Progress Update

I’m making steady progress on book 4 of Empire of Chains. After 4,000 words today, I have now written nearly 24,000 words in the last 9 days. Surprisingly, this pace feels comfortable for me. I aim for 2,000 a day, and anything over that is an extra bonus.

I’ve had my doubts as I go through this self-publishing process. This is actually the third time I’ve decided to go through it. I backed out the first two times, but I’m determined to see things through this time. That doesn’t mean it isn’t scary. It is probably the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done in terms of life choices.

Well, deciding to go back for a second round of college might compete there. But now I’m feeling really good about that decision.

I’m excited to finish this series. These characters and this story are originally from the first novel I ever wrote. By now, they feel like old friends. I completed the series once before, but I did not have the experience as a writer to do it justice. Now it has become a much stronger story, and I’m excited for people to read it.

Self-Publishing: Quality vs Quantity

I know this is one of the biggest debates in the self-publishing industry. Is it better to write and publish 4+ books a year because it creates more opportunities for readers to see your books and buy them? Or is it better to put your focus on 1-2 books a year and make them as good as you can before sending them out there?

I tend to be a fast writer. The 1,667 words needed per day for National Novel Writing Month have never been a problem for me. When I’m really in the zone, I can write 6,000+ words a day. My normal output is probably more in the 1,500 to 4,000 range. Because of this, I could theoretically put out 3-4 books a year.

But I have to ask myself if that’s the right thing to do. I need time to edit my books, and no amount of editing passes ever seems like enough. I always catch something I feel I could improve.

That being said, four months doesn’t seem like it’s too little to write and edit a book. If I’m writing at my general pace, the first draft shouldn’t take more than two months. Then I’ll probably leave that novel sitting for a month or two while I work on something else (either a sequel or another series). I can also edit one book while writing the first draft of another. So it wouldn’t be like my books only take four months. In truth, they take longer, but that includes time for them to sit and for me to look at them with fresh eyes each time I do an editing pass.

Personally, I’d like to find a middle ground in the quality vs. quantity debate. I want my work to be high-quality, but I don’t want to spend too long between books. The self-publishing business is very fickle, and if you drop off the radar, you often have to start all over again with your next book.

Thankfully, I already have a decent catalogue of novels I can publish right out the gates. Empire of Chains is a few editing passes from being ready. Sunweaver, the first book of another epic fantasy series, is in about the same place (though currently it’s on submission in the Angry Robot Open Door, which is why I haven’t talked about it much). I also have a first draft written of a third epic fantasy, tentatively titled A Song of War. It’s only been lightly edited at this point.

In addition to all that, I’ve already drafted books 2 and 3 of Empire of Chains, and I’ve started on book 4. I’ve also started on book 2 of Sunweaver.

Then there are all the ideas floating around in my head.

In truth, the ability to publish multiple books a year is part of what makes self-publishing so attractive to me. I have so many ideas, and I want readers to see them. At the same time, however, I do not want to sacrifice quality.

In the end, I’ll aim to get books out quickly, but not so quickly that I sacrifice quality. They will take however long they take.

But don’t worry. I have no intention of being George RR Martin and taking an eternity to write the next book in a series. Of course, my books aren’t nearly as long as his. Empire of Chains, my longest at 167,000 words, is just over half the length of A Game of Thrones, the shortest novel in Martin’s series.

In the end, it comes down to respecting the reader. This comes in two forms. On the one hand, you respect the reader by writing at a good pace and getting new material out there. On the other, you also respect the reader by giving them a quality product every time.

I’d like to come down somewhere in the same territory as Brandon Sanderson. He writes at a quick rate and publishes multiple books a year (unless he’s working on a Stormlight Archive book). The books, at least in my opinion, are consistently high-quality. That’s what I hope to be.

Thanks for reading this rambling discussion.

 

Progress Update

I wrote about 3500 words today. I didn’t manage to do any editing, though. I’m interested to see where book 4 ends up. I know generally what I want to happen, but a lot of the details are still in the air. I used to be very much an outliner, though I built in some flexibility. Now I seem to be more of a mental outline writer. I know generally what I want to happen, but how I get from one point to another can be interesting.

In fact, I sometimes make drastic changes based on the feel of the story. For example, I originally planned Empire of Chains to be something like 8 to 10 books. Then I cut it down to 7, then 5.

Then, right around the time I finished the third book, The Gilded Empire, I realized I only needed one more book to tell the story.

I’ve had a similar realization with one of my other series, Sunweaver. I originally planned for it to be 4 books, but I think it will be stronger if I cut that down to 3 books.

I guess that’s part of being a writer. You always tweak things in the process. If you’re not constantly trying to improve, you’re doing it wrong.

Finished the First Draft Today

The first draft of book 3 in Empire of Chains is complete! It clocks in at about 120,000 words, making it the shortest in the series. The first book is sitting at about 165,000 words while the second is about 145,000. I’m not too worried about length, though, as long as the lengths remain reasonably similar.

I’m really excited about this book. I think I wrote some of my best action sequences yet (and I love writing action sequences). It was a bit bittersweet finishing it, though, because I felt quite sad about some of the events that transpired. Of course, I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll leave it at that.

There’s still a lot of editing work to be done on books 2 and 3 (and probably a little bit left on book 1). At the moment, I am thinking a fall/winter release for book 1 is reasonable. I’ll obviously provide more information once we get closer to that date.

Now I have to decide what to work on next. I’m about 20,000 words into book 2 of Sunweaver, so that may be the next book I’ll tackle. For now, I think I’ll relax a bit. I always feel like I’ve earned a bit of relaxation time when I finish a first draft.

Change of Plans

Back in April, I mentioned that I was putting self-publishing on hold. That was mostly due to the demands of a double major. Well, since then, I’ve realized that financially I can only afford my Engineering major, not both. I’ll have a lot more time now because…

  1. I’ll be in class less time.
  2. I’ll have less homework.
  3. I won’t have to work as many hours to pay for school.

So now I think I can go ahead with my self-publishing plans. I already sent out a request for cover art for Empire of Chains. It’ll be a few months before I get a cover, though. In the meantime, I’ll do another editing pass or two to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

I’ve also been working on Empire of Chains book three (The Gilded Empire). It’s proving to be the most challenging book I’ve written because I feel on the edge of having too much going on. Strangely enough, however, it’s probably going to be shorter than Empire of Chains and The Shadowed Land (book two). I guess that’s just how those things work out.

Empire of Chains is about 166,000 words. The Shadowed Land is about 146,000 words. So far, I’m at the 102,000 mark in The Gilded Empire. I expect another 20,000 or so words before I’m finished.

I currently have two other series in the works: Sunweaver and The God War. I plan to write multiple series at once because I think I’m a lot like Brandon Sanderson. I need to switch things up to keep things fresh. Thankfully, I’m also a fast writer like Sanderson.

My New Writing Plans

I’ve had a lot going on these last few months. Sorry that I haven’t been posting regularly. Between school and work and taking care of my parents, it has been a bit difficult to find time to write and do my usual internet rounds.

But I have finally found the time to write again. Or, more accurately, I made the time. I’ve developed a new goal for my daily writing. I don’t expect to hit any certain word count. The key thing is that I write at least a little bit every day. More often than not, a few words end up turning into 1,000 or 2,000, or even 3,000+.

I’m also trying to perfect my writing process. I don’t think I’m a pure outliner or pure pantser. My process is a mix of the two. I don’t go completely by the seat of my pants because I do have some idea of where I’m going, but I allow myself a lot of freedom within my mental outline. It makes the writing process a lot of fun.

Just today, I pulled off a nice twist that I wouldn’t have thought of if I’d planned everything out. On the other hand, though, I don’t want to completely lose myself to these nice twists. After a while, they become just plain stupid.

 

As for my self-publishing plans, I’m putting them on hold for the moment. Right now, I’m in school doing a double major in Electrical Engineering and Physics. I can still make the time to write, but there’s only so much time in the day, and if I’m going to do the whole self-publishing thing, I want to have the time to do it right.

Plus, I’m enjoying what I’m studying. I want to do that right, too.

If you’re interested in any of my projects, I’m always happy to find willing beta readers, and I’m perfectly willing to beta something of yours in return.

Book Review: Altar of Influence by Jacob Cooper

Early this year, I ran across a gem of a self-published fantasy: Circle of Reign by Jacob Cooper. I knew the author from the SFFWorld forums, so I decided to give his book a shot. I ended up really enjoying it.

I think I liked his prequel, Altar of Influence, even better. Cooper has done a great job with his characters, his world, and his plot. In this one, he expands the backstory of some of the characters and events mentioned in Circle of Reign.

Cooper has created a world that feels both different and vibrant. There are quite a few characters, but they’re easy to keep track of. The writing isn’t always perfect, but it didn’t bother me. I was so lost in the world Cooper created and in his great ability to write extended action scenes.

I think you can start either with this book or with Circle of Reign. They’re both great reads that prove some self-publishers are doing it right.

Rating: 9/10