Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Value of Time - Part 2

I've been thinking about the whole 'value of time' thing and the hard numbers. 

For me, here's an estimate of how it works out...

My first drafts work out to be approximately 70,000 words.  I type an average of 1000 words an hour.  So, that's 70 hours.  Add another conservative estimate of 40 hours for editing it to the point where I can have my editor look at it.  Another 25 hours of inputting her initial edits.  Another 15 hours of inputting her proofreading edits.  Another 5 hours of final read-through to catch anything I might've missed.  2 hours of formatting. 

70+40+25+15+5+2 = 157 hours.  And that's if I don't make my own cover.  And it doesn't count research or networking or any one of a sundry other things I do to make a book happen.

157 hours.

At federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, that means a book would cost $1138.25 in labor.  Of course, the last time I had a job, I was earning roughly $19 an hour, so that's $2983 for a book.  And if I wanted to get freaky, when I was doing computer consulting, the company billed my time at $60 an hour, so that would be $9420, but they only gave me like $20 of that, so we're back to around $3000.

$3000 per book in labor alone. 

If I priced it that way, I'd only need to sell one. LOL.  But, like I said before, the market doesn't give a rat's hairy butt what it costs me to produce a book.  They only care about what they are willing to pay for said book.  Oh, I could charge $9.99.   I'd need to sell about 300 books to break even.  But when I raise my price, I get no sales.  Zero times anything is still always zero, and breaking even point moves farther away instead of closer.  True, I haven't tried raising the price to traditional publishing levels.  That's laughable to me.  I did try once to make one of my books $5.99.  Crickets.  Drop the price to $3.99, I get some sales.  Drop it to $2.99, more sales. 

Now, here's where it gets sticky.  I get even more sales when I go below $2.99, but then I also drop from a 70% royalty structure to 35%.  More sales, less money. 

For the same amount of work.  But, again, readers don't care about my level of effort. Well, unless my level of effort is low and the book is crap.  Then they care.  And I'm okay with that.  That's how it should be. 

I don't tell you any of this to make you feel bad that I'm doing all this work and only making like $2 a book.  That's life.  I'm pretty okay with that $2.  Sell a hundred books, get two hundred dollars.  Sounds good to me.  I'd get it all in cash and roll around in it naked, but that seems silly.  And if I wasn't doing this writing thing for whatever my hourly wage would actually work out to, I'd have to get a job working for someone else.  I could make $9.50 an hour at the Tyson plant, where it either smells like yummy chicken nuggets all day or it smells like rotten meat bad enough to make me gag when I drove past.  (I used to drive by the place to get to Walmart, so yeah, it's either yum or barf.)

Personally, I'd rather be doing this. 

Anyway, that's how it plays out here at the Sanderson Ranch.  Any questions?

Oh, and if your comment doesn't show up right away, it means I went fishing.  ;o)


  1. Indie book sales are a long-term project. I know you'll make far more than that over the life of the book.

    Try looking at it as $3000 paid over 5 years. Everything you sell over that is pure profit. It just takes longer than we'd like.

    1. Oh, I know, Deb. I don't look at it as being paid back for my labor. I'd like to get to the point where this pays back the outlay to other people, but that'll come eventually. Then I'd like this to fund itself. Pure profit is a happy dream for the future. ;o)

  2. Yeah. What you said. I get really PO'd at the special snowflakes who seem to think we should give our books away. But that's another rant. At some point, we'll get to where we want to be, slogging along at one sale at a time... *sigh*

    1. And that's the other side of the time/value thing - the people who want our time for free. Maybe that'll be a post for next week. =o)

      One sale at a time. On the brightside, people are buying our books and reading them, even if it's not as many as we want. :hugs:

  3. I can't find anything to say other than thank you.