The Self-Employed Writer

For some reason the term "self-employed" seems to have a sort of mystical power.  I'm not even kidding.  I speak from experience.  People ask me what I do for a living and I tell them I am a violin teacher.  The follow up question is usually where I work and I tell them I'm self-employed.  That's when I get one of two looks:

Look Option 1:  The cynical look.  I am clearly full of it and probably make no money because I am a self-employed music teacher.  If I was any good at what I do I would be working for a school.

Look Option 2:  The enamored look.  I am a wild and crazy musician living the dream life of freedom.  No rules or conventions could hold ME back.

In reality I am somewhere in between those two.  I do make a living off of my self-employed teaching state.  I choose not to work in schools because that is a totally different type of teaching that is really not my cup of tea.

I can set my own schedule but being self-employed actually takes quite a bit of work.  I have to spend quite a bit of time at the computer responding to emails.  I get no healthcare benefits or paid vacations.  Plus I have to keep track of every business expense if I want to have any hope of tax rebates.

What this is all leading to is the fact that self-published ebook writers are self-employed individuals.  Even if you only make a few cents a year from it, the same rules still apply.  Establishing a self-employed business takes time.  It's not a get rich quick scheme.  At best you can reasonably hope for steady income that allows you to support yourself.

 But reaching this point will take years.  Any startup business takes 2-5 years to establish.  It also takes consistant effort on the part of the owner (that would be you).  So if you write one ebook and then don't do anything to promote your business for 6 months, don't expect sales to be the same.

If you are writing as a hobby, that's fine.  But you still need to approach it in a professional manner regardless of how much money you make.  Acting like a professional, even if it's just online, is crucial.  It's ok to appear "like a human."  But at the core you still must be a professional.  If you want people to treat your work seriously, you must take your craft seriously.


  1. Kevis HendricksonApril 19, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    No disagreements here. I've been at this self-publishing game for four years now and it's been tough. But what makes it so tough isn't the time you have to put in. But rather, as Indiana Jones says, "it's the mileage."

  2. Heh. So true.

    But now that you're at the 4 year mark, are you noticing any consistency to your business?

    1. Kevis HendricksonApril 21, 2012 at 7:20 AM

      I'll be honest. I haven't reached most of the goals I set for myself. But I figure if it's not working, then I must be doing something wrong. The proof is in the pudding, right?

      I've definitely changed tactics over the past couple of months. No more 24/7 self promotion. It was cutting into my writing time. I've decided to take a time out from publishing to focus entirely on the craft of writing again. No sense beating my head against the wall wondering why my books don't sell when it's probably an issue of me needing to improve my content. Way I see it, if I'm not putting out stuff that's on the same level as the big boys and girls, why bother?

      With that said, I've learned a lot over the past four years and the crux of it all is if you're not cooking a great steak, people won't visit your restaurant. My goal now is to cook the best steak in town. :)

    2. I too have been cutting back in the self-promotion arena. I burned myself out, truth be told. The constant feeling of having to post something new of Facebook or Twitter got old.

      It's actually kind of nice. I'm wasting far less time so I can focus my energy on things I actually enjoy. Like blogging and trying to write new genres.

    3. Kevis HendricksonApril 21, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      I'm burned out as well. What makes it worse is I don't enjoy promotion at all. If I had the funds, I'd just pay for adverts and be done with it.

      I find that promoting makes me not enjoy being an author. All I want to do is write stories and share them with readers. All of that constant drum beating really took its toll. Social networking practically drained me of all my creativity too.

      Truth be told, the best thing I've done for my career is to take a cue from Ol' Nessie and submerge for a while. No Kindleboards, Twitter, Facebook, or any of that stuff. Now, it's just me, my word processor, and a dog eared copy of Elements of Style. Should be real interesting to see if this strategy works for me in the long run. ;)

    4. We'll know if you've gone too far when your next story includes grammar tips between fight scenes.

    5. Kevis HendricksonApril 22, 2012 at 7:37 PM

      Ha,ha. Who knows? Might be the start of a new trend! :P


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