Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book Review: Quit Your Day Job!

Quit Your Day Job! How to Sleep Late, Do What You Enjoy, and Make a Ton of Money as a Writer! Jim Denney, Quill Driver Books, 2004. ISBN: 1-884956-04-1 $14.95
Part pep talk, part practical advice, part words of wisdom by a multitude of successful authors, Denney’s book is a good resource for any writer (or other creative person) considering ditching a nine-to-five job and going freelance.

Denney supplies many useful tips, especially when he gets down to specifics, as in his outline of a business plan, showing how to project where you want to be in one month, six months, one year, three years, and five years; or in his careful examination of the pitfalls hidden in standard contracts. He doesn’t neglect the non-business aspects of leaving the work environment, talking about the importance of family support, maintaining business contacts, being productive without outside pressure, dealing with self-doubt.

He sprinkles his text liberally with quotations from and anecdotes about successful authors, showing the universality of some principles as well as the variability among writing styles and habits.

Although he insists that in order to make it as a writer, you must have a powerful desire to write, he recognizes that writing in a vacuum is not enough for most of us. He rejects as “the worst piece of advice” given to would-be writers the dictum of Katahiri Roshi, quoted in Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, that a writer shouldn’t “pay too much attention to” getting published but should “[j]ust continue to write” (p. 5). Denney counters, “Even though much of what you write will never be published, publication should be the goal of everything you write. When you write with the intent to be published, you force yourself to think like an editor, an agent, a reader. . . . There is only one way you will ever be able to write for a living: You must write words that people will pay money to read” (pp. 5-6).

Chapters follow a progression, from “Taking the Leap” to “Soul Survival,” about sustaining your writing career. A glossary of terms commonly used in publishing is an added bonus. The URL Denney supplied for his personal web site has gone inactive, but he responded quickly to a query on Facebook and encouraged readers to find him there. Sections on publicity and promotion could use an updating to reflect the growing importance of electronic media and social networking.

Recommended for anyone considering leaving the security of a paycheck, and also for writers in general, whether otherwise employed or not.


  1. This book really sounds interesting. I don't have a day job anyway...besides being a mom...but I think I would like to read it:)

  2. Hi Deanna, It's well worth reading for a variety of reasons even if the day job isn't an issue for you.