Recently did a post about what I’ve written or published, just because I have wanted this data for a bit and hadn’t a chance to grab it all. Finally did, and this was what I came up with.

But some words written stats. Earlier years are based off what I wrote and published, later years are tracked on a spreadsheet.

2017* (published and mostly written) |  334,589

2018* (published) |   445,260

2019* (published)  |   403,611

2020* (published)  |   429,371

2021 (actual written)  |    667,555

2022 (actual written) |   719,439

2023 (current) |   617,441

Thoughts and errata below.

So, I should note, it’s exactly a good 1 to 1 on books written to books published in a year. Beyond the obvious near year-end periods, I’ve also held works back for publishing or written shorts / novelletes/etc. Or started projects that never went anywhere (2021+ years track that better).

It also doesn’t track my business publishing blogs (mostly).

I went fulltime in 2019, and 2020 is a weird year, as I transitioned to full-time writing, hired a pa and wrote a dozen or so shorts and novelletes

But once I hired, and fell into the routine, I started writing more. Not necessarily earning more, or publishing more. In fact, works published (full length books i.e. 40k+) goes somewhere like this:

2017 |  5

2018 |  6

2019 |  8

2020 |  4

2021 |  5

2022 |  4

2023 |  5

Shorter works means more books out. On the other hand, in 2020, I had 6 different shorts & novelletes published, in 2021 I had 10. Most of those published in 2021 were actually written in 2020.

2022 is weird as well in terms worked on and published, because I worked on a TON of projects, three of which aren’t ready for release. I also pushed my publishing schedule back even further, so that releases are at least 6+ months after I’m done writing (first draft).

Lots of reasons for that, but major one is to be able to do simultaneous releases, I can schedule authors better and so I don’t burn out.

And, of course, all this doesn’t include weird things like the anthologies, the comics, the co-author works.


Further Thoughts

Because this is the business blog, I figured I’d talk about this, release speed and the ’20books’ method. Which is controversial for some people. For those that don’t know, it’s taken (by some) to be that you should write as fast as possible, with minimum viable product, and put out as much work as possible because that’s the only way to make money.

Let’s be clear – MANY of the biggest authors are like this. They write fast, they release fast, they ride the constant Amazon upswings and algorothim. Heck, I benefit from that, so I won’t say it’s not true or that it doesn’t work. It’s certainly quite a viable method to success.

Authors who do this benefit most of all from the Amazon algorithim and the Kindle Unlimited borrows. By ranking really high (and constantly), these authors rake in a lot of sales, especially from readers looking for similar work. This is much less common among wide authors, though again, pushing a lot of books fast doesn’t hurt at any time.

The biggest advantage of this method, of having a LOT of books out is that your backlist contributes a ton to your income.

A great way to showcase this? 38% of my income (Amazon only since it’s easy to get those stats) came from books released in 2023. 60% or nearly two thirds came from work that (generally) has already earned its cost of production back and are thus net $0 in cost. That number is huge.

So, if that’s a very common way, what’s the opposite?

Are there opposites? People who write slowly and do well?

Yes.

One example of an author I know who has done the opposite – Matt Diniman. In the same 6 years or so that we’ve been writing, Matt has put out 9 books (just over a book and a quarter a year).  

Another ‘slow’ writer that has done well – Travis Baldree. One book a year.

There are others, who have released a book a year (still fast, according to trad pub pacing often); who have established themselves. It requires a different marketing methodology, a reliance on on-going sales and really building up the hype of that one singular release. It’s also, somewhat, dependent on the book itself, that it hits the right genre, right tropes, right market at the appropriate time. Without that, no matter how big the hype is, you might not sell as well.

Tradpub does this quite well actually (at least for their big players). If they can hammer a big book out (or series), they get tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of readers. This is where tradpub really does much better than indie, because we miss around 50% of the market. So while they might sell only 40-50% of their work digitally, and might sell JUST as much as an indie, by virtue of being in bookstores, they’d double, sometimes more, our own numbers.

Big advantage.

To do the single release (or slower release) methodology, it does require you to have a bigger market to tap into, to have a great book that keeps people reading and recommending (organically) the work. Advertising can and does help, but without those ardent fans, it can get expensive fast, especially when you’re just starting out and have no backlist to lean into for additional income.

No Right Way

End of the day, there’s no right way. Well, beyond writing a good book that people want to read. I think that second part is important, because it doesn’t matter how good your craft is, if you’re writing about a topic that no one is interested in. Non-fiction is a great example of this, the number of people who might be interested in the variations and types of copper screws made by a factory in Pilsbury just isn’t huge. And probably incredibly hard to find.

Fiction is similar, even if we don’t think of it that way sometimes. Want to write about dragons? No problem. Selkie, possibly less interested numbers. Unicorns, yay! Kapa? Less interest. And so on, so forth. Trends do change, of course as do fads.

Anyway, this is a long way of saying that while some of us naturally lean towards one way of writing, it isn’t the only way. The requirements and marketing methods change, and perhaps even WHO you might want to approach to help you with, but there isn’t a single method.


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