Andy Jones self-published his first eBook in 2012, not long after he was snapped up by publishing house Simon and Schuster. The father of two tells us how he manages a full-time job, family, and flourishing writing career.
Who is Andy Jones?
The title is a little misleading. Sadly not the bit about my lack of superstar status. No, it’s the bit about my typical day. I don’t have one, but I do have a fairly typical week. And, now that I think about it, I realise that this is in fact due to the whole not-a-superstar thing.
I should explain.
My first book, The Two of Us did well. Really well, I’m told. It sold lots of copies and received hundreds of generally very positive reviews. Rights have been sold in fourteen countries. I even made some money. Although not enough to pay off my mortgage, buy a Ferrari and give up the day job.
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“If it sounds like I’m
complaining, I’m not.
I found my way into
publishing via self-publishing.”
Why writers can't give up their day jobs
There’s a lot been written in the last few years about the fact that there has never been a worse time to make money as a writer.
EBooks are cheaper than paperbacks, and the ease and rise of self-publishing have further driven down their prices—why spend £3.99 on a novel by Andy Jones when you can but a Stephen King for 99p?
Retailers, too, have changed the face of publishing. Tesco sell more books than Waterstones and WH Smiths, and they sell them cheap. For a month last year one of the big high street supermarkets priced my novel at £2.00. Guess how much I made from that deal?—Yup, no Ferrari.
If it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not. I found my way into publishing via self-publishing. Low prices introduced me to thousands of readers. I’ve now completed my second novel and I’m hard at work on a third—there’s a chance, if my next few books do well, that I could make a career out of this. A chance.
Meanwhile, I need to make sure I have another source of income. Hence the ‘day job’, hence the typical week rather than a typical day.
“I keep Mondays free so that
I can pretend I’m a famous author.
That involves taking the kids to school,
doing some laundry or whatever
other chores Mrs Jones allocates”
Within 3 months of landing a book deal, I was made redundant from my job as creative director at an adverting agency. It felt like the Universe was giving me a nudge, so I made the decision to go freelance, giving me the opportunity to carve out some additional writing time.
The weekly routine
I keep Mondays free, so that I can pretend I’m a famous author. That involves taking the kids to school, doing some laundry or whatever other chores Mrs Jones allocates and then writing until 6.30 in the evening. I feel privileged to be able to do this, but that comes with a huge pressure to be productive. Poor me, right?
Tuesday–Friday I do the day job. And on Tuesdays and Thursdays I do a two-hour writing stint before work. This involves sleeping in the loft bedroom so I don’t wake the family when I get up at 5.50 am.
I have my laptop up there, a kettle, coffee and powdered milk, and I plug away until roughly two minutes past 8.00. I say good morning to my wife and girls, jump in the shower and run down the road to catch the train.
If I need to and if I can, I do some writing on my lunch-break—although I’m not great at producing story pages in an office environment, so this tends to be line editing, planning or research.
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“My wife is my secret weapon;
she encourages me in so many ways…
Sometimes she brings chocolate.”
And then on a Sunday or Saturday I try and fit in half a day while Mrs Jones and the girls do something fun. This week they made scones, so no complaints from me.
It’s a hard and hectic week, but I love it. And seeing my book published was a dream come true. Also, I have a very supportive family who help me find time and make it count. My wife is my secret weapon; she encourages me in so many ways—giving me space and time, telling me off if she sees me procrastinating, reading my manuscripts, critiquing and praising, inspiring and pushing where needed. Sometimes she brings chocolate.
The girls are only five and seven but they get it too; they understand when Daddy is writing and help me pick names for my characters, although I have to exercise my veto—Fluffyface, Mr Smellybum, Quacky—more often than not.
The eldest has decided she too wants to be a writer, and she already gets the basic goal-obstacle-strive line of a classic narrative. I hope she sticks it out and continues to enjoy the process of making stuff up and writing it down – because I think it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do. She is also considering being a dance teacher, hairdresser, actress, teacher and scientist—so who knows what her future holds.
As for me, whatever happens, I’m going to keep on writing.