1,000 Words A Day...

…To Create A Writing Empire

Author: BigW (Page 1 of 4)

1 Million Words or 10,000 Hours?

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success, he repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to success  in becoming an expert in any field is a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of 10,000 hours.

With the current indie-publishing boom, I’ve been reading and hearing a lot of advice from writer’s embracing the “10,000-Hour Rule”, which states it takes 10,000 hours of focused writing practice and study to become a publishable writer.

As a numbers guy  that doesn’t seem to add up for me. Here’s why:

  • First, to put 10,000 hours into a budding writing  career it would require you work at your writing for 40 hours a week for 5 years. Even if you only wrote for 1,000 hours a year, you’d have to write for 2 hours and 45 minutes every single day for 10 years. You and I both know that ain’t gonna happen. Life has a habit of getting in the way.
  • Secondly, let’s say of the 10,000 hours, 5,000 hours are used for reading, studying and attending classes and the other 5,000 hours are spent solely on writing. Now to be conservative, let’s say can type 45 words per minute on average; writing over those 5,000 hours you will have written 13.5 million words. That’s almost 169 eighty-thousand-word novels averaging 320 pages each.

Unless you’re Dame Barbara Cartland (723 books) or John Creasy (564 books), it’s unlikely most of us will ever write that many books.

I once saw Ray Bradbury talking about the writing process. He said you must write a thousand words of story every day and in three years, you will have written a million words. At this point, you will be a writer.

Following Ray Bradbury’s advice, you will spend about 23 minutes a day writing story and you will have spent about 385 hours writing by the time you’ve turned out 1 million words. This is advice that is far more reasonable. Besides, it worked well for Ray…


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Kindle Ebook Formatting Made Easy

Ebooks are changing the publishing world in the same way MP3 files changed the music industry.  At present Amazon’s Kindle is the King of the Hill of ereaders and is reported to be the driving force in ebook growth.

There are a number of recent news reports pointing out authors making a dramatic shift from traditional publishing to self-publishing, as in the case of Barry Eisler turning down a $500,000 deal from St. Martin Press, choosing to self-publish instead.

Other A-List self-pubbed authors like J.A. Konrath, Amanda Hocking and John Locke ignited the dreams of hundreds of thousands…millions(?) of writers and authors to publish their own ebooks.

There are tons of people looking to publish their own ebooks and going through the process of formatting them for Kindle. As a result, there are a vast number of video tutorials showing self-pub authors how to do this.

Given all the tutorials out there, I’ve not found a good “How to” resource that describes the best way publish a Kindle ebook.  There are references that describes how to format your novel using an html editor, defining bookmarks and tags to specify the table of contents, cover, and start page  in such a way that the Kindle device will recognize them.

All of this is daunting for most people. As novelists, you want to focus on writing stories and not figuring out software. There has to be a better way.

Then I found the Answer in an OpenOffice application called Kindle Template. It’s specifically designed to make  publishing Kindle ebooks easy.  It’s the only software you’ll need to publish a Kindle ebook on Amazon.

All you do is follow the simple YouTube video instructions for using Kindle Template. Once done, you upload the .doc file generated by the template application to the Amazon Kindle publishing site. No muss, no fuss – nice ‘n easy.

The file generated by Kindle Template contains all the tags and bookmarks necessary for a Kindle device, or one of the free Kindle reading apps, to be able to render the cover, table of contents, and book contents correctly.  In addition, Kindle Template will take your text as it appears in your document and format it to appear exactly the same when viewed on the Kindle.

Considering the amount of time you’ll save and frustration you’ll avoid using the Kindle Template, the nominal price is well worth it – especially if you plan to publish a number of ebooks in the process building your own e-book empire.

255 Top Novels of All Time

At the beginning of this year, a series of eight literary groups and media publications came out with lists of the Top 100 Novels of All Time.

Included in the group were lists from: The Modern Library, Radcliffe’s, TIME, The Telegraph and The Guardian from the U.K. and The New York Times.

Examining the lists, I agreed with most of the titles on them. However, I was completely unfamiliar with or had no interest in other titles. I compiled my own list of Top Novels of All Time that I’d like to read.

I compiled my list by taking novel titles that appeared on 3 – 8 of the other lists. There are 103 titles on this “core” list. The rest of the list consists of titles that appeared on two of the lists and other one-off’s of familiar titles or written by authors I want to read.

In all there are 255 titles on the list. The titles in blue font are ones I’ve read, but some were read so long ago, I might re-visit them.

I have a mild case of dyslexia, which has always made me a slow reader. Recently, I learned speed reading techniques to pick up the pace, concentration and retention. I’m pleased to report that when used properly, it works well. The cool thing is I learned that the Kindle lends itself very well to speed-reading.

Once I finish the seven books on my nightstand (none on the Tops list) and the nine e-books on my Kindle, I’ll start working down this list of Top Novels of All Time. Look over the list – let me know if there are any essential novels I might have missed.

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Suggested Reading: The Gathering Dead

Okay, I really like Zombie Thrillers and Stephen Knight can write them. He puts a twist on this genre in a way I only thought of in the back of my mind, “What if Zombie’s retained some residual intelligence when they became creatures of the undead? How much more deadly would they be then?”

Stephen apparently had the same questions – and answered them with this intense thriller.

Here’s a taste of what’s inside:

The Horde Is Always Hungry…

The zombie apocalypse has begun, and Major Cordell McDaniels is given the most important mission of his career: lead a Special Forces team into New York City to rescue the one man who can stop the ghastly virus that reanimates the dead.

But as a growing army of flesh-eating corpses takes over the streets and a violent storm renders airborne extraction impossible, McDaniels struggles to find a way out of the Big Apple. The odds of anyone getting out alive plummet further when slaughtered members of his own Special Forces team join the ranks of the gathering dead… with their military skills intact!

Amazon E-books in the Library (soon)

Amazon announced that you will be able to check-out an e-book from the library to your Kindle. Amazon said this service will be available “later this year,” but did not specify a launch date.

The News Release

More than 11,000 libraries in the U.S are participating in this electronic-book-loaning program. A company named OverDrive will manage distribution of the e-books to the libraries.

Although the Kindle is dominant selling e-reader on the market, Amazon is the last major e-book company to join such a program. Barnes & Noble’s Nook and the Sony Reader are already in the library system.

The checkout process will work pretty much the same as it does with regular library book loans. The books are checked-out electronically for a typical period of about 2-weeks. After that, the e-book is locked and inaccessible to your Kindle. Just like real books, once a title is checked out you will not be able to access it until it has been checked back in.

Kindle users will have to check-out books through their local libraries, so you’ll need a library account to use the service. To see if your library has a license to distribute e-books for the Kindle, go to OverDrive, select the ‘Search for Library’ tab, and type in your ZIP code.

How can this benefit you – the Indie author? By getting your titles into the libraries, it gives you more exposure to a market of people who did not previously know you were out there.

Utilize your network of writing friends and your Facebook friends. Have some of them put in a call to your library and their library seeking your titles.

Most of the time the library will tell them it’s not available. All the Indie author and friends need to do is request that the library obtain it. With just a few inquiries, the library will see there is a demand for the e-book, and in most cases, will obtain it.

This is pretty much what I did when I was involved with a marketing group a few years ago. Except that now the library won’t have to go through the expense of obtaining a hardcover book, but a very inexpensive and wear-proof e-book instead.


Ebook Sales Surpass Paper Books!

CNN, engadget, and The Sun (UK) have been reporting that ebook sales have eclipsed paperback and hardback books for the first time.

Ebook sales totaled $90.3 million for the month of February. That’s an increase of 202% compared to the same last year, according to a study from the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

That put e-books at No. 1 “among all categories of trade publishing”. It’s the first time e-books have beaten out traditional publishing formats. At the same time, sales of hardback books fell 34.4% and paperbacks fell 16.1%

What’s driving this ebook explosion? Part of the reason is the increasing acceptance of ereaders like the Kindle and Nook. GenX’ers and some Boomers are warming up to ereaders, while Generation Next and the Internet Generation easily accept and adapt to ereaders over the traditional book.

More importantly, in time, as the children of Generation Next and the Internet Generation grow, it’ll become rare for those kids to pick up a hard copy of any book. They’ll primarily use ereaders – not only for personal use – but ebooks will replace textbooks in schools.

They’re already being used in Elementary Schools in Nebraska and Iowa. Burlington High School, in Massachusetts, will be handing out the iPad’s to students next fall, and colleges and universities all over the U.S. are increasingly using online texts instead of their cumbersome counterparts.

However, the majority of the $90.3 million in ebook sales for the month of February doesn’t come from textbooks. No, that honor belongs to the Romance genre.

Harlequin was the first publisher to really see the writing on the wall and began switching their titles to the ebook format back in 2007. They were also among the first to offer 99¢ ebooks. The next most popular ebook sales were business books.

Another reason for increased ebook sales is the lower price point. The Big 6 Publisher’s still don’t get it. Why on earth would we pay $10-$15 for an ebook, where there is almost no overhead involved, and where in many cases is close in price to a hardbound copy of the same book. It’s just insulting and usury.

Thankfully, a growing number of established authors see the incredible business model self-publishing their own ebooks offer. They also recognize that they can sell FAR more books in the $0.99 – $2.99 range and receive a much higher percentage of royalties per sale to boot!

The AAP also reported:

Additionally, Trade publishing houses cite e-Books as generating fresh consumer interest in–and new revenue streams for–“backlist” titles, books that have been in print for at least a year. Many publishers report that e-Book readers who enjoy a newly-released book will frequently buy an author’s full backlist.

It’s these authors who are blazing the trail for many new writers who have not been able to get their work published using a Big 6 Publisher.

The barriers to publishing have never been lower. As a result, there’s been a tremendous groundswell movement of previously unknown authors publishing their own books in ebook format and realizing sales success they didn’t have with legacy publishing.

Now it’s the consumer who chooses who is or isn’t a good author – not a publisher.

These are exiting times in this Golden Era of Ebook Publishing. Be sure to catch the wave.


Can’t Afford a Kindle or Nook?

The convenience of having a Kindle or Nook to read your favorite eBooks is obviously a tremendous benefit, however, not everyone can afford an eReader, or is sitting on the fence about eBooks (the way I was).

Well, until the time comes when you can afford an eReader or want to buy one, you can get the Kindle or Nook eReader app for your PC. It’s an easy download and installs in a couple of minutes. Best of all it’s Free!

The Kindle app for the PC

You can also get the free Kindle app for your iPhone, Mac, iPad, Blackberry or Android

The Nook app for the PC

Nook also has the apps for your iPhone, Mac, iPad, Blackberry or Android


The Civil War Began 150 Years Ago Today

On this day 150 years ago, at 4:30 am on April 12, 1861, Confederate Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire with an artillery barrage on Fort Sumter, commanded by Union Major Robert Anderson, starting the American Civil War.

The Civil War involved over 3 million American soldiers, of which more than 640,000 died over the four years of war. More American soldiers were killed in the Civil War than in all of America’s other wars – combined.

For the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, PBS has been playing Ken Burns epic Civil War series.

As I watch it, for the umpteenth time in the 20 years since it came out, I’m still amazed that it happened here, how it unfolded and how it almost tore our country apart.

Sitting here writing this post, minutes before the anniversary of that first shot, I’m astounded by what an incredible story the Civil War is.

The plot, the setting and theme are there. You’re presented with a vast cast of characters that you can’t help but care about. You root for the main protagonists (Lincoln and Grant) and even find empathy for the main antagonists (Davis and Lee). There are lots of amazing sub-plots, continuous conflicts, trials and triumphs. The plot points are in place as is the reversal of fortune at the mid-point – all leading to the dramatic climax. At then end is a touching epilogue of what became of the characters that survived the war and what it meant to our country.

One hell of an epic story.

An interesting fact: When Confederate Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard was a cadet at West Point; Union Major Robert Anderson was his artillery instructor.

Beauregard was such an accomplished artilleryman; Anderson kept him on as an assistant instructor. Anderson, the former instructor, would later surrendered Fort Sumter to his former student, G.T. Beauregard.

Its 4:30 am – the Civil War has begun…


How To Be Unremarkably Average

11 Ways To Be Unremarkably Average

1. Accept what other people tell you at face value

• Surround yourself with people who think like you

2. Don’t question authority

• Believe in and defend “the way things used to be” even if your memory of it is hazy
• Feel threatened by new ideas
• Never be the voice of dissent
• Don’t wonder about someone’s motivations for pursuing one choice over another

3. Go to college because you’re supposed to and not because you truly want to learn something Personal
4. Finance

• Get the largest mortgage you qualify for and spend the next 30 years paying for it
• Use your credit card as your primary means of spending
• Spend all you earn, or even more than you earn
• The government will help you if there’s a recession
• Spend money on things your don’t want or need, but will help you impress others
• You need thing you never heard of or needed before because they will make you feel better about yourself
• You deserve to splurge on yourself because you earned the right through your hard work

5. Work

• Work a job for you don’t like for the majority of your professional life
• Sit at a desk for 40 hours a week for about 10 hours of productive work
• One day that corner cubicle will be yours
• Until then you’ll get really good at Solitaire, fantasy football and reading every article on CNN
• Attend useless meetings
• Instead of trying to fix big problems, focus on the unproductive work that everyone notices
• In times of crisis , wonder out loud what someone will do
• Take the credit when things go right – blame someone else when things go wrong
• Never take responsibility for anything
• When you fail at something, resolve never to try again.

6. Don’t stand out or draw attention to yourself

• Stay close to home
• Get a normal job
• Do things everyone else does

7. Travel

• Go overseas once or twice in your life, to someplace safe like England
• Talk about how differently they talk
• Tell everyone what a great cross-cultural experience it was
• Wherever you go make absolutely sure you will be safe and comfortable
• McDonald’s is in 119 countries now, so you can always find something good and healthy to eat

8. Language

• Don’t try to learn another language; everyone else will eventually learn English
• If people don’t understand you speak louder

9. Think about starting your own business, but never do it
10. Think about writing a book, but never do it
11. Jump through hoops. Check off boxes.

Don’t worry about being average, because no one will ever question you about it. Average is the status quo. Politicians pander to the average out of political necessity. If you go through life following this advice, you’ll find yourself in good company with virtually everyone else who lives an unremarkably average life.

It all sounds so appealing doesn’t it? What more could you want?

The truths of the information for this article are from Chris Guillebeau’s site The Art of Non-Conformity

eBooks Rapidly Changing Tide

It was 14 years ago when I saw the writing on the ebook wall. That was when I purchased my first e-book, a short “how to” book in the PDF format. Right then I knew the future of books would be electronic.

I continued to monitor the e-book market from time to time over the years. I began listening to the great podcasts being produced by Michael Stackpole and Michael R. Mennenga on The Dragon Page.

In their podcasts, they talk about the changes in the publishing world and the technology related to that industry. They are proponents of e publishing and e-books and are continually stymied with traditional publisher’s inability to adapt to the rapidly changing publishing environment.

Now with the plethora of e-readers like the Kindle, Nook and iPad, e-books are becoming commonly accepted reading format. In addition, Amazon and Barnes & Noble are making it easier for writers and novelists to publish their works in a variety of e-reader formats and upload them and market them from these major sites.

Many well-known authors are going the e-book route. Many are revitalizing their backlist to boost sales of books no longer in print in traditional paper format. A notable example is J. A. Konrath. He makes no bones about self-publishing e-books and gives hard dollar number comparisons of his more lucrative self-published e-book sales versus that of his traditional publisher. J.A. chronicles his e-pub journey on his blog and ebook The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.

Amanda Hocking is a young novelist who directly benefitted from the lessons learned in The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. Amanda came from nowhere and has made a huge splash onto the ebook scene over the past year, and particularly in the first three months of 2011.

Amanda’s amazing story was first profiled In a February USAToday article. It told of how she was tired of being rejected by traditional publishers and decided to self-publish her novels. Amanda sold 450,000 ebooks of her nine titles in just the month of January alone!

The New York Times reported three days ago that Amanda signed a 4-book/e-book publishing deal of over $2 Million, with St. Martin Press. In her normal open and honest way, Amanda goes into detail as to why she decided to go with a traditional publisher in her blog.

To me this is the turning point. The younger generation of 14 years ago has grown up to the point where they are the willing early adapters of reading books and novels using mostly the e-reader format. To them it will always be normal to read a book on an e-reader.

To folks like us, over the age of 30, we’ll adapt to it as well. Just as folks did when we switched from LP records to CD’s. There will always be the purists out there that will insist on nothing but the heft and feel of a hardbound book in their hand. I’ll most likely be a little of both.

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