Sunday, September 26, 2010

Writing By the Numbers

I've been doing some number crunching. Okay, I had trouble falling asleep last night, and this was one thing going through my mind. Consequently, the numbers are a little rough.

I'd been doing some market research, and although some markets sounded like fun, they didn't pay much. Some didn't pay at all. And I've arrived at the conclusion that even though I can make an odd buck or two through freelancing and working assignments for temporary agencies, I'd rather spend my time writing. Not just any writing; I want to write fiction.

Still, making a few bucks for the occasional steak dinner would be a good thing.

So, I've got to start treating my writing as more of a job. Here's what last night's rough numbers told me. Let's say I aspire to make $10 an hour at my writing. If I'm selling to a market paying $0.01 per word, I can spend 1 hour per 1000 words. My short stories tend to be around 5000 words, so that's 5 hours I can spend on that story. Not a lot of time to compose, re-write, edit and polish. If I could sell that 5000-word story to a market paying $0.05 per word, I could spend 25 hours on it. That sounds a little more do-able. Therefore, I should concentrate my efforts on submitting to those higher paying markets. Consequently, this morning I have rearranged my market list from 'deadline' (useful for contests and anthologies) to 'pay rate'. Yes, writing about rabid, badass tumbleweeds does sound intriguing, but that particular market is now very low on my list, because the pay rate just doesn't make it worth the effort.

Of course, if none of those top-paying markets is interested in my 5000-word piece, then I would keep submitting down the line. Bringing in a few bucks is better than no bucks, and it would at least be a publishing credit, which I don't currently have. Since every market wants to know what else you've published and where, it is apparently important to them.

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