As I go back through my first draft and begin reading through the almost 80,000 words I’ve written, I get a sense of accomplishment. Which is a strange feeling, given that I’ve yet to finish the book entirely, I’ve yet to sell a single copy, and I’ve hardly even told anyone that I was writing a book in the first place.

That said, I’m chugging away and reading through the entire book — trying to find flaws in my story or characters, trying to make sure it all makes sense, and that the ending is good enough for what I want it to be.

Things I’m looking for are sometimes simple; did I say that character A was tall or short in the beginning? So I stick to that towards the end — to more complex; did the entire story flow the way I wanted it to?

Some are easier to track down than others, and so far I’ve found more typos and grammatical errors than anything else.  I think having someone else read it will be beneficial since I can get an outsider’s perspective on it.

At the same time, that’s terrifying.  Sharing something with someone for the first time scares me.  Letting people into my world that I’ve created and meet these characters that I’ve brought to life — it’s frightening.  What if the first person I let read either just doesn’t get it, or they just flat out don’t like it?  I’ll feel like a failure.

I plan to read it twice more myself — first editing for grammar, second editing for content — before letting anyone else read it.  Once I get some feedback, I’ll start searching for a real-life-not-friend editor to go through everything for me once and help me get everything ready for general consumption.

Thanks to the software I’m using, I can generate all of the files for iPad/iPhone, Kindle, and NOOK all at once and upload them to the appropriate stores to be sold, for which I’ve already been approved (more on that process later).  The next big milestone (aside from editing) will be the cover art, which will be incorporated into those website’s stores, as well as the book itself.

I also have to sit down and try to figure out what the description of the book will be.  Given the complex nature of the story, it’s tough to summarize it in a way that not only makes sense, but doesn’t give away the ending.  It’s proving more difficult than I thought it would be.

Word Counts

March 25, 2013First Draft

As I was writing, I made sure to keep track of all the words I wrote every day. Not so much because it’s important to the process, but because it helped keep me motivated. I tweeted my count each time I stopped writing (usually in the morning and again in the afternoon), but since no one was following me at that time, I’m sharing them collectively below.

DateTimeTotal Words+ Count
03/05/13Morning3380+3380
03/06/13Morning8604+5524
03/07/13Morning16598+7994
03/11/13Morning22221+5623
03/11/13Afternoon25870+3649
03/12/13Morning28569+2699
03/13/13Morning31702+3133
03/13/13Afternoon36959+5257
03/14/13Morning41624+4665
03/15/13Morning45620+3996
03/15/13Afternoon48685+3065
03/18/13Morning52246+3561
03/18/13Morning56160+3914
03/19/13Afternoon59662+3502
03/20/13Morning63640+3978
03/20/13Afternoon65140+1500
03/21/13Morning68407+3267
03/21/13Afternoon71413+3006
03/22/13Morning74048+2635
03/22/13Afternoon79754+5706

As you can see, I made much better progress some days that others, and the last few days the words just sort of flew out of me, which was great and made me feel amazing. It was a fun part of the process, and doing the math to watch the numbers add up helped pushed me through to the very end.

On March 5th of this year, I set out to do something that in my entire life I’ve never been able to accomplish. I set out to write my own book, and with the added advantages of today’s technologies, I can write, publish and sell it digitally without any help of a publisher or book printer. That’s amazing.

The book is a spin off of a story I wrote about 13 or 14 years ago as a short story. I began the process with nothing more than knowing what I wanted to tell for my story, and my computer.

When I first started, I spent a few hours trying to figure out the best software to use that’d be helpful in writing my story. I ended up on Scrivener, an application specifically geared towards authors and writers to help them in a number of ways.  I’m sure I’m only using it to 5% of its intended power, but it’s been infinitely helpful in my writing.  I’ve used it to organized my characters, locations, plot lines, and a number of other things.

I also used it to sketch out my entire story when I first started.  I’d known how I wanted to tell the story, so I used the chapter and scene functionality that’s built in to map out how I planned on telling the story, complete with estimated word counts.

What I found, as I began writing, was that I obliterated most of the estimated word counts that I was setting for myself.  Which was a good sign, but also worrisome at the same time.  According to what I could find, the average “first novel” was between 50,000 and 100,000 words.  Kind of a large variance, right? So I shot a Twitter DM to @scottsigler, who has written some great SciFi books that I’ve read in the past, and he’s offered me some guidance.  He suggested 80,000 is perfect for my first novel.

About halfway through I realized that my target goal was 80,800 words, almost perfectly what Scott suggested.  Though as I wrote, I realized I was writing more than each chapter’s target, and knew I’d go over.

So here I am, 20 days after I set out to write my book — I finished the first draft this past Friday, a mere 17 days after I started writing.  Take out the weekends where I didn’t write anything and I essentially wrote a first draft of my book in about a week and a half.  I don’t know if that’s good, bad, or indifferent, but I did it.

I’m extremely proud of myself so far, but recognize that I’ve got a long way to go before I can sell the book online through any of the various websites that sell eBooks.

The next step, of which I’ve already started, is to re-read it myself.  I want to go back through and make sure that not only is my grammar good (I have at tendency to write with too many commas, and when you’re typing 125+ words per minute, you make mistakes sometimes), but also that the story makes sense.  I know it makes sense on a scene by scene and chapter and by chapter basis, but not as a whole.  Reading through the whole thing like I’m an actual reader of the book should help me identify any spots that feel wrong, or confusing.

My first draft clocks in at 79,754 words, just shy of the 80k mark that Scott suggested.  For just writing for a week and a half, I’d say that’s pretty impressive.

My task list for completing the project is quite intensive, a lot of it wrapped around finishing this here website, designing a cover, and having a professional editor take a crack at it (along with a second rewrite of my own), so I’m by no means hoping to jump the gun.

When all is said and done, I’ll consider my first book a success if I can sell 500 copies.  Since it’s mostly free (except paying for the editor to review it, and for an ISBN), it’s not about the money or breaking even. It’s about doing something that I’ve always wanted to do, but never been able to complete.