Mar 21 2008

$350,000 for Publishing Rights to Stuff White People Like Book?

Published by at 8:42 pm under Online Novel

Wow. Nice job, guys. The TWPL site started two months ago and has attracted 15 million hits (itself an astonishing achievement: I estimate they get 1800 times as many hits per day as we do).

If we assume that a publisher offers the same amount of money per hit ($.0233), then I’ve calculated that our site has so far created $600 worth of publishability. By my estimates, we work (collectively) between 20 and 40 hours a week for this website. I calculate that we earn $.83 per hour.  [Update: for the month of September 2008, we earned between $1.20 and $1.75]

Final verdict: I shouldn’t quit my day-job.

By comparison, if we assumed that the author(s) of SWPL worked 20 hours a day for the last two months, Jess has earned $292 per hour. (Minus his/her costs, but I don’t know what those would look like. Traffic control, I guess).

*The publisher says the Observer’s $350,000 number is off but won’t say if it’s over or under the actual number. If I had to guess either way, I’d say the real number is likely lower…

If they’ve had 15 million hits, I’d offer a mostly uneducated guess that there are 5 million people behind that. I’d venture to say that it’s actually fewer than that, because it seems like a site that has a core audience that comes back again and again. (According to Benchmarks, only 60% of traffic in our category, for example, is new visitors).

Let’s also assume that these 5 million viewers are the core of their audience. Admittedly, they’ll probably add viewers and sell copies to non-viewers, but let’s ignore both of those for now.

If they could convince even 1% of those viewers to spend probably $10-20 on something they’ve already been getting for free, I’d be very impressed. 1% of 5 million is 50,000 copies. I think they’d have to sell far more copies to justify $350,000 for the publishing rights. That’s just a guess, though; I’m not that familiar with publishing.

Update by Cadet Davis: when authors publish their second and third books, they almost always do so with the publisher of their first work. The publisher may be banking on Jess being a hot prospect that will produce several commercially successful books. Jess has come up with something like 80 entries on Things White People Like in two months. There’s clearly more than one book of material here.

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