A Writer’s Value: Breaking Down the Math

There’s been a lot of discussion, lately, about the value of a writer’s work. I have to say, it’s not just about authors, though I will be approaching this mostly from a writer’s perspective. But I have to say it: Artisans in general have been devalued, because people say “I can do that” without a clue what goes into the art.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people, right in front of me, say “Oh, I can make that myself” when looking at my jewelry.

You know what? Maybe you can. But you won’t. And it’s likely in most cases you won’t take the time or lay out the money to learn how to do it.

Writing involves learning, and the layout of money, on the faith that someone will find your work worthwhile enough to pay for. Most people have no idea what writing requires. I’m here to tell you.

It requires having the idea.

It requires research (months of it… sometimes years).

It requires focus.

It requires hours and hours of dedicated time, away from family and friends, with focus entirely on the work being done.

It requires a desire to create something larger than yourself — characters that people are going to care about more than they will ever care about you, stories that can convince readers to suspend reality.

My average book takes anywhere from four months to three years to write, depending on how deep the research goes. Can you honestly say that isn’t worth $6 for the final product?

If you calculate out the hours spent, versus my royalties on a $6 book (that’s roughly $2 I get per book sold), that means I have to sell at least 4 books just to make 1 hour’s pay, at minimum wage($8/hr). When you factor in that I spend, on average, 2,500 hours on each book, and calculate that out at minimum wage, it breaks down like this:

2,500 hrs x $8/hr = $20,000
(to break even just on time spent, at minimum wage)
+
200 pgs (average) x 4 printings (average) = 800 pages /500 pg per ream = 1.55 reams of paper x 3.64/ream = $5.47 paper cost (average)
+
0.67 cartridge ink (average) x 4 color (1,200 pages per cartridge) = Use of 2 2/3 cartridges (average) x $20/cartridge = $53.40 ink cost (average)
+
Notebooks, copies, pens, etc items usually come to about $50 per book, on average.

So, on average, that totals out to:
$20,000 + $5.47 + $53.40 + $50 = $20,108.87 on average for a book, and that’s just in production cost on my end (the writing), and assuming a publisher will pick up publication costs.

Now, remembering I will only be making (on average) $2 per book sold, just to break even, I’m going to have to sell 10,055 copies just to break even on writing one book… and that doesn’t include any advertising costs or other post-production expenses I’m expected to eat as an author.

You want to know what my average yearly income from writing is? About $30 (if I’m lucky).

Considering how much I have to fight torrent sites, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn I’m probably losing 10 times that amount to people stealing my work because they feel entitled to read it for free.

So… It takes a certain amount of dedication and drive to write a whole book (never mind a series or three), and the sacrifices. And everyone who devalues authors with “Oh, I could write a book if I wanted to” and “It’s not like it’s hard work” or “Well, authors make so much money, they can afford to lose the sale if I get it for free off a torrent site” are so full of crap, it’s coming out of their eyeballs.

Could you write a book?
Yeah, maybe you could. But you probably won’t. Because the minute most people realize how difficult and thankless it actually is, they give up. If you aren’t writing now, you probably don’t have the dedication and drive to do it for a career.

Is it hard work?
You bet your ass it is.

It’s grueling.

It’s time-consuming.

It’s hours and days and months of aggravation, missing out on things because your muse has you glued to a notebook or computer screen, writing away.

It’s heart-breaking at times, and exhilarating at others.

It’s 72 hours straight without sleep because you’re terrified if you stop, you’ll lose that brilliant idea that’s currently consuming you.

It’s ripping out your heart and soul and offering it up so some critic who’s having a bad day can make themselves feel better by stomping all over it, and then pasting on a smile and saying “Well, I learn from the bad reviews”… And days of bouncing off the walls with joy, and no one to share it with, when someone deems your hard work the best thing they ever read.

It’s a damned roller coaster of “I don’t know what to feel, right now” when you’re stuck between watching a love affair come together, and watching a life fall apart, right there on the page, and not being quite sure how either came to be, because they damned well weren’t in your outline, plot cards, or rough draft.

Can we afford to lose even one sale?
Not a snowball’s chance in Hell. We’ve bled for each and every sale, long before that book hits the shelves for sale. Writers are fragile creatures, and we base our self-worth on how worthwhile you, as the reader, consider us. Telling us “I want to read your book, but you’re not worth a measly $6 to read” tells us you think we, as a writer, are worthless… Many a good author has given up, discouraged, because they feel worthless in the eyes of their readers, because readers make the mistake of thinking every writer is the #1 Best Seller book, and making millions of dollars.

But you know how a book gets to that exalted position? People buy it.

So, unless you’re willing to buy, don’t call yourself a fan.

Books 01

“Dangerous Request” – Excerpt from BLOOD DEBT (Project Prometheus)

BloodDebtCoverArt

When Doctor Michael Banks asked his brother to find him a specialist to help combat the biological weapon wiping out entire villages in the Amazon jungles, he expected a dedicated, licensed doctor with enough lab time to make Albert Schweitzer green with envy, and warrior enough to handle himself in the Amazon.  So he was stunned and disappointed to find himself face-to-face with a petite spitfire of a woman with no degree, desert features, and china blue eyes.  To beat the poison, Michael will need everything at his disposal, and the Persian spitfire at his side has the key to his most valuable weapon — if he can keep her far away from his darkest secret.

 

“Dangerous Request” –Excerpt from Blood Debt (Project Prometheus, Book 4) :

Michael, his head bent in concentration over the most recent batch of blood tests, jerked upright as a scream tore through the camp. As his brain registered the sound came from the nearby blood-supply tent, where Shahdi was working, icy panic lanced through him.

He lunged for the lab’s entrance, and dashed out into the bright light of day, with barely an acknowledgement of moving as he tore into the canvas of the collapsed tent next door.

“Shahdi!”

“Michael,” her faint voice, even muffled by the heavy canvas, sent an electric charge of relief through his veins. Shoving aside canvas as he went, Michael waded through the collapsed tent, until he uncovered a sight that made his blood run cold.

Shahdi lay pinned beneath a large chunk of the main support pole, with the heavy beam wedged sideways across her body from left shoulder to right hip. That thing had to be crushing her!

Scrambling to her side, Michael grasped the pole, muscles straining as he lifted the beam away. It wasn’t as heavy as it was awkward to lift, but it was still heavy enough to do damage when dropped from nearly fifteen feet above. Discarding the pole, he dropped to the ground at Shahdi’s side even as she tried to sit up.

“Don’t move!”

She gave him an odd look — probably questioning the sharp fear in his voice — but subsided with nothing more than a sigh and a wince. Michael ran his hands quickly over her body, checking for cracked or broken bones and warmer than normal spots that would indicate internal bleeding. Relief poured through him when he found nothing.

“This is not how I planned to have your hands on me.” The humorous lilt of Shahdi’s voice snapped his gaze to her face, and he scowled as his fear boiled over into anger.

“You could have been killed, and you’re cracking jokes?”

She rolled her eyes as she slowly sat up, his hands steadying her in spite of her apparent strength.

“You must learn to not fret so, Michael,” she murmured. “The point is that I was not harmed. Therefore, a little humor puts the situation into its proper place.”

“You’re going to have nasty bruises by tomorrow–”

“But they will heal with time.”

“You’ll be stiff and hurting–”

“But I am alive.”

He eyed her testily, his nerves drawn to breaking point. Damn it, she was hurt; couldn’t she see how much the idea scared him? “You have an answer for everything, don’t you?”

“No.” Her good humor fled, and her somber blue gaze met his. “I do not know how to make you love me.”

Blood Debt – Available from Desert Breeze Publishing on May 11,2016

BURDEN OF PROOF Patron Search

I’ve been talking for a while about getting my charity series, starting with Burden of Proof (to benefit RAINN and The Rape Foundation) back out and available for sale.

This is a project very near and dear to me, as it helps me donate more to some of the charities I already actively support.

However, in order to make this dream come true, and to be able to reach out and help more people, I need your help. In becoming a patron of this project, you become part of the chain of donations, and help those impacted by rape and domestic violence, and many more, as time goes on.

Please consider becoming a patron, today. Every penny raised goes to the production of this book in e-book, paperback, and hardcover book, and the proceeds go to help victims and survivors of rape and domestic violence, and to help prevent these crimes from happening, through education and support.

If you are interested in helping by becoming a patron of my project, please follow the link below and donate, today.

Thank you, and bless you all.

Become a Patron – Click Here 

Burden of Proof Final

An Author’s Life

~Esther Mitchell, 2016~

Yes, I’m an author.
I fall a little in love with my heroes.
I want to grow up to be my heroines.
I recoil in horror at my villains.
I laugh out loud at my comic relief,
and my heart breaks for every heartbreak my characters feel.

Yes, I’m an author.
I have a thousand friends,
who all understand me just as I understand them.
We know each other’s secrets,
We laugh, cry, and live together,
all within the same small space.

Yes, I’m an author.
You can call me crazy,
You can call me strange,
You can shake your head and walk away.
It’s not going to change anything.
Because there are a thousand people in my world,
all waiting for me to smile, to wave,
to ask, “What have you been up to, today?”

color graph

Beyond Dracula: A Brief Look at Vampires and Vampirism

Now, before I go into any detail, let me make one point very clear (because I get asked this question repeatedly): Yes, I do believe in the existence of vampires.  What I do NOT believe in are the concoctions of fiction spawned by old cinematic special effects.  Having said that, let’s first examine what a vampire is.

Vampires, by all historical accounts, fall into one of two categories: the Living, and the Revenant (dead).  Living vampires have never been dead.  They’re most likely not going to be harmed by anything WE wouldn’t be harmed by.  They can be super-fast, and super-strong, but they’re certainly not going to be turning into sand, bats, rats, or what-have-you.  The most common type of Living vampire is known as a Psychic Vampire.  Some psychic vampires don’t even know they ARE vampires.  These people feed off of the energy of others, leaving them emotionally, mentally, and spiritually drained.  Have you ever been around someone, and when you left, you just felt like you needed to go home and sleep for 24 hours?  If this happens repeatedly with the same person, chances are good that person may be a psychic vampire.  These are, by far, not the only Living vampires, but they are the most prevalent.  There are Living vampires who drink blood, as well (though why, no one is certain.  The live human stomach is full of acids that break down and render blood useless), and even some types of cannibals fall under the category of Living Vampire.  Contrary to some belief, vampires are not categorized solely by whether or not they drink blood.  They are categorized by the fact that an encounter with one leaves you missing some vital bodily force, whether that be energy, blood, or flesh.

Fiction’s more common vampiric friends and fiends are the Revenant, or Risen, vampires.  These are the corpses of people (and animals) who have died.  Contrary to most popular fiction, being bit by a vampire will not instantly turn you into one, and nor will drinking their blood.  By historical accounts, turning into a Revenant vampire has more to do with the manner of your death and burial than it does ever encountering another vampire.  A violent death, leading to a desire for blood vengeance, or an improper burial can cause a body to rise as a vampire.  Yes, being drained by a vampire can kill you, and perhaps even instill that need for vengeance, but the concept of being bitten and becoming a vampire are not mutually exclusive.  Also, drinking a vampire’s blood isn’t likely to do much (see above where I referenced blood in the living human stomach), and though transfusion of vampire blood might, in theory, turn someone, there is no evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, to support this (there are no documented cases, since the development of blood transfusion, that note any vampiric tendencies after a transfusion).  Another point that’s supported by historical evidence is that vampires are not confined merely to the physical plane.  There are vampiric entities and spirits which are not corporeal (physically present) on our plane.  They often behave in a manner similar to ghosts, except that they drain spiritual/physical energy from their victims.  These often fall into the “vengeance” category of the Revenant vampire.

If you are interested in finding out more about vampires, please check back for information on my webinar “Beyond Dracula: Myths and Evidence of Vampirism in History and the Modern Age”

“The Seer’s Curse” – Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus)

ShadowWalkerCoverArt

Their mission is to search out and bring down those who trade in terrorism, fear, and human suffering by whatever means necessary.  To do this, they must be willing to give up their freedom, and even their lives. They are a mercenary unit with a mission, and a motivation that has nothing to do with what they get paid, and everything to do with the innocent lives they save. Meet the men and women of…

Project Prometheus

Trevor Watkins is the miracle of the hour; the survivor of an unassisted coma.  But he awakes in a strange place, with no memory but one – the smiling face of a woman with jade-green eyes he has a dreadful feeling he’s supposed to hate.  Trapped in a living nightmare from which he believes there is no escape, he finds himself face-to-face with a betrayal he can’t help but forgive, and a secret he can’t hide from.  Now, the jade-eyed beauty from his past can set him free, if he’s willing to let her step into a world that could take her away from him forever.

“The Seer’s Curse” -Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus, Book 3) —

Smoke curled up from the city below, and the distant sounds of death and battle filled Ausar’s ears.  His nostrils flared with the scent of burnt flesh and fresh blood, and rage coiled in his gut to know that Onuris’ minions were the genesis of this slaughter.  As the Crophines‘ Seer, his was the responsibility to guide Ali-Antos towards a bright future.  Why had he not foreseen this?  Why did he receive no warning, no way by which to prepare the people of Ali-Antos for battle?  It was as if the Great Gods mocked him, reminding him that, while he was immortal within the confines of Aermornosa, he was still fallibly human.  Now, the people he was sworn to guide and protect were helpless lambs at the altar of Onuris’ lust for blood and power.

A low, lupine growl rumbled through his chest, and his pupils drank in the light as the wildness within gripped him.  If not for his position, he would be down there, in the thick of battle.  The Gods gifted him with an ability that could turn the tide of the struggle in the city below.  But the weight of the Medicine pouch slung across his chest reminded him that he was bound by other covenants.  He must defend his charge, regardless of the cost.  Which meant he must leave this place.  When the Sodalitas Arachaena arrived at Aermornosa’s gates, they must find nothing of use.

“We must go.”

He turned toward the voice, to meet the dark gaze of the Musir to his left.   Sargon.  The Warrior among them.  Quickly, his gaze flashed over the rest.  Lugh, Mykalos, Csilla.  These were the only family he knew, and he would defend them with his life’s blood.

“It is time, Shadow Walker,” Sargon nodded toward the hidden tunnel that led to the docks only the Elder Musir knew existed.  There, boats would carry them to the far reaches of the Earth, to hide their charges.  They would never see each other again.  And the darkness that filled Ausar had only one bright spot of light.  He had seen the future, in his mirror.  One day, the Gods would bring the five sacred artifacts back to Aermornosa, and return the balance.  Peace settled over him.  That knowledge was comfort enough.

Get ready for the next Chapter of Project Prometheus

SHADOW WALKER

Available 12/21/2015

Discover Project Prometheus today!  Join the struggle between light and darkness with IN HER NAME

“Christmas Shadows”: Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus)

ShadowWalkerCoverArtWhen I first realized Trevor and Jaye’s story was going to play out over the holiday season, I was leery of what I call “the Rockwell Effect.” That is, I was very much afraid I’d end up with some postcard-perfect family scene that was a total contradiction to the emotionally volatile situation these two characters were in.

But, as usual with my characters, Trevor and Jaye came through for me.  Even little Jordan added that special, bittersweet moment of the hope of Christmas magic and the uncertainty of a child whose world is far from decided. And the scene that followed left me holding my breath in awe of this character (Trevor) I watched come to life from the first time he appeared on the page, in IN HER NAME.

“Christmas Shadows”: Excerpted from Project Prometheus: SHADOW WALKER —

Left alone in the empty family room, still surrounded by the scents and sights of the home he should have had all along, Trevor stared sightlessly at the dancing lights of Jaye’s Christmas tree until the image blurred before his eyes.  He’d thought he could put things right, that if he cared enough, and paid enough, he could wipe out the debt he had, and start over.  Have a real chance.

But the frightened little voice now echoing in his ears, and the worried frown that didn’t belong on a nine-year-old’s face, haunted him.  Jordan’s love was immediate and unconditional.  But the boy’s trust was another matter, and in that Trevor saw himself again, a twelve-year-old boy faced with his father’s absence, and his mother’s distance as she lost herself in a bottle.  Had he ever really forgiven either of them?

The answer was a resounding No.  He’d pitied his mother, but he still couldn’t forgive her for choosing alcohol over her children.  Even after his own bout with that demon, he couldn’t let go of the pain.  And Jerome’s chronic selfishness – bitterness and rage stirred in Trevor’s chest.  The man abandoned them.  Disappeared.  And now Trevor managed to prove himself as unreliable as either parent.

The disgust he felt for himself shook Trevor to the core.  He’d hurt Jaye and Jordan in ways he couldn’t erase.  There was no clean slate, and he was a fool to think there could ever be one.  He would spend the rest of his life earning Jordan’s trust, and probably still fail in the end.  But Jaye – Jaye’s fears, he could set right.  She was afraid he blamed her for Somalia.  She thought she wasn’t worthy of him.  The mere thought caught in his throat.  As if he was such a great catch.

With a resigned sigh, Trevor levered himself up from the sofa and turned off the Christmas lights, plunging the room into near-darkness.  How appropriate.  He lived in shadow, chained far away from the light.  But if he was very lucky, tonight he might just win a reprieve.

Get ready for the next Chapter of Project Prometheus

Shadow Walker

Available 12/21/2015