Looking for an extra six bucks an hour? Be a writer!
I am an avid supporter of the “if you’re not here because you love what you do, you’re setting yourself up for some real heartache,” adage, as most of the people that read my posts already know.
That’s because writing romance, specifically small genre romance, is not going to make you a millionaire. It’s not going to make you famous, well-loved, and it’s not going to garner you a shred of respect. Yes, yes, there are always the “some” – those infamous few that have walked away with Hollywood contracts or wrote something that made everybody question everything they thought they knew – but it happens so rarely and without any foreseeable reasoning, that I’m just going to go ahead and forget about those miraculous pearls for this post. And the lack of discernible reward is why it’s so important to love what you do if you choose to write in small genre romance. It is going to be a labour of love, and that’s pretty much it. If that’s cool, and something you’re willing to do because you would literally shrink up to nothing inside yourself if you couldn’t write, then you’re going to be just fine.
But I’m repeating myself. I know I am, as I’ve posted about this very thing probably half a dozen times in as many different ways. What I haven’t done, however, is actually shared with you the truth of those statements. I’m going to change that today.
I’ll start by saying that I’m not a big-name author by any means. However, since 2012 I have released twelve novels, one novella, and have been part of three anthologies. I have three more novels that are in the works with LT3 as I type this. I get fairly decent reviews – those that like my novels seem to like them for all the reasons that those who don’t say are the reasons in which they don’t approve of them, which always amuses me – and I do a fair amount of pushing those novels alongside my publisher’s efforts. In other words, I’m pretty much on par with many of the authors within my genre.
But what, exactly, is that par? How much effort does an author like me put in to a novel, and what’s the payoff? What, if I factor everything in, are we making to sit at the keyboard and do our thing?
To tell you that, I’ll need to start at the beginning…
Writing the Novel
I’m a quick writer, but I also work a busy and fairly stressful Monday to Friday, nine hours a day work week. Which means that I do most of my writing on the weekends these days, as well as stat and scheduled holidays. On the weekends/holiday days, I usually write for between three and six hours. I write anywhere from 2000 to 5000 words during these jaunts. Barring the anomalies, my novels tend to be between 40,000 and 70,000 words.
So assuming the mid-range of all of this (3500 words in 4.5 hours and a 55,000 word novel), it takes around 71 hours to write a novel.
~*~ Writing the Novel = 71 hours ~*~
Once the novel is complete I set it aside for a week or so and then, when I’ve forgotten how much I hate it/love it, I pull it out and do a front to back edit. This isn’t usually as hard as it sounds, as I tend to edit as I go. It takes me about 8 hours to accomplish this, and I usually do it in two sessions. Then I send it to my Beta, who reports back, and I run another edit pass with his suggestions while doing a full read-through. Depending on the length of the book, this can take anywhere from 4-8 hours.
Mid rage for internal edits = 12 hours.
I am usually sent three editing passes on a novel from the publisher. The first one is a serious first draft edit, and for obvious reasons this one tends to take a little longer than the rest. If there’s any rewriting or clarification that needs to be done, here is where I usually do that. Following that will be second round of edits, and then a galley check. Each time I do a full read-through when I’m done with the edit passes.
Estimated publishers edits = 16 hours.
~*~ Editing Passes = 28 hours ~*~
So far I’ve managed a blog tour for each one of my novels, and I can usually find 10-15 fantastic and wonderful sites that are willing to post them for me. Of course, this means I need to write something for each one, and while I usually do a cut-and-paste for a lot of it, I do try to personalize each one with a different topic. I would estimate that they take an hour to put together and edit.
~*~ Blog Tours = 12.5 hours ~*~
If you choose to follow those sites and comment along with your readers (something that I would strongly recommend you do, especially in a small genre), the hours that you’re putting into the process will go up, of course. If you do anything extra, like monthly guest posts, that hourly count will increase again. For ease of estimation and calculation, I’m not going to include either of those things in the total.
Blog tours aren’t “just” time, however. In my opinion, people should be compensated for stopping in and being part of your promo. So I usually run a giveaway. I don’t spend a lot on them – a signed, free print copy of the novel, a gift certificate so the winner can buy more books, and a small gift of jewelry or something fun – but I do still spend money and we’re going to have to count that in, aren’t we?
So, shipping for the novel, at $15-$30 (assume $25); $20 gift certificate; $30 gift.
~*~ Blog Tours = $75 ~*~
I don’t do a lot of advertising, and most of what I do is free through social media. I do, however, run ads on Facebook occasionally. I usually do it twice per novel, at about $20 a shot. I also respond to most giveaway requests for blog sites if we’re mutuals (anniversary celebrations, Goodreads group giveaways, etc., etc.) and I always cover the expenses associated with shipping whatever it is I’ve offered them. Because of piracy, I prefer to give away hard copies over e-books. Due to limitations with author copies, I tend to only do this twice with each novel. So, again, I can expect to have shipping expenses at $15-30 (assume $25) per giveaway.
~*~ Advertising = $65 ~*~
Now for the fun part: the getting paid portion of our roundabout.
An author in a small genre can expect to make between $500 and $2000 per novel. That’s not per quarter, or annually, that’s overall. Yes, there will be the odd one that makes more, and sadly there will be the ones that make less. But I can assume an average of $1250 per novel. Now depending on where a person lives and how their tax structures work, some are going to lose a portion of those earnings at the end of the year. For me, that’s about 30%. So…
~*~ Royalties = $875 ~*~
To get the final value, the first thing we have to do is take off our different monetary expenses from our payments. We have royalties of $875, less blog tour costs of ($75), less advertising costs of ($65), for a monetary “take home” of $735.
Not bad! Right?
Well, let’s go back and add up the hours that have been invested in the novel, shall we?
Writing was 71 hours, editing was 28, and miscellaneous support writing was 12.5 hours, for a total of 111.5 hours. Therefore, $735 over 111.5 hours, nets an hourly rate of $6.59. Canadian.
To which I can only reiterate that thou must love what thou doest, lest thou looketh at thine accounting statement and weep bitter tears.
Is it worth it? I think so. Do I still love it? Every day, and every novel. Will I keep doing it? As long as the gods grant me the ability to do so.
Getting paid to do something you love to do is one of the most amazing feelings in the world. Which is weird, because I can assure you, I do not have the same enthusiasm with the paycheque that I get from the day job. However, nothing will make me snarly faster than some jerk who thinks it’s okay to pirate one of my novels –anybody’s novel, really – because “authors already make enough money,” or “authors are just greedy.”
Seriously, if you download a pirated copy of one of my novels I hope you are hit with the nastiest, ugliest, hardest-to-get-rid-of virus that the Internet is capable of. If you want a free copy, both LT3 and I offer multiple chances to win one. If you didn’t win a novel you really wanted to read, it’s quite simple to ask your local library to stock one. I work for hours on these, LT3 works for hours on these, and no individual involved in the process be it editor or artist makes much more than $6 an hour for our efforts. Don’t lower that wage even further by stealing the end product.
And no, surprisingly enough, I don’t ever stop and think how I would make just as much, if not more, by working in the service industry one day a week. Because let’s face it, few of us are any good with people. That’s why we’re writers. Although, I did make a damn good bartender… hmm. Blue Hawaiian, anyone?
Before you run off, I’d love to hear from you. What do you think? Would you be willing to do something like this for a rate of six bucks and change an hour? Have you ever done it? If so, what made you stop? Or are you still doing it, and why?
Thanks so much for reading! Until next time,
AF Henley <3
Henley was born with a full-blown passion for run-on sentences, a zealous indulgence in all words descriptive, and the endearing tendency to overuse punctuation. Since the early years Henley has been an enthusiastic writer, from the first few I-love-my-dog stories to the current leap into erotica.
A self-professed Google genius, Henley lives for the hours spent digging through the Internet for ‘research purposes’ which, more often than not, lead seven thousand miles away from first intentions but bring Henley to new discoveries and ideas that, once seeded, tend to flourish.
Henley has been proudly working with LT3 since 2012, including Henley’s newest novel, ‘Wolf, en Garde” which hit the shelves on May 17, 2016. For more information please stop by for a visit at afhenley.com