Friday, May 22, 2009

Mugging the writer

Take a good look. That's me. I'm an ordinary everyday kind of woman. No glamour. No high living. My office is in the living room squashed in with all the other odds and ends. The sole advantage I have over most other writers is that I'm retired with no children at home. It could be that you won't see me again. Why?

Google my name.

In the first page, you'll likely find that my books are listed on multiple piracy sites. Just like everyone else in the world, I work for money. Oh, you thought I wrote for love of the word? Well... not!

Writing is a difficult, thankless calling. In order to write well enough to be published, I must have a workable idea, write a story a publisher will contract and a reader will be willing to buy. For every story of say... fifty thousand words there is an initial time investment of approximately six hundred hours. Hmmm.

Current minimum wage in my state is $6.55. So my initial time investment is worth $3,930. That does not cover my taxes, supplies, or Social Security. In order to recoup my investment I must find a publisher willing to offer me a contract (for most e-pubs there is no advance!) Then I will spend additional hours on edits, final line edits, and promotion--again all without receiving a dime. So let's add in that additional time... That's another $786.

Eventually, approximately eight months after the initial contract, my book is released. Now I'll tell you a secret. The most that I've ever made on a book is $3, 260. That was for sales over a year. That's the only book I made that much money on. My average sales over a year for an individual book are about $1200.

For my best selling book I'm in the hole to the tune of $1456. For my average sales, I'm behind (in time invested) $3520--per book!

As the proliferation of piracy sites and theft have increased, my sales have steadily decreased. In the last six months alone my sales have dropped over 50%. A glance at the download numbers on the piracy sites make it clear where those sales are going.

In effect, I'm mugged by my readers every time I contract a book. I don't know a single person who would continue to work at a profession if they were robbed every time they were paid--if they knew that more than fifty percent of their wages would be stolen by thieves. Why should I?

Quite frankly, the local McDonald's is hiring and I doubt that I would face the same kind of theft there. If I worked the same number of hours--at minimum wage--I would net at least $11,921. That's $2,500 more than I made last year from writing.

So...what would you do?



Amber Skyze said...

Keep writing. With your talent it would be a waste to let them defeat you. I say F#$%^ them!

Cris Anson said...

Excellent way of explaining it, Anny. I only hope that some of those muggers read it and come to their senses. We authors struggle to get the words and emotions right and it's only fair that we be paid for our labors, just like anyone else.

Keep on writing, and keep on fighting!

Cris Anson
FIRST TO DIE now in print

jean hart stewart said...

You have got to keep writing, Anny. Your books are so special, I'm not surprised they are pirated, but e-book pubbing is just starting to soar and you're one of our stars.

Madison Blake said...

I feel your pain, Anny. We have to continue to fight these pirates! And keep writing!