An Indie Writer’s Great Story

I figured I would, for the moment, give a very positive example here of how this new world of publishing can work out.

My best friend, Jim Kiser, is married to a wonderful person named Judy Joyce. This last August on the way to the World Science Fiction convention in Reno, Kris and I were in Boise visiting them and my mother and sister.

After a great day with my family, Jim and Judy and Kris and I headed out to a relaxed and fun dinner. Jim has been my best friend for fifty years now and I’ve known Judy since 1984 when Jim first met her. Fun conversation is always at hand with them.

And at one point the conversation turned to publishing, of course, even though Jim is an attorney and Judy is an astrologer, one of the best in the country, actually.

Judy had a class in October she was thinking of doing some individual astrology reports for. Both Kris and I suggested she also put the reports up electronically as books to sell, since her writing is wonderful and always positive. I kept saying it would be easy and I would help her.

So after dinner we dropped Kris back at the hotel to write, Jim went to his office in their home to work, and Judy and I went into her office so I could show her how “easy” it was. We spent about an hour and honestly I don’t think I helped much. I just kept repeating over and over how easy it was to publish electronically, even though we were working on a PC and I’m used to Mac computers. (Honestly, I was lost most of the time on her computer.)

Also, Judy was familiar with a couple of programs I didn’t use as well, so I left feeling like I hadn’t helped Judy at all and actually made it seem harder. But I told her to read my “Think Like a Publisher” series and call me if she had a problem if she wanted to try it. She wasn’t sure and besides, she hadn’t even finished writing the first one yet.

Off Kris and I headed to Worldcon after a failed side adventure trying to get to an old Idaho ghost town. That is yet another story for later. Let me just say that not even a Jeep could get us in there.

My friend Bill died at Worldcon and I have spent the last three months dealing with his estate as many of you know. A couple times after Worldcon I got an e-mail from Judy asking a question that I answered, but gave not one ounce of thought to what she was doing. My mind was elsewhere.

Then on one of my rare nights at home in October, this package arrived from Judy. Inside were two nifty and very professional-looking books signed to us. PAPER BOOKS.

One was Scorpio 2012 Astrology Guidebook by Judy Joyce for me. (I am a Scorpio.) The second was Gemini 2012 Astrology Guidebook by Judy Joyce. (Kris is a Gemini.)

I just kept staring at them, then looked up at Kris and said, “Holy shit, she did all twelve as paper books.”

That was the first time it had ever occurred to me that Judy might try doing paper books. I had been thinking she would get them up electronically, which she has as well. But she went ahead, under deadline of the big workshop she was holding in October, and did all the books also in trade paper editions.

Stunned didn’t begin to describe how I felt. Not that Judy isn’t very smart and very, very capable. She is. And she’s a wonderful writer as well.

But let me give you some perspective.

— She published twelve books, all very professionally designed and laid out, in under two months, an average of six per month.

— There are entire lines of traditional published books that can’t manage six books in a month with numbers of editors, art departments, design departments, and production departments.

— AND…she had not only done all the production on these books, but she had written all of them as well. In the same two months. Her only help was her husband, Jim, doing the proofing on the manuscript and then the final book form.

Now I don’t suggest anyone try what Judy just managed to pull off. In fact, she admits she did nothing else day and night for those two months. Jim agrees, saying he barely saw her.

Judy gave away at her large workshop a book to each participant (and sold a ton more for gifts).

What she did is a wonderful example of this new world of publishing.

What she managed to do was not possible just two years ago.

What Judy did (and the possibilities that her feat illustrates) is one of the many reasons I am so excited all the time about this new world of publishing. Writers can control their own fate, and with enough work and drive can even outshine entire publishing departments of traditional publishers.

You want a great stocking stuffer for your friends who like astrology, these books would make a wonderful gift. You can get them at Amazon for $9.99.

Congrats, Judy, on an amazing publishing feat.

And on producing some wonderful books.

Have I said lately how much I love this new world?


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23 Responses to An Indie Writer’s Great Story

  1. Alex Hajicek says:

    Incredible story. Period. Now back to work. (grin)

  2. David Barron says:

    That is pretty amazing, and she’ll be able to do the whole thing again even easier in 2013 as technology marches on.

    I’ll embrace any system that lets me put my considerable “work and drive” toward my direct profit. Not to mention that it’s fun.

  3. Ramon Terrell says:

    Amazing! That is truly inspiring. Thanks for sharing that amazing story!

  4. That was an awesome story, Dean. And well-timed too. As I mentioned in an email to you, I have this fantasy novel that I wrote over the course of several years. It has been sitting on my hard drive for at least three years. Today I contacted a cover artist I found through David Farland and am planning to publish the book finally. It will be the end of a long journey. Congrats to Judy Joyce for her accomplishment. I would love to have that kind of output.

  5. Wow, that’s monstrous. Talk about speed. I’m impressed to say the least.

    Looking at the ‘look inside’ on Amazon, she’s written 200 words per page (about) at 200 pages, so 40,000 words per book. Times that by 12 and you come up with 480,000 words total in two months (8,000 a day). Even with cutting and pasting some information from stock, she’s done something that many writers would perceive as impossible, yet those who’ve been there know isn’t.

    I have to take my hat off to Judy. She has a level of motivation that is quite enviable. We can all learn something from her.

  6. Andreas Christensen says:

    That is absolutely incredible, impressive doesn’t even begin to describe it. I have to add that this world we live in today, is probably one of the best of times for writers, as the freedom and the ability to do something like this is something completely new. If not for kindle, createspace and all the other new possibilities, I for one would probably never even have finished anything. These days, dreams really do come true!

  7. Glynn James says:

    Wow. Just, wow.

    I bet you are incredibly pleased that you managed to motivate someone so much that they went off and did that. Especially so when it is someone close to you. It doesn’t matter that you thought you didn’t help very much, just the knowledge of what could be achieved so easily these days, with just a bit of getting off your backside and doing it, is way more than enough.

    I love hearing stories like this.

    BTW you pretty much did the same for me, even though you don’t know me. I found this blog and then “discovered” digital publishing. Six books out this year and it will pay for my family’s holiday next year. Plus I’m writing more now than I ever have in years! (and dusting off unfinished stories)

    I’m working on persuading one of my friends to have a go and do something with the three fantasy novels he has written (already pointed him at this article!). He is very reluctant at the moment, but if I manage to get him to do it, I’ll be smiling too!

  8. Zahra Brown says:

    Wow. That is an amazing achievement. Very inspirational.

  9. Truly, getting it published isn’t hard these days … get it read, well, that is ‘another story’.

  10. Bartholomew Thockmorton says:

    8,000 words a day?
    Mind boggling!
    And 480,000 in two months? I figure it took me all of 15-years to reach that count!
    Gads! Amazing!

    • dwsmith says:

      Don’t tell Judy she wrote that much. (grin) When I asked her about it, she said that there was some basic intro stuff in all books that was similar, but she wrote everything else fresh for each book. She said it was easier because each book had the same format, and she wanted them all about the same length, so when she came to a section, she knew how much she had to write for that section and what needed to be in that section. I’m guessing each book is about 20,000-24,000 words since they are over 100 pages in book form. And the design is clear and very easy to read.

      Sometimes when a person comes into publishing without having built up all the myths that writers build up, such as writing fast is writing poorly, and “that can’t be done!” sort of myths, then the person just writes and does what needs to be done. As a person who has been around publishing and the mechanics of paper book creation, if she had asked me, I would have warned her off doing paper books and thus these wonderful books would not have existed. Luckily I didn’t “help” her in that fashion. But when I was “helping” her I didn’t realize she was going to go paper and didn’t realize none of them had been written yet.

      Myths and the attitude of “that can’t be done” or “I can’t do it” are deadly things. When you believe them, they become true.

      Luckily, Judy had not been exposed to those myths and attitudes. She is the most positive person I have ever met and look how things turn out when a positive person turns her attention to something that needs to be done?

  11. Angie says:

    Major props to your friend — that’s an incredible accomplishment, especially in that length of time. Heck, it’d be an incredible accomplishment for someone new to indie publishing even without almost half a million words of writing at the same time. O_O


  12. Suzan Harden says:

    That is so cool! I’m getting my Scorpio copy on pay day next week!

  13. Thomas E says:

    Whoa, and I thought I was writing fast… but I am only doing 70k a month… she did three times that.

    Now, I am wondering if I can do that too ;)

    Er, interesting question. I think I might try to find out the answer after Christmas.

    • dwsmith says:

      As Nina Kiriki Hoffman once said, “We all set our own speed limits.” She was right. And often she and I would try to push that speed limit up, to see what the top “limit” actually was. I did two 90,000 plus word novels in six days each. (not back-to-back (grin)) So far, that’s my “speed limit” or what I know in my mind I can do if pushed. Anything under that always feels easy, which is the advantage of pushing that “speed limit” up at times.

      And for those of you who think books written that fast can’t be good, one is the Jonathan Frakes Abductors from Tor which went from my computer to print in one draft. And the second also had no second draft or even touch-up and is one of my best-reviewed, best-selling, and most-liked books. (Can’t tell you the name for contract reasons….sorry.) I also wrote another book for a bestselling author in six days, came in around 85,000 words and was on the Time’s list. And, oh, yeah, wrote a book for one of the western series pen names in six days at about 55,000 words. That felt easy after the others.

      Luckily, Judy had no idea that what she was doing was special in the publishing world. Knowing that would have stopped her, as it stops so many writers.

    • dwsmith says:

      Thomas, great pace!! Well done!

      Actually, from my math it looks like Judy wrote about 125,000 words per month, plus did all the layout and publishing at the same time. 12 books around 25,000 words is about 300,000 words. She told me a little of the intro sections was the same in all books, so figure about 125,000 new per month. Fantastic, huh?

      • dwsmith says:

        Those interested in ways to help yourself get past the writing slow myth, Rachel Aaron did a great blog post about it. (I spotted it through blog…thanks, PG). I agree with much of what she is saying. Not my methods, but they do work for many. One aspect I want to add in. If you are writing as much as she suggests, which I often do, then make sure you take a break and move around every hour. You can physically hurt yourself if you don’t.

        Worth the read:

  14. A.Rosaria says:

    And here I was thinking I was fast writing a 5k word short story in 5 hours. I feel like a turtle and not one of those fast ones.

    I’m thinking about buying the Scorpio book for my wife, it would make a real nice gift.

    • dwsmith says:

      It is great. I’ve read it. And now I’m reading the Gemini one trying to figure out what I am up for next year with Kris. (grin)

    • dwsmith says:

      A. Rosaria, that’s about my pace as well. I do about a thousand words per hour. Writing fast isn’t typing faster, it’s spending more time writing. That’s what I love about writers who say you have to slow down. All they are saying is that you shouldn’t write as many hours or minutes in some cases. 250 words per day is about 15 minutes of work for most of us. You do that every day you finish a 90,000 plus word novel in one year, and some people will tell you to slow down. Only write ten minutes per day I guess?? Only art I know where some people think less practice is better. Thankfully, musicians don’t think that way. (grin)

  15. Fantastic story…thanks for sharing! And I might send around links to her stuff, as well. I have a number of friends who would love books like that in their sign, (I have a feeling she’ll do really well with those, in general!)

    Does she have them in ebook form at all, though? I didn’t see anywhere in your post if she’d published in both formats.

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