Jennifer Echols is my agent mate, and she was kind enough to do a guest post today. Her new YA romance, FORGET YOU, came out on July 20, and her YA romance, ENDLESS SUMMER, is now in its 3rd printing. Read on to discover loads of practical advice as Jennifer discusses the greatest lesson she learned in the last year, and don’t forget to enter my contest to win a blog makeover! Thanks again for being my guest, Jennifer!

Don’t forget to write…

This is not a lesson learned so much as a lesson in progress. I am having serious time management issues. I have no time to write.

This is not the growing pain of a newbie. I’ve been at this a while: I sold my first novel in 2005, and I have six out now with a seventh under contract. But things have converged this summer to create the perfect storm of OMG WHERE DID MY DAY GO. My child is out of school, and he comes first. I have a job as a freelance copyeditor with multiple tight deadlines per week. That comes second because it’s my daily bread and butter. Writing comes third. And there have been days this summer when I literally had no time to write at all.

It hasn’t helped that for the first time, I’ve had several demands on my writing career very close together. ENDLESS SUMMER was published in May. FORGET YOU was published on July 20. Publicity is so important, so I have spent many hours blogging and tweeting and sending copies of the books to review bloggers. And oh, did I mention that my next book is due in two weeks?

Looking back, I wish I had finished this book months ago. I’m not sure I could have even if I’d kept my nose to the grindstone the whole time, but I know there were days last spring when I cleaned the garage that I wish I could have back now.

The solution, of course, would be to quit my “real” job and focus on my writing. But I haven’t made enough money from my books to do that yet, and I know a lot of novelists—perhaps most?—are in the same boat. So if you have dreams of becoming a novelist, here are a few tips.

First, don’t pursue a career in writing to get out of the “real” job you hate. I have heard so many fellow writers express this sentiment, and I want to shake them and say WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? The better path would be to write because you love it, and in the meantime, switch jobs. Luckily I love my copyediting job. I think it’s the second-best job in the world!

Second, don’t picture signing that book contract and getting insta-cash. I have heard of advances as low as $1500—from one of the big six New York publishing houses!—and an average advance I’ve seen thrown around is $10,000. That’s not much to live on. But let’s say you get a three-book deal for $100,000. NICE! That’s $15,000 to your agent (don’t try to do this without one, please!). Of the remaining $85,000, you might get half or $42,500 on signing the contract—but when is that? I have waited eight months for one, from the time the editor agreed to buy the book to the time the contract showed up at my door. It sounds like a low-ish but workable professional yearly salary, but not when you haven’t received it! The other $42,500 would likely be broken into small parts: a few thousand on turning in the revision of the first book, some on publication of the first book, some on turning in the proposal for the second book, and so on, drawing this money out for perhaps FOUR YEARS from signing the contract to the publication of the third book, if your publisher is putting out one book a year for you.

Did I mention income tax?

That’s not much to live on, i.e., don’t quit your copyediting job.

Which brings us to my lesson not quite learned. This morning I’m writing a guest blog (!), doing my copyediting work, picking up my son from camp and taking him to the pool, cooking dinner…and writing? Maybe not. But there’s always the weekend…