The Career Author Podcast: Episode 141 – What is a Career Author (August 2020)?

Career Author

What is a Career Author (August 2020)?

What does it mean to be a career author? This is not an easy question to answer and one that involves a deeper discussion on how we define this elusive creature. 

Every writer with aspirations of making money from their words has a different definition of success. For some, it’s all about the “x-figure author,” but for others lifestyle matters more than revenue. Also, is financial gain the only way to define a career author? The guys answer with a resounding “no” while exploring alternative ways of measuring your own success in the publishing industry.

The Career Author Podcast is a podcast where co-authors J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon share their struggles and successes as full-time authors, advice for improving your writing craft, and honest discussions of what it takes to build a successful career as an author.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • The ways authors measure financial success
  • Why independence is hard to quantify but might ultimately be more important than revenue
  • How some authors define success by their level of skill, experience, or status
  • Why it’s difficult to arrive at a consensus on what makes a “career author” or “indie writer.”

Also, J. recommends a new podcast about technology and culture.

Send us your ways and hacks – https://thecareerauthor.com/waysandhacks/ 

Leave us a comment: What is your definition of a career author?

Thanks to all of our patrons! 

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21 thoughts on “The Career Author Podcast: Episode 141 – What is a Career Author (August 2020)?

  • Morning guys. Interesting topic.
    To me a career author is straightforward: being committed to being independent based on one’s writing.
    Why did I add the codicil committed?
    Career implies more commitment than ‘job’. A job is a burden one takes on to earn money. A career is more than that; it implies learning and progression and improvement and long term commitment. Imagine if you had called this podcast the Job Author; it suggests one cranks out words to pay bills.
    Your confusion over the retired person is easily solved. Author is defined in some dictionaries as one who has published something, and writer is defined as someone who writes.
    Zach might be interested in this link reference his daughter singing at school. Lovely wifey Denise sings in a Military Wives Choir so they are interested in the science behind CV-19 and singing: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-53853961
    Great show today.

  • Hey guys, hey Chris!

    Great show. A Career Author is someone who is making their writing a career. It doesn’t mean they are supporting themselves yet, at least the way I see things. I consider myself to be one of these career authors. I am not able to support myself with the money, yet. But, I am still putting in the work to get to that point. It is more mindset. As Zach said, if you are putting in the work AND trying to sell it, then you are making it your career. It is more than a hobby. But, making a ton of money or awards is not the reason to get into it. Though I am sure there are people who do. I can only say that I consider myself to be a career author, putting in the work, writing books, sending them out into the ether, and doing my best to sell them. And, I will agree that what Chris said is true as well. This is more than just a grind to make money. It is a process to learn, grown, and advance.

  • Career definition is an occupation done for a significant amount of time. Hobby is something done during leisure time for pleasure. So I think a career author definition is something that you hate that you do for a long period of time for money…just kidding. I think it is writing words that are planning on being sold for a long period of time. The goal is to progress in your skill during this time so that there is a difference between where you were at the beginning of your career and further along in your career.
    For me once I can fund my kids college education I will consider myself a career author. 🙂
    Good landmark discussion guys. catch you next week.

  • Nice take on the different ways this question can be viewed.

    Still, I think the question of what is a career needs a closer look at. That and the question of can you have more than one career at the same time.

    I’ve worked the same bread-and-butter job for over 30 years and still haven’t made it onto a career. Likewise, I’ve been writing with an eye to publishing since 1995 and have yet to reach the point I would define it as a career by either money or freedom.

  • Congrats, J on launching Chapter Check. It’s much needed. I have never worked with a fiction editor who understood how to address chapter 1 in a focused, genre-specific way that hooks readers and delivers on their expectations. This is why I recently went editor shopping.
    Old-school print magazine editors are masters of this general concept. They know their niche market and how to write a lead that draws readers to the hook and the rest of the article (and makes them receptive to the strategically placed ads. haha.)
    So what is a career author? It means paying your dues, as in any career. For example, writing a novel or two that never go anywhere or never sell on Amazon. First manuscripts are often best left as an apprenticeship exercise. Authorship goes beyond fiction too. That might mean having a day job and writing copy that is not “your dream” for free to build skills and contacts. Once you have done this, there is always a way to make money with words if a writer is willing to write anything–from marketing copy, to company policy, web content, to obituaries. Didn’t Stephen King write greeting cards? But all of these things count as writing practice and will help make you a better fiction writer who understands how to fulfill expectations of a specific readership. So don’t pass up the opportunity to write that church or community newsletter. And don’t forget to mention you’re a fiction author in your bio and provide the link to your book. You never know where it could lead.

  • I don’t consider myself a career author because right now my books drive people to my business. I’m a career health coach, though 😎

    I also have fiction in the works, so if that takes off I might have a double career once it’s making enough to be a significant part of my income.

  • You talk about differences from a hobby and career, especially in light of the pandemic. For me, I keep in mind that Career Author is really a subset of Entrepreneur. When the pandemic hit, as you say, hobbyists start dropping the writing hobby. Career authors (entrepreneurs) dig in and figure out what to do with their career to make money. Go back and listen to Joanna Penn’s podcasts and even some of your podcasts (that is if you can find another one that J is on.)
    And I’m not saying that it was the slimy approach of “let’s see how we can profit from the pandemic.” I heard podcasts of Career Authors writing new novellas or a course or figuring out ads and running sales, etc. Since my book was MG, I put up a page that had activities centered on reading and writing that parents could use for the kids that were suddenly at home. I wasn’t selling anything, but did get a couple book sales and signups to my list.

  • Such a timely topic! Because of the pandemic, I was furloughed for three months and had plenty of time to think about things like this. I decided I don’t want to be a full-time ‘authorpreneur’. I love my job (or, at least, what it was pre-pandemic), and I don’t want to leave it. But, if I write and publish, I’d consider myself a career author.

    My idea of a career author is someone who puts in the work to learn the craft, write books, and then publish them. I’m with Zach that the publish part is important. If you’re not publishing your work (eventually), then writing is a hobby.

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