The Writer’s World: Words and Numbers

Now normally today I’d be writing about Monsters, but because I’m currently involved in editing and re-writing a few things, I thought I would do something else.

I’m surrounded by writers. I have a lot of friends from all around the world on FB and the vast majority of them are involved in publishing. Mostly on the creative end of things, ie: writing. We all share an overriding love of words, language and reading; and that includes hating anyone who mangles those things that we lurve

Many of my writer friends have their fingers in other pies; one friend is an English Teacher, another is an Editor / Publisher and a third is a cover designer.

Not to mention the one who is a Translator and another who runs his own engineering consultancy business.  We enjoy all the words we come across, up to and including,  slang and colloquialisms. However textese gives us the screaming abdabsand you’ll never find us using much of it, even when we are actually texting!

Now before you naff off in a huff over the fact that we writers consider words to be our own personal playground, we’re quite happy to let other writers play in it, even if they are copy writers or journalists…

*Hides from any irate journalists*

I read a lot of books. Some of them grab me and hold me until I read the last page. Some of them I can barely read past the first page. Why?

Well putting it very simply, they are a load of Tosh.

There useless peices of junk that are barely readable. It doesnt matter if their is a good story to it, if the words don’t make sense i the sentances and y haveto add you”re onwn editingand proofreding bfore you can reed them it taks away the joy of the words themselves.

*pants* That was really hard to write…

All those people who don’t bother to even get someone with decent reading ability to proofread their work before they publish it. To enjoy a story you have to be able to read it!

And while I’m on the subject of reading…

The Internet is a wonder of the Digital Age. It allows us to share the beauty of our creative efforts to a much wider audience than print alone allows.  Musicians, Artists and Movie Makers  also share this wonderful place and while the ability to download is a bangin’ tool, it is also a place that has its share of pirates.

Musicians and Movie Makers make money out of other things as well as the music / movie (such as ticket sales, merchandise so and so forth), Artists and Writers produce one thing – the work of art or the book – and this means that when that work is copied (by whatever means) and shared free and without permission,  it takes money away from the person who created it.

Most of my work is published through e-format. I’m quite happy to sell my work for a reasonable price and recently I thought I would work out exactly what that price should be.

Now, take “Tales of Cassius: Statues of Justice “, the story I recently self published through Kindle. The reason I am going to use this is that I did most of  this myself, as I did garner a friend’s opinion on it as a beta read as well.

Let’s run through a proper costing –

Number of Words: 10,300 (approx.)

Initial Labour: 6 hrs p/day x 4 days = 24 hrs

Second Draft Edit: 6 hrs p/day x 7 days = 42 hrs

Third Draft Edit: 6 hrs x 7 days = 42 hrs

Final Edit: 6 hrs x 3 days = 18 hrs

Book Formatting: 6 hrs x 7 days = 42 hrs

Book Cover Design:  6 hrs x 7 days = 42 hrs

Total Labour Time: 220 hours

Cost of Labour: £6.08 per hour (The UK’s National Minimum Wage)

Now them’s the figures, let’s do the figurin’ –

Cost of Labour x Cost of Labour = Basic Product Cost to Me.

£6.08 x 220 hrs = £1337.60

And if I were to add in the (minimum) cost of the beta reader?

£1337.60 + £500 = £1837.60

Let’s add 20 % VAT to that, considering that a book is a luxury item in the UK:

£1837.60 + £267.52 = £2105.12

How many people would buy a 10k story for that? After all that’s a lot of money… but consider this –

We’re talking about a 10,300 word story which I am proud of  and a cover which isn’t the best piece of graphic design I have ever done, but it is much better than some of the ones I ‘ve seen out there.

What this amount boils down to is 0.20p per word (or thereabouts).  To retrieve what my story is worth in the time, effort and lurve that I put into my work, I would have to charge a small fortune.

In order to sell that story, I have to reduce the amount I am charging for it.

The amount I am asking for it?

£1.33

How much is that per word?

0.00012p 

How many books will I have to sell to recoup the time, effort and love I put into  the story?

1005.71

Now tell me that I only do this for the money?

So when you’re reading a book that you’ve downloaded from a pirating site, think about how much money you are taking away from that author.

I suppose you could argue that for a bigged up author, one of those who are published by one of the big six and whose work is being sold at £6.99 or more, you might say that you’re not taking a whole lot of cash away from them – in fact you’re actually stealing it from the publisher, more than the author… technically.

Many of the people who are being targeted by these people, these pirates, are Indies or published by Small Press. You download a book free from a pirating site and you steal  the change from their pockets.

There is also the fact that the author loves their work, that’s the reason they want to share it in the first place by getting it published.  So that other people can read it and love it too. In a very real sense, the work we authors (artists, musicians, movie makers) put out there is a child to us and we are proud of that work and love it. We don’t want to see it being degraded in any way.

We don’t mind a Public or College Library buying the book and sharing it free with their members – in fact we love this because it fosters a love of reading. Besides, should the library members want to have their own copy of it, they can come and buy one…

Pirating a piece of work, whether it is a piece of music, a book, a photograph or a movie, degrades the value of that work. If it is then sold on at a profit or you donate to the site that pirates it, then that is even more disgusting as it is out and out theft.

Please don’t support the PIRATES!

Now, I’ve dealt with those issues, I’m going to drop back to words.

You might have noticed that I’ve been using a lot of slang in today’s blog post; I’ve even been quite helpful and highlighted it with bold and italic formatting.

One of my FB friends was discoursing upon the terrible state of some of the books being published in the e-format market place.  She used a particularly common piece of slang to express her love of  finding new authors (and I’ve used the same word at least twice in this post) in her blog post on the matter.

One of the people who commented on the piece accused her of making a mistake in her blog post and refusing to recognise it. He also went on to say that there was no such word, unless it was a french variation… Hah! I’ve been using that word for most of my life.

First rule of  Literacy that I learned at Primary school – if you don’t understand a word, then look it up – if it doesn’t appear in a print dictionary, google it!

The bit from his comment that got me the most?

“I do understand your point, but when you put down others it would help if you did it without making the same point in your writing as an example of what you say you don’t like.”

*shakes head*

She wasn’t putting anyone down, just pointing out the state of the market that those of us who take pride in our work and love to put out the very best that we possibly can, are having to fight to sell our work to readers in.

The muck and morass of all these unedited writers, that give us Indie and Small Press writers a poor reputation…

*sighs*

I apologise if I’ve let too much rant out and not made much sense, but I needed to let this out and it is relevant to my job, my career, my first love – WRITING!

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