Friday, October 29, 2010

The long road ahead

My first full-length novel is currently in editing and I’m looking forward to releasing it on Kindle in early November.
Now that it’s almost done, I’m looking ahead to what comes next.
Other Kindle authors (most notably JA Konrath) explain that having more than one book on Kindle is better. If someone likes one of your books, they will buy others. If you only have on book out, they can’t spend any more money on you. Very logical. So, the wise author writes as much and as quickly as possible.
This is what I would like to do. However, I already work 40 hours a week at my technical writing job. It uses a lot of my mental energy, since I’m spending all day writing (albeit technical content). So, when I get home at night it is sometimes difficult to actually write creatively on my novels.
I can write about 1000 words per hour. So, it would take me about 80 hours to write the first draft of a full-length novel. Then, I iterate through seven or so revisions. Bottom line, I need to spend about 200 hours at the keyboard to get the novel ready for editing.
On good weeks, I can get 12-14 hours of novel-writing in. But, usually it’s less than 10. Let’s say if I can average 10 hours a week of writing. That means it will take me 20 weeks to get the novel to an editor. Add a few weeks for working with the editor. Say, 24 weeks from start to finish to get a novel written and ready to publish. This is a best case scenario.
That’s about 2 new books written per year.
I’ll make about $2 per novel sold. So, if I can sell 1000 per month, that’s 12,000 per year, and that’s $24,000.  That’s enough to cover my mortgage, which would be nice. Well, before Uncle Sam gets his greedy, taxing fingers on it.
But, getting to 1000 sales a month will take a long time. How long? I don’t know. I’ve read other newbie Kindle authors who said it took them 7 months to sell 1000 books. Will I do any better? Any worse? No way to know today. But, by this time next year I should hopefully have 3 full-length novels on Amazon and a year’s worth of sales data to extrapolate my future potential.
Anyway, if you are a newbie author like me, I guess all I’m saying is that it looks like a very long road from here. Don’t get discouraged, though. You have to dedicate a good year to your Kindle writing before you can find out if you can be successful.


  1. Derek,

    While production is important, it shouldn't come at the expense of quality. People want a good story told well, above all else. Don't rush your projects.

    I do understand where you're coming from, because I'm kind of in the same boat. I'm in the middle of writing a memoir, but I have a short story (17,000 words) that with a little spit and shine could be released within a month or two. The problem is, my time is very limited. So do I continue writing the memoir or drop it for awhile to get a title out there?

    I'm glad you responded to my post .... I'm looking forward to following you .... let me know if I can help in any way.

  2. One other thing, too. The traditional publishing world looks at a novel being basically 80,000 to 110,000 words long.

    Other organizations consider anything over 40,000 words to be a novel. As for me, I'll be shooting for a minimum 55-60,000. Remember, we're going to sell our stuff, our Novels, for $2.99.

    I can comfortably produce two 55K "Novels" a year. 90,000 words would mean one work per year for me.

  3. If you can't increase your output, increase your distribution. Amazon is probably going to get an author more sales than other single distributor, but that's no reason to confine yourself to just the one.

  4. Oh, no, I'm not going to limit myself to just Amazon. I was kind of looking at three:

    1. Amazon

    2. B & N (Nook)

    3. iBooks (Apple)

    I know Stanza (through Smashwords) is another big outlet, but I've heard that it's difficult to get formatting correct for Smashwords, even for someone that knows what they're doing.

    Am I missing any other biggies?

    Also, from what you've learned so far, does $400-$500 seem to be the going rate for cover design?

    As far as copy editing (I'm not looking for a book doctor, just someone to make sure I haven't made a bunch of gramatical, spelling and basic mistakes), I found one that does the basic copy edit for $.015 per word. Does that sound about right?

  5. PJ, good point on the 90k novel discussion. We'll see how the outline for book 2 looks before I decide on how long it is. I'm leaning toward at least a 60k novel.

    Yep, I'm planning on releasing my books through other outlets. Just have to figure out the formatting.

    I'll be posting another editing update and another post about artists next week. However, quick answer:

    I found cover artists charging from $400 to $5000. I found three at $500 or less.

    The editing for my short stories was about $0.0075 per word. The editing for the first 10k words of my novel was $0.0183. This is not just a copy edit though, it's also a deeper edit for consistency, etc. So, I'd have to say that $0.015 for only a copy edit seems a little high.

  6. I'm in a similar situation. I would like to get the first novel in my series out by December. It's already written; it shouldn't be impossible. But I have an intense schedule and my deadlines for writing get last priority, out of necessity.

    Regarding novel length, I've broken my first 120,000 book up into three novellas. I might add back in some scenes I had to take out to keep it at 120,000 words, but each book will still be 45,000-50,000 words.