You want to get rich? Give up writing and apply for a job as the garbage collector. Just for fun (?) I decided to try to figure out my “hourly rate” as a writer. A little background first – I try to write something every day. If I am working on a full novel I will average four hours a day, sometimes a little more if it is going good and sometimes a little less if the “muse” is hiding somewhere.
And I follow this pattern for an average of five days a week. Sometimes only three, and sometimes I also work on the weekend, if the work is flowing well.
Taking all of these variables in account, what would you suspect my “hourly rate” is as a full-time writer? What is the minimum wage now for flipping hamburgers? And aren’t there crowds in the street yelling for a ten dollar an hour minimum wage?
Based on the time expressed in the above paragraphs and what I actually earn from writing, I make about $0.80 (that’s “eighty cents”) an hour. (Your mileage may vary, if some producer picks up your novel and wants to make a movie out of it.) Also, if you have a team of writers working for you and you just put your name on a book, you will be able to turn out books at the James Patterson rate of one novel a day, so you will get rich.
But – if you are a solitary writer like myself, don’t expect to get rich. However, if you are a committed writer you won’t be able to stop writing even if your book sales drop to nothing. I can count on my fingers the number of authors who make a good living from their work. That doesn’t mean that if you’re not rich, you are not a good writer. It just means that the tastes and attitudes of the reading public ( a group which is growing smaller because of attrition) are always changing. Zombies and vampires seem to be the current fad, but what will it be next week? Maybe your heirs will benefit from your writing. “The Great Gatsby” makes far more money annually now, than it did when Scott Fitzgerald was alive. And several movies of it have been produced over the last decade. It’s hard to believe that it was considered a failure when first published.
So if you want to make money, seek another profession. If you are a professional writer, nothing can keep you from writing. It’s habit forming.