When you think of prolific authors, who comes to mind. I immediately thought of Stephen King, Dean Koontz and James Patterson. In reality, these authors are small fries when it comes to being prolific. Stephen King himself said he was considered to be prolific despite having written “only” a few dozen novels to date. He also stated that some renowned novelists have written fewer than five books in a career. His quote on this was, “…I always wonder two things about these folks: how long did it take them to write the books they did write, and what did they do with the rest of their time?”
What about you my fellow authors and bloggers? Are you trying to write the one great American novel like To Kill a Mockingbird?
I started writing my first published book two years ago. Since then, I have published six fictional novels and two non-fiction books. I guess that’s considered prolific. But I also have some secrets that helped me get there quickly. They’re not really secrets, but useful techniques.Here are some of them.
- Don’t agonize over writing and re-writing: My process is to create a first draft that is as clean as I can get it and then conduct the editing step very carefully. My editor goes through the manuscript with amazing speed and catches 99.99% of the mistakes. She also is a reader, so she tells me what works and what doesn’t work in her return notes. Although I write in Scrivener, I compile and rewrite in MS-Word so we can turn on comments and track changes. This makes version control quite easy. We usually finish the beta reader-ready manuscript in two rounds. Then I turn it loose on the beta readers and give them a couple of weeks to get back to me with notes. I have picked my beta readers carefully. Each has there own strengths like spotting continuity errors, noticing inconsistencies and weaknesses, etc. While they are doing their work, the book is usually put up on Amazon for pre-order. Then, if the betas spot changes that need to be made, I make them and get the book out to the advance readers. I try to shoot for a number of advance readers that is twice the number of reviews I desire on day one. I remind them a week before and a day before the release so that reviews will be there on release day. This entire process, from the completion of the draft manuscript, to the release of the book takes about a month.
- Write whenever and wherever you can: I would love to be able to sit in my comfortable home office with my 26 inch monitor and natural keyboard whenever I do my writing. The reality is that much of my writing is done on a Windows tablet (until Scrivener for the iPad is available) in cramped airplane seats, sitting in airport lounges, or at hotel room desks late at night. I’ve learned to block out my surroundings and concentrate on writing. Becoming immersed in the writing process literally makes long flights ‘fly’ by. I’ve written 2-3 chapters on coast-to-coast flights.
- Don’t be constrained to the 70,000-100,000 word count for novels: Because my Frank Rozzani Detective books are in a series, I’ve found that my readers would rather have shorter books (50,000-60,000 words) more frequently than wait for me to finish an epic. I guess you could technically call these novellas. My standalone book, Blood Orange, is closer to the traditional novel length but also took longer to write.
- Time your releases with author events: I am participating in author events in April and October of each year. If you look at my releases, my books have been timed with these months. This gives me a little bump along with having something new to promote.
- Plan the next book while you are still working on the current one: I jot down ideas for future books every day. When I experience what most would call writer’s block (I call it writer’s diversion), I grab these ideas and start plotting out how they might take shape. I have found that, if I’m working on book 2 in a series, for instance, if I plan book 3 or 4, it might help me shape book 2 more effectively to get to that next installment.
So, do I consider writing 8 books in two years prolific? I guess so. I really don’t think about it. I work as a full-time consultant during the week and crank out many more pages of non-fiction (for the most part) technical documents than I do for my own work. Someday I hope to write what I love full-time. I can only imagine how many books I will write when I can do it full time. Until then, my goal is to produce a book every six months or so.
So what about you? Do you consider yourself prolific? Just to help you measure your output, here is a list of some of the most prolific authors in history:
- Corin Tellado – A Spanish author that published 4,000 novels and sold 400 million.
- Ryoki Inoue – A Brazilian author that has written 1,100 novels and is still writing.
- Kathleen Lindsay – An English romance author that wrote over 900 books under 11 pen names.
- Lauran Bosworth Paine – A western fiction writer that wrote 850 books under 70 pen names.
- Enid Mary Blyton – An English children’s writer with 800 books translated into 90 languages with sales great than those of J.K. Rowling.