One of my favourite bloggers, Declan Burke, writes about the real cost of writing. I think it’s a smart read for anyone thinking about writing as a career!
The rates for freelance journalism have changed over the last decade, not always upward, so it can be hard to put an hourly figure on earnings. These days I can write a feature in two hours and earn €200 very rare, but my hourly rate, when I’m being honest with myself and factor in the daily commute, is usually closer to €20. Now let’s extrapolate, and apply that hourly rate to writing fiction. At two hours per day, five days per week, 48 weeks per year, at a rate of €20 per hour, that amounts to €9,600 per year ‘spent’ on writing fiction. Multiply that by the ten years I’ve been writing seriously, we’re looking at the guts of €100,000, or €33,000 per book published. And that’s presuming that I’ll have a book published in 2011, which is a pretty big presumption; if I don’t, we’re looking at each book I’ve published costing me €50,000. Meanwhile, the largest advance I’ve ever received is €10,500, a figure that’s roughly ten times what an author scrabbling around at my level is likely to receive if he or she is lucky enough to see a book land on a shelf.