How Many Licks, um Books, Does It Take to Get to the Top of the Best-Seller List?
Most of us, especially when we’re new, want our first short story to be a major contest winner or our first novel to be a runaway success. That’s natural. Of course, this is not reality for us mere mortals.
Just like most of us never picked up a violin and magically busted out a flawless rendition of Flight of the Bumblebee, most of us won’t sit down and write a work that hits the New York Times best-seller list the first go round (or that sells a bazillion copies on Amazon, if you’re an indie).
Yeah, I was bummed, too.
Writing, like most other things, follows the Law of 10,000 Hours (Read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers for more). 10,000 hours of dedicated practice/work/study/training seems to be the magic number that separates the successful professional from everyone else.
Whether it is gymnastics, ballet, playing the ukelele, or writing, practice is key if we want to become masters of our pursuit.
*shock face* :O
This is why we need to write as often as possible, and it’s HUGE reason I am a proponent of writers learning to blog. Blogging can help accelerate the path to mastery, and has an added benefit of helping build a lasting author platform that can help drive sales.
History demonstrates time and again that it takes roughly 10,000 hours (or a million words, depending on who we listen to) to reach the status of true artist and masters of our craft.
Additionally, most authors write at least three books before they start seeing success, which is part of why successful novelists like Bob Mayer, Joe Konrath, and John Locke are constantly telling writers to do less tweeting and more writing. They’re correct. Write, write, write. Great to have a social platform, but we need books to sell or the platform is merely a monument to our Facebook skills.
Guess how long it takes to write three novels?
About 10,000 hours.
Three books minimum.
Thus, all you indie/self-pub authors who put your first book up for sale and you haven’t sold enough copies to buy tacos? Keep writing. 10,000 hours. 3 books. Traditional authors? Three books. Rare is the exception.
The more we write, the better we get (ideally). If the first novel is “eh” keep writing. To paraphrase some Monty Python:
I wrote a book! …and it sank into the swamp.
So, I wrote another book! It, too, sank into the swamp.
So, I wrote another book! …. And it caught fire, fell over…and sank into the swamp.
But the fourth book, THE FOURTH BOOK STOOD.
Happy writing! And follow The Dork Side on Facebook if you want to laugh regularly.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? How much practice do you do daily? How much did you write before you started actually thinking your writing was any good…and other people didn’t run away bleeding from the ears?
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of September, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
ANNOUNCEMENT: My Antagonist Class is in four days. Use the WANA15 code for 15% off when you sign up. Packages range from $49-$249. Need help with your book? Stuck? Getting rejected? Want a plan for NaNoWriMo? Have a drawer full of half-finished books you have no idea how to fix? An idea for a story you can’t figure out how to plot. A plot you can’t repair no matter how many revisions? Struggling with a series?
I can help :D. And the cool thing, is once you’ve been through my process, you can plot and fix any book ;).
My new social media book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE. Only $6.99.
WANACon, the writing conference of the future is COMING! We start with PajamaCon the evening of October 3rd and then October 4th and 5th we have some of the biggest names in publishing coming RIGHT TO YOU–including the LEGEND Les Edgerton.
Get PajamaCon and BOTH DAYS OF THE CONFERENCE for $149 and all recordings for anything you miss or need to hear again. Sign up today, because seats are limited. REGISTER HERE.