Prolificacy, Part I - Resolutions - Indie Pub It
The art of being prolific has come in for more and more attention since indie authors realized that their backlist was extremely valuable, and the steady supply of new titles helps anchor your readership.
It would make sense that the more titles you release each year, the more sales you would make from both the new titles and the backlist you already have out there – especially backlist that are part of a series.
And this is true in my own experience. In 2013 I released 18 titles. In 2014 I released 6 (one was 250,000 words long). My sales for 2014 slumped in comparison to 2013. Yes, there were industry factor that impacted my sales, but the lack of new titles was a big part of it.
If getting new titles out there is a critical part of your success as an indie author, then it would pay to figure out ways to get more titles out faster, yes? Being prolific pays off for indie authors in a way that legacy authors have never had to consider, with their one-book-a-year contracts.
There are several ways you can get more books done:
You can write faster per hour
You can spend more time writing
You can speed up production
Improve your hourly word rate.
Dean Wesley Smith became one of my prolificacy heroes when he released a blog post last December: “The New World of Writing: Pulp Speed”. It is an ode to writing fast. It’s worth a read if you would like an even more indepth analysis of why speed is good.
However, one of the things he said raised my brows: “Well, since we all type about the same speed when writing, the way to pick up speed is to spend more time in the writing chair.”
Absolutely, this is true: If you spend more time with your butt in the chair and your fingers moving (and not playing Angry Birds, either), then you will absolutely write more – and I’ll be dealing with this next month.
However, it is the assumption that he made that everyone writes at the same speed, always, that made me sit up. This is absolutely not true. I have been keeping records of my writing speed and wordage for years. In 2011 my writing speed was 800 words an hour. As of today, it is 1,400 words an hour. The average is ticking upwards with each day I write more. So increasing your words-per-hour rate is do-able.
Here are some tips:
Believe that is it possible to write fast, and to write very well while writing fast. Jim Denney’s Writing in Overdrive, among many other books about production, writing speed and time management, will help convince you that faster really is better.
Simply write fast. Don’t stop to edit, correct typos or look things up (I use “xxx” to mark spots on my manuscript where I need to reference check later). Keep your fingers moving, and don’t think. Let the story pour out of you and spill upon the page.
Keep track of your words-per-hour rate. The act of recording your word count will itself help you to write faster.
Learn to touch type. Touch typing means you don’t have to look at the keyboard, which means you can focus on the screen. When you’re looking at just the screen, the words can pour out all over the page without you thinking about the mechanics of how they got there. There are dozens of touch-typing sites out there, and hundreds of apps. Take the time to learn to type for it will pay for itself over and over.
Try speech-to-text software. Dragon Dictation seems to be the most well known, but did you know that the latest computer operating systems and nearly all smartphones come with speech-to-text installed? All you need for your desktop or laptop is a speaker-headset combo, and you can try this for yourself. Speech-to-text isn’t for everyone. Some writers swear by it (and Kevin J. Anderson, for example, hikes compulsively and writes entire books this way). But I personally don’t use it. On my good days, I hit 1,800 words an hour. I suspect that dictation software would just slow me down. But you might find it a good trade-off.
There are many more ideas and hacks that will help you write faster. Plug “writing more” and “prolificacy” into Google or Amazon to find dozens of resources, ideas and tips you can try.
Increasing your words-per-hour doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen if you consciously aim to improve it. The pay-off, more books published, has a direct effect on your bottom line.
Next month, we’ll look at ways to find more time to write.
Columnist: Tracy Cooper-Posey writes vampire romance series and hot romantic suspense. She has been nominated for five CAPAs including Favourite Author, and won the Emma Darcy Award. She published 35 titles via legacy publishers before switching to indie publishing in March 2011. She has published over 45 indie titles to date, including her latest fantasy romance, The Branded Rose Prophecy. Her indie books have made her an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and have been nominated four times for Book of the Year. Byzantine Heartbreak won the title in 2012. Tracy has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at MacEwan University. An Australian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a former professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line. Her website can be found at http://TracyCooperPosey.com.