(image ganked from here)
People who love reading and writing are notoriously (stereotypically) poor at math.
It’s a reciprocal thing! You love reading? Probably numbers are not your favorite thing. (I can certainly sympathize: numbers aren’t my favorite thing. I certainly do not sit around all day adding columns of them up for fun.)
But it turns out that figuring out one of the main factors in whether you should quit your day job after getting a book deal is a numbers-oriented calculation.
Don’t worry! The numbers involved aren’t difficult to deal with. There’s no calculus or statistics or probability math. It’s just a matter of adding and subtracting.
How much money is your book advance?
How much money do your living expenses take every year? That’s housing plus food plus heat and water and electricity and internet plus clothes plus medical plus travel plus entertainment plus any other miscellaneous thing you pay for.
How long will your book take to complete?
If your living expenses are $20,000 per year and you get a book advance of $50,000 on a book you expect will take you a year and a half to complete, you’re probably okay to quit your day job!
But! If your living expenses are $20,000 per year and you get a book advance of $10,000 on a book you expect will take you three years to complete, this may not be the time to quit your day job.
Of course, in addition to just the money, there are lots of human factors. Do you love your job? Did you work really hard to get it and don’t want to abandon that? Is it a job that it will be more difficult to come back to after a year or more of a hiatus? Do you psychologically/organizationally need the structure of a daily working environment to be able to organize your creative life? Do you need to be regularly around other people? Do you have opportunities for freelance work that you’d want to pursue, but have turned down in the past because your day job has gotten in the way, but that a graphic novel project will give you more time for? Will quitting your job give you the time to go to conventions, sell minis, and original art? Are you significantly reducing your expenses based on some outside factor (a move, a major diet or medical change, etc.)?
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to quit your day job when you get a book deal is a personal one — and it’s different for every person. But the math part of the decision is an important factor to consider, even if you’re more of a reading and writing person than a numbers person!