Everything Counts in Large Amounts

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“Write a 1000 words a day. You’ve got to be madly in love. Don’t listen to your friends – they can’t help you. Write whatever you love – science fiction, romance, soap opera – it doesn’t matter.”
- Ray Bradbury
Spanning the summer to winter of 2013, I’ve been striving to write a minimum of 3000 words a day, so the advice of Ray Bradbury to produce 1000 a day is far below what I’m cranking out. Sometimes I reach it. Sometimes I fall short. Sometimes I surpass it. Depends on the day. But, I think I’m getting there more often than not. I did the math and I was maintaining an average of over 2300 words a day for 5 solid months.

There was never a point in my life where I dreamed of being a successful writer. I always dreamed of being a successful prolific writer. One day, not that long ago, I realized, being prolific didn’t elude me because I hadn’t found success. Success eluded me, because I hadn’t made the commitment to become prolific. Holding at 3000 words a day in a sprint should help. After all, maintaining a mere 1000 words a day indefinitely, means I’ll be producing 3 novels of 100,000 words every year. That’s not too shabby.

Not all authors aspire to compose prolific work.

That’s okay. You don’t have to be prolific. We can’t all be Issac Asimov.

There’s no crime in being less productive.

The sin is in those horrid authors who pretend to be prolific.

Recently, I stumbled across a woman selling full priced novel ebooks that are 25 pages long. 5000 words. Give me a break. That’s pathetic. Needless to say, all of her book reviews are negative – from readers who felt swindled and are complaining that she was charging the price of an entire book to read a single chapter.

I get so angry when I see these greedy hacks watering down the industry of publishing with their piss. If you’re publishing your book one chapter at a time, you’re a greedy fucking asshole. If your stories truly are only 5000 words, then compile a book of short stories. But to sell them one at a time is horribly deceptive to readers. Seriously, if you do that to people, you’re a piece of shit.

There are a large number of authors out there who love to rip off the public and swindle as much money out of people as possible. The most common ways to do this are twofold:
1. Divide standard 300 page novels into 100 page novella trilogies; artificially dissecting a story in order to make a trilogy where there isn’t one.
2. Give the novellas huge fonts and big margins as a way to artificially increase the page counts. That way people see a book is 320 pages and they think they’re getting a lot of value for their money. Truth is they are buying a 100 page book that has been falsely inflated through sneaky formatting.

This commentary is my humble way of trying to protect readers and warn you about those shifty authorfuckers.

Most readers don’t pay attention to page counts or word counts. You read a description of a book and it sounds interesting and you say, “Oh, I think I’ll check that out!”

Now, if you’re standing in a bookstore, physically hold a book in your hands, it’s pretty easy to see how many pages the book has. If it’s 80 pages long and they’re charging you three times the cost of a normal paperback, you can say, “Hold on a second! I’m getting ripped off!” However, if the page count is high and it’s got some heft to it, always make sure you flip it open and check out the printing. Did they use that sneaky trick of making a super huge font and really small margins just to make the book look longer? Don’t let them rip you off that way either.

Online, it gets a little trickier. You can’t physically see the book so, the page layout can be misleading. Usually when you’re online, it’s easier to judge the quantity of story you’re getting by checking the word count. Obviously a longer book doesn’t automatically mean a better book, after all, one of my favorite books, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, is under 10,000 words long, but for goodness sake, it’s a complete book and it’s reasonably priced! No one should have to pay the price of a novel to read something that only amounts to one chapter. For this reason, I always include the word count of all my books. On average, most novels are anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 words. My first was 190,000. My second was 104,000. Honestly revealing the word count is the only way to legitimately measure the length of a book, since “page counts” can be easily rigged to be nearly any number you want. Many authors won’t expose the word count of their stories. Some of them don’t give you the word count because they don’t realize it’s important information to share, others won’t give the word count because they figure readers aren’t smart enough to know what it means, and then you have those who hide their word count, because they don’t want you to know they are selling a 5000 word book for the price of a full novel.

To readers out there, I challenge you to scrutinize the words counts of books. Don’t just look at page counts.

To authors out there, I challenge you to be honest. Admit your word counts. Make it conspicuous. Have the decency to post the numbers and don’t puff up your books to higher page counts just to try and make more money.
“It simply follows that quantity produces quality. Only if you do a lot will you ever be any good. If you do very little, you’ll never have quality of idea or quality of output. The excitement and creativity comes from a whole lot of doing; hoping you’ll suddenly be struck by lightning. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed. The history of literature is the history of prolific people. I always say to students, give me four pages a day, every day. That’s three or four hundred thousand words a year. Most of that will be bilge, but the rest… It will save your life!”
- Ray Bradbury