Hourly rate of writing a book

I recently had a conversation about the cost of eBooks. I know some authors/publishers are selling them for as much as a hard copy. However, most of us realize you aren’t paying for paper and ink so we price them lower. This led me to think about how much I make an hour as an author. This is hard to quantify since my hours worked do NOT equate to books sold so I wondered how much I would make an hour for my last book if I sold 1000 copies (which is over 30 times more than I’ve sold of my first book).

It took me 3 years to publish Will from Ashes. Now I wasn’t working on it every day or even every week so let’s conservatively say I averaged TWO hours a week working on the book where some weeks I spent zero hours and others I spent 9 or 10 at least. I’m low-balling for easier math.

3 years = 156 weeks or 312 hours.

Let’s say I sold 1000 eBooks @ $3.99 (so no promotions, or discounts) because I make more profit on those by around a dollar versus print.

1000 * $2.80 = $2800. $2800/312 = $8.97 an hour.

This doesn’t include time spent at conferences or book signings.

Which means IF I could sell a thousand copies of my book, I would make as much as a burger-flipper at McDonalds. But at McDonalds, I would know that if I showed up to work and did my job, I’d make that $9 an hour. As a writer I don’t have that guarantee.

For kicks and depression, I got some quick, rough estimates on how many copies I’ve sold of Kyle by Fire and used the same time estimate even though I gave Kyle A LOT more hours than that. Shoot I put in almost 60 hours in one month for NanoWriMo over the 4-year. Based on my current sales of Kyle, I’ve made .27 an hour. 27 cents.

So if you feel inclined to complain about the cost of an eBook, just remember, for most authors, that $2.80 could represent 10 hours of work. Would you be willing to work for that cheap?

This is the Novel Mage saying, *POOF*

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About markminson

Mark Minson lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He enjoys playing games with his wife and five kids. He loves to sing and can often be found whistling as he walks. An avid shoe-wearer, you might run into him strolling down memory lane -- either his or somebody else’s. He brings humor to life through his many accents and movie quotes. He found his magic long ago, in a high school far, far away and now happily shares it with you. May you find your magic and share it with others.
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One Response to Hourly rate of writing a book

  1. C. M. Clark says:

    Great article. It’s still shocking to me that people complain about ebook prices. I’ve seen some as high as 10$ and low as… well free. On of of that I’ve seen a lot of writers in the past few months find their ebooks pirated. Someone even commented that having your ebook pirated should be seen as away to add to your sales.

    Have you read any of Dean Wesley Smith blogs? He talks about return on your writing things like that. He’s got a great formula he talks about.

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