrong or riddled with typos. No, it was derided for being too “creative.”

    So I keep writing–but for myself. My best work certainly isn’t valued in the day job. I had known this before my recent public slap-down, and had been writing long before that unhappy little event. But to be called out for being too “creative” was a step way too far for me.

    In addition to the sheer need to write, I keep reminding myself of the other reasons.

    I have a picture of my kids cut and pasted into a spreadsheet I use to keep track of word count progress. I would love to quit the day job and spend every summer, every school break with them.

    And I will not soon forget or forgive being mocked for being “creative.”

    So I write.

  169. Dennis McAllister

    Wow. I would have never thought that a simple suggestion to PG would have garnered so many responses. I agree with many of the other responses: so inspiring!
    I’m far from a full time writer. I have a full time job and write when I can. I’ve got a WIP that I’ve been working on for about two years, plus some short stories that I’m experimenting with on Amazon. But all of these stories are the kick in the butt I needed to get writing. I hope others feel the same way!
    Thank you, PG, for posting my suggestion. And thank you to all of the writers willing to share their stories.

  170. I run a site for new authors on FB – the Indie Author Group – 5,000 members in various stages of progress. The idea behind it was to support new writers in realizing their dreams. Some have, others are trying. *grins* And we copy this blog onto that page all the time!

  171. I love all these inspiring stories!

    Like another poster, a nonny mouse, waaaay back up in the comments, I’m coming at this from a different angle. For nearly seven years now, I’ve had chronic fatigue syndrome, which makes holding a job impossible for me. Writing and self-publishing is work that I am able to do. I’m only making pizza money at the moment (with or without extra toppings and a bottle of soda depends on the kind of month I’ve had – though all my earnings are actually going into cover art right now), but it’s a lot more money than I would be making otherwise. I’m not able to write and publish as fast as I would like to, because of limits on my energy, but I have high hopes for increasing sales as I get more work out, especially when I start releasing a 6-book series later this year.

  172. Making a living writing now, after taking a twisty road to get here.

    First published in 1990, while working full-time as a journalist. Made enough writing to go part-time circa 1994. But, despite having 25 books published in 17 years, couldn’t shake the need for that p-t journalism income. However, house sale and move to cheaper area in 2007 allowed me to live off savings without another job while writing. Started indie-pubbing in late 2010. Made a living wage in 2011. In 2012, made more than I’d previously grossed (job+writing.) Double that in 2013. Yippeee!

    March 2014 was 25 years since first sold a book to a publisher. So my dawn was a long-time coming on overnight-making-a-living- success 😉

    Genres: romance and mystery.

  173. You guys are inspiring. I’m a slow writer. The book (my first) I published last October took me a solid year to write, edit, and cover. I just got my third or fourth royalty payment from Amazon. No big shakes, but it is the first novel in a sprawling, epic series, and the only one out there, so far. I hope the second (in progress) will goose sales a bit. I’m 60 and nearing the end of a long career at my day job. I hope before I hit retirement age, I’ll have a solid line of stories providing me with a good retirement income.


    • Mark, it took me over three years to get my first novel out. The second one, which I am in the final stages of writing, has taken me roughly 10 months to write. The third, I hope to have done in 5 months and release in early 2015 and that means maybe I can get the fourth out in the same year.

      You start getting faster because as you go along, you begin to see what it takes to be productive and you become more efficient.

      And, yes, I am hoping my second will goose the sales on the first book. Having multiple books available in a series really helps with the sales, because readers don’t want to have to wait for the next installment. So they tend to hold off buying until there is more to read.

  174. I left my day job one year ago. I was making about three times my salary writing.

  175. Been published for 16 years by Penguin. Got my digital rights back before they (or I ) realised we wanted em. Working at my own publishing company since 2011. Income slow but has recently up-ticked. I’m not the best organised person & have other day jobs so can’t focus full time yet but we are within 2 years of making a full time income from writing & publishing.
    Too many generas:- comedy, erotica, mmerotica, steampunk, fantasy adventure & romance. One kind of genera would bore me 🙂

  176. Always had a very supportive dh, but as of 2012 I was able to support myself by writing full-time. I sold my first book to a small press in 2002 and several books thereafter to New York. The last two years is the only time I’ve made enough to actually live on.

    Jordan Summers

  177. In a little over 13 months I’ve been blessed to have sold over 25,000 books (most at $2.99 – $3.99), so my earnings have been decent to say the least. Still, I haven’t quit the day job yet because I like what I do (and they pay me well to do it).

    That said, I’m having a great time writing books, and it still feels surreal to me that readers actually like my work! The plan is currently to keep grinding out novels, and hopefully connect more with other authors – maybe collaborate and do a boxed set or something.

  178. Last week, I transferred my last major client to a friend and now rely solely on book money.

    All because:

    Unit Sales (no freebies)
    2009 — 1,284 (2 new titles)
    2010 — 4,030 (no new titles)
    2011 — 5,101 (2 new titles)
    2012 — 12,979 (7 new titles)
    2013 — 28,259 (17 new titles — includes box sets/repackages)
    2014 to date — 62,000 (6 new titles)

    8 titles earn 90% of the money, all romance (but not erotica.)
    1 is 99 cents, the others from 2.99 to 5.99

    Don’t give up.

  179. First sold small press in 2001. Then 13 more contracts, all with small houses and couldn’t seem to interest a larger publisher. Now I have my first two indie titles out (not making too much at this time) and plan for two more romances this year. My goal date for bailing on my deadly-dull part time day job is 9/30/15.

    Wish me luck! Your varied stories are making me all the more determined.

  180. After making a few dollars writing for Samhain and other e-publishers I started self-publishing in 2010 and made half my teacher’s salary in the first year. Last year I matched my salary. (I’m at the top of the pay scale with a MA in curriculum) This year I’m on target to double it, so this year when the principal asked me yet again to move to a new classroom and grade level I said, “No thanks,I’m out of here.” Twenty eight years in the classroom and I walked out with one basket of office supplies and my purse. I’m thrilled to start writing full time. Thanks Mr. Bezos. You made my dream come true.

  181. As with an earlier commenter, I didn’t quit my job… It quit me. In October 2012, I was let go from a job I had for four months (I left a perfectly stable job for a move up the ladder). It was unfair, but sadly, I couldn’t find anything else. I put together a book of short stories, and it’s doing okay… But nothing spectacular. It’s my first book though, and it’s dark fiction, not romance. I have two novels and a novella I’m editing (two are dark fiction, one is sci-fi, two of them considered YA).

    But when unemployment ran out, I had to do something or end up homeless. I’m now working as a freelance writer mostly full-time (I also work part- time at a bookstore for stability, but it’s a job I love, so I’m not complaining). My freelance writing has actually paid very well in a short amount of time and it’s promotional for my writing in general, so double win. I write for two websites, and I’ve written nonfiction ebooks on the side. I’m also a ghostwriter who’s written 6 romance novellas, each one paying way more than I’ve made on Amazon on my own so far.

    Next month, I plan on releasing one of my novels as a series of novellas. There’s a romance in the otherwise dystopian world, so I’m hopeful I can do well with it now that I’ve built up a small following and have learned a few things.

    Any other advice you have would be helpful. I’d love to make it as a fiction writer under my own name, and that’s my ultimate goal 🙂

    Note: I wrote this response from my phone, so I apologize for any typos or autocorrect mistakes. My computer is ancient and slow, I use the internet from my phone instead.

  182. I’m now a full-time writer after being a full-time invalid followed by a full-time disabled person. It’s a long story, one that I’ve covered in a blog article a year ago:


    I’m pleased to report that last year, having published my first book in May and with three books out by year-end, I made over $26K gross. This year I’m on track to make three times that, if current sales performance continues, and I’ll have either 6 or 7 books published by year-end. Next year I’m shooting for well into six figures, if I’m spared to keep writing and if my readers keep liking and buying them.

    In 2005 a neurosurgeon told me I’d be permanently partially disabled and never work ‘normally’ again. Now I’m planning to retire my disability pension soon. That feels really good.

  183. I have only one book out for a year now a collection of sf short stories (100 pages at $4.79) and have only made $15 from it. I did not promote it but I don’t have any money to hire artists and editors (too damn poor at this point) so I’m trying to do everything myself. I know I need to write more and am in the process of doing it now that I have more free time, but I really don’t know if this will pay off–I will not give up though.

    My current menial ‘joe job’ pays just enough for food and rent for my small flat without anything leftover but I will not quit. I am a WWII buff and keep hearing Churchill’s “we will never surrender” speech in my head! I will fight on.

    Can anybody tell me (even roughly speaking or in general terms) how many books usually before you even see a few hundred dollars a month?

    And how do you promote/market cheaply without wasting long hours emailing, tweeting or bugging people to buy? (one of the reasons I did not promote is I hate bothering people. Plus one book is not enough I know)

    • Calvin, I may well find myself in the same position when I SP for the first time in October!

      Good on you for your never give up attitude- that’s the way to go!

      A few things I saw in your post- I know I’m not quite answering the question you asked, but here goes. Also disclaimer – I’m currently unpublished, so I’m talking from all the planning I’ve been doing for my book release. Theory not practice yet!

      1. that price could be a bit high for a 100 page book of short stories from an unknown author. Unless you’ve built a readership publishing in zines or writing on fiction forums, you may not get many readers willing to take a chance at that price. Paradoxically, you may pick up more readers and make more money pricing at $2.99 or $3.99
      2. Drill down into the categories and make sure you’ve placed your book where it will get the most exposure. Think about what search terms a buyer looking for a book like yours might use and make sure they’re in your description so Amazon’s search engine helps readers find you. Look at what the best selling similar books are doing.
      3. Think about putting one story in a separate ebook and putting it up as a freebie – once readers have tried your writing and like it, they’ll look for more. Related topic – make sure anyone who uses Look Inside the Book is getting a good sample of your writing. Move all the usual “front matter” stuff to the back so they get to read a good chunk. I won’t spend on a book without reading that first, but a surprising number of books don’t have the feature activated or all I get to read is the contents page, acknowledgements, copyright info, and nothing of the author’s writing.
      4. get more stories out there!

      I hope whatever you do works for you and sales improve!

      • Autumn think you are right on: I know these are each points I can implement I wish you the best too thank you!!

    • Speaking as someone with a few books out, one from Penguin, I’ll share a few things I think I know.

      1. Have a website in your name (www.CalvinLastname.com). Even if it’s a free blogspot site, like Lynn Viehl’s at http://www.paperbackwriter.com. She’s published by the Big 6 and she’s a good example of someone who created a community by consistent blogging on her favorite subjects.

      2. If you can, put up a sample of one of your stories. I’d suggest making it free. The idea is that anyone who comes across your name will look you up (hence the website), read your sample, and decide to buy. Think of this as a path, one step leading to the next.)

      For example, if you have a site, when you post here, you can link your name to your site. Readers here would check out your work. That could have happened here. (I’ve done it twice in this thread, checked out someone’s work by clicking on their name.) There’s no pressure on your part, so no risk.

      3. Keep writing and publishing. I think that’s the most effective thing for you to do now, after 1 and 2.

      4. Decide your future direction. Do you want to write what you want? Do you want to tweak your choices with market research (given two equally attractive stories, is one more marketable than the other?). Do you want to do a series? This is another path, because if you build a world, they will come.

      • Bill I’m honored you’d respond to me. I am also going to implement each of your points. I must admit I do not have a website and I thought the sample from amazon would be enough but I see your point–the reader needs to read an entire short story from me to get a feel for what I write. My short stories are around 10 pages each so the amazon sample is not enough–the need to see an entire free one. thank you very much!

        • I’m pretty new at this myself, everything I’ve published to date is short stories and a collection, but one thing I’ve seen many authors do is simply use a free blogspot website. You can make static pages with a couple of short stories.

          The trick is getting anyone to visit your site. (I haven’t figured that one out yet.) 🙂

    • I agree that your price is high. I price my 100-page novellas at $3.99. (Which some indies also consider high.)

      How many stories are in your collection? I publish my short stories both solo and in a collection. Some short story readers prefer to buy collections only. Some prefer to buy solo stories. I make both formats available. You might consider doing the same.

      All of Bill Peschel’s advice is good.

      • Hi J.M. I never thought of putting up solos. I love reading collections myself and it would never occur to me as a buyer to buy single shorts from amazon but I’ll try it with some of the ones I’m working on now.

        My stories usually run around 10 pages. There are 10 shorts in my amazon collection. I think they are ‘good’ I have studied under Robert J. Sawyer’s classes here in Toronto when he occasionally teaches and he’s read over some of them. He told me “good!”. Baen books rejected my one unpublished desk-drawer novel by saying (and I quote): “this is a great story! But we do not need horror sf right now” (this was written in ink over the standard rejection slip). That was a few years ago. I put the novel away because even though they said it was good I was convinced that it wasn’t ‘good enough’ regardless of what they wrote on the slip. The doubts about my own ability are sometimes too much to bear but I am learning to shrug them off. I’m just going to keep writing and now that my current menial job offers me more free time I’ll write even more. This site and a few others are a lifeline thank you. You are all beautiful people!

        Bill, J.M., Autumn thank you all I will implement each of your ideas. I have nothing to lose!!

        • Dear Calvin,

          My short stories are based on characters from my series of novels, which means they do have a market already established. But putting out my first short story (about 7000 words) after the first book really worked to drive people to the series as well.

          I now have 3 short stories published, each sells for 99 cents, but I give out free coupons to encourage people to sign up for my newsletter. But at 99 cents I make $200-300 a month on those 3 stories. I just wrote a 4th, and an historical essay about each story, and I am about to publish them together — and at about 35,000 words I am going to price at $2.99. My books are first one in series 3.99 (it used to be 2.99) the next two 4.99, and I have have been very successful at those price points. Hope this helps.

          • M. Louisa yes it does help, very much so. I appreciate the detailed numbers.
            Your breakdown gives me hope. Right now even $200-300 extra a month for me would be a godsend. I never thought of spin off short stories of characters from a series. I have to get to work on some novels.

            Let me ask you: how much is your coupon worth off for your readers? Also do you use some sort of software to set up sending out a newsletter to all of your readers at once when its time to send one? Thank you much.

            • Dear Calvin,

              On march 4 I put out my third story (Mr. Wong Rights a Wrong) and I put it on smashwords as well as Kindle because I could get a free coupon on SW. I sent my newsletter, which had about 200, people out and gave them the coupon code. I then told my facebook fans that if they wanted to get a free copy–to sign up for the newsletter. And for everyone who signed up, the welcome letter included the free coupon. I use mail chimp. Over March, April, and May 100 new people signed up for the newsletter. Over that time 100 people downloaded the book for free from Smashwords.

              But, over those 3 months I also sold 1514 copies (at 99 cents) on Kindle. A win-win for me. Again, I am fortunate that at this point my series has strong reader support. I am a slow writer and my short stories are a way of rewarding them for hanging in with me between books. One of the reasons I am doing the collection is that I would like to be able to put the short stories in a print form (which wouldn’t work as individual stories) because while most of my readers buy my books as ebook, I do want to make the stories available to the small number who still read print.

              • Louisa, I don’t want to hijack Calvin’s thread, but I do want to say that’s a brilliant strategy! Great way to build your list.

                My plan is to publish three or four 50-60,000 word stand-alone but linked stories in the series, and related short stories/novellettes of about 10,000 words dealing with secondary characters. So revisiting some of the events of the longer books tangentially though a different POV and extending on that.

                A prequel novella will be permafree, the longer stories $2.99, the shorts .99

                I hope that works!

              • M. Louisa Again thank you for taking time to respond again. I looked up mail chimp and Smashwords (the one collection I mentioned? I only have on amazon.) $1514 gross in 3 months for a short story is incredible. I’m starting to see what I have to do thank you so much.

                Also, Autumn that does help. I never really thought about all these neat ways to urge people to buy. Of course you’ve all inspired me to write more, more, more but I love the techniques you mention.

          • Here’s another tip for milki… I mean, giving your fans more of their favorite characters: If they appear in a book which takes place over a protracted period of time, you can write shorts or even whole new books about things that happened during that time.

            My book Hell to Pay is a complete story, but it takes place over the course of a year. At various points I say that the characters went to Mardi Gras, or to a Halloween party, or whatever, but they do it offstage.

            I released a book that takes place during Hell to Pay, covering the night of the Halloween party. It did pretty well. I just released another book that takes place during Mardi Gras. One early reader said that even though she knows how things are ultimately going to turn out, she really liked seeing a point along the way of the relationship developed so in-depth.

            So. Make those characters work for their keep. 🙂

        • Calvin, that novel you have in the drawer? Get yourself an editor (www.the-efa.org is a good place to start) and run it through the mill. Then convert it to an ebook and self-publish.

          That someone at Baen felt it was good enough to read through and hand write that note says something about the story. I think it would be well worth the effort to pull out that manuscript and do something with it.

          Many publishers tend to focus on one trend or genre type. Baen is no different. You came up against that issue. It wasn’t that your book wasn’t good enough, it was that it was the wrong genre for what they publish.

          • William thanks for that. That desk drawer novel is what I call my “cujo” book. I read when King wrote cujo he hid it away because his wife and him found it very disturbing (he had a little kid at the time). My desk drawer novel is ‘disturbing’ to me because I poured real world stuff into it and its almost like ‘psychological nudity’ in my mind because some of the stuff in it comes close to my own beliefs. But I have to put it out there I agree with you. Thank you about what you said regarding Baen– I think you are right. You must be right because they are after all busy people so for them to write that means something. On any account the editing site you gave is a GOLD MINE. already found a half dozen editors who look promising. Very kind thank you so much Before I write any other short stories my desk novel is my next project I will get it out there as soon as possible.

  184. I quit my part-time job as a church secretary in spring 2012, when contention over the Question Six marriage equality vote in MD really began heating up. I was more than the church secretary — I was a church leader, one of those people you could hand a project off to and I’d get it off the ground. Well, I got the rude awakening of my life when I was asked to lead the charge against Question Six in our community. I politely said hell to the no. I didn’t tell anyone I write gay romance, but I have a bisexual daughter so I ponied that up as my reason for not leading/organizing the push against Question Six, lodging my very firm protests about why I believed we as a church didn’t belong in that fight. I figured having a bi daughter made my objections personal, which would carry more freight than my writing gay rom, *and* I would be able to retain my author privacy too. Besides which, it wasn’t even my job as church secretary to lead that charge…or any charge. My duties were administrative/clerical only. I was the spear carrier for a lot of programs, but only one (food pantry) was during work hours. The rest was on my own time & dime, always had been. The point being, my job did not require me to take on any project. I was free to say no and exercised my freedom to do so over Question Six.

    Unfortunately, my ability to empower and motivate others to get a project off the ground worked against me, LOL. Church kept pushing me to lead the Question Six protest. I could not and would not do that. As a parent, I couldn’t do it. As an author, I couldn’t. As a HUMAN BEING, I couldn’t. When I couldn’t take the pressure to lead the fight against Question Six one more minute, I walked. Quitting wasn’t as easy as you might think — I had to find someone to take over the food pantry, one of my many projects, because if I didn’t, all the money and work I’d poured into building that program would’ve died when I left the job. I simply hadn’t been working the food pantry long enough to build the support it needed to sustain my loss. As soon as I had the pantry on solid ground, I quit, though.

    Fortunately for me, I earned only a smidge less than ten grand per year as church secretary so making that up with my writing income wasn’t a problem. I’d been making more money with my writing than my day job since 2011, anyway. (I started writing late in 2010.) I just kept working the day job because, before Question Six, I enjoyed and truly believed in what I was doing, not just for my church but inside my community via the outreach programs I organized. I didn’t want to quit. It’s just that after Question Six started getting ugly…There was no way I could stay. No way. Broke my heart. In fact, I (being a hybrid author) channeled my heartbreak over Question Six into my very first self-pub book, I Don’t: A Christmas Wish. Is a romantic comedy, but after walking away from the job I’d loved so much (I would argue ideologically forced away from it), I needed a bit of light & fun to process that whole painful experience.

    Anyhoo, flash forward 2 years later, and I’m very happy doing what I do. 2013 was a rough year for me. One of my publisher’s asploded and I ended up suing that epub. I was distracted, not as productive, and not on my A game, either. Didn’t make as much as I had been with writing and had the extra expense of dealing with the asshat epub besides. But I still did better than I would’ve at my old day job and released my 2nd self-pub title in Dec 2013, which has done fabulously well. My husband is retiring 3 years ahead of plan (his job requires mandatory early retirement so going even earlier was NOT easy to pull off, trust me) because of my writing income. We don’t live primarily on my income, no, but because of my career, my husband will spend 3 less years working his. That alone makes all the challenges and difficulties of writing professionally worthwhile, even shit years like my 2013 and the awful personal disaster that was my 2012. I’m still a hybrid author & want to continue working with epubs, but God willing, I’ll move forward with more self-pub titles from here on out too. Life sucked for me for a while, but I’m doing all right now. Better.

    The tragically funny part? Everybody knows I write gay romance now. I kept it mum before because I wanted my privacy, *never* intended my professional and personal lives to mix, but after I quit my job, my husband and children figured they could tell whoever they wanted that I’m Kari Gregg. They’re VERY proud of me and turns out, they wanted to tell everybody. Whole damn county knows, LOL. And even knowing I’m Kari Gregg, my church wants me back. See, I didn’t just quit my job. I quit all the programs and projects…I still support the food pantry with my money (of all my old pet projects, it’s still the one that needs me — or rather my money — most), but otherwise, I vanished. Poof! They haven’t stopped trying to get me back. I can’t, but I like to occasionally think they at least regret pushing me about Question Six. Not enough to change their minds about it, but…It is what it is, right?

    Sorry this is so long. I’ve just never told the real story about why I quit my day job and got carried away. At the time, I sold the going full-time as a financial decision…Liar, liar, pants on fire, LOL. I just felt it would’ve been skanky to share what was going on while the whole awful experience was happening, like I would’ve been exploiting my personal life for professional gain, but I figure enough time has passed, should be okay now. The truth is I was LUCKY I had the means to quit. Damned lucky. A lot of people in my position wouldn’t have been able to afford quitting and I know that. Could’ve been worse. A LOT worse.

    • Congratulations on following through on your beliefs and leaving the church. It was a hard decision, and I’m most sorry for the people in the food pantry program who had to deal with the fallout. It’s good of you to make sure it would go on after you left.

    • {{{hugs}}} Keri! It takes a lot of courage to stand up for your beliefs.

    • Last night I read Half a Million Dead Cannibals and absolutely loved it, Kari!

  185. ME! Quit the day job Dec. 31, 2011. Hired a full-time assistant Jan. 2, 2013. Hired a full-time accountant Nov. 1, 2013. Life is good!

  186. WOW! All of these stories are just so fascinating and inspiring. My goal is to quit my day job too. I self-published my first book in November, 2011. I made some money, not a lot. But I published another, and made less on that book. I would not give up. I published the first book in a YA trilogy( a different genre for me, prior to this, I published Adult Contemporary) and started to see sales again. By the time I finished the trilogy, I saw a good amount of sales, but still not enough. Well, I decided to write a NA contemporary romance, and really enjoyed writing it. Before publishing it, I realized that, yes, NA is where I belong. I published it on May 20th and have finally seen the sales I’ve been hoping for. I am steadily getting 5 star reviews, and I hope to get more…sales and reviews. I am so excited – I finally can see the light at the end of the day-job tunnel. I am busily writing away the second in my NA series, and if all goes as planned, after publishing the second book, I hope to FINALLY quit my day job. ***Praying hard and working hard for that to happen****

    Thank you all for your encouraging comments. This thread ROCKS!!!

  187. To all of you who posted — thank you! I’m so encouraged by this community’s willingness to share triumph and struggle alike.

    I’m a new writer, still tethered to the day job but eagerly absorbing everything I can about craft and the business of publishing.

    I can’t wait to break free and write full-time. I made $36 from a single title in 2012 (woo-hoo!) and $219 from two titles in 2013 (six times better — yay!). Last month I finished the first draft of my biggest, most commercial title yet (a sexy spy thriller) and plan to publish it this fall. Right now, I’m immersed in research for the sequel to the thriller and experimenting with titles in two new genres, one of them co-written with a fellow author.

    In other words, it’s early days for me. But I’m having fun, I’m figuring how to become more productive, and I’m learning how to be a better story-teller (I hope).

    Oh, and I’m gathering up the courage to post here for the first time, after lurking for what seems like eons.

    Thank you again for sharing, fellow writers. And thank you to PV for nurturing such a great community!

  188. Franklin Kendrick

    I haven’t quit my day jobs (yes, two of them) yet, but someday hope to join those of you who are able to. I’m very early on in my indie publishing journey – published my first book in November 2013, and a few shorter novellas sprinkled throughout the months.

    Published a zombie comedy, “(Can You Survive) The Zombie Apocalypse” in April, and that seems to be the push that I needed to gain traction. Since then, I’ve been working hard on a few new books with the hope of having one of them published by the end of this month. At least the cover is done!

    Finances are always a big focus for me, but at this point, I’m just thankful that someone I’ve never met is taking a chance on something that’s come out of my imagination. Good job to all who have made it, and best of luck to others like me who are just starting out!

  189. I replaced my day job income and started writing full time at the beginning of May. 🙂

  190. I’ve been so fortunate to have a family that supported me in the early days, allowing me to write non-stop outside of normal working hours. Approximately fifteen months after first being published I was able to close my small business and devote myself full time to writing.

    I’m still a long way off being *rich* but I help pay the bills, contributed to a holiday and second car this year, and have never felt more joy from a job than I do from this.

    It’s a fantastically rewarding experience, and reading about other authors here is always so inspirational.

  191. I began in e-publishing in 1996. I didn’t start writing until 2000 and wrote sporadically until I had my first child in 2009. In 2012, my partner and I had a falling out and I was forced to strike out on my own with no money in my bank account, three kids to support, and a dozen or so books ranging from short stories to short novels.

    In desperation and with no other option, I decided to self-publish. On August 2012 I began putting my books up on Amazon, BN, ARE, smashwords, and anywhere else I could find to list. That first month, I made something like $1500 which was enough to pay most of my bills. I managed to write a few new books/stories, after having been out of writing for around five years. Well, the new material sold, and sold pretty darn good. When I was in independent publishing, a very good seller usually sold 500-1000 copies in a month, and I was topping that with some of my releases.

    Encouraged and inspired, I began reworking my old books and reissuing with new covers and edits–those sold. Some better than others. In 2013, my income doubled each month I had a release. As long as I continue to produce new work every three to four months or compile box sets, I make enough royalties to stick half the money in a savings account and live off the other half.

    I’m a self taught artist and do all my own cover art. Some of my books have been in the top 100 kindle under different sub-genres and some never crack the top of any list. I consider myself a mid-list level writer. I’ll probably never hit a national best-seller list, but right now, I don’t need to.

  192. Dennis McAllister

    I’m just going to leave this right here:

    • Thanks for sharing this post. It was great!! I have to get writing – I only have five pies on the shelf. (One pie is getting a makeover, in which I’ll have six). So here I go…off to ‘bake’ my 6th/7th pie.

  193. I sort of wandered into self publishing. I am just starting my fourth year and have seen my sales increase from almost nothing the first year to at least getting a monthly payment from Amazon and Smashwords. I had no background in writing or publishing prior to starting out in self publishing. I am a real estate agent in my real life, but with the market where it is, that line of work leaves plenty of time for writing. I write under a variety of pen names, with a variety of genres, both short stories, novels and some non fiction. As I try to do it all myself, I have suffered from some horrible covers and some inane blurbs. I have probably made every mistake a self pubbed writer can make, but I am learning. Slowly. I am in the process now of rewriting all of my blurbs and redesigning all my covers. My sales this year are climbing, but still not in the “make a living” category by a long stretch. I am confident that I will make it eventually. Thanks for all the inspirational stories, PG. I love your blog.

  194. Well, I didn’t have a job to quit, but I did decide to not seek employment in favor of writing except I’ve spent the first part of the year trying to find a literary agent. Biggest mistake of my life.

    I didn’t even know about the arcane rules literary agents have put up and how each and every one of them have these specific rules that every supplicant – I mean – writer has to do before your work was considered. For all that work I’ve done trying to tailor the query letter to every agent, I’ve been greeted by either a quick rejection or more likely silence, which was incredibly rude. The worst part wasn’t that though. It’s that I began to doubt myself.

    So yeah, I thought my dream was over when each literary agent turned me down but then I read about self publishing. I’m proud to say that I’ll join the ranks of the indie world soon, and if I’m ever in the position that a literary agent contacts me for representation, it’ll take all my willpower to not respond or write ‘Dear Agent’ in the salutation.

  195. Dennis McAllister, I am using Dean Wesley Smith’s blog as a template for my efforts.

  196. I have not quite quit yet. I’ve dropped back from 50-60 hours a week in 2013 and the first half of 2014, to 24 hours a week as of this past week.

    I’m throwing the resulting increase in writing time into writing more. 😉

    With a little luck and a lot of elbow grease, I will be free of the last of those shifts by the end of 2014.

  197. 340 comments? I’ve had to unsubscribe from this post because of the beating my inbox is taking.

    I hope to add my name to this list someday. I self-published my first book last year, and I’ll have my second ready to publish in a couple months. I spent too many years trying to get my foot in the door of the traditional world and I think going indie was the best decision I made. My book is well-loved by all who read it, but it hasn’t quite found its audience yet.

    It would be my dream to be able to write full time.

    • You’re all an inspiration. I’m working on my second novel of a mystery series. I wish I’d started sooner. This is supposed to be additional retirement income for me, but you all are making me think it’s possible to retire from the day job earlier than I thought and write full-time. Last fall I self-published a short story which has the same main character as my self published novel. The novel was out in Jan/Feb 2014. I write in the crime genre.

  198. I didn’t quit my day job—my day job quit me. I tried for months to find something else, putting in hours writing while working on trying to shift job skillsets.

    Then I realized it just wasn’t cutting it for me.

    I got an idea for a book that (hopefully) is coming out in a few months. Lined up some press for it, now I just need to finish the thing.

    My husband wants to know if I have a plan. More like, he wants reassurance that I have a viable plan.

  199. I was writing for a traditional publisher, then began writing indie work also. When I did that, I was working 40 hours per week on the day job at a library and 40 hours writing and promoting, before and after work. So something had to go. My indie writing was the key to success. With my popular Highland medieval series, and new cougar series, and doing really well with a fae YA series, I was able to quit my day job. Now I write, edit, and promote 80 hours per week and I’m loving it!

    I was afraid to quit the day job, but it was the only way I could actually write more and earn more and it’s made all the difference in the world. I don’t have any retirement or anyone to support me, and so that was really my biggest fear with giving up the full-time job. I couldn’t have made a wiser financial decision.

  200. I quit my job as a computer programmer in 2011. This was quite a leap as I had lost everything in a divorce in 2005, and six years isn’t a long time to recoup! But I was working 50-80 hours a week and calculated I would be dead approximately 3 years before I finished my book.

    The latter part of 2011 and the first part of 2012 were scary. I did free lance editing and considered going back to a full time job. But in July 2012 I published the third book in my Death by Chocolate cozy mystery series, and sales improved dramatically. In March 2013 I did a Bookbub ad and sales increased exponentially. Total sales for 2013 were $102K. Not Stephen King type sales, but I’m making as much as I made at my day job, and now I get to work in my sweats and don’t have to drive through rush hour traffic!

  201. Thank you to everyone who has posted their story. They’re all very inspiring and very informative.

    I’m not doing as well as some — I seem to be one of the “hard gainers”. I published via legacy for just over ten years, then went indie fully and completely in March 2011.

    I’ve published 46 of my own titles, and I’m doing okay; much, much better than I ever did in legacy. (My biggest monthly cheque in legacy was just over $2,000. I make around $3,500 a month right now with the indie titles).

    It’s enough that I could quit my job and scrape by writing full time (and my writing income would rise a bit because I was writing full time, and putting out more titles).

    But at the moment, my husband and I are completing an ambitious down-to-the-studs renovation of our 35 year old home. The renovations are being paid for nearly 100% by my writing income.

    We figure that once the bulk of the renovations are complete, I get to quit. We’ve heard that once you start renovating, you’ll find something else to do forever after that, so we’ve nominated December 2015 as quitting time.

    I think my sales would be higher if I were writing straight romance instead of erotic romance (I just read in the comments that erotic romance doesn’t sell as well as straight). But my erotic paranormal romances sell 10x what my (non-erotic) romantic suspense does. So I really don’t know what sells best. It seems to be very subjective.



    • I think it all depends. If you write full length books you might want to get on BookBub that one place changed my life. I write cozy mystery and it seems like things do build after time. I’m trying out paranormal romance now, but although it does have erotica in it I’m not labeling it as such other than the typical disclaimer in my blurb. I’ve noticed many of the writers who really wrote a lot of erotica never labeled themselves that way including Jasinda Wilder’s early Big Girl books, which is erotica if you ask me.

      • Hi Madison, and thanks for the suggestions.

        I’ve used Bookbub numerous times, very successfully (although the general effectiveness of Bookbub is starting to diminish — possibly, because I’ve been on there too often, or Bookbub readers are becoming more choosy).

        But Bookbub did lift my sales significantly.

        I don’t label my erotic romances as “erotica” — which I consider to be an entirely different genre to erotic romance. And I do put the warnings on my books.

        I suspect that for me, just like everyone else, it’s a matter of:

        1) Try something. Anything.
        2) Stop doing it if it doesn’t work
        3) Do more of it if it does.
        4) Never quit.



        • So many people are afraid to try something new when what they’re doing doesn’t work. Not all genres perform the same, and I feel the same way with BB too, but I still manage to make money with those ads. I read somewhere that some people only think romance sells. I’ve written a few and just haven’t done well with the sweet romance. Cozy mystery is where I do the best, but I had to branch off a bit to keep myself interested in writing. Good luck.

  202. Unlike a few others, I was out of work before I started. Still, I haven’t looked back and I support not only myself on this income, but my fiance who writes with me and does some design work for other authors. We just bought a new car with this money, too.

    Things are good. I write erotic short stories, which aren’t the most profitable form of erotica, but even with the grind we have more time together than we ever could if we had “real jobs”.

  203. I hope this isn’t an over share, but… I’m the perfect example of what can happen when everything crumbles around you. I filed for bankruptcy in 2012, I lost my boyfriend and children’s dad to suicide in September of 2013. How do you possibly explain to someone anyone that my book sales kept going up and up every month. I started my journey back in 2011 with a two short stories slapped together and thrown up on Amazon. It never earned me the right to a deposit until six months later, enough to buy pizza. In May of 2012 I released my first cozy mystery with senior aged sleuths. I continued to write, but didn’t release the second in the series until April of 2013, with my third in June. I did promote highly and without BookBub back then and things started to really take off for me. What really inspired me was another writer that seemed to be dropping books like hotcakes, every three weeks. I was like is she a machine or what? I can do that I told myself and that’s when I started writing and publishing a book a month. September came around and my life and career came to a crashing halt, or did it. At the time I was working only for minimum wage and happy to have that since I was unable to get a job that paid higher. It was a stressful time for me, and after my boyfriend died I kinda went wacko at work, meaning I got tired of being told what to do one day and called my boss and told him I quit. My daughter was pissed at me, but I knew we’d be okay because the money was really starting to come in. It’s was one of the scariest times of my life, but after my first BookBub ad I was thrown into a new pond. I’ve been writing full time ever since and got my shit together and published 7 more books, and have hit the USA Today Bestsellers list three times. Yes, sales do fluctuate, but I should be pulling a six figure income this year. I’m so happy that I decided to go indie because it really has changed my life.

    • overshare? No way! What that lady did for you you and the other wonderful writers are doing for me (and many others who are reading this whole comment section). Thank you so much for sharing. ‘going to dedicate myself to this.

    • You are an inspiration. I’ll say it again I love the new covers. You’ve been through a lot since we first met.

  204. Hi everyone!

    A writer friend of mine gave me this link and I just want to say THANK YOU for all the positive energy & inspiration!!! I just published my first historical romance short story in April of this year & am working on my 1st full-length contemporary romance novel.


  205. Hi, this was posted in my writing group on reddit and it’s sooo inspiring. Thank you to everyone who has responded, it will be a great motivational tool to read when people feel like giving up.

    I lost my job and used what I had in savings to start a small business. It flopped, big time. So there I was, stuck in a small town that didn’t have many jobs available making the same, or even close to, what I was making before. My husband makes enough to pay all our major bills and buy the necessities so we decided I would try to find some kind of work online to help out and be a stay at home mom.

    I’ve always been a hobby writer so I looked for something I could do that would involve writing. I started MTurking, hoping I could get qualified to take some of the writing jobs offered there, and while I waited I noticed there were a lot of small writing jobs available for $5 here and $10 there. I asked on a MTurk forum why people were requesting such small writing samples and was told that they get a bunch of them, edit them, and self publish it as a short story. This sounded insane to me, why wouldn’t you just write the dang story in the time it took you to sift through and edit everything into a coherent story, not to mention having to pay for the little bits of writing.

    So I looked into self publishing, figuring if someone was willing to pay someone else to write they must be making money from it. I found several AMAs on reddit that convinced me to give it a try.

    October of 2013 I started and published 4 or 5 short stories but I didn’t make very much and I had a lot of things go wrong at home and I got discouraged with the amount I was selling. So I gave up.

    Flash forward to February and I notice I somehow have extra money in my bank account that shouldn’t be there. It’s from Amazon. I go look at my KDP numbers and lo and behold there my little stories are slogging away, making me money without me doing anything. So I figured if a few short stories could give me some pocket change, some dedicated work would probably yield a greater result.

    Published a few more and made a little bit more money in February, published a few more and made a little bit more in March, then I published my first novel at the end of March and in April I made over $4000. I was just blown away, I couldn’t believe it. When I totaled it all up at the end of the month I just sat in front of my computer and cried. While my husband does make enough to support us, we’re always tight, and with a broken washing machine and school tuition coming up, that money is going to be the difference between going without and having enough. It was just such a huge relief to know that the ends WILL meet and that I contributed to my household.

    And I’m only just starting, it’s upward and onward from here. 🙂

    • Great story! It’s incredible how all these little success stories are adding positive energy to the bigger theme of hope and finding success at something you may love or have a talent at. I think Indie Authors is such a small community in the grand scheme of things. Imagine all the people that feel discouraged and beat down by the publishing industry and have no idea that there is a way and this proves it.

  206. Wow! So many inspiring stories. I am also leaving my career on June 20 to start writing full time. It’s much sooner than I had planned on doing so, but an odd series of events resulting in an upcoming move halfway across the US gave me the push I needed to decide to go for it! I have two books out (the first of which was released in December 2013) and a novella duo I just released this morning. I’m leaving a job where I work 50+ hours a week in management and make a generous salary which supports my family of three as a single mom. I can hardly believe that in three short weeks I’ll be living the dream!!! My income as a self-published author has fluctuated wildly so far with my lowest month at about $1500 and my highest just barely breaking the five figure mark. With my upcoming new releases, I expect that I’ll be able to replace or exceed my income from my job this year.

    I think I’m what you’d call a mid-lister. None of my books have hit top 100 overall on Amazon yet, but I came very close during the release of my second book. I have another book in my current series I plan to release in late July, a standalone in September and then a new series to begin after that.

  207. We didn’t have electricity as a kid, so there were no video games of TV shows. Partially out of boredom and largely as an escape, I turned to writing from an early age. In elementary school, I had first place in our annual writing contest on lockdown every year, and teachers were always telling me that I would be an author one day. I was fairly confident in my abilities as a writer, however it was just so ingrained in me not to aspire for anything impractical, and becoming a writer seemed just that. I remember being in 4th grade around the time Harry Potter became popular. I read all about JK Rowling’s rags to riches story, and even that wasn’t remotely reassuring. Not only did she have a college education (something I thought I could never afford) but she was rejected a dozen times by publishing houses! The more I looked into it, it seemed like most popular authors had to suffer through years of rejections in order to get published and even at age ten, I knew that wasn’t something I wanted to deal with, so I put my dream of becoming a writer on the back burner and kept it there for over a decade.

    The winter of 2013-2014 was really nasty here in New England, and conveniently our car gave out at the start of it. I had to walk several miles in the snow each day, back and forth to a call center job that I was way overqualified for. Finally, in January, I just got fed up with cars splashing muddy/icy water on me and decided to try and write something. I had heard whispers about self-publishing and stumbled across KBoards, which was a gold mine of information for aspiring writers. I puttered around in erotica and sold a couple books in late January, but I really just didn’t like the genre. Romance had always been my thing, so in between calls at work (and sometimes on them 😉 I would scribble down notes and an idea started to come together.

    Armed with nothing but my measly high school diploma and very low expectations, I began writing a serial romance. One thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that when I started writing, I didn’t even know what a serial was! I wrote some pretty popular fan fiction junior high school, and small plot arcs were just within my comfort zone, so I did a six arc story. I self-edited, but ordered a professional cover. When I published the first entry, I sold seven copies on the first day, and then fifteen to twenty a day over the next week. I was cautiously optimistic when I set the book to free at the end of the month, the day before I published Book #2. I charted to #49 in the free store in the first week without any promotion and a very large percentage of readers purchased my second book. By the time I published my third serial entry in mid March, I was selling over a thousand books a day.

    I quit my job in early March so that I could write faster. I had to tough it out for two months, living on my husband’s $200 a week unemployment checks and promises, but it was so worth it. Between the beginning of March and the end of May, I’ve earned $50,000 and my earnings increase exponentially each month. I’m so glad that I became a self-published author, and that I didn’t wait around to get approval from a publishing house.

    • That is incredibly inspiring. I have recently been obliged to leave my job and have started an urban fantasy series that I was thinking about serializing. It’s not romance (yet) but I think I will move forward with the idea. I realize my experience will be different than yours but your story does help. Do you write under the name under which you posted? Ah, I should just look you up right now 🙂

      *edited to add* Your cover is marvelous! And since I am, for the time being, on a serious budget ($1 in savings, $26 in checking) I can afford the FREE on your first book. Thank you.

    • This is incredibly inspiring. One of the best things about self-publishing is that, more than ever, talent and motivation can overcome circumstances that would otherwise be a disadvantage.

      Unlike most others on this post, I’m just getting started, with my first novel (a horror/urban fantasy) set to be released in a few weeks. My expectations were low, but reading all these success stories has really boosted them. I’m still not expecting to double my income overnight, but just knowing it’s possible will help me make sure I don’t hold back. I need to treat writing like a serious opportunity rather purely as a compulsion. 🙂

      So thanks, Viola and everybody else, for sharing your stories. I hope you know that they make a real positive difference in people’s lives.

    • Ladies and gentlemen, meet Harlequin Enterprises Limited’s worst nightmare.

      Or, to use her proper Greek appellation: Nemesis.

    • Love your story, Viola!

    • That’s a wonderful story, Viola! Congratulations!!!

  208. I’m a psychotherapist in private practice and a corporate crisis/grief counselor. (I go to companies experiencing some kind of crisis like a death of an employee and counsel upset employees.) Because I work for myself, I have nothing to “quit.” But I have cut back to one day a week seeing clients and an occasional crisis job.

    At my fourth month of indie publishing, my income from self-publishing matched my psychotherapy income. It happened to coincide with my feeling somewhat burned out from a difficult client. When the difficult client left my practice, and with the decreased time in my office, I was able to regain my energy, and once again enjoy being a counselor. I wouldn’t give it up because I like helping people, and I’m very good at it.

    I’ve had some readers make comments such as “Your books helped me cope with the death of my only son.” And “Your books helped me open my heart to trust.” So I’ve learned somehow my stories are also a form of counseling.

  209. I retired from the corporate world after the last of four mergers to concentrate on my childhood dream of becoming a mystery author. My first humorous mystery was published in 2010 through a traditional publisher. I continued to operate as a non-profit for three years until the publisher suddenly closed last July. With my third book ready to be released, I chose to indie publish and have never looked back. I’ve already earned in the mid five figures in seven months. I love being in charge!

  210. So glad I subscribed to the comments. I love reading them in my mailbox. SO many inspiring posts. Much continued success to everyone, never give up and keep writing 🙂

  211. I’m also a full-time writer. It wasn’t intentional, but when I got laid off 5 years ago, around the time my first book was published, I just kept writing. I’ve been lucky enough to support myself with something I love doing.

  212. I’ve been writing full-time since 2010, as a career since 2011, and attending college for my baccalaureate in Creative Writing since 2012. My fiction writing doesn’t currently pay the bills, but my freelance article writing does, so I can legitimately, honestly say I make my living as a writer. I work my butt off to cover household expenses so I can tell the stories I love to tell and that I believe readers will want to read. So, technically, no I don’t have a “day job.” And I like it that way!

  213. What day job? A trifecta of the economy, health issues, and age meant coming up with different ways of making a living, all of which flopped, other than perhaps as learning experiences. In 2010 my son encouraged me to return to writing, but this time taking advantage of ebooks. Did a few nonfiction ones, they did okay, better than nothing. But I realized that to do my best, I had to write fiction. Got the first novel out this spring, with terrific reviews, endorsements by other mystery writers (thanks, M. Louisa Locke!)and modest sales. Next one comes out this fall, the third in planning for next spring.

    Not making enough to live on, yet. It’s my Hail Mary pass. But I love writing novels, I’m honoring a promise to myself, I’m committed to getting better with each book, and committed to finding a sustainable method of marketing.

    It will happen. Thanks for all your stories, especially the ones about perseverance.

  214. I just want to say thank you to everyone who has posted such inspiring stories. And to those who, like me, haven’t made it big yet, but are hoping to. This thread came at the perfect time for me.

    I’ve been a freelance non-fiction writer for 15 years, and have published two novels traditionally. I pick up editing gigs to make ends meet. But last December I finally took the plunge and published my first contemporary romance on Kindle. Got good reviews. Not many sales. Yet 😉

    As I’m putting the finishing touches on the second book of the series, I’ve been getting rather discouraged. Yes, I know, one does better once one has several books out, but a few sales would be nice encouragement! Instead, I stumbled upon this inspiring thread to renew my inspiration.

    So a humble thank you to all as I return to work with hope once more!

    • Good for you! Try to remind yourself that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Or maybe set a deadline. Two, three years. Then, anytime you’re feeling down, remind yourself of the time you’ve given to yourself.

      Or keep reading this thread….

  215. Technically I make a living writing right now. I’m an attorney, but I only work online, writing answers to questions, doing research. I also text chat real time. We are compiling the chats I do into online help articles. So that’s neat.

    Not sure if that counts.

    First novel will be done and hopefully out by the end of the summer.

  216. This is such an inspiring post! While I’ve not yet told my husband he can retire, and I’ve not yet quit my “day job” (which isn’t such a big deal since I’m self-employed and work from home) my income from my books (a few pen names in a few genres) makes a significant contribution to our monthly budget. I’ve only been publishing for a year.

  217. Man, I can’t read through these comments without crying. It’s so nice to see so many wonderful stories here.

  218. I quit my corporate position several years ago after spending 2 years building a freelance writing career with my 10 hours a week of “free time.” Besides publishing a lot of nonfiction, I now have two mystery series. It’s all doable. It just takes planning. And while the money may ebb and flow sometimes, I’ve always met or exceeded my one, three, and five-year goals. Yes, I do a business plan each year, as that helps me stay on track with finding and approaching new markets, and to keep my fiction goals on track as well.

  219. I quit my day job to write full time back in Sept 2011. This was 3 months after I self-pubbed my first novel. I’m still writing full time and make more than double what I did in my office job.

  220. I *love* this thread so much!

    I’m one of those authors sneered at by some because I have a husband who earns a living, ostensibly keeping the lights on and buying food so I can write in between bon-bon binges and hours spent lying by the pool. In fact, I took further advantage of my man by quitting my very lucrative job ten years ago, with the birth of our first child. Two more babies came; strangely, the bon-bons and time to stare at pool boys never materialized. Two years ago my husband encouraged me to stop talking about writing and just do it…so I did. I published my first novel in October 2013 and the second last month. Number three will be ready this Autumn.

    So, I am happy to reveal (to those “reporters” who shall remain nameless) that I am now pulling my weight, and earn enough scratch to give my husband some fiduciary relief. My little “hobby” can now pay for electricity, food, and other necessities, should my husband ever decide he’s tired of funding the little wife and her supposed silliness. Silliness that encompasses writing, deleting, re-writing, formatting, editing, proofreding, critiquing, uploading, re-uploading, and marketing. I’m no millionaire authoress, but I’m published. Self-published, thank you very much. It’s been hard work, late nights, early mornings, piles of dirty laundry, and occasional threats against the computer and/or internet at large. It has been worth every minute.

    I’m still waiting on the poolside bon-bons, however.

  221. Michelle Howard

    I still have my day job because right now I need it. The husband and I have talked and if things continue to work out well and grow, we’re going to take a leap of faith and have me write full time. my 1st book released in Dec 2013 to mediocre sales (mainly family), my 2nd book in Feb 2014 did really well and I’ve been receiving 4 figure checks from amazon each month.2 equaled my day job plus some for the month. I’m not perfect and have a way to go to get better but I’m loving the choice I made to self pub. I also had 2 publishers reach out but right now I’m enjoying the control of a job I actually enjoy doing.

  222. I was a full time mom for twenty years, so it isn’t really a job you can quit, but in December, my husband quit his job as a CIO. It was terrible seeing him drag himself out of bed in the morning to go to a job he hated half the time, when I bounced out of bed every morning to do a job I love. It was so great for him no longer to have to.

  223. I originally didn’t want to post here because I felt like it would be boasting, but after reading all of the supportive posts, I wanted to add my own in case it inspires anyone else here. I quit my day job two years ago, forever. I was bringing in $50-$100 a month from Kindle and a few hundred dollars a month from Createspace. I never could have done it without those monthly royalty checks. I had saved up $5000 to cover a few months worth of rent and decided to start promoting my works online, full time. It was scary, but I had been writing and selling books for a number of years, and I had researched all of the possible avenues on publishing and had spent a lot of time studying book marketing. Last year I did $40,000 and this year I am on track to make 70. By no means am I a superstar author like some of the people we hear about on Kindle, and almost all of my money comes from print book royalties, but at least I don’t have to have a day job anymore. People bemoan the death of the print book, but my print books are selling very well, and my e-books, just haven’t been able to get much traction. I’ve given away thousands of them, but never found the secret to making huge sums of money from them. It’s no secret how I make money. I wrote the best books that I can, focused on a small tight niche, and do what authors are supposed to do, according to the book marketing experts I have been studying for the past 10 years. Blogs, videos, podcasts, stuff like that. Some social networking marketing but not a lot, and I had no luck with Google AdSense so I don’t pay for advertising. I have been fortunate in getting very good reviews and my books are almost always at the top of my Amazon category. Other than being able to write full-time, I like the fact that I am beating out every other book that is published by a major publisher in my category. Amazon and Createspace have been more supportive than any boss, publisher, and most companies that I’ve ever worked with.

    I did hire the best editor I could, a few marketing experts to guide me, & and my covers and interior layout were designed professionally. My goal from the very first was to have my book look as good if not better than anything published in New York. I figured, all things being equal, if my books have covers that look professional and quality editing, and the writing is the best I can do, I am on an even playing field with the biggest authors in the world.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. I want all of you to succeed wildly. You have to stay at it, but you also have to treat this like a business, and that means a lot of sacrifices. But it’s totally worth it.

  224. I have loved the comments on this thread. And after reading a tough post yesterday from a wonderful writer who regrets her decision to be indie, I came back here to discover that the indie world is thriving. I love it.

    As to the question of going full time as a writer? I’m in the middle of running the numbers and making big decisions about my career going forward. I can’t reveal my findings just yet. 😉

    It’s interesting to read people’s comments about what it took for them to take the plunge. But I’m curious. Did most people save up a chunk of money before they went full-time with the hopes that full-time and more books would send you over that edge, or did you wait until your current monthly sales more than surpassed your day job income?

    How many writers took a big leap of faith?

    • I knew I was probably in for a rocky ride when the equality vote passed in MD so, although I didn’t expect it to become as bad as it did, I could see trouble coming and braced for that. I was lucky enough to find my pantry replacement and get her started before the vote passed. I was still pretty involved the first few months, but that ball had started rolling. With that taken care of…

      By the time I knew I’d *have* to quit, I had an action plan, yes. I paid off my car and had a fat chunk in the bank as an emergency fund. We RELY on my income. Period. If this chicka doesn’t get paid, the sun will darken and the moon will not shine. The fact that my income is supplemental rather than my family’s primary doesn’t mean we don’t need the money I earn to keep our financial ship afloat. We most assuredly do.

      I don’t take blind leaps of faith. Mine was a calculated risk and one I’d hedged — and continue to hedge — against.

    • In my case, I had a single month where I earned more than I earned in a year at my job, plus the prior 4 months added up to a year’s income as well. That was also a month in which a family crisis hit, and we decided I should take the leap and just quit. We had no debt other than a mortgage by then.

  225. My husband and I both started working full time self-publishing after one year. I could have quit my job after 6 months, but I wanted to finish out the teaching year. We support our large family of seven by showing them that living your dreams and doing what you love is possible.

  226. My book is fairly well-reviewed (averages 5.0/5.0 on Amazon). It has NOT allowed me to quit my day-job.

    However, what it HAS done is landed me a great deal of editing and ghostwriting work, which has now become a substantial secondary income.

    So I’ve sat down and drawn up a five-year plan (going into such nitty-gritty details as hours/week, necessary income thresholds, etc) on how I will gradually shift from full-time work to full-time freelancing, and then from full-time freelancing to full-time writing.

    The main gist of it involves writing in monthly, episodic format — one 15,000-word short story a month, making up one 180,000-word omnibus a year. Within just a few years, that will be a LOT of material with my name on it floating around the web. I also plan to open a Patreon account, to supplement sales.

    It’s going to be a long, hard slog, but I’m hopeful. I know I’ve got the talent. Now I just need to use it to win the war. Thing is, it’s all the means to an end. I (and most of us here) don’t write for the money; we write because we HAVE to, because we are psychically compelled to do so, as if being driven by one of those impulse-altering parasites that makes insects seek out water and drown themselves. I write because the idea of doing anything else with the majority of my time and energy makes me want to scream and shout and go all 80’s-music-video up in here.

  227. I absolutely love reading all of these stories. I’m an unpublished author but my trade is as an editor. A good ninety percent of the authors that I work with are self published, with another seven or eight percent coming from the small publishing house where I’m Senior Editor. The last little bit are authors who are seeking traditional publication deals.

    Only a few of the indies that I work with are full-time writers–most still hold day jobs, and a few even have night jobs, too–but they seem to indicate that their works are generating enough income to survive on so that’s fantastic.

    I gave up teaching English as a Second Language several years back to focus on providing affordable editing services strictly to indies. I thought that independent publishing would bloom, but I really had no idea that it would gain such acceptance so fast. I’m really glad that it has, though. Even though I’m not publishing myself, I’m able to live the lifestyle I want and do work that I really and truly love. And the indie community is one that is so supportive and just all-around fantastic. I’ve met some of the nicest people you could imagine. It’s been a wonderful experience for me.

    I’ve even had the opportunity to meet and interact with Anne Rice who is one of the most supportive people of her stature to independently publishing authors. She’s forever offering advice and opinions about the business and she also shares news and information concerning self publishing all the time on her Facebook page. Just a marvelous experience; one that I never would have had if I hadn’t given up the day job.

  228. My first book was traditionally published in 2006, but I never got in the black until I started indie publishing in late 2010. My first publisher went belly up (the Dorchester debacle) and I got rights back to five books. Indie wasn’t huge then so I had no expectations, but the first year my books were up – with no advertising, an outdated website, and my huge aversion to social media – they made me almost $100k.

    I decided to dedicate more time to them and worked on social media and another indie book. I was still working full time and had a 3-book contract with Harlequin, so not a lot of time to devote to indie. But the next year was almost three times the first.

    So I quit my day job at the end of 2012 and dedicated a full year to nothing but indie. I couldn’t haven’t written a better script. I released four indie books, three books for Harlequin Intrigue, one indie novella, two indie short stories and contributed to The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing. I also hit the USA Today and NYT lists.

    At the end of 2013, my husband quit his day job to come work with me. I needed help a year before, but one day we will get caught up. I work more now than I ever did in Corporate America, even as a CFO. But I don’t mind. 🙂

  229. I’m one of the lucky ones who was able to quit my day job almost immediately after starting to self publish back in September 2011. I quit the job in December of 2011. My husband was also able to quit his job in November of 2012 so he could go back to college and fulfill his dream of getting a degree. It’s been great all around for us with my writing income not only supporting the family, but also paying college tuition for my husband and two of my daughters. I LOVE self publishing!


  230. Chiming in…I retire from my day job soon (last day, June 30th…come on, July!) and, when people ask me what I’m going to do in retirement, I tell them, “Write full time!”

    Too many people think retirement is like writing “The End” at the finish of a job. For me, I’m just switching jobs. Hours won’t change, if I don’t want them to…but I’ll be doing what I love instead of what I have to.

  231. This thread (in combination with recent personal events) gave me the push to get stuff done. My first entry went up this week and I’ve sold THREE copies (I would like to thank mom and pops AND the total stranger who would get a hug if I knew who they were). I also gave away about 100 with a 2-day free promotion. The next entry will be going up this weekend (just making the suggested changes today-this morning-I’ll get back to it as soon as I’m done posting here-really). I am looking forward to posting here again, one day, as someone who is making a living as an indie writer. My stuff is erotica (I think?) but I will be swinging into romance as I have found myself falling for the character and I realize he needs some true love.

  232. Another thing about working indie style is there are so many options out there. I’ve been doing nonfiction indie publishing for several years now, but signed a fiction contract with a boutique publisher who was originally traditional pubbed, but now is still considered indie for her small press. She not only publishes other authors like me, but leaves us to set our own marketing goals and comfort levels while supporting us with backup and experience. But even better, I’m still perfectly able to publish anything I want to do on my own, and stay a hybrid without any of the limits of traditional publishing. I saw recently that Lee Goldberg and another indie/traditional author (forget who the other author is) has started Brash Books to help authors who want to bring their backlists online and write new without pursuing traditional publishing. I think JR Rain may have been the first with this kind of boutique option, but I could be wrong, so I’ll shut up now 🙂

  233. I work as an assistant to self-published author, M.L. Gardner. She quit her day job several years ago to write full-time and has continued to do so quite successfully!

  234. Awesome to see so many authors doing so well! I trad pubbed my first book in 2010 and after switching genres and houses I decided to indie pub a contemp trilogy to let my paranormal readers know I was now writing contemporary romance. That was October of 2012 and after seeing fabulous results on one indie book, I decided to quit my job in December. My thoughts were that this ‘indie thing’ would replace my working income (I worked part time so about 25k a year) and that would be a bonus in addition to my NY monies. I remember squealing with delight when in January of 2013 I made double my monthly income, so about 4k. Awesome I thought. Good idea to quit the day job thing. But in February of 2012 I uploaded my second indie and things exploded. I went from making 4k in January to making nearly 50k in February. I remember getting a deposit from ITunes for 25k and was blown away. Indie pubbing has changed my life. I’m still a hybrid, and I still love working with my trad publishers, but the fact of the matter is inide pubbing has allowed me to write for those trad publishers because if not for that income I might have packed it in. Getting up at 4:30 most mornings to write before I left for a day job for three years was killing me. I had an amazing year, I’m supporting myself and my family and putting a kid through university. All thanks to indie pubbing. This year I”ll surpass last year and like Steena Holmes I’ve got my eye on the million dollar club. Will I make it? Who knows. I don’t know what the magic formula is, for some people to do well and others don’t. But the magic of indie pubbing is that you can at least TRY!

    • Juliana: I just added my name to the list but also wanted to pause and say I adore your stuff, both trad and indie. You rock, and deserve every bit of what you’ve earned. I’m just going to follow right along behind you if you don’t mind 😉

  235. I have not quit my day job yet, but I believe the path to publishing success is slow and steady (and sometimes marked by serendipity and breakthroughs). I published under my name, and also a pen name, and though I have just started out, I have sales data and sales that show promise for my future. The cut that I get from Amazon lets me treat my books with all the seriousness they deserve. They are professionally made, and they equal or surpass traditional books in many ways. I don’t see quitting the day job necessarily as the holy grail, because being a publisher and entrepreneur is more hard work and discipline than the average person can handle. It also has ups and downs that require mental fortitude. However, I am so happy and grateful my career has begun in full as an independent author. I wouldn’t choose to do it any other way!

  236. Thanks to everyone for posting their stories. Very inspiring!

    My own career got sidetracked due to issues with my parents’ health the last two years, and my own illness earlier this year. But I’m getting going again, and I hope to be able to join those of you making money from your writing soon.

  237. I quit my career in education and became a full-time writer last week. I waited until my income as an author outgrew the salary of my career before taking the plunge. I’m beyond excited and happy for what the future holds. Being an Indie author has been hard work, but it gives me pride. I’m self-made and couldn’t be happier. It’s possible. Don’t give up on the dream.

  238. Adding my name to the list. I first self published in October of 2012. In late December of that year, the 3rd book in my Worth series came out and I put the first in the series to perma-free. It “hit” in Jan 2013. I looked at a calendar and circled 4-4-14. One, because I wanted to cycle through a year of self publishing before I left my day job (it paid well, and I liked it). Second, we had some large projects at the day job I wanted to see through. And third…4-4-14 had a cool ring to it as my last day of work.
    And that’s exactly how it played out – 15 months later and over 160,000 books sold (and over a half million of the perma-free downloaded) I left.
    I have been writing full time for 2 months now and I love it. I’ve written the first book in a New Adult trilogy that comes out July 1st, and I’m starting in on the second.
    All due to writing in a series (contemporary romance) and putting the first one as perma-free. (I was not traditionally published previously, and had no readership)

  239. I posted almost two weeks ago about how thrilled I was to be able to support myself full-time as an author. I have to add that this has been one of the most inspirational writer posts I’ve read in ages. I’m distributing it throughout the social media universe!

    • I agree. The posts here are so inspirational. I am only now researching indie publishing, but I’ve set it as my goal for my first book (if I can stop tweaking it and reworking it!) Thank you, all, for sharing your stories.

  240. I didn’t have a day job to quit – I was a stay-at-home mom. But, I needed a job. I had my first indie pubbed book release late July 2013. I’ve paid the mortgage the last three months in a row, so I’d say I have a job now! I put in 40+ hours a week, am able to work around my kids’schedules, etc. I’m in no way saying it’s easy, I work my ever-loving arse off, but I’m well on track to earn what a school teacher does this year, and it’s SO much more fun than teaching school!

  241. I find this series of posts very inspirational, and it gives me the hope that it can happen to me. At the same time, the way some of you make it sound so easy makes me despair a little. However, I also find all of you the most sympathetic community of writers I have ever come across. That gives me the confidence to share a story that is not as upbeat as some of the others.

    I’ve been writing about four decades now, though there was a gap in the middle when I stopped for several years due to strange life events. I started again in the mid-90s, published a dozen or so stories in magazines and anthologies, and then in the summer of 2010 got turned on to indie publishing by the websites of Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Rusch. Since then, I have self-published fourteen books: three novels, five short story collections, two novellas, an essay collection and three memoirs. In addition, I published about seventy or so independent stories. I know it’s good work, and the 14 full length books at least have professional covers.

    Sales started climbing in early 2011 so that it looked like something was really going to happen, and then they abruptly dropped off and stayed down no matter how many more books I published. I read of writers making a bundle off their first or second books and I figure, what the hell? It’s not a matter of changing or sticking to a genre; these books have my heart and my soul poured into them and they are what they are. If as a reader I came across my books, they would be just what I was looking for all my life. That’s why I wrote them. I’ll keep trying, of course, until the day I die because I can do nothing else. As Kipling said, I have to treat success and failure just the same. But I am a single parent struggling to survive and wish I could give my kids more.

    Anyway, everyone, thanks for listening. All is not gloomy. I haven’t thrown in the bloody towel yet; I can’t even be tempted to because I know I won’t do it. And I have several stories sold to traditional magazines that are taking literally years to come out (a few of the mags folded in the meantime). And someone approached me that wanted to option one of my stories for a film. The problem is, none of it has translated into real cash yet that can get my family afloat. Still, your stories do give me the hope that it will all come together someday.

    • A couple thoughts from popping over to Amazon and looking at a number of your books:

      1. From just looking at the covers I don’t know the genre of the books – covers sell books – they tell people at a glance what they book is about

      2. Blurbs: I glanced at a few book blurbs – see one of the post above where Anthea Sharp/Lawson gives advice on blurbs – it was a heavily commented conversation with great ideas. Blurbs need good hooks – writing good blurbs is really hard in my limited experience (helped a couple authors & we got feedback from their publisher). I’m sure either Dean or his wife Kris have blogged about blurbs.

      3. Categories – I’m not sure your books are in appropriate categories – metadata is critical to finding the right audience – your readers need to be able to find you if they are browsing a category

    • John, I looked at your work as well and agree with Tasha about the covers. They are really easy to make out at the thumbnail size, and have some interesting images too. But most of them don’t clearly communicate the genre to me, both in the image composition and the font choices.

  242. I left my day job in Feb to write full time. I never could’ve taken this step without indie publishing. I make significantly more than I did as a communications manager. I had to write and work the other job for nearly a year before I was able to do this. It is possible, and indie publishing keeps you in control of reaching for your dream.

  243. I self published my first book in 2012. In 2013 was the first year I turned a profit at writing. Not anywhere near a full-time job but have published 4 and am working on 3 more.

  244. Great post! So glad to see so many other indie authors making a go of it financially. It is possible, even if one is not a ‘household’ name.

    I quit teaching 2 years ago to write full time. Had 2 1/2 series published with Samhain, loved working with them but like most pubs, they’ve lost market share in the last few years. When self-pub came along, I thought ‘Why not?’ I have an audience for my sci fi rom and a smaller one for my contemp rom.

    I’ve pubbed the first 3 books of a new sci fi rom series, and this month made more just from those 3 books than in my last month of teaching. That was a personal goal for me.

    2014 is looking very good. 2015’s goal, (with 2 new series in the works) is to make more than in my last year of teaching.

    May seem small to some, but we all have our ‘success’ level. For me, that’s mine.

    Not sure what the next goal will be …

  245. January 2013 is when I quit my career in advertising to write full-time. I now make a living writing books thanks to self-publishing.

  246. One interesting thought that hit me as I was reading a blog post where someone mentioned this post: it’s not just the AUTHORS who are able to quit jobs.

    All the spouses! WOW!

  247. I quit my job because of my income as an author and have been writing full time for 4 years now. My husband was able to quit his job one year after me.
    Tina Folsom

  248. Well I just published my first book

    This is after I’d spent a whole year as an amateur writer at Wattpad amassing 20K plus followers.

    Many people think that because the site is mainly comprised of teenagers, there are no real buyers. There are buyers. I write multicultural romance (sometimes with a hint of suspense) targeted at mature readers. I took one of the books I’d put up on the site and got the synopsis ripped apart on Absolute Write, after which I rewrote the book.

    My copy-editing was done by a fellow writer I met on Wattpad and the final proofing done by a fan. I did my cover on my own after purchasing a stock image (I’m lucky enough to have a background in graphics design). The sum total of my expenditure was $30.

    In May (two months after the decision), I self-pubbed.

    Within the first two days I’d sold over 200 copies and right now I’m steady at 30 – 50 books a day with an income of about 1.5K last month. It’s not much but considering that this is my first book, I’m not complaining.

    I’m preparing the second book in the series for publishing next month and have already started building the hype. This time I plan to spend a bit more cash on the book (specifically a BookBub promo and get an editor so that I don’t have to exchange-edit). Hopefully it will sell better but I’ll let you know.

    I’m 21 and single so if I make it to $3,000 per month I’m quitting my side-hustle (I call it side-hustle because writing has always been the dream) as a teacher/tutor and going full-time into writing.

  249. Love the comments! So inspiring. I can’t quit my job, but my book pays for car insurance and the cable bill. I’m half-way through book 2. Congrats to all the authors here.

  250. Catherine Gayle

    I haven’t had a job other than writing in three years thanks to self-publishing…since my very first full month’s royalty payment.

  251. I quit my day job 2 years and 2 months ago (but who’s counting?) I used to work as an ophthalmic medical technologist, which pays well, but as of this moment, being an indie author pays better.

  252. I’ll add my name to this. I was able to go full-time writer as of February 2014. It’s been a dream come true and a complete joy.

  253. I left newspaper journalism in 2007 to pursue the dream of writing novels. Why? I’d delayed my desire to do so for far too long.
    Though I’m not yet at the point where my indie sales completely support me, they have been a significant part of my income, supplemented by part-time work teaching, working in a greenhouse and web designing, among other things. To know my work is being read across the U.S., Europe and Asia is icing on the creativity cake!
    In seven years I’ve published six novels (here’s my latest release, a family saga called The House With the Wraparound Porch – http://www.amazon.com/House-Wraparound-Porch-ebook/dp/B00E20WBC4) with a collection of short stories to be released this summer. My seventh novel is also under way.
    There are far easier career paths. Writing is hard and oftentimes lonely work! What’s made the difference is the fulfillment of my creativity. That brings a joy which has vastly improved the quality of my life.
    This summer I’m taking a full sabbatical from other work and devoting now through September to writing. Wish me luck!
    I salute you all for your courage. Always have faith in yourself and your work, and just keep moving forward!

  254. December 31 will be my last day on the “regular” job. That will mark the one year anniversary of self-pub of my first book this past January 14 2014. I’m not looking to set the world on fire, but if it happened I wouldn’t back away, either. Just trying to make each book better than the last. Better vision, better language usage, better plotting, etc. My series is about a lawyer who, so far, has pretty much tracked the emotional and intellectual journey I followed in real life. The second book is now permafree and in three days has downloaded 4000. It may be read free here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J1RY4NM. I’ve written since I was nine or ten, tried trad pub twenty years ago and got blown off, but kept writing for fun anyway. Then along came this new self-pub i found out about six months ago. The bottle is open, the genie is out, i’m gone, baby, gone.

  255. My own writing hasn’t made me more than a couple of lunches, and I’m desperately looking for a job now. Frankly, if I weren’t making money playing darts, I’d be eating water by now. All the same I’m giddy reading each one of these stories of freedom from the hideous work we’ve all had to do for others.

    This is a better world – at least for writers – than the one I’ve lived and suffered in.

    Thanks PG.
    Thanks everyone for the stories.

  256. Instead of continuing to bump it, why not give it its own dedicated widget in the sidebar? Just a bolded HTML title/link?

    I have a different quitting-my-day-job story; I quit mine to get an MFA, where I learned just enough about publishing to understand that the corporate business model was broken. I started teaching, and wanted to both teach and write, so I considered a second master’s degree. Attended an open house and discovered an MBA seemed more attractive than a self-designed MA, and so I signed up for an MBA, with a focus in marketing. I discovered my love for that, and branding, and strategy and business, and now, thanks to writing, I work for a major financial services company by day–

    While maintaining Exciting Press, an independent digital publishing company I founded in 2011. I’ve since signed nearly a dozen authors, mainly through word of mouth and great contacts. None of us are quitting our day jobs, but even as it continues to grow I wouldn’t want to do so. I’m also completely upending that old business model; I sign only a digital license, so I get exclusive ebook rights (and that’s all), with a limited term (seven years, after which the contract expires and rights automatically revert to the author), and authors get 70% revenue (so like when we list for $3.00, Amazon gets 30% of that sale, and I get 30% of what’s left, and my authors get everything else). Our agreements are easily terminated from either side.

    And I think it’s a tragedy all that is unique.

    (I see some people are linking, so I will, too: http://excitingpress.com. Do swing by.)

    It’s great to see these stories of so many authors being so proactive, and finding success–on their terms, whatever those terms may be. For a lot of years, writers’ role in publishing was passive; send a query and hope (and most of it came down to that second step, because response times were so damned long). It’s amazing that we don’t have to submit and hope anymore.

    We can write and hope. We can publish and hope.

    That’s brilliant.

  257. I’m going to chime in here. I’m curious what kind of emergency savings people stock up before they quit. I know it depends on your lifestyle, health insurance, etc. I just wonder if/when I’d have the nerve.

    “They” say you need a million dollars to retire. That’s $2 mill for me and my spouse. Plus we have two little kids. We do live in Canada, with relatively accessible medical care. But it would take us a long time to stockpile two million dollars, and if anything ever happened to one of us, disability insurance is not going to cut it.

    I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but since freelancing income isn’t stable, I’m just wondering how much security 466 commenters need before they jump, or if they just figure, Let’s go.

    • Melissa, I think that line is different for everyone. There is no ‘best’ time to quit and pursue writing as a full time gig. There is only the right time for each individual.

      For me it was all about time management and not going crazy. I was working four days a week and getting up at 4-4:30 in order to fulfill my traditional publishing contracts because the monies I received from those traditional contracts were staggered and I needed more income. But after three years something had to give and after the success of one self published book I decided to take the plunge. Not all authors can do this either, we need money to live and eat and it’s hard if your day job is providing all those things. For me, my mental health became more important and I was willing to gamble on making less to be happy.

      I’ve never looked back and I make as much in one month as I did an entire year of my part time job. It’s been steady as well and I’m no longer concerned that this income stream will suddenly dry up. BUT that was my decision and it certainly could have gone the other way. I don’ know what the magical ingredient is, why some authors do well and other equally talented authors don’t.

      I just thank god that whatever magical dust there is somehow found its way into my books. 🙂

      As for savings, it’s really no different than any other job. You make money, you pay bills and you invest. The simple fact is that for me, I’ve been able to save a heck of a lot more money than every before and my husband has been able to quit his job to help out around the house! wish you much luck if you decide to go for it!

      A fello canuck!

    • I’ll give my own experience:

      I spent almost 20 years in high tech, and two years ago my wife and I set everything up (budget, use of savings/investments/etc) to allow me four years to make enough per month to pay the mortgage (about $650-$700/month, right now it is $672/month).

      Fifteen months in, I’m halfway there. Slow start, but every month my earnings are mostly tripling (keep in mind, my first month’s royalties were about $.35 from a single sale of a $.99 story hehe) each month. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but if the ‘average’ keeps up, then by the end of summer, I’ll be paying the mortgage with my earnings, which is all either of us care about.

      I mean, making millions is great, but, and this will sound cliche as hell, I’m sure, I’m not writing to get rich. All I want is to pay the mortgage. That $700 extra a month will rebuild our savings, investments, and then we’ll be able to do some things concerning fixing up the house (we spent $35k on top of the cost of the house to replace the sewage lines, electrical, landscaping, paint, etc.).

      If I’m not able to pay the mortgage with my earnings after four years, then I’ll go back to my old gig (and still make a couple hundred per month with however many books I have out, which is 15 at this very moment).

      Pretty sure my old gig will continue to be my old gig. Knock on wood or something.

      /me raps knuckles on my skull

      • I’d rap my skull too, if it made my sales triple. Good job, Travis!

      • Travis, that’s good to hear 🙂 I’ve made almost exactly $4 on my two $0.99 stories in two weeks. Granted, they are short works but I’m trying to put one up every ten days now that I’ve got a new day job that gives me plenty of time in the mornings to write. Fortunately, the bills are covered. Barring natural disaster, everything else is gravy.

    • Melissa, obviously each person is going to be different and it will depend to some degree on things beyond their control (look at how many went for it when they became unemployed involuntarily). But if it were me trying to make the decision to leave my day job for any endeavor that was previously a part time money making activity (writing or anything else) I’d think making enough to replace the full time income and having a bit put away for emergencies would be enough. Having enough to retire seems like overkill. If your new endeavor fell apart you’d be in about the same place as someone who unexpectedly gets laid off from their job and has to find another, right?

      • Yes, you’re absolutely right, Big Al. I’m just talking about someone paranoid like me, who would much prefer to wear multiple life jackets before taking the plunge.

    • Melissa, the first thing I tell people when they mention they want to go full time writing is that they need to do two things.


      1. Save like mad.
      2. Pay off all credit cards and debt, even if it means having to eat light and keeping the lights turned off for a couple of months. Pour everything you have into it. Stop spending on anything but what is critical to survival and dump everything into being debt free. Because then, every penny you make is yours.
      3. Save like mad!

      When you have socked away enough money to at least pay your minimum bills each month for a year, then you are safe. You will be amazed how fast money piles up in your savings accounts when you no longer owe any money.

      The second thing is: Invest.

      Create an investment account. Money in a savings account today earns roughly 1% interest. But inflation is at 2.1% at the time I’m writing this. This means, you are actually losing money when it is sitting in a savings account. An investment portfolio, carefully managed, could easily be earning more than 8% per year.

      You could actually create a livable income on returns by investing your writing income as the principle. That’s good to have should something happen to your ability to write.

      • Thanks, William. I’ve been saving like mad since I was five years old. The investment part is weaker. I’m slowly moving toward couch potato investment, with a few equities that I pick out for fun, although I also like the idea of investing locally (“locavesting”) and ethically, possibly with a bit of real estate.

        Any tips appreciated, on or off list. I do have two financial advisors, at least one of whom I’m going to sit down and talk to about all this. Money is much more interesting if I’ve got an end goal besides “work until you die.”

    • Melissa, every person’s situation and comfort level is different. Both you and your spouse need to be on the same page as far as acceptance of risk level goes. I’ve always been the one willing to jump into things with both feet. It took being diagnosed with stage 3 cancer twenty years ago for my husband to be willing to take a few chances in his life.

      Some risks have panned out for us. Some haven’t. All in all, I don’t regret a chance we took.

      If you want guarantees in this crazy business, I can’t give them to you. No one can. I will say entepreneurship isn’t for everyone, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with writing/publishing part-time.

      • I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s cancer, Suzan, but it sounds like he’s done well.
        Over here, my husband is on board. I’m the one who’s chicken.
        I agree that there are no guarantees, which is too bad. I really want one! 😉

    • I didn’t retire. I changed jobs. Why on earth would I wait until I’ve saved a million dollars to change jobs? I still have 20+ years ahead of me before retirement.

      I could see how things were progressing at my job for quite a long lead-up so I knew I’d be leaving sooner rather than later. I planned. Paid off both of our cars and, when I quit, I had the equivalent of 6 months of what I needed to meet basic expenses socked away. I would’ve preferred to have more, sure, but that’s just how that one went. Oh — and this was a biggie for me — I didn’t consider quitting until I was regularly making enough off back list activity to meet my monthly basic expenses. Not front list money, although that’s very nice, you bet, but if a book tanked, I knew I’d be all right financially. I still cover the basics with back list earnings. Front list is for paying down our mortgage, home improvements, vacations, adding to our emergency cushion, things of that nature.

      I’ve had a bad year and a good year since I quit. Naturally, I prefer good years, LOL, but even the bad year wasn’t so terrible because I was raking in enough off back list to meet our basic expenses. That bad year just meant we didn’t take an expensive vacation, pay off the mortgage faster, or do any home improvements. We didn’t starve by any stretch.

      If it all goes belly up tomorrow, you won’t see me crying. Oh well, I had a good run. I have enough socked away to keep us going long enough for me to find another job. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve changed careers and I doubt it’d be my last.

      Quitting a day job to write full-time is a risk, but what in life isn’t?

    • I’m going to agree with Kari here: going full time as a writer isn’t retiring, it’s changing careers. So I don’t think the “$1 mill. to retire” equation applies. Everyone has their comfort zone, though, so it is a matter of addressing what you really NEED vs. what makes you feel SAFE.

      My genres (M/M and poly romance) are fairly small but seeing robust growth of market share. I have three books out, more on the way, most of them for now with an indie publisher and one self-published. I have EVERY intention of going full time within five years.

      But you asked for specifics, so here is what I have to “bank on” to do that:
      1. Pay off my horrible student loan debt ($60k)
      2. Pay off some personal loans (left over from hard times – $2k)
      3. Have one year’s current salary in the bank ($35k)
      4. And preferably be making at least that much out of the gate.

      So to go full time, I need about $100k to have passed through my hands, and $35k writing-related income. I would like to make a very significant move as well, which would be another $10k at least, but that’s more “I want” than “I need.”

      Can I make approx. $150k in the next few years? Yeah, I think so. I’m sure not clearing much now but I let my career lie fallow while I finished my master’s degree, so I’m just now really at the point of diving back into it seriously. I’m not going have a social life or do much traveling for a couple of years, but in the end, it will be worth it. Honestly I have no doubts that what I’m about to do can be done.

      • Cooper, I’d have to go back and check, but I think I had 8 releases on the market plus 2 promo freebies before I quit the day job. It’s a long road, but definitely do-able, even in a niche like m/m.

        One thing that nobody’s mentioned that I think is VERY relevant to the discussion is cost of living. Where I live, median income is lower than what I’ve earned so far this year (with half the year still remaining), forget what dh earned. The cost of living is EXTREMELY low here. If we lived in/near LA or NYC, or even an honest to God city LOL, hell no I wouldn’t have been able to write full-time. If you transported our house just an hour an a half east, we would’ve paid 3 times what we did for it, easily. And that’s just housing.

        What you earn is important, true, but where you live and how much it costs to live there is equally important. I don’t need to be a rock star. I’m not forking over rock star cost of living expenses. If you live in an area with high cost of living, when it would be financially wise to go full-time will naturally differ than it was for me and perhaps for a few others reporting in.

        • Yes. Our cost of living isn’t astronomical, but in our neck of the woods, for example, heat really costs. Congrats on your back list and front list, Kari.

          Cooper, I know it’s changing careers. I just feel better with lots of cash to front that career change. Good for you for setting goals and aiming for $150K, and good luck with your romances.

          • Well again, it’s all about the comfort zone, and no one can tell you what works for you. Personally, I’ve never ever had the luxury of a career/job change with anything more than one month’s rent in the bank (and often, less), so planning out even as much as I have could be construed as grossly optimistic and unrealistic. *jazz hands*

            But having been through those experiences, I’d *rather* have some kind of financial bedrock to build up from. 🙂 Given the nature of the economy, I’m busting my behind to do this before I become one of the above stories of “my job left me” because, yikes, as much as I don’t think that will happen, you just never know. Quite frankly it says a lot about things when I feel the wildly unpredictable world of book publishing will be MORE job security than anything else right now.

            • Tell me about it. Dh works for the federal government. My emergency cushion sure came in handy during the shutdown, but seriously, with writing, your income can be all over the map. I’ve had skinny months where any job requiring a name tag and a visor would’ve bested me (thank you, Noble, you fugly POS epub, may you rot 4-evah! — but I’m not bitter, LOL)…and months I’ve earned five figures. *shrug* You have to learn to roll with it and when times are fat, sock that fargin money away because, guaranteed, it won’t last.

              A cautionary tale for other hybrid authors, actually. Noble’s demise hurt. Not gonna lie, but it didn’t hit me as hard as it could have because I’d diversified. I didn’t lose all my income, just part of it. As volatile as the market is, you need to plan for publishers to fail. You really do. Your best bet is to diversify in epub land by working with 2-3 epubs and working indie besides. I mean, look at me. I quit my day job, believed I was just peachy, and kaBOOM, one of my publishers asploded a few months later. I went from steady, reliable income on the 2 (out of 8) affected back list titles to all manner of WTFery. Twas not in The Plan, to say the least. ;-p

              Not that indie land isn’t without peril. For instance, I personally don’t believe Amazon’s 70% will last forever. Hope that percentage stays right where it is, of course, but my financial plan takes a potential cut into consideration. I sure don’t want to be left holding the bag if/when that happens, wondering how I’m going to pay my bills. No thanks.

    • Retire?! This is work, and you’ll hear over and over that once a self-publisher goes full-time we work harder than we ever did before. The income is not steady and I’ve heard a good rule of thumb from people who freelance is one year’s salary in savings. This day/month/year sales are so you can eat next year. This is especially true for trad-published authors who get paid once or twice a year but I would say it’s also true for self-pubbed. I carefully keep track of what I earned this week and this month so I know what my income will be in two months’ time. Budgeting becomes very important.

      I feel comfortable with a few months in the bank but I always thought that if money was a problem my husband and I could go get temporary work to tide us over. As the years go by, though, the thought of working for someone else again makes me break out in a rash, so my nest egg is getting bigger. Maybe one day I’ll hit that year goal.

      • Yes, I didn’t mean to offend anyone by the retirement comment, and I apologize if it bothered you, Megan. I work extremely hard on my writing, and I’m sure everyone else does, too. Good luck building your nest egg. Rash=bad!

    • When you run your own business, or are a freelancer, rule of thumb is to have 6-12 months of expenses in the bank as back-up.

      Once you have that, you can weather downswings in sales revenue. If you start to trend permanently downward, that savings is a cushion and buys you time to find a job again.

      There’s no reason to need full retirement money in the bank before going full-time indie.

  258. In 2009 I had a novel I was shopping around, so I polished it and self-published to Kindle…nothing much happened, not at $.99 or $2.99. There were few sales, few reviews, I did everything everyone else did to market the book. Nothing much happened.

    When Select came along – I gave away thousands of e-books…but nothing much happened after the e-book went back to paid, not at $.99 or $2.99, $3.99 or $4.99.

    The next book didn’t do as well as the first. The one after that didn’t do as well as the second.

    I’ve paid for editors, I’ve paid for covers and advertising. Price pulsed, freebies, BookBub, Pixel of Ink, blog tours. Been active on Kindle boards, NOOK boards, Goodreads — I’ve done everything your ‘supposed’ to do. Still sold fewer than a thousand books…but I’ve given away tens of thousands of copies.

    The magic didn’t happen. The books are good, the writing solid, the plots fresh, the genre’s are the ‘right ones’ – nothing has made a difference. (Shrug)

  259. I have to smile when I read about investments and savings and retirement funds and all that, because I have never had any of those. When I was in my twenties in the mid-1970s I took off on the road with a couple hundred dollars in my pocket and hitchhiked around Europe and then across the Middle East to India because I wanted to live life so I could write about it. I did it again later flat broke. I ended up staying abroad in India, Bangladesh, Italy, and Greece for thirty-five years and only just recently returned to the States with some of my five sons.

    My novels, memoirs and story collections are selling slowly at the moment, but if I could even make bare subsistence month by month survival money off them, I would do it full time in a heartbeat. As it is, I have to supplement the income by writing Internet articles for other people’s blogs.

    Honestly, since I’ve returned to the States and hear all this talk about retirement and financial security and so on, it sounds like a foreign language to me. You should have seen the way people’s lives were crashing around them in the financial debacle when I left Greece. It makes you thankful for anything that comes your way. As for me, I have no cushion, no savings, no retirement fund, and live totally month by month. At least if I were writing my own work full time I would wake up every morning with deep joy.

    Soon, I hope.

    • Someday, maybe I’ll be a risk-taker like you, John. I realize that money=security is an illusion, as you saw in Greece.
      Good luck achieving your dream and deep joy.

  260. Think you’re too old to self-pub? Think again! I self-pubbed my first novel this year at age 72. Why is that important? Because I was still practicing law because I couldn’t pay the bills without it. Now, six months later, I’ll be able to quit Dec 31 thanks to self-pub. I’m writing novel 4 of the series right now and having more fun than I’ve ever had in my life, even when I was making mid-six-figures and could buy any piece of junk my heart desired. Thank God for Amazon and Kindle, they are finally freeing me from a party where I stayed too long. I’ve been burnt out from law for ten years and finally get to walk away. This opportunity came just in time for one old guy.

  261. I love this post so much. Lots of great stuff here. I quit my job Friday, but only because I found a better job. I published my first book in October of last year and a short story in April. As of today, I make just over 200 bucks a month from writing, but that number gets a little larger every month and I’ll be publishing two more books this year.

    200 bucks may not seem like much, but it’s more money than I ever expected to make and every two months I could afford a Playstation if I didn’t have adult expenses:) It’s certainly more money than I made in the decade I spent querying publishers and I can’t imagine anyone turning down passive income. If I had a stock you only had to invest an initial 100 bucks (and ya know, months of writing time, but I was going to do that anyway) that paid that kind of monthly return, everyone would buy it.

    My first cover was a homemade job and readers hated it. I found a professional for $100 bucks per cover and I’m married to a professional editor, which helps out big time. I also have a great critique group. My small business is in the green and sales have definitely improved with the new cover. Every penny made now is profit. If it grows enough, I’ll invest it in promotion.

    But all the years I spent submitting manuscripts, I never expected to make a pile of money. I know lots of writers and most of them have day jobs. I make enough in my day job that the better financial decision would be simply to spend my writing time working. For me, it’s not about money, though I’m not sending Amazon’s checks back.

    I’ve received emails from people in England and Australia who felt compelled to write me and tell me they loved my book, and that’s the profit for me. Every positive review I get is payday. All these years I’ve longed for readers and now I have them. I’m going to write more books for them as I’m totally hooked now.

    Should I ever make enough money to write full time, that would be amazing. I’d also like to win the lottery. But if I don’t ever make more than enough money for video games, I consider myself lucky and satisfied to have readers. That’s all I really wanted.

    On the other hand, in less than a year I’ve learned a whole lot about what works and what doesn’t and I’m getting smarter. So I’ll publish more books and work to sell even more of them, not for money, but for readers. Nothing beats having your story enjoyed by a stranger. I’ve had months of $7,000 in earnings from my day job (that’s a lot of Playstations!), but nice as those paydays were, they don’t hold a candle to a happy reader.

  262. When I was unemployed (laid off, twice) I thought, somewhat naively, that it would be fairly easy to be unemployed, living off savings, and writing the Great American Novel, and in between times, taking long walks, and having intelligent conversation with other creative types at the local coffee shop.

    However, I learned that it wouldn’t be that easy. The mindset of being unemployed makes it somewhat difficult to feel good about having every hour of every day at your discretion. At least the second time around, I was more prepared and did finish the novel, and self-pubbed it, and was fairly pleased with myself.

    Although, to be honest, I did think there would be a little more fanfare when my book came out – my first book! I’m not talking a parade, but, the book didn’t take off and zoom off the charts. Yes, I got very favorable reviews, so very many stars and terrific feedback, which was my favorite part, truly, that readers liked it.

    Okay, yes, I wanted that ticker tape parade, with me riding in a baby blue Cadillac convertible (thank you Lucille Ball!), and everyone cheering and waving because the Girl Who Didn’t Know What Sentence Fragments Were, has now used them judiciously and with aplomb! But that never happened. So instead of writing the Next Novel, I slipped into a haze of confused thoughts and lack of focus: Was that it?

    Indeed it was.

    I’m still struggling with that; it has less to do with story ideas (those are easy, right?) but with the flame, which once burned hot within but which has drifted down to sad, grey coals. The letdown was immense, the lack of joy palpable.

    So, after far too many months, I struck myself out of my own rut, and started reading Joe’s Blog, and found The Passive Guy’s Blog, and other blogs, and the flicker seems to be building.

    That indie publishing is a growing and strong thing, with such advisers at the helm who have shown me how they cut through the crap of the Old Ways of Old Men, who are hanging on to the outdated modes of the publishing industry with their darkly veined hands – this makes me quite proud and gives me energy.

    I now have a five year plan (to be lavishly supporting myself by writing books), and I have books to write. I have learned that I will be going to the coffee shop with myself, and that’s okay. (I did meet up with a fellow writer who is in the same spot that I am, and my pleasure at discovering a kindred soul is very fine indeed.)

    And what helps is hearing of other people’s stories, such as in this post, and struggles, to know that I’m not alone, to know that there are others out there who have picked topics and genres and who are telling stories that are not The Flavor of the Month, and in fact have never been the flavor and never will be. But they are stories that need to be told, just the same.

    So that gives me hope. I write about orphans, Dickensian orphans, and their struggles and hardship, and at the end, there are golden and rose colored sunsets, or grey sunrises flecked with silver, so that my characters can walk into them, and feel proud for having survived. Who reads that? Nobody, that I’m aware of, at least not generally. There are no mysteries to be solved in my stories, no steam punk, no Real Person From History that comes into Chapter Five to give the story a sense of verisimilitude. I just have orphans, grimy and underfed, the underdog of a society determined to keep the little guy down, as if he were to blame for his own sufferings. That is my story, and that is what I’m writing about. A friend of mine once told me, “Do your own work; only you know what that is.”

    There might not be parades, but there will be orphans.

    • Christina, bless you and your orphans! Your comment made me cry. If you write your stories so emotionally too, they will find their readers.

    • Christina, I’ve kept your comment in my inbox. I’ve read it several times. We have a lot in common. I too went through a stage of hardcore doubt, but mine happened before I decided to stop querying and go indie. I’m not going to say how many queries I sent off into the void. How much time I wasted.

      I’m just glad I kept writing through it.

      It wasn’t obvious then, but it’s so obvious now. My books don’t fit the rules of the traditional world. Romance must have a happily-ever-after. No cliffhangers. No first person present tense unless it’s YA. Light fantasy won’t sell–you need vampires/werewolves/faeries/etc. if you’re calling the book fantasy. No agent wants me. My stories can’t be packaged. Can’t be easily sold.

      Sometimes it feels like I’m writing a genre no one wants to read. But gosh, you’re so right. These are our stories, and we have to tell them. Forcing them into a mold just to sell copies would be false. A betrayal. And I won’t do it. I *can’t* do it.

      It’s what being indie is all about. Freedom.

      I think we’ll find an audience. I think it will just take us longer. A lifetime, maybe. But that’s okay. 🙂

      Because the day a reviewer called my first book a “wonderfully different fantasy romance”, well, that’s what matters. Because it *is*. Wonderfully different. Like all indies. And I’m proud to be a part of it.

      • Oh my gosh yes! The doubt, lingering and dark….because the book doesn’t fit someone else’s mold. The mold should break. There should be no mold!

        Thank you so much – you really have perked up my spirits with your encouragement. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one with no “mold.” (Molds are moldy!)

        • Christina, don’t worry. I was exactly the same: with the first book you kind of think that once people CAN buy it, they just will once it’s available and then it’s a bit dismaying when it doesn’t happen like that. Get a few reviews – by which I mean research a few blogs to find ones that are relevant and then send a personal email to each one – and whether good or bad, reviews give the potential reader some measure of whether or not it would appeal. I’m about to start it for my second novel. Sigh…

          Also, my OH was a bookseller and for fantasy series he used to find that usually around book 4 or 5 it would really take off a bit. Me, I have a few to go before that point so for the moment I’m writing whenever I can and getting stuff out there. I have limited time, and publicising only 2 novels isn’t as sensible as writing more and then publicising five, for me. Everyone has different experiences though, and pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to has a barren bit after the first one, so don’t worry… Get your reviews, and write the next one!

          • Yes, ma’am! I did to a virtual book tour, and got some mighty fine reviews while on it. I’m committed to finishing my second book, and with doing marketing at the same time – the writing comes first, however, because it’s all about the writing.

            Thank you very much for your words of encouragement!

  263. I got my first traditionally published book deal in 1993; my last one came in 2009. In between book contracts, I did freelance copywriting for ad agencies. My wife worked as a graphic designer to provide predictable income.

    In 2010, at Christmastime of course, she was laid off. That was also when we started indie publishing on Amazon. We made $400 that first December. Things grew from there. We published all the novels I’d written that the traditional publishing houses had turned down.

    Now, we have 25 titles up, lots of good reader reviews and in 2013 cracked the six-figure per year mark. We surpassed that in the first five months of this year and are on pace to double last year’s total.

    My wife designs our covers, formats the manuscripts and does the interior layouts. I write the blurbs.

    And, as always, I continue to write more novels.

  264. I won’t be giving up the day job anytime soon. Not unless I give up eating and sleeping indoors.

    Still, I’ll keep writing until that day comes. And when it does, I’ll write even more.

    Work hard. Expect less. Don’t give up.
    Your day will come.

  265. Sorry if this is disruptive but I tried to count how many there are … I came to about 30.

    Anyone know how many posting here have actually given up their days jobs due to self publishing ?

    • By my count (as of Jun 27, 12:21 p.m.), 139 commenters have quit their day job, make as much or more from their writing as from a day job they enjoy, or have set a date less than a year away to quit the day job due to writing income.

      As well, 37 commenters have reported making enough from writing to pay bills or provide part-time/supplementary income.

      Not too shabby when “conventional wisdom” (yes, those are sarcastic quotes) says only 100 people make a living as fiction writers.

      • Great work Val. Thanks for that. The long discussion is interesting, but the actual number is really illuminating.

  266. Today is officially the last day of my evil day job, and it’s all because of self-publishing. I’ve waited years to be able to take the plunge with the last 16 months seriously planning for it.

    At this point in my career, I’m not widely known, never hit NYT/USA Today, but I make a good STEADY income self-publishing (some months I’ve even hit 5-figs), and this does not include royalties I get from my publishers (some are extremely pitiful… some not bad). My agent still shops to NY on some projects because I like having my hand in multiple cookie jars, but she knows the score. I like having the freedom (and $$$) self-publishing gives me.

    I’m excited, nervous, a little scared, but so totally ready to take this step (can’t say I’m excited to now be a full-time writer because I’ve been one for years…Now I’ll just be working one full-time job instead of two while living solely on my writing income).

  267. I was laid off in June of 2011 and published my first book in July 2011. It took the full eighteen months of my unemployment before I could say that I was actually making money enough not to go back to work and that is thanks to self publishing. If not for that I’d still be in the corporate world, anxiety ridden and sick. Self publishing saved my life.

  268. I’m a hybrid author and freelance copyeditor. I published my first indie original in a whole new genre (steampunk, and my MFA thesis from the Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University) in May 2011, and by September 2011, it was obvious that editing corporate collateral wouldn’t bring in nearly the income that self-publishing would. So I left Silicon Valley gladly and haven’t looked back.

  269. I just learned about this website. I quit my day job as an insurance customer service rep (the person you yell at when you’re unhappy with your agent)in August 2013 because of my success as an Indie author. Please God don’t make me ever go back to the corporate world.

    Sylvia McDaniel

  270. I didn’t quit my day job, because writing’s been my day job since 1999, when I sold my first book. But thanks to self-publishing, my husband was able to quit his very stressful job to do a startup with our son (it’s in beta at BookTrakr.com, free for now if anyone’s interested). He is earning nothing at the moment—I am supporting our family.

    I began self-pubbing my backlist in January 2012, and this year I will earn at least as much money as my husband did with a C-level job (CIO) at a major financial firm. If you had told me in 2011 that I could earn this much with the same books that Penguin paid me piddly for, I’d have laughed my head off.

    Long live indie publishing!!!

  271. I found all these comments very encouraging, thank you! I am considering self publishing and this definitely helps the decision process…

  272. In August of 2012, I self published two very different novels. One was a young adult novel based on Greek mythology (the first of a series), and the other was a mystery/suspense for adults. I didn’t sell many books that first year, but I kept writing. and released two more books in the YA series.

    In June of 2013, I attended a conference called UtopYa Con, and my life and career changed. I learned so many tips from successful indie authors! I came home from the con and applied everything I’d learned. In less than a year, I began to earn in royalties what I was making as an adjunct professor.

    This year, I reduced my teaching hours to part time so I can focus more on writing. I expect to retire from teaching altogether in three to five years.

    As someone else posted above, I am working long hours as a writer and self-promoter, but I am loving every minute of it!

  273. I quit the day job in September. In the nine months since then, between my book published with Skyscape (an Amazon Publishing imprint) and the novella that I self-published, I have tripled the salary that I made teaching college online.

  274. I have been following this thread since it appeared, and have wanted to chime in but have held off until now. But I want to share with someone who understands my excitement! I also want to thank everyone for sharing their stories, because they have encouraged me to keep working and working on my goal of publishing more books.

    After finding out I was pregnant in November, I vowed to start working harder at publishing my writing and getting it out there, even if it was just to my blog. I finally published my first novel in early May. I didn’t expect more than a few sales from friends and family after I posted about it on facebook and twitter. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to have a sale or two every few days, and for the last four days I’ve sold at least one book! I know it’s a tiny amount, but I finally hit the $100 mark for US sales the other day, and I’m incredibly proud and excited. This is way more fun than when I was trying to sell my knitting or jewelry on Etsy.

    Anyway, as far as quitting my day job, I’m not going back to my job as a preschool teacher after the baby comes, for reasons unrelated to publishing my book. I’m already reluctantly looking forward to 6 weeks of unpaid maternity leave (we’re panicking a little, since my husband’s newish business isn’t going as well as we’d hoped, and he’s barely paying his office rent), but now I know that I can realistically make an effort to make extra money with my writing. I feel empowered by my sales, and by your stories here. Seeing that other people have had success with it is reinforcing my determination to keep trying. So, while I still plan on looking for a new job after maternity leave, I’ve also got a bit of the daydreamer in me hoping that I can make it work between writing and some independent tutoring I’ll be doing in the fall. And maybe I’ll even make us some money to get us through that unpaid leave time…

    Thanks again everyone for posting your self-publishing stories! I hope to eventually have a great success story out of it like many of you do 🙂

  275. I self published my first book 12 months ago and my second 2 months ago. I am already able to earn a living from my writing thanks to readers who took a chance on an unknown author, and I will be forever grateful to them 🙂

    I’m uncertain what the future will hold for me, but I know if I continue to write and release professional, quality works then I’ve given myself the best chance to continue to make a living doing what I love!

    • Mitchell I posted my first book 12 months ago and do not earn a living yet writing. Would you tell me if/how you marketed your two books? any tips would be appreciated. Your ranking is excellent.

      I noticed you have fantastic pro covers and the novels are thick as a Texas steak (500+ pages wow)

      • Hi Joanie, I’ve been very lucky as my first book sold well right out of the gate. Some mystical combination of cover, title, blurb, sample, price, all came together. I wanted to produce a book indistinguishable from a traditionally published novel and I think I came close. I paid for a professional cover and editing, but didn’t expect many sales until I’d released a few more books. I think the accepted anecdotal evidence is you need at least a few books out before you gain some momentum, and in this I am an outlier.

        Promotion wise I have not had to do much. I have been asked to do a few author interviews, and I had a Bookbub promo at $2.99 with mediocre results.

        Here’s a great post from Russell Blake on his approach. http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,150526.0.html

        • You really nailed the cover (image and text.) And while I usually don’t read that genre, the blurb struck just the right mix of action and a story to tell that I went and got a sample of it. Good job!

          • Hi Mitchell

            Thanks for your response. Its seems like a perfect storm good for you they both look completely pro Big 5 novel covers. I am going to pick up your first book because from what I hear you say your success must be (besides the cover etc) that its a fine story.

            I’m trying to do the same as you. I am in a completely different genre (pure high fantasy). I’ve had trouble locating a good copy editor though. The few I have tried have do little and expect to be paid much. By little I mean they missed several grammar errors that my type A personality friend at work caught on her first skimming read through!

            • Ditto. Great looking covers (I’m a longtime fantasy reader) and fabulous titles. And I’m so stealing the way you display the links to the various book-buying sites: eight links in about two inches of space.

            • P.S. I should point out I meant to say I’m NOT in a completely different genre ie its still fantasy. But I meant pure as in lord of the rings type of stories with elves and trolls. You get the picture. Btw the link you gave for Russell Blake is priceless. Thank you kindly!

              • Thanks everyone! I’m shocked at what’s happened with sales so far, but I’ll ride the wave and see where I end up. As so many others have said, it’s a great time to be a writer!

                And Bill, go ahead, I stole the links idea from someone else…

        • Hey, Mitchell. I remember you releasing your first book last year and being amazed at how it took off so fast. Since our books are often close together in the Dark Fantasy rankings of Amazon (though you had me beat by miles on overall Kindle store rankings) it was easy to see what a big splash you made.

          When you first popped up I couldn’t figure out how you were doing it. You even priced your book the same as a trad publisher. I must agree your covers are very professional and nothing else stands out as “indie”. The average reader would have a tough time distinguishing your first or second book from traditional unless they knew what to look for. Great job!

          • Hi Susan, looks like you’re also doing very well, good work! You’ve even got great author rankings!

            I still think there’s some unknown quantity at work, but if you present your books in the most professional way possible you give yourself the best chance to stand out.

            I have to admit pricing was a tough call, but as I didn’t expect many sales I thought why not go with a higher price? I could always change it later. It turned out to be a great decision, and I think it got some readers to look at it who wouldn’t normally.

            • Thanks. I do think the more professional your books appear the more likely readers are to give them a chance. My cover designer is top notch (and expensive), but I owe a lot to her for helping my books take off.

              Now that I have more money to work with I also use a professional photographer, do casting calls for my models, and even select and purchase their wardrobes/props. I get my fans involved in the process too by gathering a small group of them (from three different countries) to help me with the cover planning. They love it and it ensures my covers are as appealing as possible to readers in my genre.

              One of the great things about being indie is that we can be innovative. I’ve got so many ideas, but it’s a matter of finding the time to do them and still write!

  276. I’m probably a weird example. After leaving the military I went back to school to study history for two years. When that was over, I started looking for a job but with the economy in bad shape nothing was turning up. If not for my VA disability checks and my husband’s income it would have been really bad.

    I’d already started writing before finishing school so I kept doing it while continuing to look for a job. The first few books I wrote weren’t worth publishing. They were just for me. But then I finished a novel (the first in a series) that I truly believed in. It was the story that had been dying to come out, but took a little while for me to give it a chance. I tried querying the novel, but the agents were pretty much all saying urban fantasy was a dying genre. I knew that wasn’t true, but few would even look at my book.

    Six months went by and I made the call to self-publish it. After working with editors to polish it and using even more money I didn’t have to get the best cover possible (eating and buying basic necessities is highly overrated), I let my novel loose on the world.

    As some have mentioned, it didn’t take off overnight. I had enough indie author friends to know better than to expect that. So I just kept marketing it in whatever affordable ways I could, targeting the audience I knew would be the most interested. A few months later sales started to rise. Less than six months after publishing it had sold over 2k copies, which was huge to me.

    I’ve kept putting out more books since then(full-length and shorts). For 2013 I earned $25k from publishing. Before publishing expenses, of course. This year I’m set to earn a six-digit income. It goes to show all those lit agents were wrong. My genre wasn’t dying. It’s alive and well. I’m so glad I took a chance and self-published. Success doesn’t come overnight and I still wouldn’t call myself a bestseller, but with perseverance you really can make a living at writing.

    Oh, and I stopped looking for a job quite a while ago 🙂

  277. At the risk of repeating myself (OK, sticklers, so I am repeating myself): I absolutely love this discussion. Very inspiring, Mitchell and Susan—a hearty congrats to you both on your success.

    • I agree, Michael. This thread is very inspiring. I’ve been following it since the beginning, but held back on telling my own story. So glad to finally join in!

  278. I will be leaving my day job in December. I could leave now if I wished, but I’ve committed to a large project that wraps at the end of November and am very fond of the company and the people I work for.

    That being said, I’m leaving because of economics. I have two self published books that bring in mid four-figure royalty amounts every month. While it doesn’t make me wealthy, it’s more than I make from the day job. From a cost analysis standpoint, I’m actually losing money by devoting those hours to the day job when I could be writing. Not only that, but I much rather spend the time doing something I love instead of something I just like.

    • Grace I love your covers! How beautiful! I’m also going to pick up your two books! Can I ask you too what you did to market your books?

      • Thank you, Joanie! The covers were designed by an extraordinarily talented artist by the name of Louisa Gallie. I’ve worked with her for several years now and first discovered her on Deviant Art.

        As for marketing: to be honest, I suck at it. I think I can write a solid blurb/summary and put a lot of time and care into commissioning the artwork. Beyond that, my marketing is mostly non-existent. That’s not a good thing, and there are authors out there I really need to pay attention to who have the marketing aspect nailed.

        The exposure my two titles received was completely serendipitous–a combination of recommendation from two high-profile authors (Ilona Andrews and Elizabeth Hunter) and good timing on the release of the second title.

        • Deviant Art is how I found my cover designer. It’s a great place to find an artist that fits the style you want for your books. I agree with Joanie that your covers are beautiful. Congratulations on your publishing success, Grace!

  279. My pen name is Emma Jameson. I quit my day job April 1, 2012 and have been a full time writer ever since. I sell across all platforms, but my sales for the Kindle are best.

  280. Inspiring, all this, very. I’m not abandoning my first career soon, mainly because I enjoy it. Even if my books take off, I’ll still probably be a journalist for hire.

    Question: Do any of you write primarily humorous fiction? Or can anyone point me to indie authors who do, especially genre-hybrids like YA/humor, Crime/humor, etc. Judging from the top-100 on Amazon, the humor category is dominated by non-fiction works by comics and a few tradpub big names (Carl Hiassen).

  281. I quit my job in 2011 to go full time indie and have been doing it as my job ever since, primarily thanks to Amazon who make up around 75% of my mid-six-figures a year income. I have loved every minute of being a full time author and feel I’m still just starting out and there is so much more for me to experience and explore in my career. I feel blessed that I have been able to turn my passion into my career, especially since I have been indie since 2006, back when ebooks were always going to be the next big thing and never took off. I persevered and it is paying off, so keep chasing your dreams. Stick with them and eventually it will happen for you too.

  282. I had already quit my job in 2004 to freelance, but from Fall 2008 on, I’ve made a living mostly by self-publishing books on Amazon. I started by publishing my own editions of public-domain classics via CreateSpace. In 2010, I put my novel (The Dirty Parts of the Bible) up on Kindle, and it has been my biggest seller for the past 4 years. Very grateful to Amazon and KDP Select!

  283. I quit a few years ago. I was an attorney for a large company in NY. I make easily three times what I did as an Assistant Vice President on Wall Street. Quitting was the best thing I ever did for many reasons, although it was really scary at first. I started in 2006 with a small press “epub” contract. I wrote a lot of books for that small press publisher, which still comprise about half my yearly income.

    In 2009, I got a 5-book deal from a traditional publisher. I thought I had it made. Then my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Not working a “day job” allowed me to drop everything and be with her during her final days. There is no price I can put on that. My trad pub books tanked and I was soon dropped by that pub, but 2010 was the first year I earned 6-figures from writing and it’s been nothing but up since then.

    I started self-pubbing in about 2012 and have 10 self-pub books out now, that comprise roughly half my total income. I have plans to publish many more, while this market stays the way it is. I have no idea what will happen tomorrow, but I’m making hay while the sun shines!

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