In today’s Journal
* Quotes of the Day
* A Note on Traditional Publishing
* I’ve Been Fretting
* Of Interest
Quotes of the Day
“[O]f the 58,000 trade titles published per year, fully half of those titles ‘sell fewer than one dozen books.‘ (Not a typo, that’s one dozen.) More broadly, 90 percent of titles sell fewer than 2,000 units. Even a small advance of a few thousand dollars would not earn out at standard royalty rates.” Dean Wesley Smith, quoting directly from the Hot Sheet (emphasis added).
“The story so far: in the beginning, the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” Opening Line from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams (via The Passive Voice)
A Note on Traditional Publishing
Traditional publishing companies typically keep their cards close to their chest when it comes to business. Especially the number of copies sold. We
hear numbers about the top sellers within days of a new release, or sometimes even before the official release date. But we never hear that information about the vast majority of works published every year by traditional publishers.
Until now. The big trial, in which Stephen King and other authors are taking on big publishing, has divulged facts and statistics that are usually kept from those who aspire to a traditional publishing contract.
If you’re one of those writers who’s still thinking about going with a traditional publisher, you might want to think again. Traditional publishing isn’t the automatic sales-maker that you think it is.
Please read Dean Wesley Smith’s short posts on the topic in order:
See “What a Number… Shocking” at https://deanwesleysmith.com/what-a-number-shocking/.
Then see “Another Interesting Bit of Information” at https://deanwesleysmith.com/another-interesting-bit-of-information/.
And finally, see “Bestselling Books” at https://deanwesleysmith.com/bestselling-books/.
A New Personal Challenge
I’ve been fretting over not already being back up to speed with my writing. Then I read an exchange between a traditionally published author and his editor. What follows is a snippet from that verbatim conversation. The editor has just congratulated the author on a good review from Kirkus:
“Now, let’s keep that momentum on the upswing. How’s your new novel going?”
“Sure! You have a pub date in a year.”
I’d never considered how fast they’d need the next book, so I told her it was coming along and hung up.
Okay, so seriously—a publication date looming a YEAR AWAY constitutes the publisher needing a book “fast”? A year away is soon enough to invoke panic?
Well, suddenly I don’t feel so bad. After all, having finished a novel a week or so ago after not writing at all for over half the year equates my production with that of the author above.
Turning out a new novel only once a year is too mind-bogglingly slow for me to even think about. If I may reference the examples I used in yesterday’s post, if I spent a whole year writing a 60,000 or even a 120,000 word novel, what in the world would I do with the rest of my time? Would I even be justified in calling myself a fiction writer?
As to my own ongoing conundrum, yesterday I was talking with a writer friend who is suffering a similar situation. After some discussion, we agreed that the best way to get back to the fun and the high of writing is to take baby steps. So baby steps it is, combined with a new mantra that helps keep the conscious, critical mind at bay: “Trust and type.”
As a result of that discussion, I’m starting a new, short-term personal challenge: to write one novel per month for the rest of this year. So when December 31 rolls around, I will have written at least 4 more novels, for a total of 71.
At first, that didn’t seem like much of a challenge, but things change. I’m out of practice right now, so this new challenge is realistic, even if it seems a little easy. Almost no pressure. Baby steps.
To be sure I’ll accomplish the challenge, I’ll set a daily word count goal: at least 2500 words per day. Accomplish the little things and the big things will seem to accomplish themselves.
If I meet or exceed that daily goal, when December 31 rolls around, I will have written at least 4 more novels, for a total of 71.
(In fact, 2500 words per day for 120 days is 300,000 words. By contrast, as of today I’ve written only 200478 words total, fiction and non-fiction, all year. So if I meet my goal each day, more than likely I’ll have more than 71 noves at year’s end.)
But much more importantly, this challenge will get me more used to spending time in the chair writing. With any luck, by early next year I’ll be back up at my previous production levels.
My challenge can be your challenge. Feel free to set your own goals for the rest of this year and to run with them. You’re always welcome to report your progress in a comment on the Journal.
For me personally, there was no writing yesterday, and no writing today or tomorrow. I’ll get back at it on Monday. Happily. Trust and type.
Talk with you again soon.
See “What makes a romance novel a Gen Z hit” inside “Gen Z is driving sales…” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/gen-z-is-driving-sales-of-romance-books-to-the-top-of-bestseller-lists/.
The Journal…………………………………… 880 words
Writing of The Jury (novel, tentative title)
Day 1…… 2488 words. Total words to date…… 2488
Day 2…… 0789 words. Total words to date…… 3277
Total fiction words for September……… 3277
Total fiction words for the year………… 69708
Total nonfiction words for September… 2540
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 130770
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 200478
Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 1
Calendar Year 2021 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2021 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 67
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: Along with discussing various aspects of the writing craft, I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. WITD is “the only way” to write, but it is by far the easiest, most liberating, and most fun.