Prior to publishing my first book, I wrote when I felt like it. I’m sure this is a common thing amongst most writers. However, when you decide to publish, to send your book into the great beyond, you hope for these people called Readers. They are crucial to your writing career. And guess what? They only find you if you publish more books. That’s right. Or maybe you’ve decided its time to get serious about writing your very first book. Won’t happen if you don’t commit time to make it so. Just one sentence a day will lead to more tomorrow. Be intentional about your writing, and the time you put into it.
Currently, the average consensus is an author won’t become known or build a solid readership until roughly book 20 for self-published authors. I’m on book ONE. I have a loooong road ahead of me. It looks bleak. And dark. And somedays I’m so discouraged by the lack of a ripple in my proverbial pond, I start to sound like Pete from Warehouse 13 when he was trapped by the evil typewriter, sighing “What’s the point?”. But, that’s negativity talking, and it has no place in my career.
So, what’s next?
Well, writing. And publishing more books. Until I reach 20. A monumental task to be sure. But the bigger challenge – A release schedule that will keep me in front of readers.
The information for when/how/how many titles to publish a year is all over the board. There is no actual rule, except one. Publish your titles in a consistent manner. This looks different for each of us. Since I had completed five titles before I was able to publish my first one, I was able to look back and see how long the process actually took for me. From completion, to edits, to formatting… I found, for me, it took roughly a year per title. Since I started my journey with five complete titles, I could space those out to account for the next couple years it’d take me to write/edit/format each additional title, allowing me to publish 3 titles a year. You will need to look at your own writing habits and time constraints to see how long it takes you personally to have a book ready from plot-to-publish.
Since the longest part of the writing process is editing by far, I calculated I have roughly four months to actually write a book before I need to have it in front of my critique partners, and then my editor(s). Four months! Now for some writers, this is no big deal. They look at NanoWriMo and rub their hands together and say bring it on and blow the 50k goal out of the water. I am not this writer. I don’t have the speed, nor do I have the time. I do everything from home – I work, I write, I educate… I have specific blocks of time to allow for all of this, so making use of each allotted time slot is crucial.
In comes the daily word count goal.
Now, I am a descriptive writer. I live for emotion and depth. Which means my books tend to be a little longer than I originally plan because my characters require that depth in a relationship before they fall into bed together. It’s important to have a solid commitment before intimacy in my books, and that doesn’t happen because of sex. It happens because they learn each other, and work together and form a bond. Bonds take time. Bonds take moments. If you’ve read any of my work you’ll know, I don’t rush that so you, the reader, don’t feel left out, wondering, hey, when did that happen? I always set my word count goal about 15k higher than my actual goal, just in case.
For the prequel I’m currently working on, I gave myself a two-month deadline. To reach that, I have to write 900 words a day. This is completely doable for me, IF I write at least five days a week, and surpass that 900 words in those five days. My
husband likes me, and spending all my evenings writing doesn’t work for him. So, I know I’ll get some day time writing, some evenings, but overall, only five actual days. Which takes my 60 days, down to 40. Which means my daily count needs to be closer to 1,250. Not as doable, but I know I need to strive for it at least.
I made my deadline for book 5 (Ericksen) in two and a half months. I only went two-weeks over. Which, really shocked me, and proved I was capable of meeting a deadline and writing within word count goals.
To keep me on track I use the NanoWriMo word count ticker. I’m sure there are all kinds of ways to do
this, it was the easiest for me. To keep track of my daily count, I use a 3x5 notecard (pictured above). This has, by far, been my biggest motivator, as I can see right away what I’ve been accomplishing. There are lots of ways to do this, from apps to a word count journal. Whatever is the best fit for you, if you’re ready to take the leap from hobbyist to professional, word count goals are a must.
Do you have word count goals? How do you meet them and keep up?