This week authors J. Thorn and Crys Cain discuss what drives them, and how that has changed throughout their publishing career.


Crys: Hello, and welcome to The Author Life podcast. I’m your host Crys Cain with my co-host J Thorn. And this week we’re spinning off of last week’s topic, which was Wide versus KU. And towards the end J started talking about kind of the mindset of why you might wanna go into KU and that was like just to make money quick. 

And that is the topic of this week, which is income versus influence. I’ve waffled back and forth on where I am in that priority matrix over the past five years and come back over the income side with the recent changes in my life.  

J has taken a hard right turn into influence. And so I just wanted to talk about why. Why? What’s going on, like with these choices in our lives.  

Let’s start with you, J. You started out where you needed to make money because you were quitting the day job you were deter, like you’d been writing for a while. You were doing well, and you were heavily on the income side because you were quitting your day job and you needed to make money. And that was… 10 years ago? Not quite, yes. 

J: Yeah. Something like 

Crys: Yeah. I don’t think that’s when you were quitting your job, but that’s when you started publishing. 

J: That’s when I, yeah, that’s when I was starting to write part-time. 

Crys: And now you are past that point and you’re in the influence range. So what is, what has brought you from income to influence? 

J: Yeah. I don’t know for me, if it’s… if influence is exactly it? That’s part of it. I think for me fulfillment is a big piece of it. So I wanna feel fulfilled when I finish a project. And if that has some influence to it, that helps. So I think they’re related.  

And when I was thinking about this and you and I have had these, had the similar conversation before I wanted to say it was a factor of age, but I don’t think that’s entirely correct. 

I think it’s a factor of life phase. I think that’s where these decisions are made. You can be older and wanna go for income or you could be younger and want the influence for various reasons. But in my specific situation My oldest child is out of the house and my youngest will be out in two years and my life, my wife and I live a very lean lifestyle. 

We don’t need much. And I’ve said to you before, like I really don’t care about money. I never did. I was never, I never bought cars and boats. 

Crys: Yeah, like here’s my baseline to cover the necessities. That’s what I need. 

J: That’s it. Like if if I can sit in the sun for an afternoon and not have to worry about? That’s my luxury. 

Like I don’t need vacations and stuff. My life stage right now is in a place where I’m phasing out– as you mentioned, when I first started, I had two young children in private school and my wife was a stay-at-home mom. So there was a lot of pressure on me to, cover the bills and pay the mortgage and that sort of thing. 

But. In the life phase that I’m in and entering in next, that’s not as important. And I think coincidentally, I think as people get older and they realize that they’re not gonna live forever, there’s more of a search for fulfillment. I think that’s at the root of the, you know, the whole midlife crisis trope. 

I think that’s what it comes down to is when you’re in your twenties or your thirties, you feel like your career horizon’s way off. And it is it’s decades and decades. You get into your fifties and sixties. It’s not as long.  

And so I think if you have your basic needs taken care of, if you’re covering your baseline expenses, then you’re more concerned about the influence, the fulfillment, the satisfaction that you get out of the work you do, as opposed to the money you. 

Crys: Yeah, I think that’s, that makes a lot of sense and I’m definitely taking steps to merge my satisfaction and my income. Because as listeners are well aware, like the romance has been like taking me for a world for quite a while now. And I’m six books from wrapping up the formerly co-written series. 

I have four books in a solo series that I need to finish at. And I have those scheduled out now. I’m really pleased with the schedule that I’ve set up and I’ve been, for three days now, today should be day four, but I haven’t written yet because I don’t know why. I think it’s because I didn’t eat breakfast, honestly. 

That’s just the truth. I didn’t eat breakfast. And then I was like, I don’t wanna write. So now I’ve learned eat breakfast. Cause I have to write by the end of the day.  

Just getting really consistent about my writing because One of the things that has kept my income floating is that my co-writer published consistently outside of our co-writing stuff. 

And that kept her back list up, which meant it kept our back list up. Because I can’t count on that anymore as an element of my business, I’ve realized, okay. My time for rest, which has been like the last two years, is wrapping up like I’ve for the most part, pretty darn recovered from burnout. 

It’s time to get really consistent with the writing again, because the writing is where the majority of my money comes from.  

And it’s also the quickest way for me to make money. And the least stressful way for me to make money. It doesn’t involve interacting with humans or anyone’s expectations other than my own, and with the prices of everything going up with my kid getting in school and extracurriculars, like my income needs are going up. When I was on vacation, I realized I was like, okay, like I, I need to move back into the income focus for a while.  

That can be a dangerous trap. When you start like measuring success on numbers. So that’s something I’m trying to be cautious about because I have definitely fallen into that trap before. 

But I think a lot of it is, it’s just I’m a single mom. I have no other financial support except what I bring in. And my kid’s starting to cost a lot. As they do, as they grow up. I’ve had to buy him three pairs of shoes after his new school shoes, because he goes through them so fast. 

J: Yep. 

Crys: And what I’m doing to merge that is, I set aside the projects that I have been working on for the last year or so, because they were very much satisfaction, personal enjoyment projects. And I think they’ll still make great stories, still wanna work on them, but they were not necessarily going to be the easiest things to market. 

So my focus now with my kind of restart is what is going to be really easy to market that also fits my personal satisfaction. Something that I can maintain over a long period of time, something that has enough breadth that I don’t feel locked into a tiny sub niche genre, but that I can still build up a back list of connected feels, themes, genres that it’s cohesive and really saleable. And doesn’t make me want to burn my computer. 

J: Yeah, it sounds like a good match for you for where you are in your life. 

Crys: My question for our listeners this week is where do you fall? A lot of our members fall more on that satisfaction influence level. Some of them fall on the income level where they want to move away from their day jobs. And I’m just curious for all of our listeners, where do you find yourself? 

As you’re looking at your writing business, where do you find yourself? Do you care more about the satisfaction or is the income also a heavy presence in your desires?

Thank you all so much for showing up to spend this time with us each and every week. If you would like to join these conversations in real time, you should definitely check out where you can apply to join our community.