Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Getting Paid by the Hour

You walk into a book store. Big or small, it doesn't matter. The shelves just reek of potential and excitement. You're consumed by that new book smell. Ah yes, you have indeed discovered Paradise.

I think it's a fair estimation that purchasing a new book costs around $20. Some books are less, some books are much more. But let's use $20 as our median. It's a good number to work with.

Ok, so you have the most tantilizing, epic, amazing book in your hands. You walk away from the cashier with a giant smile on your face. You can't wait to get home, curl up under the blankies and have a cup of hot tea as you emerse yourself in this new story.

Let's pause it right there, shall we? Twenty bucks. Twenty dollars for a book. This book. Any book. How exactly does that translate for the author?

This is the one downfall to being a writer. We don't get paid...much. Now, this is NOT an anti-publisher rant. Not in the least. God knows that publishing costs are insane. Our publishers do the best they can for us. It's just what the market will bear. That's where it gets tough.

Writing a book takes time. A lot of time. Some authors can pump out a book every few months. Other books literally take years to compose. Years of their lives dedicated to one project. It's crazy when you think about it.

So, let's assume that this fantastic new book took the author six months to write. I'm just trying to assume another average here, folks.

Ok. So we have twenty American dollars as our average cost and six months of work time as our average project length. Hmmmm. Something starting to seem off-kilter to you?

Now, some days, a writer will write endlessly. Other days, they're busy (we do have lives, ya know) or inspiration simply eludes them. Let's go a little crazy here and assume that a writer works 40 hours a week just like any other job.

40 hours per week for six months and the book still costs $20. You're starting to do the math, aren't you?

Six months is 26 weeks.

26 times 40 hours per week = 1040 hours. 1040 hours.

Divide those hours by that twenty bucks and you have 0.019. What does that mean? That's what we average per hour of work. Now, I don't know about you, but that's way less than I make at my "regular job." I do believe it's also below minimum wage. I could be wrong, but I think it is. ;)

So many people think of writing as an illustrious profession. It is, in its own right. However, writers are NOT rich people sipping brandy from their cryatal snifter. WRONG! We're regular folks just like you working to pay our bills.

So, next time you're in a book store, please give that $20 generously. We have an electric bill that needs to be paid! ;)

In all seriousness, I LOVE writing. It has been my passion since childhood. I wouldn't give it up for anything. I'm obviously not doing it for the money, either. I think it's just important for people to understand all of the time and cost that goes into printing every book on those book shelves. It's astronomical, really. Writing is a labor of love. And that love far surpasses any paycheck I have ever received! ;)

Happy reading!

1 comment:

ChainsawChick said...

I hope you sell more than one copy of your book, then that .20 cents will multiply:)