How to Quit Your Day Job to Become an Author

quit your jobMany of the aspiring nonfiction authors I meet want to write full time. They want their books, and activities related to those books, to earn enough money so they can quit their day jobs. Some want to create new businesses around their books or based upon their books and for these to become new careers.

Yet, the majority of these writers don’t know how to start building those businesses other than to begin writing. And, while putting words on paper is good start, that’s not always the best way to begin.

I was reminded of this as I watched GoDaddy’s 2014 Super Bowl commercial on Sunday evening. I found inspiring the company’s focus on a website providing a tool for someone to start a new career .

If you didn’t see the GoDaddy Super Bowl commercial that aired during February 2, 2014, you can watch it below. It featured Gwen Dean, 36, of Yonkers, NY, as she quit her job to pursue her dream of being a puppet master.  (Gwen’s boss was at home watching the game and first heard she was quitting when he saw the commercial.)

What does Gwen’s puppet company have to do with writing nonfiction books that help you create a career? A lot. Here are five points I took away from her actions that can be applied to nonfiction authors who want to build businesses and careers around their writing.

1. You Need a Business Mindset

To create a career as a writer or an author, you need a business mindset. Gwen didn’t stay stuck in employee mindset. She developed a business-owner mindset. From there, everything else surely fell into place. She must have begun taking all sorts of action steps to move her toward her goal.

You can’t just have a writer’s mindset. You have to have a business person’s mindset to succeed in the business of publishing. With that mindset, you can start moving toward your goals as well.

2. You Need a Vision

I bet Gwen also had a vision, a pretty good idea about what she wanted her business to look like. I know she had a dream. As an aspiring author, you need a vision as well.

What do you see yourself doing three or five years from now? What will your company look like, if you plan on creating one? Do you see yourself achieving success, and what does that look like? Clarity of vision makes it easier to achieve that vision every time.

3. You Need the Right Tools

I have to assume Gwen didn’t just twiddle her thumbs when she got the idea for her puppetry company. She went out and got the tools she needed.  She figured out, literally, how to bring it to life. That not only meant all the things she needed to make the puppets and the presidium, but also the tools to sell the puppets and attract clients on line and off. To accomplish the latter, Gwen registered a domain name and got a website up and running. In that way, she turned her dream into a real business. With a website, she could begin taking orders and booking engagements.

If you don’t know where to get the tools you need to write and publish your book and to create a business around your book, seek help. Today, resources can be found in so many places. There are hundreds of groups for writers on Facebook and LinkedIn, for instance, filled with helpful and knowledgeable people ready to offer answer to your questions and to point you to the resources you need. You also can find great information from bloggers, who tend to be experts on the subjects about which they write. Those who comment on their posts often have many resources to offer as well. Of course, you can also call on the services of a coach or consultant.

And don’t forget that conferences and conventions provide some of the best places to gather the information you need to get your book and your business off the ground. For example, by attending the San Francisco Writer’s Conference (February 13-17, 2014) you can gain most of the information you need to write, publish, and promote your book—and start your business (including a website). You also can attend online marketing or blogging conferences.

4. You Need a Plan

I don’t know if Gwen had a business plan. You need one, though, and it should the steps it would require to get to a specific income level where, like her, you can feel comfortably saying, “I quit”—even if you don’t do it on national television.

Before you spend time and creative energy writing a book, create a business plan for that book—and for yourself—so you know what steps you need to take to reach your goal. The best template for this is based on a nonfiction book proposal (no matter how you plan to publish).

The process of creating a business plan helps you evaluate your book’s marketability. With this information, you can angle your book so it has the largest target market and the highest likelihood of success in its category. You business plan also can include goals for such things as income per year, book sales, products and services to create, and additional books you want to write and publish.

Even if you don’t think you will ever open a business and you just want to write a nonfiction book, keep in mind that you do go into business when your book is released—the business of selling books. As an independent publisher, you start a publishing company. If you traditionally publish, you enter into a partnership with a venture capital partner—your publisher. In both cases, a business plan is necessary, and it should include a separate plan detailing how you will sell your books.

(For more information on how to create a business plan for your book, check out my new book or register for my upcoming three-hour workshop, Prepping Your Idea And Yourself For Success: 9 Steps for Developing a Winning Business Plan for Your Book, at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference on February 13, 2014. You don’t have to attend the conference to register.)

5. You Need a Book That Showcases Your Expertise

I have to admit that Gwen inspired me. Her story is the classic American Dream. Beyond the fact that she followed her heart and created a business about which she feels passionate, she’s also becoming an authority on puppetry. Want to know why I think so? Watch this video:

That’s an expert speaking. And Gwen could continue enhancing her expert status.

If Gwen came to see me for a consult, I’d tell her she’s missing one big piece to her business: a book. A book would increase her expert status. Here are just a few books she might write.

  • How To Make Unique Puppets Kids Love
  • How To Create An Puppet Shows That Engage Audiences Every Time
  • XX Steps For Creating A Business You Love So You Can Quit Your Job

Gwen could also blog a book. She’s got a blog on her website, but it’s only got one post. Even blogging consistently without the intent of blogging a book would increase her authority.

If you have a dream business you’d love to start, follow Gwen’s example. Have the chutzpah to move toward your goal. Create your business, and write a book to support it. Or do it in the opposite order: Write your book, and create a business to support it. If you want to gain the tools to do so, register for the San Francisco Writer’s Conference, February 13-17, 2014. It’s the place to be for business-minded aspiring and published authors.

Image credit: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

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