Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

The 10 Highest-Paid Authors

the big moneyForbes published an article that lists the top 10 highest-paid authors based on the time period from June 2009 through June 2010. Earnings are based on the sale of books, film rights, television, gaming deals, and other income.

I reproduced the list here (or you can view Forbes' picture slide-show):

  1. James Patterson ($70 million)
  2. Stephenie Meyer ($40 million)
  3. Stephen King ($34 million)
  4. Danielle Steel ($32 million)
  5. Ken Follett ($20 million)
  6. Dean Koontz ($18 million)
  7. Janet Evanovich ($16 million)
  8. John Grisham ($15 million)
  9. Nicholas Sparks ($14 million)
  10. J.K. Rowling ($10 million)

Here's some tidbits I pulled from watching the slide-show:

  • One out of every 17 novels bought in the U.S. is authored by Patterson.
  • King is currently involved in the Haven television series on the SyFy channel which is based on his novella, The Colorado Kid. (I read The Colorado Kid and I still don't see the connection, but that was a long time ago so maybe I need to give it another read)
  • Steele collected a reported $1 million from a settlement brought about by a former assistant who was convicted of embezzling $760,000 (once again proving that having lots of money isn't always a good thing; buy, hey, Steele came out $240,000 richer for her efforts)
  • Koontz has produced forty-four New York Times bestsellers.
  • Evanovich changed publishers when her now former publisher refused to agree to a $50 million advance that the author wanted for her next novel.
  • Earlier this year Grisham's entire 23-title backlist made its digital debut as Random House e-books.
  • Surprisingly, Rowling rounds out the list at the bottom. Don't feel sorry for Rowling, though; she's still a billionaire.

Wordnik's Word of the Day

For the longest time I was receiving daily Word of the Day emails from Dictionary.com. Then they stopped. It's one of those things—I was getting it for so long, usually casually glancing at the word then deleting the email, that I never really did anything when the emails started not arriving. I figured a system glitch or something.

I finally got around to looking into what's up and discovered that while my email address was still subscribed, I still wasn't getting the emails. Nothing in the spam folder, either. I tried re-subscribing, but it said I was already subscribed. OK. Unsubscribe. Subscribe again. Wait for confirmation email. Nada. OK, I'm done.

Finding another Word of the Day service was as easy as a Google search.

Wordnik, whose API I had once looked at for an unrelated project, caught my eye immediately. Their Word of the Day service requires you to sign up for an account. I did. Now, I'm once again receiving Word of the Day emails on a (surprise) daily basis.

I like the look of Wordnik's WotD page. Here's today's:

image

The word is big and hard to miss. Definitions are clear. The "Notes" section gives you a little bit of additional information about the word; basically stuff that falls outside of the definition itself. There are examples that use the word so you can see it in action and, in this case, a user contributed sound bite of the word's pronunciation.

If you're into this sort of thing, I recommend Wordnik's Word of the Day service. I'm also going to start using Wordnik as the definition source for my Interesting Words posts.

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Found Books at Half Price Books

My wife and I were out doing some clothes shopping this July 4th holiday weekend. Everything was going fine until my wife asked very nicely if I wouldn't mind if we stopped at just one more store. Now, we learned early on that shopping for clothes is something best done separately. While I often find what I want right away, my wife does not. Therein lies the problem. But I was ok with waiting around this time (I usually bring something to do, anyway). But then she asked if we could make a stop at another store. I cringed. This is turning into an all-day affair. I got to thinking, though… hey, there's a Half Price Books almost next door…

"No problem, honey," I said. "Let's go, and take as much time as you need."

I love Half Price Books. What's not to like about lots of books at discounted prices? It's too bad that authors and publishers are cut out of this particular profit equation, but that's one of the downsides of the traditional model (downside for them, that is).

Turns out I was able to find quite a few titles of which I'd been looking for specifically. That doesn't always happen. Must have been my lucky day. Here are the covers of those books:

 

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LibraryThing's 50 Book Challenge: Where I'm At

As I've been spelling out at the top of each of my recent book reviews, I'm taking LibraryThing's 50 Book Challenge for 2010. The reason LibraryThing is doing this is to, of course, promote reading. I don't know that I necessarily need the extra incentive, but I also can't deny that the challenge coupled with my Kindle, given to me as Christmas present by my wife, has dramatically increased my reading.

So, how am I doing so far?

The goal is 50 books read. I'm currently at 17. Fifty books is about one per week. So, given that for the year thus far we've seen 19 weeks (I'm starting from Sunday, January 3rd), I should have read 19 books by now. Looks like I'm currently two short. But that's not a big deal. Given that I'll be taking some time off work and will have some holidays here and there, I should be able to make up a small deficit like that.

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How long should it take to write a novel?

How long would it take to write a novel if you wrote 1,000 words/day? 500? 100? How about three sentences per day? How long would that take?

I'm going to figure out some answers here. I'll start with the basic assumption that the length of a complete novel is 100,000 words. At 250 words/page, that's a 400 page book.

Let's see how long it would take to complete the first draft, sans edits, given varying rates of words put down on paper per day. I'll assume a completely arbitrary 20 words per sentence and, from that, 12.5 sentences/page (250 words/page divided by 20 words/sentence).

  Words to
Paper/Day
How Long
in Days
How Long
in Years
1 word 1 100,000.00 273.97
5 words 5 20,000.00 54.79
20 words/1 sentence 20 5,000.00 13.70
2 sentences 40 2,500.00 6.85
3 sentences 60 1,666.67 4.57
5 sentences 100 1,000.00 2.74
10 sentences 200 500.00 1.37
1 page/12.5 sentences/250 words 250 400.00 1.10
2 pages 500 200.00 0.55
3 pages 750 133.33 0.37
4 pages 1000 100.00 0.27
5 pages 1250 80.00 0.22
10 pages 2500 40.00 0.11
20 pages 5000 20.00 0.05
40 pages 10000 10.00 0.03
50 pages 12500 8.00 0.02

Starting at the ridiculous and ending with, well, the ridiculous again, you can see that were you to only write 1 word/day it would take 100,000 days or 274 years to finish a novel length manuscript. Something a little more realistic—3 sentences/day, of which I've heard of writers doing—and you're at 4.5 years. If you strive for the more often recommended 1,000 words/day, it will take you .27 years or just over 3 months. Pause for a second and think about that. My first reaction was: What?! Why has it taken me so long then to finish this bleep'in novel then? That just can't be right…

But it is.

If you can write 1,000 words per day, you'll have a 100,000 words in 100 days. A complete first draft, in other words.

It sounds easy. So why isn't it? The reasons are many: life gets in the way, we procrastinate, we edit/rewrite before we should, the writing itself leads us down dead-ends from which we have to back ourselves out. Anyone's who's ever attempted to write a novel, whether you failed or not, knows about these things. It takes a lot of discipline to keep pushing forward, especially when you know what you just wrote is crap and is going to need some serious re-writing.

But therein lies the gist of it: you have to keep moving forward if you want to reach the end. It sounds simple. If only it really were.