Hey guys. I have self-published a book and my second book just came out, published by Future House Publishing.
I must be rich, right?
Nope. Let’s talk.
I treat writing like a job. It’s the job I want, the job I love, and probably the job I’m best at. What can I say? I write lies pretty well.
What I’m saying is that I take writing seriously. As should anyone who is working toward making their dream a reality.
But let’s talk numbers.
The concept for Beat came to me as I jogged very early one January morning in the snow and cold. I spent about 10 hours over the following week fleshing it out, throwing ideas at my wife, and finally settling on some pretty basic plot lines.
Now, keep in mind that Beat is about 90,000 words, give or take a thousand.
So I went to work. When I’m rolling and I know where scenes are going and what comes next, I type about 1200 words/hour.
Doing the math, that equals 75 hours of work. Plus the ten hours of fleshing things out.
85 hours, right? That’s all it took to write the book you are all going to buy right now, right?
Remember how I said “when I’m rolling etc”? That happens about 10% of the time. Beyond that, I am plotting, doing ad-hoc research, character mapping, scene mapping, brainstorming and lots of other stuff.
So really, it would be fair to say I end up with about 400 words/hour of actual writing time.
New math: 90,000 words divided by 400 words/hour = 225 hours. Plus the initial 10.
That’s probably a fair guess. That’s 235 hours of FIRST drafting. That’s four months of writing between two and four hours a night for four or five nights a week.
Now let’s talk rewriting.
I put Beat aside for about a half year while I worked on other books. Then I picked it back up, put about 100 hours of rewriting into it, moved house, and started working with a critique group.
We’re at 235+100=335 hours so far.
Critique group time spent= about six months workshopping Beat. We probably averaged about three weekly meetings/month during that time. That’s 18 meetings of about 1.5 hours. Sure, not all of that time was spent on Beat, but it was work toward the goal of a great draft of Beat, so it counts.
27 hours of critique group.
Of course I also spent significant time rewriting and editing and re-everything-ing Beat, probably in the range of 10 hours for each meeting we had.
Making another 180 hours.
The math so far: 335 + 27 + 180 = 542 hours spent on making Beat awesome. Yes, all of this time was necessary, because first drafts are not for public consumption. There’s all kinds of great stuff in a first draft, but it’s not a finished book yet.
Then I sent Beat around to agents and publishers. I spent 50+ hours on this over three months.
Bringing us to 600 hours.
I’m not done.
I set Beat aside, having gotten no traction due to the industry agreement two years ago that the market had enough dystopian YA. I call shenanigans on that- dystopian has been huge for years. 1984 and Brave New World anyone?
But then I went back early this year and spent about 20 hours fixing a few issues I still wanted to repair in Beat.
I sent it to Future House Publishing, thinking that a scrappy, innovative publishing house like them were probably the best place for this book. They accepted it.
I spent 30-40 hours rewriting, reviewing, editing, and polishing Beat for publication. Let’s say thirty for fun’s sake.
So I put around 650 hours into creating and getting Beat into your hands.
There are 2080 work hours in a normal 52-week work year. I put a third of a year’s worth of work hours into Beat.
Where’s my third of a year salary for that work? I mean, I sacrificed play time, time with family, sleep, hobby time, exercise, and more. Sounds like a job, doesn’t it?
Do you know how much I’ve made off of Beat so far?
Nothing. I’ll get royalties in about another 5.5 months. And so far, with maybe 50 copies of Beat sold at the high price of 99 cents, and I’m making at best 8 cents per copy at this price, I’ve reached the extraordinary earnings of $4.
650 hours of work. Hard, challenging work. The kind of work I love, to be sure, but work that takes effort and sacrifice. Work where I look around while doing it and know that getting paid for it is unlikely, but is the absolute goal.
So no, I’m not rich from my books. Not yet. I am looking to get paid, but if that was all I wanted, I’d go flip burgers. It pays better. For now. The point being of course that I love writing and writing is my career of choice. Burger flipping is not my career of choice.
But I will keep writing good stuff and you’ll keep reading and talking about my good stuff and this thing will happen. Within five years, I’ll be writing full time, making enough to support my family.
What can you do to help? Remember that writing is a job. It’s my first job, and my day job is where I’m moonlighting. And keep reading my books. Buy them, borrow them, share them– I don’t care. Just read them and tell people you love them. I love writing books and I think you love reading books- I think this is the beginning of something beautiful.