12 for ’12: One Year Later

Checking back, I started writing the 12 for ’12 novels back on this day in 2012. As you might remember, this was my crazy plan to write a dozen 50,000-word novels over the course of 2012. I managed to fund four trilogies through Kickstarter drives, which was the biggest hurdle.

(Thanks, backers! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to express how much that means to me. The best I can do is write great novels for you to read, and I’m working hard at that.)

So, how’d I do with that crazy plan?

In the strictest sense, I failed. As of December 31, 2012, I managed to write ten novels, nine of which were part of the 12 for ’12 project. The extra one was Leverage: The Con Job, which hit stores at the very end of the year.

The Leverage book clocked in at 80,000 words, so that wound up taking a bit more time than the regular 12 for ’12 books. On top of those, I wrote nine comic book scripts for the Magic: The Gathering comics I write for IDW. (Paths of Vengeance #2 is on sale today, by the way.) I also:

  • Wrote an unannounced tie-in novelette (10k words)
  • Finished off a massive story bible for an unannounced game (30k words)
  • Wrote a short story for the Don’t Rest Your Head anthology Don’t Read This Book (3k words).
  • Wrote an even shorter story for The Lion and the Aardvark anthology (600 words)
  • Wrote pitches and samples for books for which I’m waiting on imminent offers.

All told, that’s well over half a million words of fiction, plus the comic books. Beyond that, I produced and shipped the first four books in the 12 for ’12 series. As you might imagine, there was a bit of a learning curve there.

While I’ve published many books before, that was all in the days before ebooks, so that was a bit of a new world for me. A lot of the skills from the old ways carry over to the new, but I put a lot of trial and error time into getting things exactly right.

If anything, this is where the 12 for ’12 plan fell down. I didn’t estimate the time that book revisions and productions would take very well, and that ate into my writing time. Between that and conventions and spending time with my kids while they were out of school, I didn’t write any books in the middle of the summer, which put me way behind come fall.

Still, I made a game attempt to catch up, ending the year on a strong note. I stopped producing the books so I could write them, which allowed me to write two books in November and (with luck) two this month too. To make that up to my backers, I’ve been sending them PDFs of my first drafts, something that would normally be reserved for those who backed my Kickstarter drives at higher levels.

So far, everyone’s been wonderfully understanding, despite the delays, and I’m grateful for that, as I want to make sure that the final books are as good as they can be. As my friend Mike Selinker says, “It’s late once, but it’s bad forever.”

It’s wild to say I wrote that much in a year and strictly speaking failed to hit my goals, as insane as they might have been. Still, there’s a less strict way to look at this, as I mentioned last month when I announced I was going for 13 books in 13 months instead. At the moment, I have 11 of those books written. Given that I started the project on January 16, 2012, that would (in a generous person’s mind) give me until February 16 to meet that challenge.

That’s still doable. I finished the first Monster Academy book on Friday, and I have outlines in hand for Books 2 and 3. So, I’m putting my nose back to the keyboard once more. Wish me luck. 

P.S. Oh, yeah, the one time sink I really forgot to think about: running a Kickstarter. This takes a tremendous amount of time to do well and sucked up every available brainwave I had while they were going on. Demanding but rewarding too.