Life,  Writing

Time to Get Serious

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If you want to be a writer, you frequently see the advice that you need to build a huge platform, somewhere for people to come and find you, somewhere to interact with your potential fans, many somewheres all connected and tied together. A dominating social media presence, apparently, is critical. Look at <insert big name independent author here>. They built an awesome platform and sold a gazillion copies of their book.

This does happen.

But I think, if you do a little research, you’ll find it doesn’t happen all that often.

The other path, the one that I think a much larger number of people are finding success on, is production. Quite a few people make a living wage in publishing (independent or otherwise) by being prolific writers and putting out lots of good quality work.

I don’t want to get too deep into numbers at the moment, but my math says that at the 70% royalty model (taking Amazon as standard) pricing your novel at $4.99, if you publish 4 books per year and sell 300 copies of each per month, that takes you to a pre-tax income of a little over $50k. Sounds pretty awesome, but 300 copies per month is significant. Still, it’s a good benchmark. More on this another day.

And I can’t be the guy who’s online all the time in my social media accounts. Touch base, say hi, answer questions, absolutely. Fifty tweets and as many FB comments per day? Um, no.

Thinking about that simple math, if I really do want to try making a living at this writing thing, I’d rather be writing most of the time.

So, it’s time for a test to see if I can produce at something approaching that level. The initial test will be for six months, and it started on October 1st. Here’s the basic idea:

  • Limited, but daily when possible, social networking, mostly over breakfast.
  • Podcast listening cut in half, but I’m completely caught up on everything I listen to at the moment.
  • Dictation in the car for at least one direction of my commute.
  • Drafting on breaks at work.
  • Editing before bed but only when no one else is awake.
  • More of everything on my days off and especially when I’m on night-shift rotations.
  • No time may be stolen from my family or other obligations. Family, career, writing, in that order. (And karate, but that’s a whole different subject.)

The plan for each 3-month period:

  • Plotting 1 novel
  • Drafting 1 novel
  • Editing 1 novel
  • 10,000 words in short fiction per month

 

Craziness!

Not really. This, on average, needs 40,000 words per month, or just 1,333 per day. Plus editing. Two hours of dedicated time per day will do it most of the time, and I can get the bulk of that during my work day.

What this looks like for the six-month trial period:

Month

Plotting Writing Editing

Oct-13

Godhead Book 1 Manifest Destiny Graceland

Nov-13

Godhead Book 1 Manifest Destiny Ancient Runes

Dec-13

Godhead Book 2 Manifest Destiny Ancient Runes

Jan-14

Godhead Book 2 Godhead 1 Manifest Destiny

Feb-14

Godhead Book 3 Godhead 1 Manifest Destiny

Mar-14

Godhead Book 3 Godhead 1 Manifest Destiny

 

I’m projecting The Godhead Trilogy at 300,000 words of epic fantasy goodness. Manifest Destiny is a shorter military SF novel to get me in gear. Ancient Runes is a bit of a cheat because I’ve really only got the final draft to do, but I’m doing another pass through the Graceland stories first and I’ll edit a bunch of short fiction I should have taken care of a long time ago to get me through to the end of the year.

Deep breath.

The first 3-month period, the final 3 months of 2013, is really just to gear up. I’m rough plotting the first half of a trilogy, drafting a shorter novel, and doing some editing clean up. Q1 of 2014 will be the real test of multitasking.  Can I reach the pace I need while still keeping the rest of my life constant? Can I maintain it once I get there? Would that mean I have the strength to do it full time?

We’ll see, but I think it’s time for me to make a serious run at things.

If this trial period is a success, I’ve already projected out for 2014, finishing The Godhead and adding in a shorter YA novel that’s been in my head for a couple of years. And I have tentatively selected projects to fill the slots for 2015 and most of 2016. Okay, all of 2016, and that still leaves stories I want to tell.

And somehow, I’ll still need to find time to blog once or twice per week. Podcasting will be pretty much done on my weekends and there probably won’t be a second podcast any time soon. There’s a fair chance at some podcast fiction, though. My final draft is typically of the “read aloud” variety and I can’t let all that go to waste, now, can I? Of course, that audio will need to be edited.

And if I’m going the indie route, there’s the publishing and marketing part of things, too.

But let’s do this thing.

Be well, everyone.

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