Last July, I started selling a lot of books. Last December, I started making a lot of money. Not just enough money from the self-publishing that I could afford to quit my day job, but enough that it was costing me money to keep going to work every day.

Still, I kept going to work. There were lots of good reasons (not the least of them fear), but the biggest was this: After three years of working on one major project for the Federal Aviation Administration, I was almost done.

The documentation team for the long-range radar branch of the FAA is a pretty modest group. We had a brand-new manager and two editors with no formal documentation training, plus me. And we were just wrapping up a major overhaul of the vast majority of our radars.

So I sat down at the end of December, decided I could afford to quit tomorrow, and decided to stay on until the end of February, mainly so I could finish up that documentation project and leave the team in a survivable situation.

At 3:45 last Friday afternoon, I finished the project I’d been working on for three years. I sent an email to a handful of my coworkers with some contact info in case they wanted to stay in touch (or buy my future novels), then I dropped off my badge and parking decal and left forever.

(Father in Heaven, I hope it was forever.)

Anyway, Monday morning saw me self-employed. I’ll actually be working as a full-time employee (CEO and head publisher) for my non-profit, The Consortium, Inc., but that doesn’t start until April. In the meantime, I’m nothing but a writer.

I’ve had an awful lot of people asking me how it feels to be free. Some things worth taking into account before I answer that question:

  • It’s only been a week.
  • During that week, I’ve gotten hit with a couple huge unexpected expenses, and watched sales on all my books decline frighteningly.
  • I’ve had a cold. Monday someone asked, “How’s your first day being self-employed?” and I answered, “I should’ve called in sick.”
  • I’m frantically trying to catch up on an overloaded school schedule that I’d been severely neglecting for the last six weeks while I finished up at work.

And even with all of that, I’m loving it. Even with all of that, this week has been among the most productive in my entire adult life, and every bit of it has been worthwhile work that matters to me personally.

  • I published Camouflage (Ghost Targets, #4) this week.
  • I coordinated on cover art for a couple other books I hope to get published in March.
  • I dusted off an old short story that I hope to get rewritten and published in the next few weeks.
  • I read back through The Dragonprince’s Heir (The Dragonprince Trilogy, #3) and wrote several thousand new words on that one, for the first time since last fall.
  • I wrote several thousand words on Faith (Ghost Targets, #5).

That doesn’t cover any of the business-y stuff I took care of, and best of all, I did almost all of it during business hours. Sure, I spent my evenings laying around being worthless because of the cold, but I also watched TV with Trish and read a couple good books and tried out some lame videogames.

It’s been a really great week. And this is just the beginning. Trish started shopping for office space this week. I can only imagine what I’ll be able to get up to once I’ve got a dedicated space and a reasonable routine.

Everything is wonderful. Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.

7 Replies to “Self-Employed”

  1. I have been wondering how this week has gone. 🙂 This is so exciting!! I am over the moon happy for you and your family and the Consortium!!

    1. Thanks, Julie!

      One of my goals now that I’m full-time is to post at least one writing-life update here every week, for all the friends who want to know what’s going on. I’m planning to do the same thing at, too, with more of a Presidential focus there.

      Things have been so busy the last six weeks that I’ve let a lot of people fall out of touch. I’m looking forward to correcting that.

  2. Greetings Aaron,

    Well, not to rush the “newly unemployed” international bestselling author, but…after my son introduced me to your first two Dragonprince novels, my Kindle has been running on borrowed power just to keep the pages flipping. I’m not sure that I can wait until June for the third book to be released. Can I persuade you with a nearly unlimited amount of really fine coffee or Monster drinks to accelerate the schedule? If not, I guess that I will just have to be patient…(not my strong suit by the way). Congrats on the new found freedom and please keep them coming. You have a couple of devoted fans that are inhaling anchovies, just to keep the “baited” breath active and annoying for all the people I have to confront on a daily basis.

    Take care (and write faster)!

    1. Thanks, Chris! I don’t think there’s any way we could get Dragonprince #3 released before June, for quite a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with my writing speed.

      But I am hoping to release a handful of Dragonswarm short stories between now and then. Maybe that can tide you over? There’s always the sci-fi mystery series, too. 🙂

      Thanks so much for the comment, though. I’ve spent so much time on your end of that experience, that it rocks my world to be on the writer’s side. I hope I can keep living up to it.

  3. There is no courage without fear.
    This is just the first week. You knew sales would fall after December because they always do about this time of year. Oh, they’ll bounce due to tax returns, but for the most part, they’ve calmed down till deep summer (if your book is light enough for some summer reading). But you know all of this. That’s why you have another story coming out in the near future 😉

    Congratulations on being fearful and courageous!

  4. I have to admit, I’ve been kind of cyber-stalking you as of late. A friend of mine recommended Taming Fire, and I blew through it pretty quickly. I’m not usually a Young Adult reader (I’m no longer a young adult), but I really enjoyed it. After I read it, I looked you up.

    I’ve found the saga of your self-employed adventure enlightening, entertaining, and inspiring. I just published my first book (yadda, yadda, yadda), and my goal is to become self-employed as well. I’ve found loads of posts on your blogs that are full of valuable advice, and you’ve introduced me to a few other writers whose blogs are good as well.

    I wanted to thank you for sharing so much information that people so rarely share. Charting your progress from struggle to success is helpful to other people (like me) who are trying to do the same. Giving data, like sales numbers charted by month, gives a clearer picture to people who are nacent in this journey what this process is about. And the advice to newly self published writers is (of course) always welcome.

    Out of everything I’ve read so far, I have to say that the best advice is to keep writing. I’m pushing myself to do just that–and I think EVERY writer should do the same. I follow Neil Gaiman on Twitter (along with about a bajillion other people) and I see that advice all the time. “Keep writing.” So I think I’ll end this note on that. Keep writing. Because people are reading, and people are inspired by it. Good writers inspire the people around them, and that’s exactly what you’re doing.

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