In my Monday morning procrastination, I decided to scribble some quick napkin maths to figure out how many books a writer would need to sell each year on Amazon to make minimum wage. (Quick warning if you’re looking to self-publish – the numbers aren’t encouraging).
Here’s a list of minimum wages sorted by country. In the UK where I live, it’s £7.20 an hour (that converts to ~$8.78 for those over in the colonies). Working a 40 hour week for 52 weeks a year, that gives you £14,976 (~$18,262).
Now, let’s say you sell ebooks at £1.99 each, the minimum required to reach the 70% royalty rate on Amazon. This means each sale nets you £1.39. To reach minimum wage with those figures you need to sell 10,774 copies per year. Not an impossible number, but realistically, how many people are going to risk £1.99 on an ebook by an unknown author?
So maybe you decide to sell at £0.99 to encourage more readers to your work. Well, Amazon drops the royalty rate to 35% at this point and things get seriously depressing. At £0.35 per sale, you would need to sell 42,799 copies a year just to keep a roof over your head. I can’t see any way that’s possible unless you’re already an established author, in which case you’re probably already doing fine.
I’ll be honest, sitting down and figuring out these numbers at the start of the work week wasn’t my smartest decision. There’s something to be said for doing what you love, but the figures bring a whole new meaning to the term ‘starving artist.’
If you can quit, quit. If you can’t quit, stop complaining – this is what you chose.
– J.A. Konrath
Well, that’s enough complaining. Back to writing.