Some authors can bang out books in just a few weeks, while others take years to perfect that masterpiece, and others who spend so long world-building, they only release a few books in a lifetime. J.R.R. Tolkien is one author I’m thinking of when I say this, but that, by far, is not poking fun of or attacking the man who devised his own constructed language for a story. That is hardcore.
A few authors can write a rough draft in weeks and edit, pushing out a 60-100k plus quality book in just a few months. This is also hardcore.
But writing a book or a series doesn’t have to be hardcore. Most authors take a few years to write their first novel. I have heard of some people writing their first on the train, with analogue pen and paper (yer – it still exists), on their phones or tablets, and some on their laptops now they’re more compact.
Whenever I can, I attend a writing Friday. The number of people using pen and paper or their tablet and external keyboard is more than I would have thought for a 5-6 hour writing session, compared to the awkward mobility of sitting on a train, but I guess writing your first book is not a rolling in money event. It might make you wealthy in the long run, but in the short term, that wealth has to be a self-rewarding pat on the back, along with any feedback from alpha and beta readers you can get to read your work. We had difficulties obtaining test readers, so don’t be too depressed if nobody wants to read it.
The best way around this is to join a critique group in your area. Treasure the responses to the last word. Just remember though, it’s your work, your story. Don’t allow others to say “there should be more car chases” and another says “there should be more fireballs and crying”. If you keep adding suggestions to other people’s likes, you’re not going to write your story, and it will turn into a burning mess.
Probably the best advice I remember from our critique group was, “research deep POV”. And so our writing style took a change in direction, as you can read here.
After release, our initial feedback has been fantastic. Here is one comment from Goodreads –
The changing narrative, from first to third person and from psychological to sociological, is never hard to follow and actually makes it easier to understand what part of the story you’re reading.Chiel – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58394844-burn-the-sky-part1
Not all authors are published, either by lack of luck or lack of skill, or something else like fear of rejection.
Matthew Reilly was rejected by every major publisher in Australia at the time. It seems he didn’t fear rejection; he just had terrible luck. He self-funded 1000 copies and distributed them from the back of his car to any bookstore willing to stock them. Then he got his luck back when an editor for Pan Macmillan discovered a copy of this book, and he was signed up for a two-book deal.
Self-publishing in 1996 was almost unheard of at the time. Now Matthew Reilly is a New York Times bestseller and has 19 books, short stories, and soon a Netflix movie.
If you’re afraid to fail, you’ll keep failing forever.
I held a printed copy of my 34k word novella “To Burn the Sky” and didn’t know what to do after that, so I contacted an indie publisher two states away to find out more. We flew down there and had an eye-watering (or should that be an eye-opening) conversation with the owner. His comments was – I enjoyed the story concept, but I can’t read it. You really need to learn how to write.
He still sent us a contract, and 18 months later, when I called him to say we had almost finished, he said he was just about to pick up the phone to see if we were still interested in the contract.
The conversation went something like this:
Me: We have almost finished the final draft, let’s get the publishing underway with book covers and stuff.
Publisher: I’ll send you the Q&A document to fill out.
Me: Ah, we haven’t quite finished it yet, but it’s around 180 thousand words.
Me: Are you still there?
Publisher: Well, I did tell you to keep writing until you’ve told the story. But I only contracted you for about 80k.
Me: Well, I guess we can cut down to just act one and give it an ending.
Publisher: Sounds good. We can do the next book or two later.
So, it turns out, that extra time allowed us to refine characters and events more from the feedback we received. At least this time, we managed to get a few beta readers who provided awesome feedback.
Book two of Burn the Sky concludes this story, and I personally know some readers who are hankering for its release. Its estimated release at this stage is 2Q 2022.
If you enjoy Burn the Sky, the mostly written and as-yet-untitled next book continues the story. There is so much to edit and tech/story consistency to fix up before it’s ready for alpha readers, but it should be just as gripping.
Remember that guy who gave up? Neither does anyone else!
Knocking out a great book takes time, and the skill to create that masterpiece develops over your writing career, whether that’s one book or 300.
Don’t stop learning. Pursue your passion.
Begin. Believe. Become.
I wrote this today to get my wandering mind back on track with writing. It’s been a few days without (what’s the analogy of pen to paper with a computer?) keyboard to screen? (not quite, it sounds too aggressive.)
2 thoughts on “When the story starts/continues…”
Oh yeah, I feel like I’ve been pursuing the craft in the most unhardcore way ever. Few hundred words a day for a very long time, and now I’m on my fifth manuscript. I wish I could binge-write like some other authors, but that’s just not my style. Anyway, thanks for this post!
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On the days I do “get a chance” to write, the most I’ll write is about 13-1400 words. I am a visual writer, so I have to watch that movie in my head over and over again until it’s typed out on the screen. I’m even slower when editing my draft.
Congratulations on getting to your fifth manuscript. To write a great story is time consuming.