Someone asked the other day if I had some kind of measurement to know when I’d break even with a book, which would include the number of clock hours I’d written it in addition to editing, cover, design, advertising and other expenses. Such questions boggle my mind because I don’t clock in and out of writing. I write even when I sleep – in fact, I “wrote” most of the last novel while I slept.
I’d try to hit 1000 words minimum each day from April 30 – August 30, editing as I went and at night, I would “dream” the problems of that chapter away so the next day, I could return to that previous chapter and revise and “fix” it. It meant that in the end, unlike Loving Ashe which was 101K words written in 75 days in 2014, 80K words for Everything She Ever Wanted was written in 120 days because there was a lot of editing going on. Definitely a lot of working even while I was supposed to be resting.
But whether it’s 75 or 120 days, trying to factor in the clock hours spent would drive me crazy. I can’t – and won’t – put a price tag on the hourly rate for what I do. I do know that if I did, I’d be working for literal peanuts, not even half the minimum wage especially when you factor in all the other things you have to pay for, like editing, cover design, and promotions.
It’s what makes writing a vocation for those who choose to pursue it, even when the queries end up in piles of rejection letters or our self-published books get buried so deep in the online catalogs we stop counting past six figure rankings. Sure, it can be a hobby for some but for people like me, it’s way more than that. It’s a way of life that started long, long before I started publishing, back when I devoured the books that would inspire me to put words on paper and keep dreaming up my stories. And now that it’s what I do every day, there’s just no clocking in and out of writing. It is what it is.
You can’t put a price tag on that.