The New World of Publishing

Hi Folks,

Awhile back, I mentioned almost in passing that I love the new world of publishing. Here’s why:

I’ve written for most of my life and have had two nonfiction works and two books of poetry traditionally published (back in the early ’90s). However, I’ve considered myself a professional writer for only about 5 years.

Five years ago on April 15 I wrote my first short story into the dark. Five years ago in mid-October (the 19th, I think) I started writing my first novel.

Under the old way of doing things (traditional publishing) today I would have written and published no fewer than 4 novels but no more than 8 (that’s if the publisher allowed two novels per year).

I probably would have published only a handful of short stories, and I probably would not have published any short story collections.

But get this: It’s a harsh truth that no matter who you are, it’s difficult to be “discovered” by readers if you have only a handful of publications out there.

It’s also difficult to improve your craft if you’re writing only a novel or two per year. You simply don’t have the ability to practice new techniques, like grounding the reader or adding depth or writing from all five (of the POV character’s) physical senses and his/her opinions of the setting.

Common wisdom says you can’t really get good at storytelling until you’ve written a million words of fiction.

But in the meantime, some readers will like what you’ve written no matter your skill level.

So you publish even that first story or novel so they can buy it. Then you forget it and move on to the next story or novel, and the next and the next.

In between stories, you’re learning new bits of the craft through reading, workshops, etc. And in the next work and the next, you’re applying what you learned and you’re practicing.

Go you!

I am a perfect example of all of the above.

In the past five years — specifically because of the freedom this new world of publishing affords us all — I’ve written and published almost 200 short stories plus the attendant 30 or so collections plus 42 novels.

Today, I’ll start my 43rd novel. And all in less than five years.

In fact, at my current rate of production, this year alone I’ll write in the neighborhood of 24 novels. Which means I will have been entertained by my characters’ stories 24 times.

As a side benefit, I’ll have 24 more chances to be discovered by readers and 24 more streams of revenue from sales of those novels.

Can your production be as big as mine? The short answer is Sure.

Much depends on your situation. If you hold down a full-time job that isn’t writing, your time is more limited than mine is. If you have children still living at home, your time is more limited than mine is.

But Dean Wesley Smith devotes well over 40 hours per week to non-writing job related activities, and he’s much more prolific than I am.

The point is to develop a habit. Carve out the time to write from whatever else you have to do during the day (or weekend) and then allow nothing to interfere with that time (barring life rolls, of course).

And the bigger point is to keep the writing fun. If writing seems like drudgery or work to you, either change your attitude or find something fun to do to fill those hours. Life is far too short to unnecessarily spend any of it being miserable.

And the BIGGEST point is that whether your production is greater or less than mine, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that your production tomorrow is greater than your production today. At least until you hit a comfortable plateau. Then all you have to do is run with it.

And it’s all made possible by this wonderful new world of publishing.

‘Til next time, happy writing (and publishing)!


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