I will say this now: He and I communicate well. We’re very good at stating our needs and desires, separating one from the other, prioritizing, and devising strategies and plans for our path-to-greatness. It’s a blessing, to be sure, to have such strong communication in a relationship.
It also helps that I have the “Choose Your Own Adventure Novel” style of brain that’s constantly firing “what ifs” and he’s a professional project manager.
Our ability to co-strategize came in mighty handy when I brought up the idea of quitting the “security” of the IT industry to forge my own path as a writer.
At the time, my novel was in rough-draft format, and still incomplete.
At the time, I took editing jobs on an ad-hoc basis, and mostly from people within my immediate social circle.
At the time, I’d only published in non-paying or low-paying markets.
At the time, my dream of freelancing was a flight of fancy. Maybe even a completely wild-hair idea. It definitely wasn’t fully baked, to be sure.
But at the core of my desire, I knew one certain fact: Authoring books, writing articles, editing, consulting… all of those facets of the literary world in which I desired to insert myself and my talents… they’re all aspects of a career.
My friend-and-business-compadre Courtney Herz wrote a fantastic op-ed on her blog a while back entitled The Myth of the Bikini-Clad Freelancer. There are a lot of programs out there that assert “Anyone with the ability to write a clean sentence can make millions of dollars writing copy… and that’s before you even get the kids to school!”
Writing freelance is tough. Like any self-run business, you get out what you put in. There’s massive amounts of competition. There are guaranteed bill-payers (editing contracts, large-market articles, marketing/PR consulting)… but you have to actually get those contracts. Your queries need to be accepted. You have to show you know your stuff before people place their faith – and money – in you.
Like any other career – you can’t make it on wishes and dreams. It takes determination, grit and practice.
But unlike most other careers, writing – when you have novels involved – becomes a very unique balancing act.
It’s easy to bury one’s self in the bill-paying jobs. I know a lot of freelance writers and editors who walk the line between taking enough work to pay the bills, and taking so much work that personal projects never get completed.
If you’re writing books and freelancing at the same time, you have to find your sweet spot. You must treat your own projects as part of your job, and give them the time and effort that they require.
Fast-forwarding from my initial brainstorming session with my husband to now, I realize how much I’ve learned in the past year. How much I’ve grown! And how better prepared I am becoming to take the final leap into my own business.
Now, I’m taking larger contracts for editing from outside my immediate social circle, and I’m working with local media corporations to do freelance editing work.
Now, I’m published in several paid markets on a variety of topics, and I’m putting out queries to even larger markets.
Now, my business plan is coming together, my finances are organized and fully understood, my goals are written down, and I’m tracking my progress. I have contract documents for signing clients. I have business logos and letterhead. I’m working on articles of incorporation.
Additionally, I’m diving deep into the nitty-gritty dirt of the publishing world: ISBNs, copyrights, legalities, marketing channels, etc.
My business slogan and mantra is my favorite quote from Richard Bach, “You teach best what you most need to learn.” So I’m blogging my findings, reaching out to others who need some guidance, and helping pave the path for others who are in my social circle. My goal is to push that knowledge out as consulting for people beyond my immediate reach.
In the somewhat-near-future, when I bid adieu to my day job, I’ll be ready. I feel it coming! I look back to when I was going to quit my job, and I’m really kind of thankful now that I got delayed. The amount of research I’ve done and the knowledge I’ve gained in the past six months puts me at a much better vantage point.
I know I’ll make mistakes. I realize the road might be rough from time to time. There are a million-and-ten things left to research and understand, especially in the shifting and changing field that is publishing. That will never stop, and I’m good with committing myself to constantly learning.
However, I have a plan, and my books are at the heart of that plan, not ancillary to it. I’m nearly ready to put it all out there, be exactly what I was meant to be, and have the career I was born for.
I’m an author. And I’m already successful. It’s simply time to show the world what I can do.