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Cost of writing?

Discussion in 'Writer's Lounge' started by tirial, June 14, 2018.

  1. tirial

    tirial IT fixer extraordinaire Scribe

    I keep hearing people say writers should provide their writing for free because it doesn't cost anything to write. That's not my experience and I'm not just talking about costs of living. There are direct costs for writing e.g. materials, software, research, notes, and also opportunity costs of what else you could have used the time for. So what does it cost you to write?

    I'd say for me it's around £5 a day, made up of notepads (two or three a week), pens and refills (I go through 4-10 a week), software (the joy of speech recognition: the Windows integral one is useless), museum entrance fees for research, and a cafe stop for a few hours twice a week to do intensive writing at £5 each because London is far too expensive. So if someone wants my work free, they expect me to pay about £35 a week.

    Is anyone else willing to sare some ballpark figures?
  2. penumbra

    penumbra Member

    What kind of lunatics are saying that writing should be provided for free?!

    Let's see what I can come up with.

    Notebooks - Probably one a week
    Pens/Refills - Probably one pack a week
    Jpass on JSTOR - For research purposes
    Internet - I don't know if I should include this or not but it's something I definitely need for writing.

    I would say it comes out to right around your ballpark figure. Honestly though, I think time is what's most important. You can't put a price on that.
  3. Kindler

    Kindler Active Member

    Hmm, lets also just add in the minimum hourly rate at approx. £7.50/hour.

    So if you spend two hours writing five days a week, that is another £75 in earnings you could be getting elsewhere.
  4. jessica

    jessica Citizen of Logres

    Do agents still need printed manuscripts? That adds printing, paper, ink, and postage::coffee::?
  5. Gemini

    Gemini Member

    That's a good way to quantify the cost of time.

    I'm assuming here, but I think that probably varies. I would think that digital manuscripts would be more convenient for all parties involved, but I could be wrong about that. Although, if they want digital manuscripts they might require specific software, so there would still be additional costs involved.
  6. porridge

    porridge Member

    Cheap'uns who don't want to pay for it ;).
  7. Zelda

    Zelda Member

    I think anyone who says that writing should be provided for free should be forced to sit down and try to write something. Maybe then they'll appreciate that it's work.
  8. tirial

    tirial IT fixer extraordinaire Scribe

    I completely agree. The other thing that irritates me is certain authors saying that piracy is flattery or marketing. In each case I have looked at, these were authors published by traditional publishing houses who received an advance, so they've already got money to live on for their work (e.g. Paul Coelho, Neil Gaiman). The risk to profit and income is taken by the publishing house, not the author who advocates piracy.

    For indies and small press authors with no advance, the view seems to be somewhat different. Kathy Steineman is very blunt about that in her open letter: An Open Letter to All Book Pirates
  9. Zelda

    Zelda Member

    o_O I didn't know that there were authors advocated piracy. Even in cases where they are authors published by traditional publishing houses, I can't see why they would advocate this. So, of course, I had to look this up.

    The first hit was a quote from Paulo Coelho: "Some call this 'piracy'. I call it a medal to any writer who understands that there are no better reward than to be read." Firstly, I expect better grammar from him. Secondly, of course everyone wants their book to be read but, like you said, he's not footing the bill. That's egocentric.

    Someone needs to point him and any other author that condones piracy to that letter. Piracy isn't good for marketing and it sure as heck isn't flattering. Theft never is.
  10. Tregaron

    Tregaron Member

    I know of one publisher who requests manuscripts be sent to them on USB drives. That must be rather expensive for the writer.
  11. Reader

    Reader Vile Critic

    In addition to the costs of writing, there can also be the costs of cover artwork, editing, proofing, formatting and more. That can be well over several hundred pounds to get it done well, and that cost has to be fronted before publication. It is quite possible for poorer authors to be shut out of publishing by those costs, though some may use sites like Smashwords to reduce them.
  12. Tregaron

    Tregaron Member

    I believe the other cost will be the internet connection. For writers who don't have one at home due to finances or location, use of a library (outside limited hours) or cybercafe could be rather expensive.

    If you will excuse the hijack, Maggie Stiefvater managed to prove that piracy does hurt and that, contrary to many authors' comments, pirated copies are lost sales. The book where the arc was leaked nearly got her dropped by her publisher. She uploaded a faked version to torrent sites for her next title, and the pirates went to Amazon and bought it. The print run sold out in two days.
  13. Reader

    Reader Vile Critic

    Costs of writing, it seems, even apply to reviewers. My venerable kindle keyboard has died, so I am limited to a computer for the while. The replacement cost of hardware is quite a considerable cost, particularly on a budget.

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