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December 2014

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don't have to speak anymore

Somebody just emailed to ask me, in light of Amazonfailers saying how overpaid (and wealthy and greedy) authors are, how long it takes me to write a book. She phrased it in terms of 40 hour work weeks.

I had to answer, I have no idea.

My schedule for today:

6:30 am: wake up, roll over, push cat off laptop and start writing Grail.
8:30 am: 771 words! Good enough. Time to quit and go for a run, do some yoga, shower, eat breakfast. (While running, work on plot elements for Shadow Unit.
9:30 am: back at the laptop, reading a book for review, answering business emails, waiting for mailman, proofreading galleys
12:00 pm: Run errands--bread, dental floss, vitamins, kitty drugs 
1:00 pm: Go to gym, swim, think about a scene for The Steles of the Sky.
2:00 pm: Eat a heck of a lot of sushi.
3:00 pm: Home, working. Write that scene for The Steles of the Sky (already written in my head.) Write another portion of the scene for Grail. Damn character still not dead.  Maybe tomorrow morning.
6:00 pm: Fuck this, I'm starving.
7:00 pm: Brush dog and watch Memento
9:30 pm: take out trash, take dog out, feed dog (OMG we need dogfood yesterday), crap cats have no water, can nobody in this place but me wash a dish?
10:00 pm: answer work emails, pet cats, back to reading that book for review. I thought I might get the review written tonight, and I still might, but I wrote this blog post instead.
Midnight: fall the hell over.

I get paid somewhere around $12,000 for a book. That's before my agent and the IRS get their cut. If you want to know how I write three books a year? That's how. If you want to know why I write three books a year....

Yeah.

You know what? It's a great job, but I'm in it for the love, not the money.

You know, publishing runs on tiny little margins. I happen to think a book that takes me something like three years of my life to write (albeit intermittently) is worth $15.99 if you want to read it as soon as it comes out. (And I also think $4.99 is a fair price for backlist.)

See, only about 10% of the cost of a book is paper and ink. There's all that effort that goes into it, too--the effort of people like me, and my editors, and my copyeditors, and the cover artists, and the book designers.

Every single one of those people has to pay rent and eat. Some of them, poor sots, live in Manhattan, because that's where they keep the publishing industry these days.

I'm a professional, with years of experience and practice behind me. I have a shiny rocketship or two and a couple of cheeseboards that say other people also think I'm halfway good at my job.

I am not a bestseller. I am a midlist author with no spouse, no means of support other than writing, and no family money. I work hard.

(I'm not actually interested in discussing this topic; nor am I interested in arguing it. As far as I'm concerned, the current slapfight is exactly as boring as every other slapfight I've ever seen, and I don't have time to moderate a slapfight. But I did think it would be nice to give a solid answer to the question "So how long does it take you to write a book?" So here it is, and I am taking the unusual step (for me) of screening comments from non-friends.)

And if you excuse me, I have to go read this book so I can turn in this damned book review.



ETA And it's one AM and I finished that book finally. Night, guys. </b>

Comments

A hell of a lot of it comes from supermarkets and airports, though.

Really? Wow. That's awesome! I just... had expected those venues to lean rather more towards the Dan Browns of the world than the Elizabeth Bears. Clearly I haven't been paying close enough attention/have been letting my stereotypes get the better of me.

You're certainly going to reach a hell of a lot broader audience there than on Amazon, where people much more have to go looking for you.
I'm not sure how much browsing happens on Amazon.

I don't get the saturation the Dan Browns of the world get, but yeah, I get a certain amount of retail outlet distribution. The only time *I* have ever seen one of my own books in an airport was in Salt Lake city, but I have heard tell from others it is so.

Airports. Now if airports stopped selling my books, I would worry.
Cool. I tend to go to airports with books already picked out, but I do occasionally find myself at loose ends in an airport bookstore, and I'll have to keep an eye out.
I browse on Amazon, but it isn't exactly easy. I spent several years training it to come up with reasonable book recommendations that I could then skim through. I doubt most people are obsessive enough and have the time to put in that kind of effort even if they wanted to.
I can confirm that (a) I fly often for work, and (b) I often see your books at airport bookstores. (Say, at least one book upwards of 50% of the time at dedicated bookstores, and also some at the little airport news shop bookracks.)