Wow! We’ve received SO many wonderful Question of the Week suggestions lately! Keep them coming, guys!
Caitlin asked us: “I’d like to know what each of you would be if not an author (like if writing wasn’t your day job, what would your day job be?)”
Thanks for the QotW, Caitlin!
Well, actually, writing isn’t my day job. At least not yet. My career track has been pretty varied, but I’ve always tried to get involved in work that has been somewhat related to writing and/or publishing. I was a reporter for a while (one of my college professors told me: “It worked for Hemingway”). Now my day job is at a public library—which, unfortunately, does not mean I get to sit around reading all the time. But I do get to handle dozens, if not hundreds, of books a day (which never gets old), and the job provides a rich education on the human condition—to put it mildly. I’m sure anyone who works in public service comes home every night with plenty of fodder for a novel.
I’ve actually considered this question several times before: What kind of career do I want after I graduate university? The answers have often left me with a horrible headache. I came up with: bookshop keeper, librarian, an employee at a publishing company, a member of an NGO. But they were all half-hearted considerations. I’ve pretty much gambled my whole future for writing. I’ve planned my life around writing because that is what I do and love best.
If I weren’t a writer I’d probably be where I am now: employed at a medical billing company, working as an Executive Administrative Assistant (I love my job; I get to write policy and fetch coffee!). Recently, I was promoted to HR Manager for the company, so I’ll probably pursue a career in HR until the writing (one day hopefully!) becomes a full-time obligation.
If I weren’t a writer….Oh, boy. What would I DO with my life? If I had math skills, I would have pursued a career in science. No, seriously. From the age of eight (and until I was fifteen), I wanted to be a marine biologist and study great white sharks. To this day, I still have a fascination with sharks (and great whites in particular), and know way too much about them. If not a marine biologist, I might have followed my passion for antiquities and perhaps wound up as an Egyptologist or something.
Or, to imagine my life taking a completely different route, if my parents had forced me to keep up with ballet lessons, I might have become a ballerina. I sort of wish they had, because ballet is a passion of mine, and I wish could dance.
For me, I am an author *AND* I have a day job: I work in real estate acquisitions for a local government agency. The truth is, if you wander through a bookstore, 90% of the authors you see have day jobs, and will always have day jobs. The vast majority of authors can not earn enough income to quit. An average first advance can range from just a few thousand dollars to around $10,000. Deduct from that your agent’s cut (15%), taxes, and book related expenses, and you can’t even pay rent! (Sorry to be the Debbie Downer! Publishing should be your passion, not your idea of easy money.) There are always exceptions, of course, but they ARE exceptions and not the norm.
My biggest goal is actually to become an agent. I know, whole-heartedly, that publishing is the industry that I belong in. If I can become a successful agent and continue to write, I can ditch the day job and focus 100% on my passion.
Well, right now I’m not a writer 😉 I’m a college student. However, I’m not actually planning to be a writer as my profession. I know that while I love books, reading, creating plots and characters, I cannot support myself on my writing full time. I hope to go into the publishing field, particularly for children’s literature, middle grade literature or young adult literature. I want to edit or be a part of sales & marketing or design or maybe even just run around and get the head editors/etc. coffee! I just want to be immersed in helping children and teenagers find their way if they are lost, just like books helped me during that time.
Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!!!