Writing in Terms of $$
I seldom post anything about the marketing/profit/sales side of writing, but here goes.
There’s always been discussion about how much is too much to spend on an ebook. Some people say they never spend more than $2.99, even for big authors. Some say they don ‘t spend more than $0.99. Others say they get only free books. Some feel like they get a better deal to buy a paper book than a digital one. Some use the public library for most of their books. But everyone seems to think that ebooks are priced too high. And when I can get a paperback for less than I’d pay for the e-version, I have to agree. Well, my recent excursion into self-publishing has opened my eyes about the business side of writing. I had seriously never broken it down to dollars and cents before. Boy, what a shock! o_o
Suppose an author spends 100 hours to write, revise, rewrite and polish a 50,000 word book. S/he then hires an editor at $250, cover art for $100, a formatter for $35.00. The author spends $100 for advertising. S/he has spent about $385. How many copies does s/he need to sell on Amazon at $0.99 to break even? S/he would receive about $0.345 per copy in royalties. That means that to just break even, 1116 copies would need to be sold. That doesn’t pay the author for the hours s/he put into writing.
I can see why so many authors choose to skip paying for editing. After all, they want to make at least some profit to help pay the bills while they write the next book. I have read some books that the author edited him/herself and they were great, well-written books. And I have read some that were not.
It’s easy to believe that every book will sell 1000 copies, but frankly, they don’t. 750-1000 copies over a year is pretty normal. A successful author might sell 2000 copies, which would bring in $690, or a profit of $305. How many of us would be willing to make $305.00 for 150 hours of work? Personally, I’d like to make a little more than $2.00 an hour! I guess there’s a reason authors jokingly refer to themselves as “starving artists”. But is it really a joke?
I understand that a lot of readers have only so much money to spare for buying books. I’m right there with you. Money is tight these days for a lot of us. About the time a mom has finished buying school clothes in September, it’s time to start buying Christmas presents, and it’s tough to squeeze out even $20.00 out of a tight budget for ourselves. But reading, even at $7.99 a book, is still pretty cheap entertainment. How much do we pay to go to a movie? I would say $9.00 is a usual price for the ticket. Do we buy popcorn and a drink too? So for 2 hours of entertainment we could spend easily $15.00. We could buy two ebooks for that price, and have 10 or more hours of enjoyment. Actually, more, because I can re-read that same book a few months later for no extra charge, but I’d have to pay again to watch the movie.
Maybe the movie analogy isn’t the best. An avid movie goer probably goes to 3-4 movies a month. An avid reader might read 4-5 books a week. But I wanted to give you some information about the business side of writing. I write because I love to do it, but the royalties are nice too. 🙂 I figure most people have no idea how the royalties work, so I thought I’d share.