Discovering your penny per word

penny per word

Last year I launched three children’s books and one short novella. What I find interesting is that this gave me a full year to understand my penny per word value of my regular fiction. In other words, if every word of my fiction is an investment and I get paid interest on that investment as a royalty… what would my value be for each typed word? Would it be 20 cents per word, like this EFA website claims are professional rates?

To get this figure, we need a few components. Let’s start with an assumption: the investment will pay 7.5% APY. How did I get this figure? I looked at the Nasdaq index for the last year. That’s the ruler I should be measuring all my investments against. Next up, let’s determine how much I spent on promotions for existing books. (Not counting promotions for new books and platform building) That looks to be about $70 last year. The fourth component is how much did I make in 2016 royalties for existing, non-2016 books across all platforms: $554. Finally, approximately how many words are in these books: 130,000.

Time for some math! Profit = $554-$70, which is $484. So, $484 is 7.5% (my APY) of $6,453. So if I take this $6,453/130,000 I get $0.05 per word. Nickle per word average.

Sounds rough, right? Well, let’s look at it from another mathematical perspective: I can make 15 words per minute including editing and research time.  That’s 75 cents per minute or $45/hr. I am happy with the thought of getting paid $45/hr to write fun stuff like Dinosaurs vs Zombies or dimensional bubbles. I also like the idea of building up a “nest egg” of writing. I hope to write about 200,000 words this year, which will result in $10,000 value (or $750 yearly royalty). $2 a day ($750/365.25) may not seem like a lot of money to most people, but building this is not about adding flame to gasoline. It’s using the momentum of years to carve a niche.