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Let's say you get your 20-60 titles out there. You're promoting well and have built up a nice email list so when you have a new release, you get a nice sales bump. Now it's time to retire. You're done writing. Can you sit back and let them generate royalties, or do you have to be priming the pump somehow or the royalties will drop so low that retirement income is drastically affected?
 

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Lord, i wish that were true. I need a career change.

I'd think you'd need to do some kind of promotion/buyer interaction and keep on writing though.
 

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IMHO, this is probably the wrong way to look at it. It would make me extremely nervous to let the well dry up without any sort of backup. My personal dream/goal is to try to earn enough to write full time as well as to sock money away for my golden years. Though for me, I find it very hard to imagine retiring from writing, as long as I'm able to still do it. But in theory, I think it's probably better to wait until you have enough saved up to live on for the rest of your days or close to. Then any money from ongoing royalties would just be cake  ;D

To answer your question more directly though, it probably greatly depends on the popularity of your books and how the numbers/ranks maintain without promoting/marketing the few years before retirement. If your earnings start to dip, you'll have your answer. Sadly, there are no guarantees for authors. Even if one author can live 20 or 30 years (or more) without writing/promoting, it doesn't mean we all can. This business is a crapshoot, which is why it's best to prepare yourself as much as possible and give yourself a safety net.
 

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If you're Stephen King, sure. Otherwise, I think it might be possible to stop promoting AS LONG AS you're still releasing new titles regularly. Otherwise, it would be a very, very risky thing to do.
 

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Some folks might consider writing full time as retirement.

I'm 52 and for all pratical purposes, I'm retired. I like to write (at least so far), and can picture myself doing this until I meet my maker.
 

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Even McDonalds invests in a marketing budget to advertise new promotions and you'd think THEY wouldn't need to- being a billion dollar corporation

Smart people and businesses know to keep the name out there as there is so much competition
 

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Yes, if they A) get a movie deal and the movie is a hit or B) get a movie deal and the movie is a hit or C) get a movie deal and the movie is a hit.  Otherwise No.
 

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When I made the decision to go full time, one of the things I considered was that I'd be leaving a job that had a decent retirement plan.

But I concluded that I didn't ever want to retire from writing. I do this for fun. If you're really dreaming about a time when you don't have to write, maybe you should look into a more sure-fire way to make money, like, I don't know, the lottery, because--though I'm currently making a living at writing, and I think it's easier to do so than ever before--writing is not a great way to make lots of money. It's so disheartening and discouraging at times, not to mention lonely. You have to have a really thick skin and you have to live for your dreams. And if I didn't love it, mind, heart, and soul, I couldn't do it.

If I'm misreading you, I'm sorry. I don't mean to imply you don't like to write. Also, it's just my opinion, and it might be a s***flake opinion. :)
 

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If you can't retire and live off of the royalties without constantly promoting, then I'm in the wrong business.
 

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Well in the traditional system this wasn't possible for most authors. Too soon to tell with the way ebooks are in constant flux to know if this will change.

However in most jobs, when you retire you aren't expecting your salary to continue coming in. I know that royalties aren't exactly equivalent to salary, but if you are planning to retire, I expect you save somehow. So you should be doing the same thing as an author whether or not the royalties do continue to come in.



 

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My strong feeling is that the answer is no.

We're already seeing close to a million new ebook titles per year. That will grow. By the time I am looking at retirement, there will be over thirty million ebooks available, probably a lot more than that!

The odds of new readers finding my old books, even in the current sea of 1.8 million ebooks, without new releases or promotion, are about nil. Take that up to 30 million+ ebooks, and...well. =)

So - no. Writers will be able to continue selling for as long as they continue to produce new stories. Stop producing new stories, and even promotion is probably not going to keep you going forever, because the retailer algorithms are designed to favor new books over old books. Each year you don't produce new work, you'll find it harder and harder to draw in new readers.

The "digital age author retirement plan" involves a shovel and six feet of soil, I'm afraid. Either that, or a really good investment portfolio, built over time. ;)
 

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J. B. Bouman said:
Let's say you get your 20-60 titles out there. You're promoting well and have built up a nice email list so when you have a new release, you get a nice sales bump. Now it's time to retire. You're done writing. Can you sit back and let them generate royalties, or do you have to be priming the pump somehow or the royalties will drop so low that retirement income is drastically affected?
Theoretically yes.

But even if I could do that, I couldn't quit writing. It's just too enjoyable for me.
 

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Joe_Nobody said:
Some folks might consider writing full time as retirement.

I'm 52 and for all pratical purposes, I'm retired. I like to write (at least so far), and can picture myself doing this until I meet my maker.
This. How can you not write? Shoot, I make up stories wherever I go. If hubby and I are at a stoplight and some character walks by, my husband shakes his head, because he knows it's going into the old story bank file in my head. The only problem is having enough time to get them all out on paper. I have at least ten ideas a day, so "blam" that is never going to happen.
 

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dotx said:
If you're Stephen King, sure. Otherwise, I think it might be possible to stop promoting AS LONG AS you're still releasing new titles regularly. Otherwise, it would be a very, very risky thing to do.
King probably could have retired in the mid 80s with his royalties. Yet he still puts stuff out. He does it because he loves it, just like the rest of us... except he's got a bigger bank account... and movie deals... and glasses... (I don't have glasses)
 

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My plan is to make writing my retirement job.  I'll keep doing this until I'm incapable of it.  If it takes off and I can survive without the day job , then so be it, but that's probably not going to happen.
 

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My husband and I are both still mostly young, but we have put away a tidy sum through his work and on-the-side money we've saved over the years.

We think, in our retirement, we're going to sell off a lot of our worldly belongings, put what we don't sell in a storage unit, buy an RV and tour the US -- that's the plan and that's what we're working towards. I think, when it comes to writing, I'll write on the road. Maybe it won't be fiction every single time, maybe it will something in the wheelhouse of On The Road or Into The Wild, but I will still be writing. That's the thing about this career, it moves with you and it's never done -- there is no real endgame. I look forward to telling stories for the rest of my life.
 

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LisaGraceBooks said:
This. How can you not write? Shoot, I make up stories wherever I go. If hubby and I are at a stoplight and some character walks by, my husband shakes his head, because he knows it's going into the old story bank file in my head. The only problem is having enough time to get them all out on paper. I have at least ten ideas a day, so "blam" that is never going to happen.
Yes, if you're a writer, you make up stories all the time. You observe everything and put it in your story bank, even when you actively try not to. It's hard-wired.

On Monday, I witnessed 10 police surround and kill a suspect. Not something I ever want to see ever again, although I likely always will (it keeps coming back to me). It was quite possibly the most terrifying thing I've ever seen, and I was sad at the loss of life, but there was a part of me that was rooted in place just watching like it was a trainwreck and taking mental notes the entire time. (Which ended up being a good thing from the standpoint of giving a witness statement, but in retrospect I feel kind of sick and twisted that I was so fascinated by it.)
 

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Now it's time to retire. You're done writing.
This is the attitude that distinguishes the "get rich quick" folk from the writers. For a few months last year I stopped and examined why I write. I dreamed of making it big, but I was worried that I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I imagined I'd post some stupid get-rich-quick comment in the cafe and get skewered by Julie. I took a break. The story ideas kept coming. I kept on thinking of ways I could make my already-written manuscripts better. After that brief break was the first time I felt comfortable calling myself a writer.
 

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Amanda Brice said:
Yes, if you're a writer, you make up stories all the time. You observe everything and put it in your story bank, even when you actively try not to. It's hard-wired.

On Monday, I witnessed 10 police surround and kill a suspect. Not something I ever want to see ever again, although I likely always will (it keeps coming back to me). It was quite possibly the most terrifying thing I've ever seen, and I was sad at the loss of life, but there was a part of me that was rooted in place just watching like it was a trainwreck and taking mental notes the entire time. (Which ended up being a good thing from the standpoint of giving a witness statement, but in retrospect I feel kind of sick and twisted that I was so fascinated by it.)
I can relate, and I'm so sorry this happened to you. I've been on the receiving end and also witnessed some dark chapters in my life, some I prefer not to talk about, but I can draw from my experiences and share those feelings with my readers through my fiction.

One surprising incident (not a horror filled one) happened seven years ago at our previous home in a nice deed restricted community. Our yard sloped down so I had a clear view over the neighbor's fence into their backyard. I happened to look out my family room window and around the corner of their house comes a sheriff wearing a bullet proof vest and helmet, carrying an AK47 (maybe that's not the right weapon but it was at least some kind of rapid fire semi-automatic with a big clip) circling our neighbor's house. I scooped up my two--ear old and went out the front door and across the street as far away as I could. I know bullets can travel, and if they're circling the house like that, if my neighbor shot out, that bullet could go through my window and into us easily.

I was p*** o*** that no one from law enforcement came to my door to suggest we leave. I had one of my neighbors, (who was not so afraid of flying bullets) head over to the situation to find out what was going on.
Turns out the teen kid had beat up his dad and then locked himself in the back bedroom with a gun. They talked him out and Baker Acted him.
But if this can happen in a nice quiet community anything can happen, anywhere, at anytime. And being a writer, how can we not share this knowledge (through our stories) with the world?
 
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