Dec 03 2009

A resume a day keeps the repo man away

I’m applying for a job a day for two weeks.  So far, I’ve gotten an offer I’m considering.  And a bait-and-switch scam.  I forgot the cardinal rule of writing: any writing job that pays more than $10 an hour is a lie.  (I’m exaggerating, but not much).

11 responses so far

11 Responses to “A resume a day keeps the repo man away”

  1. B. Macon 03 Dec 2009 at 6:07 pm

    What are some writing jobs that pay more than $10 an hour?
    –Writing computer code.
    –Writing prescriptions.
    –Writing tickets.
    –Writing legal briefs.
    –Writing “Give me the money!” so that the bank-teller can’t recognize your voice.

    Yeah, that’s about it. Novels do not pay very well. If you’re a novelist looking to get depressed, keep reading.

    Let’s say you finish your novel in 6 months (which is fast). If you work 40 hours a week, that’s about 1000 hours. You get about $1 for every paperback sale. Even if you put NO time promoting the book, you’d still have to sell 10,000 copies to break $10 an hour.

    Here’s a slightly different, more pessimistic calculation. Let’s say you take a full year at 50 hours a week. Now you need to sell 25,000 copies to break $10 an hour. And substantially more if you take a few months to promote the book.

    Here’s a more pessimistic but sadly realistic calculation. Let’s say you take a year at 50 hours a week, as before (2500 hours). But, like 65% of novelists in Tobias Buckell’s survey, you don’t get your first novel published. You take another year to write a new book. If it gets published, it needs to sell 50,000 copies to break $10 an hour to make up for the lost year. Bear in mind that 44% of Tobias Buckell’s respondents needed to write MORE than two.

    Two bits of happy news: Buckell says many of the authors that ended up writing many novels before getting published were eventually able to sell their earlier works because their writing skills had matured enough that they could save the day on rewrite). Second, you will probably get faster as you practice.

    But let’s not get too happy here. Make no mistake: if you want to make more than $10 an hour as a novelist, you’ll need to sell tens of thousands and possibly many tens of thousands of copies.

    Don’t quit your day job.

  2. Pon 03 Dec 2009 at 6:41 pm

    Best of luck to you, B. Mac.

  3. B. Macon 03 Dec 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Thanks! I’m really excited about the job I applied for today.

  4. Jim Zoeteweyon 04 Dec 2009 at 7:11 am

    Technical writing pays considerably more than $10 an hour. If you’ve got the background and can make connections, you’ll be able to make a very comfortable living doing it.

    Worth looking into.

  5. Lighting Manon 04 Dec 2009 at 9:38 am

    I had a relative that did that for her entire adult life, she ended up partially blind, she blamed reading the little tiny font that they eventually printed her work in and she quit getting hired. For her, maybe your experience was different, her work was sporadic, usually only coming in the spring and fall, with new product releases, she mostly worked in translating printer, copier instruction manuals.

    I, myself had to condense twenty years worth of Supreme Court decisions into legal briefs for the local college library once, took me forever and it has given me the tendency to use an excessive number of commas per sentence.

  6. JZ (Jim Zoetewey)on 04 Dec 2009 at 10:43 am

    My brother and a friend both do technical writing. While you can do it as contract work, they’re doing it full time. My brother has worked mostly for pharmaceutical companies and is currently working for a company that writes manuals for NASA (among other clients).

    My friend mostly did work for a company that made chemicals. I’m not sure exactly what he wrote, but I suspect it was also manuals.

    In both cases, the work was steady. It’s all a matter of where you are, I think.

  7. B. Macon 04 Dec 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I appreciate the suggestion. However, my options are a bit limited because I don’t have all that much specialized knowledge. Currently, I earn $15 an hour writing about environmental regulations. I suppose that’s sort of specialized, but not as much as writing manuals explaining, say… how to convert an indirect injection diesel engine into a common rail direct injection, which parts would be necessary and what the safety hazards are. I’m not even close to that level of comprehension.

    Right now, the highest-paying position I think I have a chance at offers $10 an hour on top of free rent (which I value at $6.25 per hour, based on an expected monthly rent of $1000 and 40 hours per workweek). That’s quite a lot of money for a political science internship. The organization is looking for someone with EXTRAORDINARY social science skills (mainly research, statistics, background knowledge on a set of political issues and writing). Also, I have yet to meet anyone from the organization that wasn’t from the Ivy League.

  8. JZ (Jim Zoetewey)on 04 Dec 2009 at 3:47 pm

    A good point, though (just for what it’s worth) both my brother and the friend I mentioned didn’t have specialized knowledge in the areas they worked in before being there. My brother majored in psychology and the friend majored in religion.

    I don’t know how they got those jobs, but you might be eligible for more than you think. The drug companies my brother worked for mostly wanted someone with a basic understanding of how to do science and social science was good enough.

  9. B. Macon 05 Dec 2009 at 9:38 am

    Hmm… would you mind sending me contact information for your brother? I’d be really interested in seeing how he entered the field and whether it’d be viable for me.

  10. JZ (Jim Zoetewey)on 09 Dec 2009 at 11:14 am

    I can do that. Sorry I didn’t see this sooner.

  11. B. Macon 09 Dec 2009 at 11:16 am

    Thanks, I’d appreciate that.

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