All posts by Tobias Buckell

09 May

Today I’m celebrating 10 years of being a freelancer

Ten years, man! Ten years! I’ve been freelancer/writer/whatever for 10 years now, sailing my own ship:

Ten years ago I had just published my very first novel. It had been out a few months. But I never got to enjoy or dwell on my first novel experience because I learned just a couple days before my book was to launch that I was going to be out of a job by the end of summer.

I spent that February, March and April:

-finishing the manuscript of my second novel, Ragamuffin, in a panic. I didn’t know if I would be working a McDonald’s or what later in the year. I wanted to have written two novels, so that no matter what mess came next I would have at least done that.

-looking for a new day job. Turned out there were no tech jobs within a decent commute at the time. I was underwater on my mortgage in a house I’d just moved into and had to stretch to afford.

-working freelance gigs that appeared as I announced my availability and impending job loss. I still remember that my boss read my blog post announcing that I was being laid off and ‘encouraged’ me to take it down and I was like ‘I don’t even understand what you mean’ because my focus was on letting the world know I needed to start something new.

By May it had become clear that I had enough lined up that I could take the leap into just working as a freelancer and author.

Ten years. Wow.

There have been a lot of ups and downs. I became a New York Times bestseller thanks to the Halo novel. I went on to write book 3 of what became the Xenowealth series. Agreed to put #4 and #5 on hold after the Halo book and wrote Arctic Rising and Hurricane Fever. The freelance gigs have shifted and churned around a bit in the background. I’ve had some banner years in terms of fiction earnings, but not enough I would stop freelancing.

My wife, Emily, has joined me to help out with the freelancing. So the business has grown. We haven’t killed each other yet being home all the time.

I almost died just a few years into freelancing. Found out I had a heart defect. Spent years recovering and learning how to manage a whole new life.

Had twins. Still trying to figure out this dad thing. Very much a learn as you go.

I have published 9 novels in that 10 years, 2 under a pseudonym. There are two more written as of yet unsold as well. I’ve also done 4 collections, 5 novellas, and sold 36 short stories.

My income streams shift and change, but overall everything is growing.

I’m looking out over the next ten and thinking very hard about how I want it to look. I’m in the middle of a great deal of change right now. But… if there’s one thing I’ve learned from 10 years of being a freelancer you have to be comfortable with a great deal of variability.

Does it ever become normal?

I wouldn’t want it to.

What’s next on the horizon?

I’m hoping to nail all that down here soon. You’ll know as soon as I do.