From the time I was 15 years old, I had a job. Almost all of them were working for someone else. My wife has had a job working for someone else since about the same age. Most of the work I've done has been in construction or transportation, with a few short lived occupations scattered between those as a fisherman, divemaster, and deckhand. From 2002 until one year ago today, I was a long haul trucker, hauling mostly over-sized loads all over the country.
All that changed when I started telling stories and found a way to get them published. One year ago, I'd just returned to the yard in Greenville, SC, where my terminal was located fifteen miles from my home. It was a Wednesday morning, drizzling rain. I'd requested transfer to the local division of the company I worked, two weeks prior. But was sent out on two long hauls during that time and dispatch said I'd have a run to Michigan the next day. I put my foot down.
"No, I'm a local only driver from now on," I told the dispatcher. "No more than 300 miles from home." The local drivers worked harder and made less, but they're home more nights than not.
When I shut the truck down that day a year ago, I was told that I'd be moving out of the new truck I'd just received two months prior, and into one of the older (read that crappier) trucks, since I'd be driving only local runs. Long story short, the GM didn't like me and was flexing his muscle. Rather than move all my gear from one truck to another and have to do it all again in a month when I was planning to quit, I told the guy to tell the GM I'd have my stuff out of the truck in an hour. This pleased the GM, until word got up to the office that I was giving away nearly $2000 worth of personal gear. After loading what I wanted to keep in my pickup, I waved goodbye with a big grin on my face and never looked back.
Here's what happened to precipitate that move. I'd only published my first book just over eight months earlier in October, 2013. I published a second one in December and a third in April. I was two weeks from two big milestones. I knew that my fourth book, a prequel to the first three would be published in just two weeks and my first royalty check that would be greater than my trucking income would be paid the same day. I also knew what June's income would be and sales already in May looked like it would make my July income even more. The largest of my royalties are paid two months after the month of sales.
I put everything in God's hands and let Him decide. It was a leap of pure faith. I knew I could tell a good story and I knew there were people who would want to read them. Only a month before taking this leap, I'd discovered a discussion forum for Indie authors and had soaked up a ton of information, especially about marketing and networking. If you're a writer, you need to visit the Writers' Cafe on KBoards.com
When I got home and told my wife I'd just quit the job that once provided 75% of our income, she wasn't surprised. "You can do this," she told me. I have a great wife.
I worked harder and got that fourth book published on schedule. It took off from the start and June was my first five digit income month. So, I started writing a fifth book and used the hours I once spent driving a 40 ton rig to market my books and connect with more people.
That summer, when the new prequel had enough reviews to submit it for advertising, I earned over $23,000 in the month of August, led by the sales of the new prequel to the series.
My fifth book was published on the one year anniversary of the first book, on 10/8/14. It sold over 2500 copies that month and when the August royalties were paid at the end of October, I went out and bought a new(er) pickup. I chewed the used car salesman down to within my budget and paid cash for the truck. I even sold him a book. I've had the upper hand in every negotiation since that day a year ago.
My sixth book did almost as well, when it was published this past Valentine's Day, selling over 2000 in thirty days and debuting in the Amazon charts in the top 1000. It's never ranked worse than #5000.
Today, one year after quitting my day job and taking that huge leap of faith, my income is three times what it was as a trucker. I pay myself only slightly more than I used to make and am hard at work on the seventh and eighth books. More importantly, I take my daughter to school and pick her up every day. Instead of praying with her at night over the phone from a truck stop 2000 miles away, I kneel by her bed. Instead of the confines of a tiny truck sleeper at night, I sleep in my own bed with my wife.
Do I miss it? I've seen every state in the country, but no, I don't miss it at all. I just wanted to post this for any of you who think a career in writing isn't attainable. It is. You will have to work hard, think outside the box and learn more than you've ever learned in your life. But, trust me, if a worn out old truck driver can do it, you can too.
Now get to writing.