I’ve had several books published, one of them by Simon and Schuster, one of the Big Five. I hate to sound like a curmudgeon, but…what the hell? Often, I have to ask myself ,”Why do I do this? Why do I spend hours and hours over a computer typing my fingers to the bone and then editing for months? The time it takes to write, edit, and market a novel is overwhelming.”
All for a couple of hundred dollars…possibly two thousand if I am lucky in the end.
Let’s break that down.
I have estimated the time it took to write PRIMEVAL as approximately 180 hours. I know; I am not the fastest writer in the world, but this is about right. Then, I edited the thing for two months at about 90 minutes per day…about 90 hours. Then, after the editor looked at it and I received proofs to inspect for errors, I spent about another 25 hours on this.
This adds up to 295 hours worked on a book. Doesn’t sound like much? It equates to about 6 weeks working full time at a store. Only more mentally grueling and self-deprecating.
Let’s say I made $1500.00 on PRIMEVAL. This is actually, a fairly high figure.
This comes out to about $5.08 an hour for the work I did. This doesn’t include any marketing, social media, interviews etc I did as well. Let’s add those in at about 75 hours, which seems fairly close.
We are now looking at $4.06 an hour for my work.
Yikes. Sobering, isn’t it? Trust me, most of us work for less than this.
Why in the hell do we do it?
After several sites pirated my books and gave them away willy nilly, I chased after them, despite writing two books at the same time. I accomplished nothing, and many copies of my work got out there for free. They probably still are out there, and you can get them if you like…but if you do, you’re a jerk and the reason why so many authors are quitting.
You see, we can’t make a good living at this. Now, some will. I know some people personally who are making fairly decent livings at writing. These are few and far between. Most writers, like myself, must work other jobs to supplant their writing. Say you write three books a year, no! Five books a year! That’s 1850 hours, nearly the equivalent of working a full time job for a full year. And you will bring home the staggering sum of…
Yeah, try to eat out once a week on that!
I nearly gave up. Everything seemed futile. I worked and worked at it, but it was like screaming into a void. For goodness’ sake, I was published by Simon and Schuster! Doesn’t that count for anything?
I did other things with my spare time. I read a heck of a lot more.
And then I had a story idea. A good one, too.
I found myself at the same computer hacking away at it to meet a deadline for a magazine.
And they bought it. It wasn’t a life changing amount of money, but it allowed me and Don to go out to a very nice dinner.
And I was off and running again.
This writing bug, the people who have it for real, is something akin to a compulsion. You can’t stay away for long. The stories build up behind a dam in your head. One day, they’ll burst the dam and you’ll have a creative flood. Hopefully, this ends in a sale. If not, well, at least it is out of your head so you can create new ones.
It’s a compulsion. I wonder if there’s a psychological term for it?
Oh, and I recently sold a book to Post Mortem Press, a nifty small press right here in Cincinnati! Once it is published, I hope you all read it.
Because I have a new idea that’s just awesome.