How Long Did It Take?

Image of cactus and typewriter from Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

“How long did it take you to write that book?”

This is something I hear from people often. They ask how long a book took to write, and regardless of what you tell them, there’s usually a nod and an unspoken understanding. What they take away from the answer depends on what they’re really asking. Sometimes they ask out of curiosity, but sometimes it’s because they’re trying to decide if their work is worth trying to complete. Sometimes they’re judging themselves for writing too quickly or too slowly for what they see as a standard speed.

Let me just take a moment to say: it doesn’t matter.

The speed of your first draft does not determine how good it is or whether it’s worth publishing. You can take thirty days or thirty years to write it, and it will still need to be edited, proofread, and formatted. It will still need to be shopped around to publishers, reviewed, and marketed.

One of the things I love as a reader and as an author is that every book has its own story from inception to landing in your hands. Sometimes its been written in fits and starts over decades. Sometimes it was trunked, or buried away somewhere and abandoned, before being dusted off and given new life. Sometimes it’s written in a month and given a few months of editing before being published. All of these methods are completely valid and absolutely normal. There is no right speed for crafting a book.

Do you know what every book has in common? It was finished.

Now, I don’t mean it’s perfect because there is no perfect book, but it is pushed as close as it can be before being allowed to fly on its own. Art is all about striving for that impossibility, for making the story match the pictures you have in your head, but it will never completely match up, and that’s okay. As long as you can create a similar story in the heads of your readers, that’s the real win.

So to all those people working on a book slowly over time, or to those hopping from one partially finished manuscript to the next, remember that finishing it is the only real requirement. Even thirty minutes a day, or even a week, is all it takes.

You can finish it, I promise.

Killing Self-Doubt and New Short Stories On the Way

So I’m dropping off a few articles for all my writer friends out there. Found by the amazing Astrea Baldwin – she’s so good at finding these inspiring gems!

Writers Must Kill Self-Doubt Before Self-Doubt Kills Them – Now just a warning that this piece is rife with profanity and crude jokes, but honestly this tackles a very true fact. Self-doubt is one of the worst killers of fiction. Sure it’s handy when it’s right, but you know when it’s speaking the truth. You just have to be careful not to be fooled by it. Of course Chuck says it way better: “Admiral Ackbar knows what it is: that shit’s a trap.”

Self-publishing EPUB experience – Not only does this thread talk about the results of switching a piece from pay -> free -> pay again, but also tells you how to set something as free. Apparently there’s a bit of a trick to do it on Amazon, as they’re not too thrilled about free works. A good reference for me, but also good for anyone else needed to liven up their self-published works.

Finally, I’ve got some updates on pieces I’ve been working on. I decided to self-publish a couple of short stories. One will be short, but free – Clawbinder – which is already free for reading online, so I didn’t see a point in making folks buy it. Ultimately it just makes it easier for folks to learn about my work and my writing. The second piece will be my western werewolf & vampire short story, which is far longer than Clawbinder (in the 7k-9k range). I’ve had it edited by the wonderful Jessica Augustsson who was able to piece apart the good from the bad in a way that I never could. And Clawbinder’s getting its own cover as well thanks to the talented Fena Lee. I’m using up my one-time free e-book cover on Clawbinder since I’ll be putting it up for free anyway. After that piece, I’m looking to commission her for a piece for the Night Feeders story I mentioned.

Figuring out all the formatting and steps needed to get these stories posted will take some time, but I think I’ve researched enough to be comfortable with it. Still keeping my fingers crossed until I’ve actually taken the plunge though. It’ll be a good side-project for me to work on during NaNo next month as well.

Links Galore!

I blame Writer Beware for getting my brain rolling on self-publishing applications. I’ve got a number of short stories in the mix right now, many of which have been out waiting to be picked up by a publisher for months. As a writer, I can’t deny the temptation to try self-publishing out to see what I think. Even if it is just to say that I’ve experienced it.

A Guide to Publishing an Ebook on Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords

Artists for Book Covers – In my opinion, this would be the hardest step for self-publishing a book or novelette. You want to find an artist that is not going to break your wallet, but still be original and truly draw attention to your book. Browsing this page, I’ve already found two potentials:

Wayne Palesado – A Horror artist whose werewolf work looks particularly gruesome.

Oliver Wetter – My only concern here is that his stuff looks so polished, that I bet getting him to design an ebook cover would be a pain on my pocket. =)

Clare Hulfish – Who I admit won me over with her creepy Coraline-esque leaf eater photo. That just sums up the type of artwork I have an affinity for, a mixture of creepy, whimsical, and fantastic all rolled into one.

And finally, Murder Must Advertise, a handy site for questions regarding self-published mystery novels, but a bunch of this advice would be useful for all types of novels.