This post – taken from my earlier blog One Writer’s Voice – seems just as relevant to me now as it did two years ago. PS: the cover is for his latest book released this month.
During a writing course I took in 2012, four authors discussed their writing process. Not all four were prolific, but two were; one writing three books every year (adult, YA and young readers) and another writing one book every year. These two authors had different processes, but both involved ‘bum in seat’ discipline.
Last Sunday’s New York Times included a list of Nicholas Sparks’ sixteen novels [now twenty] and the number of weeks each novel remained on their hardcover fiction list. Regardless what you think of his stories, the results are interesting and, some might say, impressive. Sparks has not repeated the success he had with The Notebook (56 weeks), but each subsequent novel has earned between 12 and 29 weeks.
In an interview with Writers Digest, Sparks advises writers to ‘write what readers want to read, which isn’t necessarily what you want to write’. He goes on to say:
I think it’s important to understand that it [the publishing industry] is an industry in which the publisher has to sell your book, and if they don’t think there’s an audience for your book, you’re probably not going to get it published. I also think it’s important to realize that to get published, you’re not competing against me, or Stephen King, or John Grisham—we have spent years developing audiences that we bring to the table. So, you have to write better than we do, or more originally, or have more original stories, or work in a genre that has a need. I think it’s important to realize that readers are forgiving to a point, in that if you don’t put out your best possible work every time, your audience will begin to fall.
In an interview on ThinkTalk.com, Sparks discloses that he writes one book at a time, a minimum of 2000 words a day, 5 or 6 days a week with the first draft typically ready in four months. Apparently, he spends another two months on edits to get it to final completion.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Wish it were so. Comments on Sparks’s approach or anything else related to the topic are welcome.
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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union on August 16, 2016. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website www.mktod.com.