The Obvious Secret to Writing Good Books Quickly
By Gary Jonas
In the last three years, I’ve written and published fourteen novels. That’s a lot of writing, but there are plenty of writers who leave me in the dust. Let’s look back to see how I did it.
In May 2014, Ed Bryant interviewed me for the HWA Colorado Chapter, and presented me with the second Yog-Sothoth award (the first went to Steve Rasnic Tem). I already had several novels published and was working on the fourth Jonathan Shade book. The world of publishing had changed, and I knew I needed to change with it.
I finished the Shade novel and decided to publish it myself.
Publishing book four in a series without controlling the first three seemed like a bad idea. If I wanted to build a career, I needed control, which meant I needed those books. So I worked a deal with the publisher to get my rights back. My editor was freelance, so I hired her because she already knew the series and did excellent work. I had the covers branded to me and to the series.
In October 2014, I relaunched the Jonathan Shade series. We won’t count book four, as it was finished in July 2014.
The books started to sell. But a few thousand bucks a month wasn’t going to be enough to quit the day job; I needed to write more books. And to build a sustainable career, I needed to learn to write those books faster without sacrificing quality. There’s an obvious trick to that, which I’ll reveal soon.
I published two more Shade novels, and by July 2015, having a day job was costing me money. I was earning more from writing than working the job. A month later, I left that employer and became a full-time writer.
Every writer is different. Some are plotters, some are pantsers. Some struggle over every word, while others are born storytellers who realize most readers just want to be entertained. We’re competing for beer money, folks.
In 2015, I published four novels. In 2016, I published five novels and a novelette. So far, in 2017, I’ve published five novels, and two pseudonymous novelettes. So between January 2015 and September 2017, that’s fourteen novels and three novelettes. I wrote and sold a few short stories (and three non-fiction books under a pseudonym) too, but we won’t count those.
The big secret of writing quickly is to simply spend more time in the writing chair actually writing. My speed didn’t increase, the time I spent working did. Obvious? Yep. You can do it, too. If you can write 2000 words a day, that’s a short novel in a month. It comes down to doing the work. Trust the words. Trust the stories. Most writers don’t carve out that time. Yes, day jobs, family obligations, social lives, and even a slower process can get in the way. That’s life. But if you can write good books quickly, you can write your own ticket to success.
It’s worth it.