I've been a lot of things as an adult: A police officer, an English professor, a proposal writer, a floral delivery driver, and the manager of a sandwich shop, but the thing I always dreamed of being was a writer.
I made that dream a reality in 2006, and by 2010, I was a full-time Author Entrepreneur. When I made the switch, I abandoned the safety of a 10-year college English professorship for the great unknown of working for myself.
Not surprisingly, most of my family and friends thought I'd lost my mind. I hadn't. By the time I left teaching, the entire system had changed into something I barely recognized. The economy had forced colleges to become profit and loss machines not institutions of higher learning. Class sizes had ballooned, course offerings had diminished, and standards had all but evaporated. Instead of teaching, I was managing, and that's not at all what I'd signed up to do.
I couldn't change the system, but I could refuse to be a part of it, so I quit.
I left campus with a small box of personal items, my love of learning and teaching, and the determination to make it as a writer while helping others do the same.
I thought it would be easy, but I was wrong!
Things were touch-and-go for two years. In 2010, I was a writer without a plan. I had written my fair share of short stories, but I really had no idea how to move from writing and selling short fiction into operating a full-blown writing business.
Keep in mind that back in 2010, the way to “make it” as a writer was to land an agent who would work on one's behalf to land a book deal with a major publishing house. In those days, I thought being a writer meant writing fiction. Nonfiction hadn't even crossed my mind. I wrote horror, suspense, and mystery, and in each case, the road to an agent started with a portfolio of magazine publications.
Enter my first rule of business: Submit one short story each week to an open market. This meant I actually had to have lots of short stories to submit, but it turned out I had only a handful of really good ones.
Enter my other first rule of business: Write a lot more really good stories. Wait. How? You see, I'd never had whole days at my disposal to be a “writer,” and suddenly, when I did, the writing got harder. The ideas started to seem trite or far too ambitious. For days at a time, I felt like everything I wrote needed to be fed to my shredder. (And honestly, it pretty much did.)
It was much harder to earn a living as a writer in 2010, and the only thing that saved me from total failure was my approach. I became a student of the writing business, and I wrote thousands of words each day.
By devoting half of my day to writing, and the other half to learning the craft and business of writing, I was able to make steady progress. Before long, at least one of the stories I submitted each month sold. Eventually, editors began soliciting submissions for themed anthologies, and local writing groups invited me to come and speak to their members.
By 2012, I was on top of the world, and I was “making” it as a writer. Then, the big publishing shift really took hold. Traditional publishers were no longer every writer's ticket to fame and fortune, publishing houses were closing, and print book sales were losing the battle to eBook sales, so nearly everything about my well-crafted plan began to crumble. I knew little about self-publishing or marketing myself as a writer, but the agent-to-book-deal days were no longer as promising, and I knew I had to rethink my plan.
Fortunately, I had firmly established my ability to write short fiction, and nearly 500 sales into my career, I could count on that income.
My next step was to learn more about self-publishing and Web Site design, so I could continue to grow as an author. This had a fringe benefit I hadn't anticipated: Other authors needed help with those things, too, and they paid me to do the work for them.
Before the end of 2012, I had added Web Site design services and my own publishing company
(Flying Donkey Press) to my business.
Things were good – better, in fact, than I'd imagined. However, I suspected there was a lot more to running a writing business than writing and selling stories, self-publishing, putting up Blog posts, participating in writing groups, and appearing at writers' events.
I stumbled on a group of people known as Internet Marketers, and it immediately clicked: As a whole, writers who were self-publishing knew little about how to build a powerful, money-making online business, and that missing skill was preventing many of them from profiting from their writing and publishing efforts.
The Earn1KaDay Insiders' Club opened amazing doors for me, and it led to the second crazy thing in my life: Pitching a book idea to Dennis Becker, a man I'd never met.
What Happens in Vegas . . . Changes Everything! is book that I created in 2012. Each year since, I've attended the event, participated, and returned home to edit a new edition of the the Seminar Book.
After attending the 2012 event, I finally had the missing online business piece I needed to put together a well-rounded plan that included everything I'd worked for years to learn about how to Write, Publish & Profit.
These days, I get up each morning excited about going to work. I write every day, and I'm able to earn my living with my words.
I also have the very good fortune to work from my home which is nestled in a wildlife preserve near Northern California’s El Dorado National Forest. This is the view from my office window. 🙂