Thursday, August 6, 2015

How I Wrote and Published 10 Books in 18 Months


And I get asked about it lots. How the heck did you write so many books in a year and half, books with hundreds of reviews and high (low) rankings?

Truth be told, I wrote them over the past forty or fifty years. Not these published books specifically, but other books. Books that kept me writing nonstop over weekends with work weeks in between. Books that kept me up until three or four in the morning while my future readership was sleeping (or not yet conceived...), books that tortured me with misgivings because I couldn't make the damn book say what it was I was trying to say. And on and on. I wrote wrote wrote. And I submitted submitted submitted. All the major magazine's saw my short stories: Harper's, New Yorker, Atlantic--they all got a taste of my art.

And they all turned me down. "Not quite there," they might scrawl on their rejection slip, or "Please try us again--" -- very popular with the New Yorker way back when. Now I don't know what they write on their rejection slips by way of encouragement, if anything. I don't know because I no longer submit to them. Why would I, when, with the advent of self pub, I can put my voice out there for millions to hear simply by clicking through a few Amazon categories and sub-categories.

In January of 2014 when I published my first novel, it really wasn't. Wasn't really my first novel. I had written my Hemingway lookalike while in college. I had written my Updike lookalike a year after. I had written my Salinger shorts during that same era (all dialogue, all trying to sound East Coast cranky). I had written my Ken Follett novel, my LeCarre ambiguous spy thriller, my Thomas Harris minimalism and my John Grisham soundalike careless toss-away flashes of genius (the other John's: I'm not saying I've ever had any of my own.) So when I published in 2014 you were able to buy a writer who had sounded like everyone else out there and who now had found his own voice and you could hear that and decide whether it was your cup of tea or not.

I then washed, rinsed, repeated nine more times. Or is it ten more times? The count is beginning to escape me. And my writing speed is mine to click into because the structural-grammatical-dramatical pieces are long ago in place. Through practice practice practice.

Now you know. How I published 10 novels in 18 months, downloaded 450,000 of them, and earned well over $100,000. The next twelve months look to be 2.5 times better. Wow on me.

One other thing. I would be remiss not to mention this. Bookbub allowed me to grace its email ten times over the last twelve months (counting this coming Saturday's number 10). Sales upon sales upon sales.

There's a bit of luck involved with all this too.


JoAnne Janus said...

I'm a new fan of Mr. Ellsworth. I love legal thrillers and his fit the bill.

Keep on writing my friend, and I'll keep on buying and reading them.

Beverlee Couillard said...

Defending Turquoise was a wonderful, exciting book. I've recommended to many of my book-loving friends. I am one who loves courtroom dramas, smart detective stories. I have several of your books on my Wish List , and I look forward to reading them all. If they are all as good as "Turqoise," I will be thrilled.

admin said...

Thanks Beverlee. The kind of neat thing is, all the books are very different. But still I've tried to make them all interesting in their own way, especially subject matter-wise. Hope you find the others agreeable!

Melanie Sorensen said...

I've read all your books that are available on Kindle and I love them all.

admin said...

Thank you, Melanie. Your support of my writing makes it possible for me to continue. That's priceless, to me. Thanks!

robert bucchianeri said...

Interesting. I'd be interested in knowing a bit more about your current long it now takes you to write a book. Do you outline or just jump in. How many words a day generally. How long from start to finish and do you revise much?
Also, what ever happened to your situation with the agent Jane Dystel. I noticed you've Indie published the new Christine Susmann series. Having had plenty of experience with agents and publishers I understand how fraught with perils and pitfalls the whole process is.