What a production

As my brain’s recovered over this past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about production time.

The “final” word count of my manuscript was 180,489 words. It took me four years to get to that point — about 18 months of which was revising & getting the first draft ready for a line edit.

Moving forward, my goal is to release one book every 12 months.

BK2 will take less time to produce, partly because much of it is already written — which is another reason why it took me four years. Basically, I wrote one great big mess of a “book” and then a couple years ago I split it into three. I then split that first “book” in half again. It’s like I’m killing a book hydra.

So to produce BK2 within one year of publishing BK1, I have to cut it down to a much more workable size — about 90K words. Which is kinda funny since BK2’s currently sitting at 65K words.

But, consider that cutting Hyrrokin from BK1 removed ~20K words — which were mostly added back when I revised Vafthrudnir’s sections. A lot of similar work will now need to be done in BK2 since multiple plot changes in BK1 have to be factored into BK2. Knowing that, I can totally see the current BK2 inflating way past 90K.

To bring this back around to production, I also have to factor editing time into my timelines. Right now it doesn’t matter because no one is expecting the book. That’ll change (right!? =P).

If I continue with my current editing plan — a line edit followed by a proofread — then that’s ~3 months of production. The cover takes a month, too, but that’s easily layered on top of writing / editing.

And, I have to factor in the time I’ll need to go through all the changes suggested by the editors. I have no idea how long that’ll take. For now, I’ve factored in four weeks to work on the line edits before sending the manuscript to the proofreader. Ideally, accepting those final proofreading changes will take a week. Maybe.

So….three months of pure editing (maybe 4?) means 8-9 months of pure writing. If I’m generous, that’s half as much time as I took “writing” BK1. But, that’s assuming 180K words. 90K should take 9 months (ish), right?

Another upside is that a 90K word book should take a bit less time to edit. So, maybe total editing time falls to 2 months rather than 3. Not bad.

Production cost is another aspect to all this. Editing ain’t cheap. I’m “splurging” now to learn how to write better — the idea being that *maybe* a line edit won’t be absolutely necessary in future books. We’ll see. Proofreading’s an obviooos necessity.

Regardless, a 90K book’s editing costs are ~50% of a 180K word book’s — which is better for cash flow. Yes, splitting one book into 2 means that I’m spending the same total amount on editing — but over a longer time period.

And with respect to marketing, advertising & sales, shorter books also mean that I get more:

  • Chances at revenue: I can’t price my 180K word book 2x higher than others in my genre. But, two reasonably priced 90K word books makes the per-book margin look a bit better.
  • “Impressions”: The best marketing/advertising is more books published more frequently. And more books means I can start doing different merchandising things — freebies, bundles, etc.
  • Books: Similar to impressions, a bigger catalog/backlist looks better than a paltry one or two. And, of course, books sales (can) have a long tail. If they’re good.
  • Cover art: Covers are cool — the more I can give away as wallpapers the better. And, my cover’s cost was a small percentage of my total costs. Not insignificant, sure, but I can leverage art into banners, ads, etc.

So as I’m learning, becoming an indie author is as much about the writing as it is the other half — actually publishing the dang thing. I kinda knew that going in, but now I *really* know it.


Fantasy author writing a series inspired by Norse myth.