Ideal Day Jobs for Crime Novelists
By Greg Levin
Check your morals at the door, but don't forget your favorite ski mask.
When you tell people you are writing (or aspire to write) crime fiction, many of them will tell you, “Don’t quit your day job.”
Don’t listen to them. You should totally quit your day job. And then get a much better one—one that’s ideally suited to you becoming a successful crime novelist.
You see, most “real” jobs feature long hours. This is problematic for crime writers, who need a lot of time not only for writing and rewriting, but also for committing felonies in the name of research. In addition, most “real” jobs offer wages and salaries that range from laughable to lackluster—certainly not enough to cover a crime novelist’s drinking expenses, the costs associated with self-publishing after failing to land an agent or publisher, or the bail money that must be paid after getting caught committing a felony in the name of research. Furthermore, most “real” jobs are boring and soul-crushing, leaving a budding crime novelist with little energy and enthusiasm to create anything worth reading or making a Netflix series out of.
But don’t despair. As much as I love bitching and moaning about the struggles of being a crime novelist—I could go all day, really—I was instructed to write an article that’s supposed to give you a glimmer of hope and provide you with actionable advice. So, with that in mind, I’ve listed five nontraditional day jobs that are perfect for writers like you and me. All feature minimum work for maximum pay, offer highly flexible scheduling, and require no formal degrees or certificates. Also, the exciting and risky nature of the jobs themselves will provide plenty of captivating fodder for future books.
Now, it should be noted that if you get caught doing any of these jobs (with the exception of one), you will go to prison. But don’t sweat it. In prison you’ll meet a wide assortment of colorful characters and endure myriad harrowing experiences, thus providing you with even more fodder for your books. Plus you’ll have tons of time to write. You simply can’t lose!
And now, on to what I consider some of the best possible day* jobs for authors. (*Most of these jobs are best done at night.)
Had he been literate, Jessie James could have crushed it as a novelist. Bank robbers work only one or two days a month, and they make over a million dollars an hour—almost as much as J.K. Rowling. With that kind of free time, you could write a novel every two weeks—almost as many as Stephen King. Key qualifications for the job of Bank Robber include a cool temperament, a steady hand, and a ski mask. It also helps to know the bank’s hours.
This job is just as lucrative and time-efficient as Bank Robber and requires many of the same attributes and ski masks. The big difference is that a jewel thief needs much less upper-body strength, as a handful of diamonds weighs a lot less than sacks full of cash. This is good news for writers who struggle to get to the gym between bouts of writing and drinking. In other words, nearly all authors.
Fortunately for writers, more than half the world’s population today is as depressed and as unstable as they are. This means the demand for narcotics and other controlled substances is higher than ever. As a drug dealer, an author can make a fortune working just a couple of hours a day, then spend the rest of the day sampling their own product and working on their novel. As an added bonus, having immediate access to painkillers is great for helping authors handle the agony of constant rejection and poor book sales.
Hitman or Hitwoman (Hitperson?)
Most authors would kill for more time to write, and that’s exactly what they’ll be doing in this job. An average hit takes only a few hours to prepare for and complete, and fetches between $25K-$50K. So by doing just one hit a month, an author will earn enough to almost cover the PR costs for promoting their latest novel. Two hits a month, and they can start thinking about bribing Kirkus to write a favorable book review.
If going on dates and sleepovers is more appealing to you than killing or stealing, then this is likely the best job for you on the list. Escorts can earn $15K-$30K a month just by accompanying lonely rich people to parties, social events, and private sex dungeons a few times a week. Good money, plenty of free time to write, and, if you decide to write about your actual experiences, the chance to blow Fifty Shades of Grey out of the water in the erotica market. The only drawback is that escorting is legal in all 50 U.S. states, which means there’s no chance you’ll get to go on a prison-based writing retreat.
NOTE: I, myself, am currently considering getting a job in one of the fields mentioned above. The only other viable alternative is for you and everyone you know to buy my books.