Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Speed and Novel Writing

I just saw a post for a conference where one of the speakers is talking about writing your stories amazingly fast. This got me thinking about the idea of how fast should you write your stories. I have heard authors talk about this from both sides of the equation. What I have to say is that in the end, it is not the time you have spent writing your story, but the quality of it. However, I do have to say, there are some positives and negatives about each.

Let's start with the writers that take a long time. I will often get submissions where someone tells me they have been writing this story for three years or so. These authors want to make us think that they have really worked hard at this project, trying to make it just the perfect fit for what the market wants. However, if you do the math, this is pathetic. Consider...
  • 52 weeks in a year
  • 3 years to write the book
  • This equals 156 weeks
  • Assume a 100,000 word manuscript (most of these Great American Novels are around this length)
  • This means that each week, you have written 641 words.
  • That's about three pages, 12 point font and double spaced.
This is not going to get you anywhere.

But, if a story does take a year to write, and it is a full level, single title, book club worthy, NPR level discussion level, with extensive research... this might be fine. 

When it comes to marketing, however, and if you want to be a novelist who writes for a career and not just the one-hit-wonder, it requires name recognition. Readers will not remember your name and your first book after a year or two. Remember that if you do write that book, it still takes close to 6 months to get that book through the editing process and on the shelf.

Now, let's consider mass market books. These are hitting the 50,000 (for series/category) to 80,000ish. For these, you should be considering getting several done in a year. This is where I get frustrated with authors who do take a full year to write something in that 60,000 word range. This comes out to about 1000 words a week. While this might seem standard, but that is only about 5 pages a week. Really, you only wrote 1 page a day??? ( I gave you the weekend off).

Again, in the end, we want a really strong story, but please understand, as an agent, we are looking for a professional writer to be producing and for us to have product to get to those editors. 

Just a number thing to consider for a Tuesday!

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