Making It Work: The Financial Life of a Neo-Pro Author
Author Myke Cole (Shadow Ops: Control Point, an urban fantasy book about military special ops in a post-return-of-magic Earth) recently blogged about how he stretches his finances and makes things work on the income of a first-time author. His post was very instructive, and you should read it here.
The points that stand out to me:
- He’s living a very spartan life. Not just “no cable” spartan (Dear Wife and I live without cable, for example) but “no TV” spartan. Run-down appartment spartan. No car spartan.
- He’s single
- He lives in a dangerous urban area in a run-down appartment, which he makes work by being a physically imposing individual (seriously, check out the author photo on his bio page: he’s significantly more ripped than your average doughy author (yours truly included – I’m fairly thin but I’m all bone and squishy bits, and you’d be forgiven for laughing if I tried to “flex my muscles” for I have none to speak of)), meaning nobody messes with him
- He makes healthcare work by being a military Reservist
I think about the finances thing a lot. The thing is: I have a pretty decent job. It’s not a truly creative endeavor, but I enjoy many aspects of what I do and I get paid reasonably well to do it. I have a comfortable home, and my family is safe. I don’t have to put my life in danger to live or to work. I’m not the maximally happiest I could possibly be, doing what I do for a living, but I am sufficiently happy with the work that I do to say that I enjoy my life and my work.
Here’s the thing: I want to be a published author. I want it deeply and truly down in my bones and to the very core of my being. Creating and sharing stories is part of who I am, and I can’t ever not do it.
But as important as those things are to me, there is one thing I can never, ever, ever, ever compromise: the health and safety and comfort of my family.
It’s very interesting to see how a fantasy/sci-fi author makes it work. It’s good to know it is possible. But the life Myke Cole is living would be intollerable to me. It wouldn’t have been intollerable to me, say, ten years ago when I was single and didn’t have a family and responsibilities. But I have a wife and a son both of whom I love more than life and more than myself. I want to be a published author, and it is the dream that drives me. But if being a published author would require the kind of sacrifices of my family that Cole has made in his life, I would sooner sacrifice my dream – sooner sacrifice my very self – than ask that of them.
Someday, I hope to find a way to make becoming a published author work – to make it compatible with things like “a regular income” and “full-coverage healthcare” and “college savings for my kid” and “a comfortable home in a good school district” and other things like that. When I do, watch out! For now… I write when I can, but I have to focus on those other, important things first.