NaNoWriMo – Week 2

In a previous post, I announced that I was participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, and committing to writing at least 50,000 words of first draft text for my sequel novel in the month of November. I fell behind in the seventh day due to a basement emergency, but pledged to catch up. So how am I doing? Continue reading “NaNoWriMo – Week 2”

Can I Write a Novel in a Month?

In author circles, November is known as National Novel Writing Month, or more commonly, NaNoWriMo. Now in its 20th year, it challenges authors to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days.  I’ve known about it since I started working in earnest on Star Riders, but this year is the first time I’ve decided to participate.

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world participate in NaNoWriMo. I decided to sign up this year primarily because I’m trying to discipline myself to write more consistently.  I recently resolved to write at least 500 words every day, and aim for 5,000 words per week (obviously I have to beat that 500/day metric at least once per week). And I’ve been doing pretty good with that, but when I plotted that out, I realized I wouldn’t finish my sequel’s first draft until March. So I decided to step up my game.

Before I go further, let’s just clarify that I don’t think I’m going to have my novel done and published on December 1. A typical sci-fi novel runs around twice the 50,000 mark, and the goal is just to get to a first draft, not a finished novel. But the benefit is to learn to write every day, and to just get those words down.

One thing I’ve been trying to learn is to just write and not re-write as I go.  It’s hard for me to not correct spelling errors, or tweak something I just noticed in the last paragraph. But as one of my early engineering managers used to say, “We have to resist the temptation to make things better.” At least at this point.  The goal now is to just get a draft done. A whole draft.  Then (and only then) rewrite it.  Most beginning authors don’t get hung up on rewrites. They don’t even make it that far; they get hung up on finishing that first draft.  Enter NaNoWriMo.

By participating in NaNoWriMo, an author joins a community of other authors facing similar struggles to find the time, face down the beast that says you don’t know what you’re doing, and plain old procrastination. There’s a website to help you stay focused and connect with others who have stepped up to the challenge.

NaNoWriMo’s objective of 50,000 words in a month works out to 1,667 words per day. That’s a lot more than 500.  But I’ve been keeping track of my writing every day, and I find I average around 700-800 words per hour.  So I could meet the NaNoWriMo pace in just two hours per day. Still, that will require dedication.

The NaNoWriMo people say there are several things to do to prepare:

  • Get your novel planned out, plot and characters – check
  • Decide when and where you’re going to write every day – check
  • Let your friends and family know what you’re doing and to give you some slack for one month – check

The website has a “NaNo Prep 101” course to help you walk through all of those steps through September and October so you’re ready to pour out the words in November.  I didn’t do that (mostly because I just decided yesterday to do it), but I’ve also already got the book planned out and have written over 17,000 words.

So tomorrow I start, and I hope to beat the 1,667 word mark the first day, and every day for a while.  If I’m successful (called “winning” NaNoWriMo), I’ll have 67,000 words a month from now, and should have the first draft done in mid-January rather than early March.

I’ll do a quick post every week to let you know how I’m doing.

The Novella is Done!

It took way longer than I had planned, but the prequel novella, The Worth of a World, is finally done!

I sent out emails to my subscribers today, letting them know how they can download a free e-copy.  It’s not yet available on Amazon, as we’re still working on the cover (it’s just a simple temporary cover for now), but it’s free as an incentive for people to sign up for my email list (note: that is separate from blog followers).

For this blog post, I’m going to describe the various tools I’ve used to get here, for those of you interested in the mechanics behind self-publishing.  First, I used Scapple Screen Shot 2019-08-30 at 3.05.11 PMto map out  the plot before I started writing anything.  Scapple is a mind-mapping tool that’s great for “doodling” up anything, including the progression of a story.

Scapple is made by Literature and Latte, who also make the amazing Scrivener, the most incredible writing tool ever.  Someday I’ll do a whole blog post on how helpful this tool is to writing.  I would never be able to write a novel just using Word.

Once the book is all written in Scrivener, that tool also has a compile function to generate an e-book format as well as PDF for the print-on-demand paperback version.  Once it generated the e-book file (.mobi), I used Amazon’s Kindle Previewer to see how it will look in an e-book reader.

Next step: uploading the book to a site where my subscribers can get it.  BookFunnel is the choice of most independent authors.  It’s cheap ($20/year for beginning authors) and helps. the end users get the file installed on their various e-readers.  I don’t want to think about how many people would be asking me to help them figure this out. Eventually, I can use BookFunnel to promote the book and gain email subscribers, but for now I’m just using it to deliver the book to subscribers I gain through this website or the Call-to-Action at the end of Star Riders.

Screen Shot 2019-08-30 at 3.06.22 PM

Finally, I need to let the subscribers know where to get it.  I use MailChimp for my email list.  It’s free for lists of less than 1,000 (I currently have 53, two of which are me).  They changed up their pricing methods lately, and a lot of people left them for MailerLite, but for now, I’ll stick with them.  I may change it up once I go big 😉

Screen Shot 2019-08-30 at 3.08.21 PMIn MailChimp, I set up a “campaign” to send to all the email subscribers telling them about the book and giving them the link to BookFunnel.  Then I updated the signup form so that new subscribers will also get the link.  Then I can sit back and watch MailChimp’s report showing how many people have opened the email, and how many clicked on the link.

What’s next?  I plan to:

  1. Publish on Amazon, both e-book and paperback
  2. Run a sale on Amazon of Star Riders (probably $1.99) to gain some readers and hope that they are enticed to join the email list in order to get the prequel.
  3. Run other promotions of The Worth of a World to get people to consider buying Star Riders.
  4. Go back to working on the sequel.

So what do you think?  Any thoughts or questions?  Leave a comment!