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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

mccardey

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Honestly, I do, too. I have read some pleasant novellas by writers who put things out several times a year. 15-20K words. Maybe that could work? I wrote one of my short stories in about four days before handing it off to an editor - 2500 words, and I had maybe three back-and-forths with the editor before it was finished. So call it two weeks, start to finish.

I can draft a book in 3-4 months, depending (although it's been a while since I've done that). Revisions and edits generally take anything from 1-4 years.
Zackly. And if I recall, PP writes SFF, so the chances are that's a lot more world-building and a lot more words. And then the putting it aside for a week or two, and then the re-reads and edits, and the polishing, and the betas (if PP uses betas, and as a new writer I think it would be a good idea to use betas) and in the middle of all that there's living and publicity of some kind, even if it's mostly done by the publisher, and taking time to create the next book, and polish and edit the last book and also - keeping fit and having a place of some kind in society if that's a thing - even if it's just shopping for groceries and reading the papers.

It's just vanishingly unlikely that anyone could write (where write means have written) four books a year - esp SFF. It's not a helpful expectation, I think.
 
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I'd direct you to his other topic, but I couldn't find it when I went to go look.

Oh, sure, anyone could. Not good books. Not readable books. But books, sure.

I was going to quibble because it sounded like you suggested that good books couldn't be written quickly, but then I realized you were focused more on the "anybody" side of it.


I've read quite a few of those. Every one has been unedited slush.

If that's truly the case, maybe I shouldn't bother chasing trade publication and just focus on that. :oops:

As it is, my critique partner exchanges have taken far longer than drafting a novel, and I'm not sure how much I'll ever be able to condense that process (so even though it's concurrent with drafting, it's still a bottleneck).
 

mccardey

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I'd direct you to his other topic, but I couldn't find it when I went to go look.



I was going to quibble because it sounded like you suggested that good books couldn't be written quickly, but then I realized you were focused more on the "anybody" side of it.




If that's truly the case, maybe I shouldn't bother chasing trade publication and just focus on that. :oops:

As it is, my critique partner exchanges have taken far longer than drafting a novel, and I'm not sure how much I'll ever be able to condense that process (so even though it's concurrent with drafting, it's still a bottleneck).
Drafting a novel is not the same as writing a novel. Drafting is gathering the ingredients and the recipe for that incredible curry. The cooking of the curry - and the serving and sharing of that curry - takes wayyy more time than gathering the ingredients - though you can't start without the ingredients...
 

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Drafting a novel is not the same as writing a novel. Drafting is gathering the ingredients and the recipe for that incredible curry. The cooking of the curry - and the serving and sharing of that curry - takes wayyy more time than gathering the ingredients - though you can't start without the ingredients...

I'm not really following the analogy, so let's just break down the steps to make sure I have everything:

0) Planning/outlining
1) Drafting
2) Proof/polish/rewrite
3) Critique partner
4) Proof/polish/rewrite
5) Beta readers
6) Proof/polish/rewrite
x) Possibly repeat
7) Query

At that point it's ready for query. The focus here would be getting four books per year to the querying process, because PP is aiming for trade pub (and I was aiming for trade pub, but if Unimportant's assessment is correct and you just need steps 0-2 to have a saleable product, that's actually more tempting; granted, I'd have to adjust to writing shorter books, but if I was sticking to 50k words and exclusively writing series, I could probably finish steps 0-3 in just 2-3 weeks)

And there's an overlap where a step for one book would happen while at another step for another book (ie, drafting while waiting for critiques/betas)
 

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Lots of excellent advice in this thread, especially the bit about wrinkles and drinking.

Well, I did have plans to make this a 5 book series. And of course I have other books I intend to write. However, that's why I included the "in my forties" bit.

This series alone will take years to finish and, while lots of inspirational posters say "It's never too late to start!", those same folks tend to mutter and clam up once you hit 50. Then it's more like, "Yeah, maybe that's a little late."

If you really think this, why did you start this thread? You know it's not true. You know you can have a productive writing career ahead of you. So maybe you've lost the first story -- or maybe you haven't, Idk-- but ideas are the easiest part of writing. Just come up with an alternative beginning for your sequence and start from there. Or write something completely different.

As others have said, write because you want to write. Write because you need to write. And don't pin your self-worth to the fate of a 90,000 word manuscript. (Other word counts are available.)
 

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I'm not really following the analogy, so let's just break down the steps to make sure I have everything:

0) Planning/outlining
1) Drafting
2) Proof/polish/rewrite
3) Critique partner
4) Proof/polish/rewrite
5) Beta readers
6) Proof/polish/rewrite
x) Possibly repeat
7) Query

At that point it's ready for query. The focus here would be getting four books per year to the querying process, because PP is aiming for trade pub (and I was aiming for trade pub, but if Unimportant's assessment is correct and you just need steps 0-2 to have a saleable product, that's actually more tempting; granted, I'd have to adjust to writing shorter books, but if I was sticking to 50k words and exclusively writing series, I could probably finish steps 0-3 in just 2-3 weeks)

And there's an overlap where a step for one book would happen while at another step for another book (ie, drafting while waiting for critiques/betas)
Can I ask how long you've been writing, where you're up to now in this process, and whether (you don't have to answer this, but it would be helpful) you have been trade pubbed already, following this plan? (trade-pub being what you are aiming for..)
 

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I'm not really following the analogy, so let's just break down the steps to make sure I have everything:

0) Planning/outlining
1) Drafting
2) Proof/polish/rewrite
3) Critique partner
4) Proof/polish/rewrite
5) Beta readers
6) Proof/polish/rewrite
x) Possibly repeat
7) Query

The thing is, this process and the number of iterations is going to be different for everyone. But I will say I see a lot of writers who fail to recognize that what happens after the first draft is likely to be substantive and time-consuming.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when querying is querying a book that isn't actually finished. A lot of those books end up self-published. There are some excellent self-published books out there, but they are absolutely buried by books that are 3-6 months of hard work away from being excellent.

I've been a writer since I was 5. It took me until I was 46 years old to learn how to finish a novel. And then I learned that revision was yet another skill, as was editing.

It certainly takes other people less time to pick up these skills. But the thing is, they are three different skills. I see an awful lot of writers who believe they only need the first one, or that the other two should be nothing but quick-and-dirty sanity checks.
 

mccardey

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I see an awful lot of writers who believe they only need the first one, or that the other two should be nothing but quick-and-dirty sanity checks.
If it was this easy, there would be a whole lot more people writing for a living, that's for sure ;)
 
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mccardey

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0) Planning/outlining
1) Drafting
2) Proof/polish/rewrite
3) Critique partner
4) Proof/polish/rewrite
5) Beta readers
6) Proof/polish/rewrite
x) Possibly repeat
7) Query
How much time are you planning for each of these steps?

I think you'll find everything is going to take longer than you expect. Which is fine, of course - but worth saying because you're giving 4-books-per-year advice to other newbies.
 

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But if that author's goal is to support themself, and they are reaching that goal, then they have succeeded by their definition.

(I have not read any of them.)
True enough, I suppose.
 

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There's been some discussion on the possibility of publishing 4 books a year. As someone who is writing that many books, I think maybe a lot of people discounting both the goals and the possibility of this. I will finish this year with 5 books published (yes. self-published, which I know by a lot of people's standard isn't really published. So if you're taking it by that definition, then I guess you're correct).

I constantly have multiple stories (mostly series) in process, which is:

1) Basic outline using cards.
2) Heavily Outline (my average outline is 30k-40k words). I work the outline to the scene level, working out pacing, character development and story arcs.
3) I have 2 editors who go through the outline and look at the plot, pacing, story arcs, and generally everything else and give me notes on what should change or what they think won't work.
4) Draft 1 (which is closer two draft 2 because I outline and edit the outline. I already know the entire progression of everything in the story before I type the first word of the draft).
5) I put it through 2 other editors, both of whom give me notes. It is rare that the story arcs, plot or character arcs change in these edits (that happens once every 3rd or 4th book, when I actually need to rearrange the plot).
6) Draft 2 using the edits. Mostly it's scene level changes or cuts for pacing.
7) Proofread & correct (I have 3 proofreaders who do passes)
8) Publish

Is this going to be as thorough and fine tuned as novels where someone is writing 3+ drafts, using beta readers, and reworking it over and over? No.

The main thing is I don't to that one at a time. At the moment I have 1 book in stage 1, 1 book in stage 2, 1 book in stage 4, 1 book in stage 5 and I just started a book in stage 6. I'm constantly feeding the pipeline. Series do go through sequentially, so I don't start the next outline of a series until the previous is done with step 7 and headed to publish, which is why I have 3 active series and am working on some stand alone books.

I don't think my novels are trash either (as I've seen a few suggest is what this speed writing produces). The way I'm able to do this is I write a lot (I get in thousands of words every day and very do rarely less than 2k) and I do it nearly every single day. Last month was one of my slowest in a while coming in at 75k, and that's cause I had a big alt-history science fiction book whose edits were more intense than the other stuff I've been writing.

My lowest selling book has done 1,500 copies, my best over 10k copies, and the one that I published 3 weeks ago has just crossed 1k copies sold. (I've been on the top 50 of amazon's time travel fiction best sellers since the day it released), and I average 50ish pre-orders per book and have built up a pretty good sized mailing list. Am I at the point where I can do this full time yet? No, but I'm getting very close.

Do I get bad reviews? Occasionally. I get a handful of 1 & 2 star reviews, but my average is 4.3 stars on amazon and none of my books are below 4 stars. And I get regular correspondence of people asking when the next book is coming out.

As a metric for someone writing 4 books a year and their being trash, I'd like to think my track record disproves that. (although, I guess a book being trash or not is subjective, so maybe some people would consider my books that)
 
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Nether

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Can I ask how long you've been writing, where you're up to now in this process, and whether (you don't have to answer this, but it would be helpful) you have been trade pubbed already, following this plan? (trade-pub being what you are aiming for..)

I believe we've discussed this before, but I came back to fiction-writing last November. The first draft of that first book took several months to finish, because I was building my routines. I then started writing the sequels because I wanted to write the sequels (which got faster, but was still slow). The problem was that, because I couldn't find betas at that point, I jumped the gun by querying and queried badly.

So now I'm following the steps as prescribed by published authors and, because I started that process on my fourth book (since 1-3 were part of the same series, and I'll have to wait on doing anything with #1 because of that botched query process), I'm still taking that fourth book to the point where I can query it. I finished drafting book 4 in July, waited a while before proofing/polishing/revising, started to look for critique partners back in... I think August or September? Several weren't a great fit, but we exchanged early chapters (some stopping after the initial change of 2-3 chapters, others going a little further). The first one to make it to the end didn't strike me as being critical enough, and honestly, even the one I'm finishing up with now doesn't feel critical enough, although at least they've flagged more errors/issues than anybody else in the process.

However, the problem is since July I've drafted four more books, so I have to do that same process for those, too, and I can't use my same critique partner for that (they're looking at my fantasy, but the other stuff is horror (and one wound up being more of a YA horror)... well, one of the other ones is *also* fantasy but it needs more work and I'm not sure they'd really help with the possible structural issues with that one, which will very likely require substantial revision)

That's why Unimportant's assessment is exciting -- if I can focus on 0-2 for self-publishing and it works, my turnaround time would skyrocket. In fact, if I could just cut the critique partner phase out and rely on betas instead, I'm not losing time in the process, it just becomes a rolling time-frame.

It certainly takes other people less time to pick up these skills. But the thing is, they are three different skills. I see an awful lot of writers who believe they only need the first one, or that the other two should be nothing but quick-and-dirty sanity checks.

Admittedly, revision is one my one big blindspot (since I'm never sure what will or won't be a problem), which is why I finally decided to try critique partners, but... even then, they haven't been a substantial help. I'm hoping once I get to beta readers I'll get a better idea of what I need to do on the revision side.

How much time are you planning for each of these steps?

0) Planning/Outlining
I tend to do it concurrently, so it doesn't impact my time-frame. (ie, I plan my next book while drafting the current)

1) Drafting
3-4 weeks for a 85-95k word novel. I'm writing off the 89k one I drafted in 18-19 days (where I nearly finished in 17-18) as an outlier.

2) Proofing/polishing/revision
Again, I tend to do it concurrently because I can only draft so long each day. However, it hasn't been a 1:1 outcome which is an issue, but that's partly because the critique partner stuff tends to be more time-consuming

3) Critique partners
This is a complete unknown still, because the first time has been so rocky. The final one has been the best of the bunch, but even then they don't even seem to have enough observations and their work has a lot of potential issues. On the plus side, they've been pretty good about spotting my typos and they've flagged a few potential issues.

I'm just not terribly enamored by this step. However, I assume it'll get smoother with time as I eventually find people who are a better fit.

4) Proofing/polishing/revision
Again, it's concurrent. The smaller issues I've patched I've gone alone, but the high-level revisions won't really be covered until the end. So far they've had one major criticism and I'm not sure I have a real fix for it, if it's something that needs to be fixed. I'll see how that goes when we hit the end and exchange final notes.

5) Beta readers
It should be largely concurrent, unless I'm trading beta reads at which point it closer to being a critique partner situation so I would consider that an abridged step 3. However long it takes beta readers to go through it, it should be a rolling time frame.

6) Proofing/polishing/revision
Again, I'd try to handle it concurrently. While drafting one, I'd be revising the previous.

x) Possibly repeat
Complete unknown, but it'd still be something I try to handle concurrently.

7) Querying
Ugh. At some point I need to build a real system for this. I get screwed the first time because the resource I tried wasn't specific or accurate enough in some cases. But each time I do it, the process should improve since I'll be building it out.

But basically drafting is a constant, and the rest are just folded into that process. The one thing is I need to get better about maintaining a proof/polish/revise schedule, but the problem is that I like to have a time gap between writing and doing that... and, well, right now there's not much of a gap.

Until I wind up get book deals (assuming that happens at all) and an editor's time constraints force me to stop drafting, I'm going to keep drafting on a daily basis.
 

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As someone who is writing that many books, I think maybe a lot of people discounting both the goals and the possibility of this. I will finish this year with 5 books published (yes. self-published, which I know by a lot of people's standard isn't really published. So if you're taking it by that definition, then I guess you're correct).

I constantly have multiple stories (mostly series) in process, which is:

1) Basic outline using cards.
2) Heavily Outline (my average outline is 30k-40k words). I work the outline to the scene level, working out pacing, character development and story arcs.
3) I have 2 editors who go through the outline and look at the plot, pacing, story arcs, and generally everything else and give me notes on what should change or what they think won't work.
4) Draft 1 (which is closer two draft 2 because I outline and edit the outline. I already know the entire progression of everything in the story before I type the first word of the draft).
5) I put it through 2 other editors, both of whom give me notes. It is rare that the story arcs, plot or character arcs change in these edits (that happens once every 3rd or 4th book, when I actually need to rearrange the plot).
6) Draft 2 using the edits. Mostly it's scene level changes or cuts for pacing.
7) Proofread & correct (I have 3 proofreaders who do passes)
8) Publish

Is this going to be as thorough and fine tuned as novels where someone is writing 3+ drafts, using beta readers, and reworking it over and over? No.

The main thing is I don't to that one at a time. At the moment I have 1 book in stage 1, 1 book in stage 2, 1 book in stage 4, 1 book in stage 5 and I just started a book in stage 6. I'm constantly feeding the pipeline. Series do go through sequentially, so I don't start the next outline of a series until the previous is done with step 7 and headed to publish, which is why I have 3 active series and am working on some stand alone books.

I don't think my novels are trash either (as I've seen a few suggest is what this speed writing produces). The way I'm able to do this is I write a lot (I get in thousands of words every day and very do rarely less than 2k) and I do it nearly every single day. Last month was one of my slowest in a while coming in at 75k, and that's cause I had a big alt-history science fiction book whose edits were more intense than the other stuff I've been writing.

My lowest selling book has done 1,500 copies, my best over 10k copies, and the one that I published 3 weeks ago has just crossed 1k copies sold. (I've been on the top 50 of amazon's time travel fiction best sellers since the day it released), and I average 50ish pre-orders per book and have built up a pretty good sized mailing list. Am I at the point where I can do this full time yet? No, but I'm getting very close.

Do I get bad reviews? Occasionally. I get a handful of 1 & 2 star reviews, but my average is 4.3 stars on amazon and none of my books are below 4 stars. And I get regular correspondence of people asking when the next book is coming out.

As a metric for someone writing 4 books a year and their being trash, I'd like to think my track record disproves that.
Apologies from me for making sweeping, inappropriate judgements. Your sales and productivity are both enviable.

It's obviously possible for a skilled, experienced writer to do this. It's less likely that a new writer with one book under their belt can expect to do this right off the bat and create good books that people are willing to pay money for -- and that's the advice I was taking issue with.
 

mccardey

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There's been some discussion on the possibility of publishing 4 books a year. As someone who is writing that many books, I think maybe a lot of people discounting both the goals and the possibility of this. I will finish this year with 5 books published (yes. self-published, which I know by a lot of people's standard isn't really published. So if you're taking it by that definition, then I guess you're correct).

I constantly have multiple stories (mostly series) in process, which is:

1) Basic outline using cards.
2) Heavily Outline (my average outline is 30k-40k words). I work the outline to the scene level, working out pacing, character development and story arcs.
3) I have 2 editors who go through the outline and look at the plot, pacing, story arcs, and generally everything else and give me notes on what should change or what they think won't work.
4) Draft 1 (which is closer two draft 2 because I outline and edit the outline. I already know the entire progression of everything in the story before I type the first word of the draft).
5) I put it through 2 other editors, both of whom give me notes. It is rare that the story arcs, plot or character arcs change in these edits (that happens once every 3rd or 4th book, when I actually need to rearrange the plot).
6) Draft 2 using the edits. Mostly it's scene level changes or cuts for pacing.
7) Proofread & correct (I have 3 proofreaders who do passes)
8) Publish

Is this going to be as thorough and fine tuned as novels where someone is writing 3+ drafts, using beta readers, and reworking it over and over? No.

The main thing is I don't to that one at a time. At the moment I have 1 book in stage 1, 1 book in stage 2, 1 book in stage 4, 1 book in stage 5 and I just started a book in stage 6. I'm constantly feeding the pipeline. Series do go through sequentially, so I don't start the next outline of a series until the previous is done with step 7 and headed to publish, which is why I have 3 active series and am working on some stand alone books.

I don't think my novels are trash either (as I've seen a few suggest is what this speed writing produces). The way I'm able to do this is I write a lot (I get in thousands of words every day and very do rarely less than 2k) and I do it nearly every single day. Last month was one of my slowest in a while coming in at 75k, and that's cause I had a big alt-history science fiction book whose edits were more intense than the other stuff I've been writing.

My lowest selling book has done 1,500 copies, my best over 10k copies, and the one that I published 3 weeks ago has just crossed 1k copies sold. (I've been on the top 50 of amazon's time travel fiction best sellers since the day it released), and I average 50ish pre-orders per book and have built up a pretty good sized mailing list. Am I at the point where I can do this full time yet? No, but I'm getting very close.

Do I get bad reviews? Occasionally. I get a handful of 1 & 2 star reviews, but my average is 4.3 stars on amazon and none of my books are below 4 stars. And I get regular correspondence of people asking when the next book is coming out.

As a metric for someone writing 4 books a year and their being trash, I'd like to think my track record disproves that.
Well this is impressive! As I understand it, you have a team of 7 editor/proofreaders - are they professionals (requiring payment)? That probably would be a difficult thing for a new writer to access - and even if they're highly competent friends doing it for love or exchange, a new writer might make a lot mis-steps before they find the right people.

Can I ask - did this system work for you right off the bat?
 

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Apologies from me for making sweeping, inappropriate judgements. Your sales and productivity are both enviable.

It's obviously possible for a skilled, experienced writer to do this. It's less likely that a new writer with one book under their belt can expect to do this right off the bat and create good books that people are willing to pay money for -- and that's the advice I was taking issue with.
It's fine. I'm sure that post came off more aggressively than I intended, and I do agree with this.

I started writing in 2015 and my first couple of books were very much trash, to the point that I changed the author name and don't associate them with my works now. They're just awful. And I've been slowly ramping up my process over the last several years. I do agree it's doubtful someone could do that out of the gate.
 

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Well this is impressive! As I understand it, you have a team of 7 editor/proofreaders - are they professionals (requiring payment)? That probably would be a difficult thing for a new writer to access - and even if they're highly competent friends doing it for love or exchange, a new writer might make a lot mis-steps before they find the right people.

Can I ask - did this system work for you right off the bat?

Yes, I pay all but one, who is my brother and the harshest of the bunch (he writes comics professionally and has masters in creative writing ... or something like that, I'm never clear on his degree other than it's writing related honestly).

And no, that system has slowly been built up since 2015. I didn't publish more than 2 books a year until this year, as my process got fast to the point to handle it. And who knows, maybe it's too much and I'll burn out after one year of this.
 

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I believe we've discussed this before,
Oh have we? My point basically is that four books a year is not a readily accessibly goal for most new writers. TStarnes seems to be nailing it - but I haven't heard of many writers achieving it in a way that allows them to build a financially viable career.

If you do achieve that, Nether, you can come and join TStarnes on my Wow! shelf ;)
 

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And no, that system has slowly been built up since 2015. I didn't publish more than 2 books a year until this year, as my process got fast to the point to handle it. And who knows, maybe it's too much and I'll burn out after one year of this.
I'll still be incredibly impressed ;)
 

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It's fine. I'm sure that post came off more aggressively than I intended, and I do agree with this.

I started writing in 2015 and my first couple of books were very much trash, to the point that I changed the author name and don't associate them with my works now. They're just awful. And I've been slowly ramping up my process over the last several years. I do agree it's doubtful someone could do that out of the gate.
And I will admit that if I read a book blurb/back cover copy on an author website or at Kobo/Amazon whatever, and I find a couple of typos in the half dozen sentences, I won't buy the book; I'll assume it's badly edited (since that's been my experience in the past). This may be wholly unfair on my part, and I'm probably missing out on some great books, but English errors drive me bat-sh7t crazy.

I can't think I've ever noted that problem with a trade published book's blurb, but I see it regularly with self published books.
 

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My point basically is that four books a year is not a readily accessibly goal for most new writers.

Technically it'd be a matter of somebody doing the drafts this year, and then the remaining processes conclude the next year, at which point they'd have a rolling process in place.

Granted, not everybody is going to be able to do 4 drafts a year. I remember from another topic that PP mentioned having a reasonably free schedule (following... I can't remember the specifics and I don't want to misspeak) and he'd mentioned wanting do draft 3k words/day for 4-5 days out of the week (which would work out to 702k words/year). Between his goal, his circumstances, and his plans, my suggestion *should* be tenable although, as mentioned, that's probably not going to be a year-1 thing because of uncontrollable factors.

I'm obviously not suggesting it as a blanket statement for every new writer out there. It was something I mentioned specifically based on what I remembered about PP's goals, plans, and circumstances.
 

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Technically it'd be a matter of somebody doing the drafts this year, and then the remaining processes conclude the next year, at which point they'd have a rolling process in place.

Granted, not everybody is going to be able to do 4 drafts a year. I remember from another topic that PP mentioned having a reasonably free schedule (following... I can't remember the specifics and I don't want to misspeak) and he'd mentioned wanting do draft 3k words/day for 4-5 days out of the week (which would work out to 702k words/year). Between his goal, his circumstances, and his plans, my suggestion *should* be tenable although, as mentioned, that's probably not going to be a year-1 thing because of uncontrollable factors.

I'm obviously not suggesting it as a blanket statement for every new writer out there. It was something I mentioned specifically based on what I remembered about PP's goals, plans, and circumstances.
I think I do remember you from an earlier thread, and it was probably because you said the sort of thing that you've said here -

You previously mentioned having a bit of spare time and wanting to make a career of this. There's really no reason you couldn't aim to write at least four books a year.
Making didactic statements about unlikely goals and outcomes to new writers just isn't helpful, although I'm sure you mean well. Four trade-pubbed books a year would require a team - a very good paid team, with a brilliant agent keeping on top of things, and a publisher with a huge amount of push.

If you're the person I'm thinking of, you came in furious that you'd been given bad advice about publishing as part of a writing degree. I'm asking you to consider the advice you're giving out here - or at least the certainty with which you're giving it.

There's more to being a successful writer than throwing lots of words down on paper, and racing for four books a year. There's a shedload more
 
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Between his goal, his circumstances, and his plans, my suggestion *should* be tenable although, as mentioned, that's probably not going to be a year-1 thing because of uncontrollable factors.

PP may indeed be capable of 4 books a year.

But please keep in mind, a draft isn't just a matter of mechanically churning out X number of words. Plotting, pacing, research--not to mention blind alleys, abandoned plot bunnies, things that turn out to not work at all when the rubber meets the road--all of these things take time.

And for some of us (cough) revisions take longer than first drafts. The fastest I've ever produced a submittable book was about 8 months, and after that my editors and I went back and forth for another 5. The book came out beautifully, but the draft was not the lion's share of that work.

I would love to be faster. Many people are. (Many are not.) But writing a novel is not just a matter of how many words per minute you can type X how many minutes a day you can devote to that typing.
 

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Yes, I pay all but one, who is my brother and the harshest of the bunch (he writes comics professionally and has masters in creative writing ... or something like that, I'm never clear on his degree other than it's writing related honestly).

And no, that system has slowly been built up since 2015. I didn't publish more than 2 books a year until this year, as my process got fast to the point to handle it. And who knows, maybe it's too much and I'll burn out after one year of this.
TStarnes, since you've been writing and selling successful series, can I ask: If you put out the first book in a series and it doesn't do as well as you hoped, do you continue writing and pubbing that series? Or do you set it aside and focus on another set of stories whose sales are showing more potential?

Just vaguely wondering and collecting tips and info for the nebulous future when, yanno, this stuff might be useful to me.
 
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It's making didactic statements about unlikely goals and outcomes to new writers. It just isn't helpful, although I'm sure you mean well. Four trade-pubbed book a year would require a team - a very good team, with a brilliant agent keeping on top of things, and a publisher with a huge amount of push.

I'm not saying four trade-pubbed, I'm saying four ready to query. Four trade-pubbed would require a lot more variables and uncertainty, and there's really no way to predict any of that since there's no way of knowing what will or won't be picked up (and then trade-pubbing can have all kinds of possible delays). Somebody could write 15 novels, extensively revise, go through multiple rounds of readers, query, and not have one of those books picked up. You can't control that part because once it goes to query, it's out of your hands.

Beyond that, everything I mentioned was specific to things he'd previously said. If his goal effectively equates to 702k words/year, that's four first drafts to start the process with, and then he'd hit the other steps while writing his next four. I'm not making judgment calls whether the 702k/year is or isn't realistic, I'm just basing it on the 702k and viewing it as an extension of the original idea (and looking at the processes as being concurrent).

And for some of us (cough) revisions take longer than first drafts. The fastest I've ever produced a submittable book was about 8 months, and after that my editors and I went back and forth for another 5. The book came out beautifully, but the draft was not the lion's share of that work.

I'm not familiar with your process, so I could use a little context. Did the eight months consist of the steps I mentioned, or do you go through a different set of steps? And did you work exclusively on the one book during that time, or did you have other projects in the works?

Also, just out of curiosity, what was the starting word count vs the finished word count?
 

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I haven't had a series fail yet, but the sales are influencing me. My first series and the one that's got the most books is a thriller/suspense. It sells okay, and I make well more than I spent on them, but they are dwarfed by the later two series (in immediate sales. The first book in my first series has sold the most books, but that's partly just because it's been out so long)

I wrote the first book in my second series and put it out in the summer, and it sold multiple times better than any of the thrillers, so I was starting to think when I finished up that series I might do 2 Romances (it's not really a romance, it's closer to a coming of age, but the Amazon tends to lump it together).

I didn't think my newest series would do great, because it's a smaller genre sales wise than Romance as well, but I managed to get in the best sellers, which made it become my best performing book out of the gate.

So I am thinking about other series and several stand alone stories, and taking the sales of the three I have into account before I decide what to do. If a series flopped I'd probably do 1 more to draw it to a conclusion, so that I didn't have something completely unsatisfying out there for the people that follow and buy all my stuff, but I probably wouldn't continue it past that.
 
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