If you have ever thought of leaving your job and becoming a writer, think twice. Unless your name is John Grisham, or j k rowling, or James Patterson, you'd better keep your day job.
My book, If You Don't Like Worms, Keep Your Mouth Shut, was published through Diversion Press, a traditional small press publisher. I was ecstatic when I learned they wanted to publish my book. The length of time from contract (April 2009) to publication (March 2011) was two years. Since the company issues royalty checks once a year, I received my first royalty check from them last week. I eagerly opened the envelope, pulled out the check, and nearly cried when I saw the sum of $6.78! This check covers ten books for total sales of $67.73, of which I received ten percent, or $6.78. I get 67 cents a book. If that doesn't shock a starry-eyed writer into reality, nothing will.
What's the answer? Outside of working 24/7 on marketing your book in an effort to garner more sales, another option is to self publish. I self published Bumps Along the Way through www.lulu.com. It cost me nothing as I did the formatting, editing, cover design, etc. all myself. Because I didn't know what I was doing and had to learn as I went, it took me two months to get the book completed. Compare that with two years with a publisher. I can buy the book from Lulu for about $8 and if I sell it for $15, I've just made a $7 profit (as opposed to 67 cents).
Hmmm. It seems that self-publishing is faster and pays better. But here's one more reason to keep your day job. I had a book signing lined up with Borders in December of 2010. I purchased forty copies of Bumps Along the Way in advance and brought them to the book signing. My friends, neighbors, and writing group were wonderful as they all came and supported me and bought books. I ended up selling 25 books and 5 calendars that are in conjunction with the book. The books had to be purchased at the counter and then I was to get my commission check a short time later. My check for $350.80 never came. In February, Borders filed bankruptcy and I had to file a Proof of Claim in hopes of getting some of my money back. If I get anything, the most I can expect to receive is $35 and it may be way less than that.
Writing is a wonderful hobby right now and that may be all it ever is for me. But I won't quit. There's always the hope that some day, some book, will make it big. And since I'm retired, I don't have a day job to worry about keeping!
Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete.
you're alive, it isn't. Richard Bach