Writers do not get paid by the hour. If we did, even at $2.13 an hour our paychecks would be pretty sizable. It takes much longer to research and write a book than it takes to read it.
Once upon a time all an author need was paper, a feather, some ink, and an idea.
Then the typewriter was invented and every author had to make sure they submitted a clean typed copy, double spaced, on one side of good quality (10 pound stock) white paper.
Now we have the computer!
The equipment needed to write a story is not cheap. Not only do you need a good computer, one that will not lose all your work, but you need a writing program. (Which is an additional cost.)
Once you have bought all the equipment you need to write your book. You can begin researching the subject matter. (Even when you are writing fiction and it is about something you know, there is still a lot of research to be done!)
Some authors (like moi) like to have the source material close at hand and buy some of the research books they are going to use frequently. While others either don't like to do their own research or they don't have the time, so they hire someone to do the research for them. (This adds $ onto the cost of writing.)
Authors who are traditionally published have agents and publishers that handle the rest of the expenses after they accept the book. The author will be paid royalties based on the amount of books sold and how much of a percentage their contracts specify.
Now . . . onto the Indie published author.
An Indie author has the expenses involved in buying the computer and research materials, plus many more expenses.
An Indie author must pay their beta-readers. (A professional beta-reader is more likely to tell the author the hard truths about what doesn't work in the novel.)
They must purchase their book cover.
Hire a copy editor (anywhere from $200-$1,000), a content editor ($500-$2,000), a proofreader ($100 and up), a formatter, and possibly a publicist. Plus they have to buy ads and run contests with expensive prizes and spend a lot of time on social media pimping the book.
Long gone are the days of writing on both sides of scrap paper with a feather and some ink.
The cost of publishing a quality book is not cheap.
Most authors still work their day jobs.
Write late into the night, or get up extra early.
Attend local writer's groups. (Another cost!)
Worry about their books being pirated.
They live in sweats and abuse caffeine.
It's not the glamorous life pictured on Murder She Wrote or Sex in the City, but it can be very fulfilling.
Find the magick!