Sometimes several things happen at once, making you see things in a different light and reconsider where you are. This happened to me in the past week.
I started reading How to Make a Living with Your Writing: Books, Blogging and More by Joanna Penn, while at the same time hearing that my current day job will quite likely end on 1st January 2019.
I have been an indie author since 2007, but so far I never really envisioned that I could truly support myself with my writing. Of course I have dreams of becoming a millionaire once my cosy mystery series comes out, but I know that this is unlikely to happen.
Yet I have always taken my journey as an indie very serious. I see it as a business. I’m registered at the Chamber of Commerce, have a business bank account, pay taxes over my income from book sales and invest money. Even so I assumed that I would always be reliant on a day job for income as well.
I love my day job, so that’s not really an issue, but now that it is likely that I will lose it, things have changed.
While reading Joanna Penn’s book, I started wondering if I could manage making a full-time living with my writing. What if I could? Wouldn’t that be great?
According to Joanna a few things are needed to make it happen.
- I need to think as an entrepreneur. This I already do, so no worries.
- I need a scalable income. This is an income where you have once spend the time creating something, which then keeps selling. Like an ebook. Joanna calls it ‘intellectual property assets’. The more of these assets you have (read: the more books you have for sale), the more you earn, with a chance that one day will be enough to support you. I have written five books, three of which are still for sale. Furthermore I am creating new books, so I am already growing my intellectual property assets.
- I need multiple streams of income. Not just income from book sales, but also from my blogs. This is a little trickier, as Joanna is not just talking about a blog, but also of things that evolve from that. Speaking opportunities, sale of courses, freelance writing etc. What knowledge do I have that is interesting and inspiring enough for people to pay money for?
- I need to think globally, digital and mobile. Meaning writing in English and taking advantage of everything that the digital age has to offer. I do write in English, but I could do more to embrace new things.
- I need to find out what my definition of success is. At the moment I must say that this is that I want as many people as possible reading and enjoying my books, particularly the new series that is still in the making. Not just for the money, but also to entertain people and bring a bit of humour and diversion in this otherwise rather bleak world we live in. I know I can do that by writing so-called genre fiction. Mysteries in my case. I don’t need to win literary prices or receive critical acclaim from people who decide what is good and what is not. I just want to entertain people and make some money while I’m at it.
Much of the above I am already doing, though perhaps not as fervent as I should. But then again, I never really thought about living of my writing full-time, so there was no point in being fervent.
But now I think I can do it! Why wouldn’t I? I have nine years of experience as an indie, why not build on that? Create more assets, think digitally and look at other streams of income than just selling books. It’s possible!
It’s not something that will happen overnight, I am well aware of that. It will take a lot of hard work and perseverance. It very likely will not happen before I lose my day job in two-and-a-half years’ time, but if I start today I will be further along in the process, have more experience and therefore more chance of making it work.
Finding other streams of income is the biggest challenge of what I need to do, but I have some ideas. The English indie world is full of blogs and websites about how to self-publish, but the Dutch world is not. It’s as if the Dutch writers are stuck in medieval times.
For the last year I have started to put myself forward as an expert about self-publishing via my Dutch language blog where I give tips & tricks and answer the odd question. I also hang around on a Dutch writers’ forum, where I answer questions about self-publishing.
It’s not easy to convince the Dutchies to publish ebooks as well as paperbacks. They are suspicious and sceptical about ebooks, but I am sure that even they will have to relent to the ongoing digital age someday.
And that day they need an expert who has been blogging about self-publishing for ages and that will be me!
Joanna Penn does podcasts. I like listening to her and learn a lot. It’s also a way to keep up to date with the industry. Perhaps I should start doing podcasts about self-publishing on my Dutch blog? Build up my expertise and show future Dutch indie wannabees that I am the person to turn to. Then they will ask me to speak at a book club or conference, which is the ultimate goal, as I can ask money for that.
Am I dreaming when I say all this? No, I don’t think so. If I keep writing books, fiction and non-fiction (the Dutch indie wannabees need books about self-publishing…), and keep profiling myself as a Dutch indie expert, I might very well be able to generate enough income to live on.
In any case, I’m doing this. I’m not trying it. I am doing it! I live by Yoda’s words ‘There is no try, only do’. I am very excited that as a nearly 47 year-old, I am doing something new. Something that might change my life.
My journey might be an interesting one, you can bet I’m going to blog about it!
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