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Is it just me ? (writing speed)

So I joined this Facebook Group -20BooksTo50K  - mainly US based, and built around the idea that you can fairly quickly produce 20 books, probably in a series, and by then you will have made 50K (dollars, I presume).

Leaving aside the money bit, there is a lot of discussion about how to set up a writing schedule with a target for a set number of words per week. Now, I'm not kidding, but there are people in the group talking about writing thousands of word per day, adding up to tens of thousands of words per week. The most prolific claims to produce 50,000 words per week. Another claims an output of 40 (yes, four zero!) books per year.
I have had a 'look inside' on Amazon at some of their output and most the writing is reasonably competent, if somewhat unexciting. Most of it is in the Dystopian/SciFi/Romance/Dragons and Witches genres.

As someone who took 3 years to write a book that sold 1,000 copies in year 4,  I have been accused of being prejudiced in the group when I have gently hinted my incredulity at the whole thing. Is it just me?  Look, I'm going to say it out loud. Don't you think most of it is probably complete crap? Hush my mouth and thanks for listening!

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Replies (53)
  • 40 books per year? You mean people out there are churning out a book every ten days? Plus they still have the time to publish them AND write nonsense in Fb? 😱  I'm sooooo wasting my time!

    Look, not even James Patterson with his legendary team of ghost writers can achieve that. They are taking the yellow water and throwing it at you when you dare challenge them on their absurd claims. I'd stick with more regular people who don't claim to be super-writers but like to talk shop seriously. Like here.

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    • There are some people who type incredibly fast, have an inherent sense of story structure, and competent or better prose. The prime example I can think of is Asimov who "wrote and published 40 novels, 382 short stories, over 280 non-fiction books, and edited about 147 others" over his career (see Wikipedia).

      But for most people, that's excessive.

      The people who knock out a book in a week - and they are more novella than novel based on the figures above - don't have time to edit their work. They spew and dump. So, yeah, it's going to mostly be crap. But they are largely relying on people who will see that they have 20 books in a series, not realise they are produced without serious thought or editing (or who are illiterate enough not to care) and self-published; people who will buy on the strength of so many books produced.

      I did some calculations based on my own word output and editing rate, assuming four editing passes. Even with perfect attendance, no distractions, no bad days, I would take more than 3 months to produce 80k of material I am happy with. And based on my word output vs others on here, I am fast.

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      • You may well be correct. In the end, it's everyone's choice to work as they wish. 

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        • Hi Matt, thanks for all the details. Appreciate it and will learn to use Scrivener since I purchased a lifetime license. 👍 😊 

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          • Ric, thanks for all your earlier pointers. Since I am currently a heavy user of MS Word & MS Outlook, I will definitely find time to learn that part of Word and see how I progress. Appreciate all the points you raised. 👍 😊   

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          • Don't you think most of it is probably complete crap?

            Based on much of what I've read of these endless 'Book twenty-seven of the Moose's Harpsichord series' things that infest my Amazon suggestions, the answer is 'yes'.

            As Rick says, there are very rare writers who can write both very fast and very well. But they are very rare. The vast majority of these 40 books a year merchants are spewing out unedited stream of consciousness crap for a pretty undiscerning audience. 

            I guess there's a place for such stuff. but the answer is still 'yes'. 😂 

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            • Talking from experience and I don't know any trade-published author having the worry that someone unscrupulous will get hold of their manuscripts & self-publish them before their books get traditionally published.

              Furthermore, you cannot plagiarise an idea because ideas are not copyrighted. From the moment, you wrote something it is protected by copyright. 

              Self-published is definitely a highly unregulated area, and has risks and rewards, another positive with trade-publishing is that you have the backing of your publisher who can do battle on your behalf, which makes it a lot riskier to plagiarise or infringe on the copyright of a trade-published book. Yes, trade-publishing takes longer (because a lot more goes in pre-production) but you have a support system, not available to self-publish authors.

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              • That’s good to know. Yes, I agree that you cannot copyright ideas but once you have written an article, chapter, etc., it’s auto protected by copyright.

                Anyway, this US University received so many complaints about plagiarism that the Course Instructor had to send out regular reminders regarding the protection of intellectual property:- “XYZ’s privacy policy protects the learner’s IP and you are indeed the sole owners of your work. I would suggest that you add an international copyright line to all of your work as follows: ‘Copyright @ 2020 Your Name.’ This will add an additional measure of security to your IP. You can place this just under the title on every submission.”

                The University also instituted measures that for Peer Reviews, fellow learners could no longer copy or download any submissions directly from the online site (it doesn’t stop someone from taking photos of the submissions but it was an improvement).

                Yes, the good thing with traditional publishing is that you have a good support system, unlike those who self-publish.

                From two of the links in the article provided by Jon, I found that one Writer confronted the person who plagiarized her work on Amazon. The other party then resorted to threats and harassment, fake one-star reviews, etc. to intimidate her. She had to start a GoFundMe to obtain legal fees to fight her case… believe her nightmare lasted nearly 4 years.



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                • Or in the case of P G Wodehouse, not even changing the characters or settings very much. 

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                • Phew, thanks all, for your supportive comments. I thought it was just me being all superior!
                  Just to show that there is an alternative writing universe out there, here are some of the comments, each from a different 'writer' (I use the term loosely)

                  I produce an average of 40k words per week while working a full time day job and I’m desperate to leave that job so I can crank that number up.


                  I write about 51K a week. Why? I love money and I treat this as a job.


                  The fastest writers today are producing 40-50 novels a year, these days. It's worth noting that I know of NO author who writes and publishes a million+ words a year who has failed to reach a living wage.


                   I’m a fairly slow writer compared to the real professionals and I’m on track to put out 20 books before the end of 2021.


                  I manage around 55,000 to 60,000 words a month

                  I'll probably hit just over 700,000 words for the year

                  My books run between 90k to 120k

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                  • They sound very much like those testimonials they put in one-page sites selling the definitive cure for cancer/slimming remedy/erectile dysfunction/path to success.

                    The internet is a wonderful place. Did you know that the creators of the powdered water campaign kept receiving orders for years after they replaced the ad for an explanation about their social experiment?

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                    • Powdered water - I wish I had thought of that!

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                    • I'm put in mind of that old adage that can be applied to almost any billable human endeavour"

                      'You can have it cheap. You can have it quick. You can have it good. Pick two.'

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                      • I thought you were only allowed to pick one…

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                        • You can have it cheap and quickly, but it won't be good.

                          You can have it cheap and good, but that won't be quick.

                          You can have it good and quickly, but that won't be cheap.


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                          • Love this! Its original source is filmmaker Jim Jarmusch apparently (but quoted by Tom Waits):

                            Jim Jarmusch once told me Fast, Cheap, and Good… pick two. If it’s fast and cheap it won’t be good. If it’s cheap and good, it won’t be fast. If it’s fast and good, it won’t be cheap. Fast, cheap and good … pick two words to live by."

                            Tom Waits

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                          • Here's a good one that has just popped up on a different site, where to put it politely there are a lot of beginners.

                            I am done. My novel is 867000 words. How much will it cost me for editing ?

                            (I think I need to leave FB alone before I go completely nuts!)

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                            • Tsk. Tolstoy was a dilettante.

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                              • 😂 😂 😂 

                                My novel is 867000 words. How much will it cost me for editing ?

                                Everything you own, or will ever own. Times four.

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                                • 😂

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                                • Hi Iain,

                                  I'm also a member of this FB group, and I agree... It is highly unlikely that writers (for whom writing is not even their 'day job') are producing great fiction at this volume level. However, the ethos of the group is not to aspire to that primarily. The formula being shared in the group is about how to earn $50K a year from 20 books. (The group founder does this and then some, and seems genuinely selfless and generous and transparent with his advice and support, so I am absolutely not going to be knocking him or his claims or his strategy).

                                  However, from my time in that group, what I have figured out is that the formula is best suited to self-publishers only who write series in a narrow margin of fiction genres. (So, vampires and fairies, cheesy romances, reverse harem, fantasy, dystopia, space opera, etc. seem to dominate). You're targeting readers who like to read a book a week (or more), and just want new stories all the time in whatever genre they're addicted to; and by the sounds of things, they aren't that discerning about the quality of the writing, they are just voracious consumers. If you're a one-book-a-year writer (or less!), forget it; if you don't writer series, forget it; if you're writing outside of the favoured genre pool, forget it; and if you do write series, and do succeed in securing a fanbase, you have to then keep up with their demands on you for new material to maintain your income flow. 

                                  It's also clear that you have to be extremely au fait with all aspects of the self-publishing machine - from promotion and marketing, to advertising, to knowing how to navigate and work the various self-pub platforms and their respective 'deals', etc etc. Although all the info and help you need to be able to do this is offered within the group from very experienced members, it looks like a HUUUUUUUUGE amount of learning! I have tried looking through it and been utterly overwhelmed.

                                  I don't dispute the claims of the members in the group who say they are rocking that formula and making good money - and good luck to them. But I feel a million miles away from being able to compete with their ilk 😕 

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                                  • Thanks for that. Yes, you have hit the nail on the head. I am mindful of Barbara Cartland and her 700 novel output. I bet Chas Dickens was a dab hand at it too!
                                    Like you, I think the group is interesting....but not for me!

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                                  • These people are in it to make money, not to write good books. In the modern world people buy all manner of mass produced crap on the internet whilst others bemoan the poor quality and lack of craftsmanship, reliability etc. Makers of for example cheap fake electronic goods or clothes do it because they can sell it in big numbers and get rich. I guess a book is like any other commodity.  There will always be a market for quick and cheap but similarly there will always be a market for well written and edited beautifully. You just have to decide which camp you want to be in. 

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                                    • You are correct, Kate… these people are in it to make money, hit and run. There are different consumers, writers, and readers. Still, it’s good to be aware of all the risks and just hope that one never becomes a victim of plagiarism… and be harassed and threatened like Rachel Ann Nunes (her nightmare/legal battle lasted nearly 4 years before she won an apology and some compensation from the plagiarist)! 😫

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                                    • Iain, I follow a lot of fellow writers on Instagram and there seems to be an obsession with posting your daily totals. It's all quantitative over qualitative. I understand with the first draft you just need to get it down, but I find it ironic that we spend our first draft trying to get the numbers up and every subsequent draft trying to get the numbers back down again! I would imagine, as many have said above, that little or no editing is done by these 60K-a-monthers. It took me 5 years to write and edit my first novel! (I was a total newbie) And even after that, now that I have learned so much more, it could be so much better.

                                      I guess there is a real difference between writing because you love to write and feel you have something worthwhile to express, and writing because you're determined to make money out of it. Of course these things are not (thank heavens) mutually exclusive, but there is a difference in primary motivations, and therefore a difference (I'd imagine) in the quality of the output.

                                      Good luck with your own writing and if it takes 3 years to write the next then so be it! 🙂 

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                                      • I’m fascinated by the buyers. Who buys these books? A colleague in the USA has just written a lively novel set in the flying world and self published it and although she touts it on numerous sites she has hardly sold any. If she’d written 10 instead of 1 would she do better? How do the writers get a following so quickly?

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                                        • If your colleague's novel is about airline flying (and definitely not witches) please share the title.

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                                          • Here is a Christmas 'cracker' just to cheer you up. This appeared today on another FB Group post. Duh!!

                                            Hello! I am new here.. I am planning to write a story... Can you give me suggestions how to write and which topics will be suitable? 

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                                            • Who said that selective purging of certain swathes of humanity was a bad idea?

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                                            • Happy Holidays All,

                                              I am going to be the odd man out here, perhaps, and say SLOW DOWN. And I mean WAY DOWN.


                                              Here is a SHORT list of things that probably should be addressed or pondered on each page of a good book, and certainly each 3-4 page scene, courtesy Jamie Gold, who I think used some stuff from John Truby.

                                              Links to her worksheets:




                                              Quick synopsis:

                                              “So as we go through our story, we need to make sure every scene has at least three of the following revelations:

                                              • a plot point
                                              • a character’s goal
                                              • action to advance the plot
                                              • action to increase the tension
                                              • character development
                                              • a cause of character conflict
                                              • an effect of character conflict
                                              • how stakes are raised
                                              • a reinforcement of the stakes
                                              • character motivation
                                              • character backstory
                                              • world building
                                              • story theme
                                              • foreshadowing
                                              • the story’s tone or "mood”

                                               That does not (but should also) include:

                                              • Precise use of POV with zero flaws
                                              • Meticulous word choices in dialogue for each character
                                              • Psychological makeup of character
                                              • How psychology and backstory influences dialogue and action
                                              • Links to previous foreshadowing
                                              • LAYERING OF PLOT
                                              • LAYERING OF CONFLICT
                                              • UNRESOLVED MORAL DILEMMAS
                                              • ETC
                                              • ETC


                                              BIG QUESTION:

                                              HOW DOES ANYONE/ANYTHING BUT AN ALIEN CYBORG

                                              WRITING ROBOT CONSIDER ALL OF THAT AT 5,000-10,000 WORDS A SITTING???


                                              I believe that great writers DWELL on the world of the PAGE until each page contributes something magisterial to the flow of the book overall, and becomes part of an organic whole. That does not happen in 60 seconds, as in the unrealistic and slightly delusional world of the keyboard warrior.

                                              Great writers DO NOT rush through the manuscript seeing if they can get 10,000 words a day. That is nuts.

                                              As Truman Capote said to Jack Kerouac: “That’s not writing Jack. That’s typing.”

                                              A great novel has about 365 pages, on average.  (Close to that magic 90,000 word limit so many agents look for.) That is one page or 250 great words per day.

                                              In my humblest of opinions: if more people strove for 250 great words per day and a masterpiece at the end of the year, more people would be reading and less people would be watching Netflix. I guarantee you.



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                                              • As the alien in the house, I can answer you question as to how someone does all the above at 5k words per "sitting" (where that sitting is a full day of (almost nothing but) writing: by spending even more time before that structuring, plotting, mapping out interactions, themes, beats, so that the writing is nothing more than fleshing out a story that is already fully-structured.

                                                Of course, the 20-book-a-yearers don't have time for that, but details.

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                                                • Dude,

                                                  Not talking about the people who do that. Talking about the 99.99999% who don't and still brag about 10,000 words a day. Why can't the Russian hackers ever go for the real enemy: bad novels on Kindle.


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                                                  • Maybe the Russian hackers are writing the bad novels on kindle…

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                                                  • Ah!!! Ha ha ha ha! Man, if you aren't going to write that, I am!!! Ha ha ha ha ha.


                                                    NOW, I'll do 10,000 words a day! Gotta run!!

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                                                    • As a follow up to this conversation, I thought this was an interesting AMA (ask me anything) thread that popped up in my Reddit feed today, in the r/selfpublish sub-reddit.

                                                      Lynne Katzenmeyer seems very grounded and sensible about what she does. I confess, I still can't fathom how she does it (apparently she published her first book in September 2019, now has seven published novels under her belt, and has a target of a published book every 4-8 weeks! 😱 ). I've also never read one of her books, so can't speak to their quality. But her readers obviously like what she writes, and it seems to be working for her - she says she made $46,000 in her first year, from writing in very specific genres - she's most popular, apparently, in sub-genre of fantasy romance novels known as 'fated mates' 😳 .

                                                      Anyhoo... I found her honesty and willingness to share interesting and refreshing, and I thought it was good to introduce the perspective of one of these very prolific authors, from the horse's mouth, as it were. Not least because she comes across rather well, and it undercut some of my more unkind and perhaps rather pompous assumptions and pre-conceptions!


                                                      Hope others find it illuminating!

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                                                      • I'm so glad you've raised this topic as it's something I have been interested in and astounded by, ever since I began to explore self publishing. The mantra appears to be write a lot and you will eventually sell enough to make a living. Stock em high, sell em cheap. Like Aldi.

                                                        However to even approach making a living, it's write a book ever 2 months (at least)  on an ongoing basis. So at least 6 books yearly and to make a good living, you have to have written 20 odd books already.

                                                        I think at that rate, you have to weigh up the chance of each of those 20 novels getting traditionally published versus self publishing. I would hope that 20 novels in, I would have mastered  my craft well enough to get to the point where I  stood a good chance of getting an agent.

                                                        But I am a complete novice so what do I know?

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