Home » Dean Wesley Smith, The Business of Writing, Writing Advice » Year End Summary of Writing in Public: Year One

Year End Summary of Writing in Public: Year One

3 August 2014

From Dean Wesley Smith:

I did (not counting comments on web sites) 1,281,675 original words in the last twelve months.

745,175 words of that was original fiction.

51,700 words of that was nonfiction. (So just under 800,000 words of fiction and nonfiction combined. More than I thought, actually.)

That ended up being twelve novels and over thirty short stories and three nonfiction books. All the novels are in the general 40,000 to 55,000 word range. The short stories make up the rest of the fiction word count.

. . . .

I tend to write fiction about 2 to 3 hours per day. I work seven days per week. I write fiction last thing every day. With workshops, being CFO of WMG Publishing, and other projects, I tend to work about 50 hours at least per week away from fiction writing.

In July I averaged about 2 hours of writing per day, about 60 hours of fiction writing for the entire month. That produced about 60,000 words of fiction, which is about my average of 1,000 words per hour.

So those of you with day jobs out there, realize and watch that I also function in my life as if I have a day job that takes about 50 hours of my time per week. Day jobs are not an excuse to not write. (How’s that for blunt? (grin))

Link to the rest at Dean Wesley Smith and thanks to Alex for the tip.

Here’s a link to Dean Wesley Smith’s books

Dean Wesley Smith, The Business of Writing, Writing Advice

21 Comments to “Year End Summary of Writing in Public: Year One”

  1. 40,000 counts as a novel?

    Does this mean I can stop calling my 37K romance a novella? Wooo, extra novel for the year!!

    • Conventionally:

      < 7,500 words = short story
      7,500 – 17,500 = novelette
      17,500 – 40,000 = novella
      40,000+ = novel


      ETA: Most readers don’t know what a novelette is, and many don’t know what a novella is. FWIW

      • “ETA: Most readers don’t know what a novelette is, and many don’t know what a novella is. FWIW”

        True. Which is why I quit calling my 35K-40K books novellas or short novels. I just price them lower than my 50K+ books.

        It’s funny though that some readers will comment that a book is too short at 40K, no matter how low the price. Some people think anything under 100K is too short for a novel.

        Oh, well. You can’t please everybody.

        One thing Dean has proven is that you can get a lot of work done if you really try. Although, I don’t think I could ever write as fast as he does.

        • Ashe Elton Parker

          I can get about 1500 words average per hour writing, sometimes less, sometimes more. I’m a touch-typist, working the traditional querty-version keyboard as opposed to the Dvorak version, which I’m told can increase typing speed with practice. I’m pretty pleased with my typing speed; it’s almost as fast as I think.

          If I recall correctly, DWS is uses 2-3 fingers of each hand–a kind of hunt-and-peck typist, so I find his 1k words an hour impressive, because that style of typing slows me down.

      • Conventionally:

        < 7,500 words = short story
        7,500 – 17,500 = novelette
        17,500 – 40,000 = novella
        40,000+ = novel

        J.M — would you tell me how many words in a page? Some editors tell me 250, others say 300 and a couple tell me 340 (I don't know why).

        I like to count my output by the 'correct' standard if any. Would you please tell me which one you guys use?

        • Depends completely on the size of printed font and line spacing. If you grab 5 paperbacks off of your shelves, you’ll probably be able to tell a difference.

          What to use depends on each book. You want to reduce the amount of white space at the ends of chapters, avoid breaking short paragraphs across pages, things like that. There probably isn’t a “perfect” answer for all books.

        • For a manuscript page (not a book page, which can vary tremendously), it’s 250 words per page.

        • 250 words per page is the traditional count used to estimate manuscript length, back before word processors existed, much less had automatic wordcount features. I remember someone who works as a freelance copyeditor for the big NY publishers saying a couple of years ago that they still use that count to determine her pay for each manuscript, but that because of changes in fonts (10-pitch Courier no longer being standard) she has to work a lot faster to make the same amount of money per month. (Which probably goes pretty far to explain why so many BPH books have obvious typos and other glitches in them now, when it was rare back in the day, but that’s a different issue.)

          If you want to know how many words you’ve actually typed, though, 250 per page was never terribly accurate; it was just a standard everyone agreed to back when the only alternative was manually counting every word in a manuscript. 😛 Aside from differences in fonts and margins and spacing and such, there’s also a difference in what kind of text you’re typing. A page full of long paragraphs of narrative or description will have a lot more words on it than a page of short, snappy back-and-forth dialogue. Grab half a dozen pages at random out of your current manuscript and count them manually; I’ll bet you a nice stack of cookies that you get six different counts, and not by just a word or three. And I’d be surprised if any of them hit 250 exactly.

          Bottom line, if you want any kind of accurate count of how many words you’ve written, your word processor’s wordcount, even with all the acknowledged issues various algorithms have, is your best bet.


  2. Wow…and I was proud of myself for hitting 2800 words of fiction in one day…but I didn’t add in my blog, of course…

    I envy you, Mr. Smith!

  3. In golf, they have handicaps to level the playing field to make it more competitive between players. We need a way to handicap folks like Dean. Which way should it be done?
    1. Restrict his writing time to just 15 minutes a day
    2. Force him to write with a quill and parchment
    3. Restrict his writing hours to 6am- 10am (That will slow a habitual night owl like Dean)

    • Eric – Why handicap other authors? Why not expand your own distribution beyond Amazon? Too much work for the return? You’ll never know until you try.
      Your fantasy works look interesting, and the price is right, but I’m not going to jump through conversion hoops to put it on my Sony T1 or Kobo readers just to check it out. See the recent discussion of Draft to Digital and Smashwords for alternatives.

      • I do love me some Draft2Digital. Also, what’s this DriveThruFiction I’m suddenly hearing all about? Apparently people are seeing crazy peaks of sales on that site. I’d never heard of it until today.

        • I looked at it once. At that time, the website looked pretty funky. Maybe that’s changed since last year or whatever.

        • Here it is: http://www.drivethrufiction.com/

          It’s the bookselling offshot of an RPG site. The focus is mainly on SF/fantasy/horror, but they take all genres. They’re easy to deal with and have some really nice promo tools like easy bundling options, in-house reviewers, the ability to do e-mail campaigns, etc…

          The site looks a bit old-fashioned, but the audience that hangs out there is an audience that largely ignores things like BookBub and Amazon promos.

          As for sales, I find that I sell nothing there for weeks and then suddenly I get a weird spike when someone buys half my catalogue all at once. I guess DriveThru users are binge buyers.

      • pholy: in truth, I don’t want to handicap anyone. (I actually admire DWS for his writing knowledge and hope to reach his speeds some day)
        Thanks for the comments on my own works. My fantasy e-books are Amazon exclusive right now, but that will expand in the future.

      • Umm, my reading of Eric’s comment is that he was joking, in a way that emphasizes Dean’s awesome work ethic.


  4. I’ve really enjoyed following DWS’s posts over the past year. He’s been an inspiration to–day in and day out–consistently move the work forward at least a little bit. All those dribs and drabs add up. 🙂

    He also has some sage advice about publishing in general which has really helped me let go of some destructive (for me) habits that I was holding onto from when I first started writing.

  5. I chose Dean as my personal guru a little over a year ago. I check his website daily.

    • Yes. He’s my guru/mentor as well, even though he doesn’t know it.

      I think hubs is jealous. We’ll be talking publishing and he’ll say, “Oh,yeah, what does your mentor say about that?”

      And it really hurts when he brings up Dean’s writing speed. 🙂

  6. DSW is the best. Generous. Mannered [mostly]. Hard a. worker. Teaches. Writes. Reads Kris’s stuff. Runs a business. And still writes kajillion words. Too too cool.

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