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Jan to Jun 2020 ()
#2 Copy


[Uncrowned's Ending] definitely felt abrupt but WW likes to keep books a certain length. WW has stated why he feels he needs to keep books a certain length; a business decision. I guess the good news is he's working on it now and should in theory be out by EOY. Given his self imposed constraints, it was either a shorter tournament or more books.

That said, It didn't sour my opinion of the overall series though. Just gave me an excuse to go read his other books. I started with Cradle, moved to EE and I'm just starting TG so I can keep my fix sated for a bit. Should he turn into a GRR Martin type author and related release schedule, you'll get a different answer. I don't need instant gratification but going more than year between books is a chore.

Will Wight

You’re not wrong, but I feel like I have to clarify: this is about NOT becoming an author who releases only one book every two years.

I like telling stories. I don’t particularly like sitting on one story until it’s perfect, and my favorite thing is coming up with new stories.

So the more books I write, the more stories I get to tell.

Also, readers tend to prefer series that come out regularly and authors that release regularly.

Because of that, rapid releases sell more books, which keeps Amazon’s wheels a-turnin’ and sells even more books.

The sweet spot for release schedule in terms of keeping them regular and not working myself to a sweaty death is about two books per year at roughly 100k words. So that’s what I aim for.

Two books at 100k words = happier me, happier readers, more money to save so that I can write books forever.

It would take more time to write longer books, which would mean fewer stories, fewer readers, and fewer total sales. Not just slower sales; a lower total number of sales.

...I need a shorter way of saying all this, but the bottom line is that my general word count limit is for keeping my release rate up.

If I could write 2-3 200k books a year, I’d love to do that, but if I did that now they wouldn’t be up to my usual standard.

YA Buzz Book Club Q&A ()
#5 Copy


I have a quick questions about your childhood (inaudible).  Did you always want to be a writer, or did you want to be something else when you were younger?

Will Wight

I… it’s hard to say, right?  ‘Cause on the one hand, I have always, always, always been into reading.  I was into reading, I was into books, that was my whole thing.  I just read books all the time.  I got into trouble constantly for reading books.  My parents would have to come into my room and make sure I wasn’t reading books under the covers.  So books were always something I was really interested in.  But I didn’t necessarily… what I remember is in middle school, really starting to think, “People write these.  Maybe I could write these.” 

I was in the national spelling bee as a kid, so in 7th and 8th grade I earned my way to the national spelling bee.  So, I was really good at spelling and grammar and words and just English in general, so I was just always good at that.  I generally, I just write clean first drafts; a lot of writers don’t but I generally do.  So, I knew I had that skill set, then in middle school I started thinking maybe I wanted to write some books.  And I wrote a few little stories, for class and stuff like that, and I liked that, but it was embarrassing, and I didn’t want anyone to read it.  And then in high school, that’s when I really started saying, “Yeah, I want to be a writer,” but I didn’t… I was just really scared of letting anyone read anything I’d written.  That was just something, I didn’t want anyone to read it, because I knew it was bad.  So, it wasn’t until college that I was really faced with the reality of, I have got to actually write something if I want to do this for a living. 

So, what I was doing until then, even in high school, is I was mowing lawns.  I started, initially I borrowed my dad’s lawn mower and I went door to door in my neighborhood and looked for lawn mowing jobs, and then I ended up borrowing money and buying a better lawn mower, so I ended up having a real lawn mowing business that I paid for college with.  So, I didn’t take out any loans for college.  I mowed my way through college; cut some grass.  And so, I was doing that for money, and just to support myself.  I didn’t have any passion about lawn mowing (I don’t know who does really) so that was just hard work to get myself through college.  So, the whole time I became, I just learned on my own more and more about writing and what it takes to become a writer.  And then in college that’s what they talked about, and the more I learned, I thought yeah, this is what I want.  I’m passionate about stories and I’m passionate about words.  That’s where I want to be. 

So, I kinda just sorta… slipped into it I guess?  It wasn’t, it was always my area of giftedness and it was always my area of interest, but it’s not like as kid I was like, “I’m definitely going to write a book.”  I was still just very scared to show anybody anything I had written, so I could always not quite picture giving it, handing a manuscript to somebody and seeing “read this” because I knew it was going to suck because I wrote, so of course it’s going to suck.  So that was always my feeling, until eventually I did take the plunge, and write some stuff for school.  So that was my journey.

Will's Life ()
#6 Copy

Sean K

Congratz! I just want to say one more time that the Cradle books have been amazing! I even had to buy my friend Unsouled for his birthday! I also bought the Crimson Throne, but I haven't gotten to read it yet as I was finishing up the Nice Dragons Finish Last.

On a side note, how has your total sales growth been growing? I remember you mentioning that you had a huge sales growth on all of your books when you released Unsouled and Soulsmith. Do you normally sell 1k books a month? Which months are the slow month (So I know when you buy friends books!).

Granted, feel free to tell me "STFU, that's my income, I aint tellin you!" I'm just curious more so about the growth of your sales as you keep on adding so many great books as opposed to the sales figure!

Will Wight

I'm always more than happy to talk about my sales numbers. It's hard to find information like that out there from other independent Kindle authors.

Every time I add a new book, everything else gets a small bump in sales (especially previous books in the series). Putting a book on sale tends to do something similar.

I normally sell way more than 1k books a month. 1k would be a slow month. 10k would be a high month (probably a release month), but on average would be somewhere around 5k sales.

Which months are slow months? I'm honestly not sure. I'd have to look through my records, and it's still hard to tell. It depends on when I release, really. Release months are big months, and the sales trend steadily downward over about 4-5 months until the next release.

That fact, combined with the fact that there's a two-month delay between me selling the books and receiving the money, is what makes my income so...swingy. I have to save most of it and predict how much I'll be making for the next few months, otherwise I could find myself in an uncomfortable scenario.

I.e., "I'm not making any income, and even if I released a book tomorrow, I won't be making anything for the next two months."

The amount the books have generated is pretty huge (at least by my standards): almost $600k in three and a half years.

"How could you ever have financial problems?" you may be thinking. "That's way more money than you need!"

It's true, that's way more money than I need. And honestly, I haven't had any financial problems, but only because I've saved and planned ahead.

The problem is, that's gross income. Not profit for Will. So all taxes come out of that--and being a self-employed single guy means I'm paying a ridiculous amount of taxes--and so do all business expenses (all trips to conventions, everything I do to isolate myself and write, any computer equipment required for me to write, all book shipping, covers, editing, ordering hard copies so we have some to give away, and so on and so forth). On top of that, I pay all my insurance, which a salaried position would usually cover, out of pocket.

So bottom line, my PERSONAL takeaway is basically like a 50-60k salary.

Which is still very comfortable for me personally. It's WAY, WAY more than I ever expected to make writing, and I could certainly do with a lot less.

But imagine you're living on a 50k salary, but sometimes your boss says "Eh, you might not get paid for the next two months."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I try to keep up frequent releases.

Jan to Jun 2020 ()
#7 Copy


There's nothing I enjoy more than a series sometimes taking a break to do something fun, or quirky, or clearly "this is for the fans."

It's gotta be measured though. You can't have this sort of thing last a third of the book. I think you're in the extreme, Will. For you, such a moment would be one scene and you'd think about cutting it, while I think for most of us a chapter or two or that would be fine.

I could use a literary example but did you ever watch Naruto? There's a filler episode early on when the gang try to discover what's under Kakashi's mask. Though it certainly didn't drive the plot forward, that was a great episode.

Obviously for you it'd have to have some kind of plot relevance and I think that's fine, but a little "willservice" wouldn't go amiss 8 books in.

Will Wight

I think that’s a great analogy!

Similarly, in One Piece (the manga, not the anime) after each arc they usually visit one random island and go on a standard adventure that only lasts 1-2 chapters and has nothing to do with the plot.

I like those. We get to see the sorts of antics they get up to in their downtime without slowing down a real story arc.