I earn a good living as an insurance broker . . . been at it for over 35 years.
Should I quit my job to write full time?
That's a heady question. If I quit, I am walking away from financial security in a job I have come to hate. My clients are the only good thing about this business. Insurance companies could not care less about the people they insure. It's all about profits. My unhappiness is because I care about people, so I often find myself angry at one company or another about how my clients are being treated. It's gotten so bad that I don't want to start my day every morning. Being a responsible adult, I grumble and "go to work" with knots in my stomach.
When It came time to seek a publisher, I made a bold choice. I would build my own publishing company and produce the book.
Contracts had to be negotiated with Barnes & Noble and a national wholesale distributor. Neither accepted "self-published" books at that time, so I registered the American Writers Publishing Company with Bowker, bought ISBN numbers, contracted with a publisher and purchased cover art. In addition, I bought necessary software . . . CoverPro, CorelDraw and InDesign. I had over $3000 into the company before I held a single book in my hands.
I pulled the trigger! Using all those programs I had acquired, I "made" a real book--not an eBook or plastic binder book, but a for-real paperback book with full-color covers, perfect binding and some kind of special UV coating that the printer snookered me into buying. He said it would prevent the cover colors from fading. I spent $4,000 for 1000 500-page books that were priced at $12.99. Now what?
Lesson # 42: books don't sell themselves.
Yep, I opened a cool website about the book and watched for three days for the orders to start rolling in. They didn't. Ooops. Another failure.
At that time, I had spent over thirty years marketing insurance, so I did what I do best. I started advertising. Bought some internet ads, put fliers in store windows and even put an ad in the local high school yearbook. I checked the computer twenty times a day to count all the sales coming in through my PayPal account. NADA!
That's when I figured out that selling books was going to be a hard job. I bought "How-to" books on paperback marketing and followed the advice. Some things worked a little, some things did not. Then, I discovered the magic formula. Ironically, the solutions - there were two of them - came from 1) one of the earliest things I learned in the insurance business, and 2) from a friend who owned an indie book store. Between Centers of Influence marketing and creative book signings, I managed to sell most of that first edition over a six-month period. Even made a small profit over all my start up expenses and after donating some to Books for Soldiers, an organization that ships books to soldiers in combat zones.
Now, for the big question. Should I quit my reliable, but unhappy, day-job to invest all my time in marketing and writing. If I do, I will go from a comfortable income to zero. Yes, I can live on savings and investments for a couple years, but the starving artist gig can't last forever.
I plan to make that big decision by the end of the year. What would you do?