Sunday, April 13, 2008

Success is in the volume

The promotional blurb for Confessions: How To Write & Sell True Stories (Toad Hall Press, 2001), claims "Lorraine Henderson now earns a five-figure income from writing--all from writing short stories needed by the many confessions magazines that are published every month."

At an average of 3-cents/word it would take 333,333+ words/year to earn a minimal five figure ($10,000) income from writing confessions. That sounds like a lot of words, but is only 947 words each day, 365 days a year.

I type about 50-words/minute, so I should be able to produce 947 words with 19 minutes of effort.

Sounds easy, doesn't it?

Now imagine generating story ideas and plots for one to two stories each week. How long does that take? If I devote 30 minutes a day to generating story ideas and plots, 19 minutes to writing, and 11 minutes to revision and proofreading, I'm only working one hour a day writing confessions and am left with seven hours a day for other writing.

If it were this easy, we'd all be doing it. And if we all did it, we'd inundate the editors with more submissions than they could possibly publish and, thus, increase our rejection rates.

Still, 947 words a day doesn't sound that difficult does it?

Ready, set, go...


Kevin R. Tipple said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin R. Tipple said...

Aren't you, as it is, generating a couple of stories (fiction) a week?

Generating story ideas and seeing them through from start to finish at any volume at all has been a huge issue for me. Something I didn't think was an issue for you with your goal of an acceptance a week.

And I meant to ask---other than the implied criticism of the volume deal, is the book worth reading? Does it have merit?

Michael Bracken said...

I've not read the book, though I may order a copy the next time I have available funds.

I wasn't intending to criticize the book--especially having not read it--just attempting to run the numbers. The author's claimed annual income from writing confessions seemed high, until I realized how few words she would have to write on a daily basis to achieve that income.

I also know another writer who has placed 400+ confessions in the past 15 years vs. the 150 or so I've placed in about the same amount of time.

Knowing that other writers can and have achieved a pace of completed and sold short stories double or triple my pace, do I dare challenge myself to strive for their productivity levels?

Maybe I should. I've met or exceeded my goal of a sale a week for five of the past six years. Perhaps it's time to set the bar higher.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Buying books is not an option for me so I just checked with my local library and they don't carry it. I may try interlibrary loan.

From what you wrote I thought you had read it. I find that I don't seem to get much out of reading books on writing. I don't know if this would be different or not.

If you are hitting the goal so regularly, maybe as you say, it is time to raise the bar. Would doing so cause a hardship in another area?

Michael Bracken said...

Excellent question because I don't know if increasing my goal would cause a hardship in another area.

It might cut into my TV watching time--which has increased now that the writers strike is over and my favorite programs are airing new material--or it might simply mean that I have to become more efficient with my available writing time.

What I can't allow it to do is interfere with the work I do for my other clients, and I don't think I want to cut back on my already limited social agenda or the limited amount of time I have available for pleasure reading.

So, we'll see. I might decide to make increased productivity/sales a "soft" goal for now, but a "hard" goal for next year to ease me into it.

Stephen D. Rogers said...

If writing was all it took, making a living as a fiction writer would be easy. It's the sales at the other end that trip me up. :)

Michael Bracken said...

Yeah, all the numbers mean nothing if the words don't sell.