How Many Books a Year Could You Write/Publish if It Was Your Career?

OK 3.5 readers.

If writing was your one and only job, you get up, write all day, then stop at the end of the day (say you were putting in an 8 hour day) – how many books do you think you could get out a year?

I just feel like I’m bouncing off of a wall.  I’d really like this to be my career but it takes so long.  Here I am, almost another year down and still no published book.

I work. I come home. I’m tired. My weekends end up filled with all of the life sustaining stuff, it is so slow going.

I’m an overachiever. I’m not happy with the “oh well I just like to write for the sake of writing.”

I’ve heard all kinds of theories about this and I realize it also depends on the substance.

If you’re writing a critically acclaimed prize winner, that’s different than say, a mad cap zombie romp. Both are loved by their fan bases, but both are different.

How many books a year could you put out if it were to become all you do?

I also realize I need to stop starting and stopping.

I finished a first draft of How the West Was Zombed and the felt like an achievement…but I feel like it does need a major rewrite.

Then I wrote the beginning of Undead Man’s Hand and I felt that was tighter – the characters, the timeline, the town, there wasn’t a lot of room for me to wiggle around and make it go off in all kinds of directions like I did in Zombed.

Undead was going to be a part prequel/part sequel to Zombed.  Now that I have had a few months to think about it, I think Undead will become the first book and Zombed will be the second.

Then I dabbled in Illiad Rebooted for a few weeks. Have to be honest, I enjoyed it. I laughed a lot.  A lot of the sex and language bothered me.  I guess at this point I’m still a civilian and the one thing new writers worry about is will writing something off the wall make people think less of me?

If it takes off, great. If like 100 people read it and they’re like wow whoever wrote this must be a weirdo well…at any rate, I’d like to finish it but I’m not sure I want it to be my first novel.

So now I’m on Zomcation which is basically – Zombies+Vacation = Zomcation.  A discharged war hero ends up going on a vacation to an amusement park (Wombat World) with his divorcing sister and kids.

Somehow they meet up with an actress who once played a princess but was demoted to donning a wombat mascot costume when she turned 30, and a bumbling Wombat World security guard who fancies himself an action movie cop and gets irate at the most trivial park rule offenses (i.e. gum chewing.)

And then somehow they end up fighting zombies. I’m still working on the details.

The plot is not complicated. It is in modern times so I don’t have to constantly look up how a past character would have acted.  I’ve done 31,000 in a couple of weeks so I think I could get it done by the end of the year and then I would love to turn my attention to getting the first two Zombed books out and done.

I must start working on a project from beginning to end though.  Draft. Rewrite. Edit. Format. Publish.  No more skipping to other ideas till its done.

Its frustrating.  I have more ideas than time but I hope I will eventually get to them all.

Feel free to dispense advice, 3.5 readers.

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23 thoughts on “How Many Books a Year Could You Write/Publish if It Was Your Career?

  1. I also hate the fact that writing has to take a backseat to work and school. If I were to write full-time, I figure I could do 2-3 books a year. That’s making time for planning, writing, and editing. I wish I had the balls to quit my job and Just Do It.

    • Yeah, don’t we all? Unfortunately, in this economy (though honestly, even in a good economy) I can’t advise anyone to quit a job because there most likely won’t be another job to go back to if the writing doesn’t pan out.

      I checked your blog though and it looks like you have a lot of writing credits so you’re well on your way.

  2. Jason King says:

    With 8 hour days of writing I’m sure we could write a bunch of books each year. If only we had the time though

  3. lgould171784 says:

    Believe it or not, too many ideas can be a problem. If all of the projects seem equally compelling, you probably need to force yourself to choose one and see it through to completion.

  4. You do need to finish your projects. I don’t mean write the words “the end” because really, writing is the easy part. It’s all the work that comes after the first draft that’s hard.
    If writing was my day job, I could publish 4 novels a year. One per season. Actually I think I’d burn myself out at that pace. Let’s say 3 a year.

    • I think Zombed became too big for its britches. I don’t have the patience to work on like 6 books for years and then put them out. So I have to think of a way to make it scalable with a theme that ties them together but still be able to write one, publish it, then do another book of another idea then go back to the next Zombed book

      • Nothing is stopping you. smiles.

      • I feel like this deck of cards Wild Bill has ties it together. Each one has a villain. Each book a hero goes after one of the villains. Perhaps all the heroes unite and go after “the Chairman” in the end.

        Meanwhile, occasional flashes of Teddy Roosevelt in the east rising up through politics until he gets the wall taken down.

        I’m confused because I was going to have Bill have eight aces because the word was he had “aces over eights” when he died.

        But there aren’t eight ace cards in a deck.

        So then I decided I’d make each villain one of the face cards (king, queen, jack) but then I realized there are 12 cards…and you have to have exactly four female (queens) and eight male villains (kings and jacks).

        Eight aces seems more in keeping with the “aces over eights legend.” I’d rather have eight villains than twelve.

        I suppose I could explain it with a joke that maybe Bill cheated at cards and had extra aces in his deck or something.

        8 – 12 villains are both a lot. I figure I could have a few books where multiple villains get defeated.

        It is hard to think that far ahead. You end up boxing yourself in. So on top of it, I debate whether or not to name all the villains as Bill shows everyone his special cards, or just leave them nameless to give me wiggle room so I can invent new villains in the future.

        You have to think of and stick to the villains now vs. maybe I’ll think of new ideas later.

        Also, I don’t know how to play poker and I have to study it enough to write a poker scene.

        My original idea for Undead was that the first half Bill dies and his secret life as a vampire/zombie hunter is revealed to Jane, but no one believes her due to her alcoholism.

        Then in the second half, it takes place years later, after the West is zombed and she rubs all the nonbelievers’ noses in it and then a final zombie battle.

        But there are some flashback scenes involving Queen Elizabeth (the 1500s one) that explain pretty perfectly what the Legion is all about, thus making me think this would be better as a first novel, meaning the second part gets scrapped and I don’t know….the zombie battle happens sooner….then I guess, I don’t know, somehow it stays quiet so no one knows about it by the time of Zombed.

        Sorry, that was a lot…but that’s basically what the holdup has been so once I sort it out I’ll be able to press forward.

      • have the people on the aces and the eights. 8 cards and boom.

      • Hmm…well that’s a good idea but it only totals four cards. I feel like a board of directors of a vampire corporation needs eight vampires.

        These are dumb things that take so much time and delay writing. I actually spent hours one day with a deck of cards laid out on a table trying to figure this out. I questioned my life choices.

      • there are 4 aces and 4 eights. = 8 cards

      • I guess he could have two aces and two eights (so four) and then another set of two aces and two eights (so eight.)

        I think the aces over eights hand would just be 2 aces and 2 eights but to have two sets would be possible.

      • I believe he had a full house of aces and eights for historical reference.

      • Hmm you may have solved the problem!

  5. Good question posed. I’m sure I’s still be at the same place.

  6. I’m pretty sure I could write four quality books a year if it was my occupation, for at least five years. After that I’d probably cool it down to two books a year. I say this because of all the ideas and half-formed stuff in the oven right now that I don’t have time to write. After five years or so, I’d have exorcised those demons and would probably concentrate on more literary works.

    On your writing, my advice would be to focus on one project and finish it. I bounced from story to story before writing seriously, but I never would have became an author had I not forced myself to focus on one project at a time.

  7. PHS says:

    Reblogged this on Archer's Aim and commented:
    I think I could certainly do 1 a year but I could possibly churned out up to 2 full novels and possibly a novella or anthology. With focused draft writing I could certainly finish a rough draft in a month but then comes all the heavy lifting with several edits.

  8. That’s a hard question. I have so many story ideas but I am a bad procrastinator. Maybe two or three.

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