The Numbers Game

 

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Working quietly away at ‘being an author’ involves an a lot of number crunching.

Start with the word count. There’s little point in sending an editor a short story of 3,000 words for a one page spot. Nor is there any future in sending a flash fiction of 150 words where the slot is 2 pages with an illustration. Moving into the world of novels and novellas brings the writer into contact with yet more slots.

Genre fiction, particularly romance, but cozy crime too, has specified lengths. Most houses have a page of guidance for would-be writers that outline which editor is looking for what and what length the submission should be. Occasionally the reader is left wondering why some words, phrases and even paragraphs are being repeated. Is the repetition to help any intellectually challenged readers – or is it padding and the book should have been an extended short story or novella? I name no names, but you’ll know of examples.

Next the fledgling author is asked for a 200 word blurb and a 1,000 word extract. There may be an author Bio needing 100 words. Most WP programmes have a word counter, but selecting that 1,000 word extract can be really hard. Too short and it’s not interesting, too long and the space is conflicted.

The Numbers Game doesn’t end there of course. Once published, the real number crunching gets under way. Meet any new author for coffee, lunch or dinner and the talk is likely to be about sales. Who’s checking Novel Rank, amazon sales and Smashwords rankings? What, if anything do they tell the author?

There is an idea that all e-published books are selling by the thousand every hour and we’re all still padding around in last year’s fashion to fool the Revenue. Sheesh!

One sale = how many hours of social media? Too many.

I’m so glad to be with a publisher and not going it alone. If I had access to all the numbers my publisher can call up, I’d be cross-eyed and fit to write nothing else.

And finally, there are the stars. Five, four, three, two or one. Hard earned every one and boy do they shine brightly.

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