Okay, I’m going to start this one off with a caveat. If nothing whatsoever is dependent on you contributing income to your household, feel free to skip this one. That’s not as harsh as it sounds. Many housewives (or househusbands – this is the 21st century, after all) are stay-at-home, maintaining the house or caring for the kids while the significant other is away bringing home the proverbial bacon. Being a huge supporter of stay-at-homes, I would never encourage them to abandon the all-too-important task of child-rearing and/or house-maintaining. Those things are most important, and this blog entry isn’t for you.
This blog entry is for the, “I don’t need a job, my writing is going to pay the bills, just you wait and see” crowd. Since I’m absolutely positive that some people are going to think it, no, I’m not singling out or thinking of any person in particular with this entry. These are things I have known and passed on for years. And honestly, there are too many of you to single out, anyway. This is a message for the masses (and trust me, there are masses of you who fall into this category).
Anyway, moving on. Like I was saying, you need to get a real job.
“So you’re saying I can’t do this? That I’m not good enough? That I’ll never reach the heights of the oh-so-mighty Epic universe? Well let me tell you something, pal!”
Okay, wait. Stop right there. Envision me plugging my fingers over my ears and going, “la-la-la-la-la!”
This is not a declaration based on anyone’s writing ability, sales ability, or any perceived lack thereofs. This is not a slight. This is math. Put the pride down, back away slowly, and come join me for a moment in the world of reality, where, believe it or not, I myself have a job (with Homeland Security, in case you were curious).
The median income where I live is $61,100 a year. That means, on average, it costs $61,100 a year here to effectively maintain a household. Those aren’t my numbers, those are statistics. That’s house notes, car notes, utilities, groceries, children, pets, the friggin’ air conditioner that went out again, and the new gadgets from Best Buy that you just have to have.
$61,100 / 12 months = $5,100 (approx.) a month.
If you earn $10 per book sold, which is ridiculous, you’d have to sell 510 books a month to meet the median cost of living.
If you earn $5 per book sold, which is not common but not unreasonable, that’s 1,020 books per month.
If you sell your ebooks for all of $0.99, and bring in a $0.70 profit per ebook sold, you would have to sell 7,286 ebooks every month to meet the median demands of every day living.
Keep in mind, these numbers do not reflect full-time benefits such as health insurance, vision, dental, and retirement. In fact, you can scratch “retirement” off the list completely if you’re planning on making it on writing alone, because guess what? You ain’t retiring. Hope you can still pump out 120 WPM when you’re 75.
I want to break this next part to you softly, because it has the potential to sting. No one cares that you write. Okay, yes, some people care. But not the kind of people who are going to give you monthly salaries and full-time benefits. We are not physicists. We are not doctors. We write imaginary stories. The ability to form words and put them into coherent sentences is not worthy of a paycheck in and of itself. And the world’s not even wrong about this one. Heck, I wouldn’t give you a salary for that, either. Not unless you’re throwing in complimentary landscaping. People hire people for things they need. Very few people need a writer.
“Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!”
Calm down, Solomon. I’m not telling you to ditch Word and go learn algebra. What I’m conveying is a very simple truth. In order to make it, you need income. In order to get income, you need a job.
There’s something that every would-be writer needs to understand – even those determined to make writing a career: getting a job is not accepting defeat. Far from it! I’d actually say the exact opposite, that getting a job is the first major step in taking your writing endeavors seriously. Yes, I just said what you think I said. Getting a job is the first major step in taking your writing endeavors seriously. Here’s why:
Producing quality books takes money. Possibly lots of money. I once told someone that producing a professional-looking book should cost somewhere in the vicinity of $5,000. You need an editor (yes, you NEED an editor). You need a designer. You need to pay whatever fees your printer/distributor demands. You need a cover artist. People don’t do this kind of stuff for free.
I run across a lot of writer hopefuls who say, “I’ll do whatever it takes to succeed.” That’s admirable, and I would never ask you to change that. Heck, if writing’s your passion, you should feel that way, by whatever definition you attribute to “success.” But if you tack on to the end of that statement, “but I’m not getting a job,” then you’ve already failed yourself. If you’re not willing to get a job and earn money to support yourself as a professional author, then you’re obviously not willing to do whatever it takes. Which to me says that you don’t take your writing all that seriously to begin with.
Jobs don’t supplant writing, they support it.
Take your writing seriously. Commit to success. Get a job that enables you to pursue writing by taking the burden of income off your writing. This is the first step toward making money with your books (wha-wha-whaaaaaat?). The great philosopher Victor Newman once said, “you have to spend money to make money.” Having regular income will allow you to do that.
This message has been brought to you by the Commission of Common Sense and the Real World. And from your parents. Who are ready for you to move out.