In some ways it is never cool to say you write a book for money. You’re supposed to say you do it for the love of writing. Stephen King wrote in his On Writing
memoir that he would still write even if he didn’t get paid for it. That maybe true, but if he had to have a day job, he certainly wouldn’t have written nearly the same amount of books, because he would be working a day job instead of writing huge books.
On the other hand, in this new indie publishing world many writers hope to make a career out of their writing. That sounds like writing a book for money to me.
I think people say don’t write for money because you have NO IDEA how little or how much money your book will make. Hugh Howey had no idea that his short story Wool
would make him a millionaire. I think it is better to say you don’t write for money, so that if you don’t make money then you don’t look silly.
But Jeff Posey has come up with an awesome spreadsheet showing the possible monetary and cash flow value of a book. With this new world of publishing, combined with the long-tail of digital shopping, books are now always in print, as long as you want them to be. Books you write this year, can still be making money for you 10 years from now. I find that to be awesome.
In my day job, I will go to work this week with the lesson plans I have written and get paid for this week’s work only once. I create a book, or movie, or song, this year in 2013 and I will still probably be collecting income on that work in 2023.
Sign me up for that.
Dean Wesley Smith agrees with Jeff this idea and he has been doing this for a long time. In fact he says:
And those of you joking around with that calculator he gives you, I can tell you right now WMG Publishing has 320 titles in print and going strong at a rate of about 50 new titles per year, if not more. Plug in your own income figures into that and then just laugh. I’m not laughing at all because I can tell you this calculator is pretty close after three years. Just saying.
But the key is to make indie writers realize the value over time in their own work.
You may not truly know how much a book will make you. But it is really fun to run the numbers. The real lesson here is to keep writing books and with perseverance, time, and a little luck, writing can be a great investment.