State of the Fourth Estate 04

“It’s deja vu all over again.”
–Yogi Berra

Today marks the end of my third year writing full-time. Time for another “State of the Fourth Estate” post.

Nothing much has changed on the blog front. This is post number 576. WordPress tells me the blog has seen nearly 6,000 visitors–presumably including spambots–who have made a collective 13,000 views.

Twenty-one percent of the views come on Thursdays, and eleven percent between noon and one. On behalf of your bosses, thank you for using your lunch breaks to read my writings.

So far this year, the most popular page on the site is the Home Page. Presumably individual posts would draw higher numbers if they didn’t appear in their entirety on Home Page. But I don’t see any real value in making you click through to read the second paragraph.

More deja vu: the individual post with the most views is still the infamous “Leftover Sauerkraut” post. So far this year, it’s had more than ten times as many views as the next most popular (February’s “Gone Too Far” piece on the Super Bowl and its commercial culture.)

As far as I can tell, WordPress no longer allows you to see cumulative stats since Day One, but the numbers looked similar in 2015. The Home Page pulled in the most views, “Leftover Sauerkraut” came in second, and “Water, Water, Everywhere‘s” musing on water wasters was a distant third.

Pickled vegetables aside, indignation over the imminent fall of Civilization seems to be a hot seller. I’ll keep that in mind going forward. I trust you’ll let me know when you get bored with that kind of pessimism.

You can look forward to a few changes on the blog during Year Four. One of them is already in effect: no more ads in the posts. Clarification: I may still promote the occasional product I use and appreciate, and I’ll definitely be promoting my own writing. But you won’t get any more ads from WordPress’ commercial partners. You’re welcome.

Less significantly, over the next few months, I plan to clean up a few cosmetic issues with the blog’s appearance. You may not even notice those, but I’ll feel better.

But enough about the blog.

I’m still writing fiction. That was the point of my career move, after all.

I put short story writing on hold from mid-2014 until late 2015 in favor of concentrating on novels. But I’ve had a few bouts of free time between drafts, and the result is two new short stories that will be going out to editors before the end of the month. As usual, you’ll be able to follow their progress on my Scorecard.

The two combined are about 7,500 words. That works out to an average of 125 words a day. I’d be depressed about that if they weren’t side projects.

I’ve made much better progress on the mainline projects: novels.

Speaking of novels, that’s another bit of deja vu. At the time I wrote the first annual SofFE post, Novel Number One, Splat Squad, was in the hands of my beta readers. This time last year, Number Two, Lord Peter’s Eyes, was with the beta readers and I was querying agents with Splat Squad. Now Number Three is in beta and Peter is making the rounds of agents’ in-boxes.

So I’m keeping a consistent one-novel-a-year pace. That’s hardly a record, but it is quite respectable. Since each book has been upward of 90,000 words*, that means I’ve been hitting around 350 words a day. Actually, that’s a severe understatement. Keep in mind that each book has been through at least three drafts. As it happens, 1,000 words a day is my goal. Nice to see that I’m right on target.

* Digression for non-writers: In days of yore, manuscripts were measured in pages, specifically, typed pages with a typical letter size and a standardized margin. With the rise of ebooks and their rather loose association with page count, the emphasis is now on the number of words rather than pages. Expected word counts vary by genre, but in general, adult fiction will run somewhere between 70,000 and 110,000 words. Your favorite best-selling author might run longer (“Game of Thrones”, the first novel in Martin’s series, came in at 284,000; the sequels are all significantly longer), but previously-unpublished authors such as yours truly are well-advised to keep it to five digits.

“Life is what happens while we are making other plans.”
Allen Saunders

Novel Three does have a title, but we’re not quite ready to announce it. “We”? Yup. In last year’s SotFE post I said “my third novel [has] a historical setting”. That’s still true, at least in part, but it’s not the same book.

Not long after I made that statement, an established author whose work I respect made me the proverbial offer I couldn’t refuse. He wanted to do something a little different from his previous books: a time travel novel. He asked me to come on as his co-author. I’ve wanted to do a time travel piece for decades, and, quite coincidentally, some of the research I’d already done for my novel was relevant*, so I jumped at the chance. I put my notes and the first several chapters of my novel into suspended animation, and I’ll get back to them later.

* Even though some of the research transferred, there isn’t any actual overlap between the books. Although the time period is similar, the geographical location is very different. Most of what applied to both books was related to politics and technology.

The collaboration has gone well. Not only has it been fun, but I’ve learned a heck of a lot about a genre I hadn’t considered working in. And no, being a co-author doesn’t materially affect those word count numbers a few paragraphs ago. I haven’t written all 90,000+ words, but on the other hand, we’ve done it in just over six months. It averages out about the same.

Yes, I’m deliberately being mysterious. It’s more entertaining for you folks that way.

As I said earlier, the book is currently with our beta readers. Unless they find something we’ve both missed, we think it’ll be ready to shop around after one more draft. And while we’re waiting for the feedback, we’ve started a second collaboration, something that should be a genre stretch and learning experience for both of us.

I’ll have more to say–hopefully much more–about Novel Three, including the identity of my co-conspiratorco-author, over the next few months.

Year Four begins tomorrow with the obligatory Friday Cat Post. Baseball season starts next week. Optimism abounds.

Moving on.

8 thoughts on “State of the Fourth Estate 04

  1. Want very much to read the stories. Have I read your co-author’s works? If so, I imagine that I respect him as well. Goddess speed.


  2. Congratulations on three years of blogging … somewhere in the world someone started a new blog and published their first very post just as I was leaving this comment. Poor little blog … that will also be its last post. So congratulations on outliving 99% of blogs … that you hew to good grammar and post weekly photos of cats is simply an added bonus in an already enjoyable blog. Heck, I even read your posts about the Bay Bridge … which, living in Virginia, is really probably overkill for me … but call me a faithful reader. All best in Year Four!


    • Thank you very much. I appreciate the compliment, the congratulations, and the support.

      But I’d hesitate to classify the Bay Bridge posts as overkill, even with a continent between us. Even if we ignore the possibility that you’ll come visit the Bay Area at some point in the next 148 years, there’s still the addition of a bit of drama to your life. Tell the truth: when you hear about an earthquake in California now, isn’t “I wonder if the Bay Bridge is still standing” going to be one of the first couple of thoughts that run through your head?


      • First thought, “Whew! Glad we moved.” Second thought, “I hope Casey Karp, Buster Posey, and Sean Doolittle are ok.” Third thought, “I hope Thanksgiving Coffee got my order out in the mail before the quake.” Then … probably something bridgey.


        • I rank ahead of Buster Posey? Now I’m really flattered!

          And I agree that putting coffee ahead of the bridge is a sensible ordering of priorities. I don’t drink that stuff myself, but since I just got a shipment of tea from Seattle, I can completely sympathize.


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