Wednesday 9 July 2014

I quit the day job

It's a fact of our profession that, throughout history, most writers have been obliged to take on secondary employment in order to pay the bills and put food on the table. I'm no different. Although I have been a published author since October 2012, income from my books isn't anywhere near high enough to support me alone — although it's a welcome supplementary income, of course — and I have worked part time at the Carphone Warehouse as a customer consultant to earn the money I need to live.

It hasn't worked out too badly for the most part, and if anything I enjoy having a day job. It provides structure and new ideas, and of course the financial flexibility to write when I have the time.

However, for the last year I've become increasingly aware that the system isn't working as well as it used to. The nature of my role has changed, becoming increasingly competitive and salesy in a cut-throat industry, and it got to the stage where I felt it was no longer the right job for me.

The easy option would have been to find another "safe" job unrelated to my writing career. However, I've been nurturing an idea for a while now and last week while walking in the Alps I decided that the time had come to act on it.

Whenever I go to the Alps, good things happen in my life:

  1. In 2007, I conceived the idea for my first novel.
  2. In 2008, I made the decision to move to Scotland shortly after getting back from the Alps, largely thanks to a chance conversation with someone James and I met out there (and who is now a friend).
  3. In 2010, I put the finishing touches to my first novel, and not long after returning I made the decision that I wanted to move away from Scotland to be with my new girlfriend Hannah (now my long term partner).

So you see, the Alps are good for me, and this time is no different!

What's next?

For years now I have been doing manuscript critiques, beta reading, document appraisals, and even line editing on an informal basis — never taking payment for it, and usually as a favour to someone. I am also a dedicated reviewer of mountain literature, and am frequently contacted by publishers and authors to review new books before they go on sale. From self editing my own books I have learned how to be rigorous and focused in knocking a manuscript into shape. I've also been writing (both fiction and non-fiction) for many years now and have learned a fair bit about the mechanics of stories and the market itself. I have contacts high and low in the industry and plenty of allies to help me.

I think I have a great deal to offer new writers who are starting out and need some guidance.

After seeking advice from others in the same field, my intention is to find work as a freelance editor, proofreader, and literary consultant. I will offer a range of services from lightweight manuscript appraisals through to full, in-depth line edits. I'll also be offering my abilities as an ebook formatter and paperback layout designer. I already have the basic skills and a reasonable amount of informal experience; what I need now is to hone those skills and do some paid work for clients.

This is a bold step, but it's the right thing to do on so many different levels. If I'm going to do it then now is the right time.

I will be able to reveal more details about my exciting new direction in time, but for now, if you are an author with a manuscript that needs attention, or anyone else looking for editorial or copywriting work, please get in touch and we'll talk!

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