J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter fantasy series gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, and sold more than 400 million copies. In fact, the Guinness Book of World Records lists Harry Potter as not only the best-selling book series in history but the highest-grossing film series in history. Only the Bible has more translations. And I should probably mention she became the first billionaire author on the entire freakin’ planet. As I walked around Universal Studios for the Harry Potter Celebration this past weekend, on the heels of my 18 Thoughts release, all of those ‘thoughts’ on her instant success made this struggling author wonder if Jo really does know magic. I mean, she was the same as me when I started . . . an unpublished nobody. No connections in the business. No money to hire an editor to proofread her work or a publicist who could reveal the secret to marketing success. So, how did she do it? Well, I did some recon when I returned for my trip, and it turns out, Rowling and I started out differently in a HUGE way. *Confession time* My name is Jamie, and I’m a pantser. Rowling, on the other hand, planned Harry Potter for FIVE YEARS after she first birthed the idea during a train ride. Have you heard of the 10,000 hours of practice theory? Author Malcolm Gladwell says it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. You can read more about his theory here. If I divide 10,000 by 5 years, I get 2,o00. Then if I divide that number by 52 (# of weeks in a year), I get 38.5 . . . assuming Jo put that much time in every week working on HP (and judging by most Neurotic Authors like myself, I’m betting she did), she meets the criteria of putting in 10,000 hours of ‘practice’ before becoming a worldwide phenomenon. I started writing in the summer of 2009. I finished the last book in my trilogy in the summer of 2014. I’ve put in the practice. And now . . . I’ve actually planned out my next book! Success is always a struggle. My recent release left me feeling depressed. But I’m not going to think about the sales. I’m going to be laser focused on my writing this next year. I know it’s unrealistic to think I’ll be the next JK Rowling (and really, the world doesn’t need another JK Rowling . . . we are each created to do our own unique thing in this world), but I don’t believe in magic (okay, let’s be honest, I’m still holding out hope for my letter to Hogwarts). I believe in hard work. It’s the only way to get to where you need to go. And I don’t care if it takes me another five years . . .
Feb 4 2015
Books Turn Muggles Into Wizards (Kind of)
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”–J.K. Rowling One nice review of 18 Things (the first book in my trilogy) by blogger Bruce Blanchard really encouraged me this week, so please stop by & show Bruce some love if you can! He’s over at darkenwulfbytes. Coincidentally, 18 THINGS IS STILL JUST 99 CENTS! Not sure how long that’ll last (maybe my publisher forgot to change it back to $4.99?), so snatch up your Kindle version while you can! Make sure you check out other blog posts for the monthly edition of IWSG, the brainchild of A*W*E*S*O*M*E Head Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh. As a sidenote, thank you to all the bloggers who participated in my “Share Your Thoughts” bloghop. You are eligible to win a prize (I’m looking at you TF Walsh, Kristina Stanley, Stephen Tremp, Head Ninja Captain, Michael D’Agostino, Roland Yeamans, Diane Wolfe, Susan Kane, Tonja Drecker, Sherry Ellis, Tangent Shell, Carrie-Anne, & L.G. Keltner)! Some of them have already been snatched up, and the early bird gets the worm! So email me at email@example.com to tell me what prize you’d like before they’re all gone.
1) Catch Me When I Fall paperback by Vicki Merkiel 2) Core ebook by Teshelle Combs
3) Core ebook by Teshelle Combs
4) The System ebook by Teshelle Combs 5) The System ebook by Teshelle Combs 6) $10 Amazon Gift Card from Eliza Tilton 7) Ever ebook by Jessa Russo 8) Evade ebook by Jessa Russo 9) Divide ebook by Jessa Russo 10) The Charge ebook by Sharon Bayliss 11) Destruction: The December People, Book One ebook by Sharon Bayliss 12) Watch Me Burn: The December People, Book Two ebook by Sharon Bayliss 13) The Undead ebook by Elsie Elmore 14) The Undead ebook by Elsie Elmore 15) Butterman Time Travel ebook by Pk Hrezo 16) Bella’s Point ebook by Elizabeth Seckman 17) Kiya ebook by Katie Hamstead 18) 18 Things paperback by Jamie Ayres *Also, if you’d like to enter ANOTHER GIVEAWAY (and if you wouldn’t, go ahead & slap yourself), then check out my Rafflecopter at the top right on this blog. Here’s what’s up for grabs: $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card+$25 Starbucks Gift Card+18 Things & 18 Truths signed paperback+ an Alice in Wonderland Hot Topic Tank+Star Wars journal *You can also enter to win 1 of 10 18 THOUGHTS paperbacks my publisher is giving away on Goodreads! Finally, I leave you with a special treat. A little clip from A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal this past weekend: Behind the Scenes Film Talent Discussion– What’s Your Favorite Spell? (I think Dumbledore might’ve been drunk for this discussion . . . toooo funny!) Have a magical day 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k8tf442UNo
I’ve no idea how many hours I’ve put into writing over the last 30 years, though I know I must easily have at least ten million words. I’ve never been interested in comparisons to J.K. Rowling or the Harry Potter franchise, since I just never got into that trend due to the obscene amounts of hype. The only author I’m sort of measuring myself against is Isaac Asimov, since my goal is to have all my books be taller than I am when standing next to them, just like he accomplished.
I wrote a post for the last day of your Share Your Thoughts bloghop, though unfortunately found the sign-up list expired when I went to add my link. Live and learn.
Oh, I apologize, Carrie-Anne! I’ll go look for your post now, & please pick out a prize 🙂
I started summer of 2009 too, and have 1 book pubbed, that’s sales are… *heavy sigh* If you’ve stopped pantsing and started outlining – welcome to the land of professional writers! I’ve always been an outliner and never regretted it. Not that outlining is foolproof — I change my outline all the time as I write — but it keeps me from going down blind alleys. Great post!
Yeah, I want to avoid writing myself into a corner as much as possible!
It’s never a good idea to compare ourselves to J.K. Rowling. Glad you’re focusing on your next book.
Well, I hear the best way to make it in this business is to write more books . . . 😉
I’ve been writing way too long with my first novel coming out in 2016. I may not be J.K. Rowling, but I want to be the US’ answer to her. That’s my dream. Not straying from it. When I dream, I dream big. I mean, why not. All it takes is one time. One voice. One review to set things in motion. And let’s not forget how many publishers rejected the Harry Potter books. Bet they’re kicking themselves in the rear-end. Just goes to show you never know where life will take you. All you have to do is believe.
If I was the publisher who rejected her, I’d be sick about it for the rest of my life!
I believe in the 10,000 hour theory, and I think anyone trying to write a novel should too. This is hard work, much harder than I expected. But there is also a lot of joy and satisfaction that comes with it. Keep writing….
Such hard work . . . work that I enjoy, but still hard!
I couldn’t plan a novel if you paid me to, I’m such a panster. Sometimes success is also about having the right product at the right time, and having it fall into the right hands through some stroke of luck. I say whether you plan your way there or get there by the seat of your pants, you often have to stumble into the right spot, too.
A little bit of fairy dust never hurt anyone 🙂
Jamie, I am so happy that you are back in the saddle, ready to create yet another wonderful story. Yes, we need to put in the time. We need to learn our craft and remember that it is all worth it in the end.
About Rowling? I think Stephen King said it all … and I can merely paraphrase …
We can learn to be a good writer … but great writers like Rowling are born with a special gift that no one can teach them 🙂
So true, Florence. I’ll never be able to write as well as her . . . kind of a depressing thought, but also a freeing one!
You have to give the lady credit- she did come up with an amazing world.
She sure did! It’s so boring returning to normal life after visiting Universal!
I was at Universal Studios in October with my family and waited and hour and a half to ride the new Gringotts adventure. It was impressive, but the ride under the Hogwarts castle was better! Writing a book that recieves even a fraction of the success of J.K. Rowling would be amazing, but that’s about as likely as winning the lottery. Better for me to focus on improving and striving to write the best I can. The journey has to be the reward.
repeating *The journey has to be the reward* over and over until it sinks in.
Hey, I won!
Five years. That’s a lot of planning.
Don’t stress sales, Jamie.
And sorry I’m late! Yours is one of the blogs that didn’t appear in my Feedly reader this morning.
Oh, no! Well, better late than never! Thanks for always stopping by ❤
She must have known that this story would be a game-changer, or she wouldn’t have spent so long on it before writing.
Thanks for the prize! I don’t have a Kindle, will the Amazon gift card work if I order from Australia? If not, whichever ebook you think is best and we can hope for the best 🙂
I’m sure you’re right, Michael! I’d think the Amazon GC would work . . .
The planning definitely shows, especially if – like I once did – you read the series twice in quick succession. You notice things that were mentioned in the early books are more important or have more meaning later on. It’s one of the things that has me in awe of Rowling.
Me? I’m a pantser, but I sometimes wish I wasn’t.
I know . . . I remember reading The Prisoner of Azkaban and truly being in awe! Going like, she’s had this planned since book one, lol! And then it just kept going & getting more complicated. Brilliant!
I outlined a bit for my first book, but after that I wrote detailed outlines.
Rowling is amazing.
That’s an interesting theory. I believe it to be true.
A lot of people we think are ‘overnight successes’ actually put in 10,000 hours of practice before we ever heard about them!
I’m so glad to see that you are writing another book!
As for pantsing, I’m pretty sure I’m stuck with that as my process. I did get some help with it from another Jamie though– Jami Gold, (via her blog and courses) and I’m finally learning to plot lightly while pantsing. 🙂
I’ll have to check this other Jami out!
I love Rowling’s story and find it inspiring. I see the benefit of outlining (others have proved it to me), and although I’m a pantser by nature, I really want to write more so officially turning over a new leaf. Outlining from now on!
Yay! Good thing we have this support group to keep us going!
A writer boyfriend of mine once tried to use J.K. Rowling as an excuse for why pantsers never get published, trying to say he was better than I was because he takes YEARS to write one book and I write much more quickly. I’m published now and he’s…well…NOT! That was only one of many ways he insulted my writing ability (gee, wonder why the relationship didn’t work out!). Now he sits there on Facebook, liking my posts about my books coming out, and I always wonder if he remembers when he used to put me down… I have a feeling he doesn’t.
However–I will say J.K. Rowling may have taken 5 years on that ONE book, but I put 20 years into heaven-knows-how-many books to get my craft down. You learn one way or another…some people just choose to rewrite the same book for year after year while others write many different ones!
I spent 7 years working on my first novel. I shelved it out of practicality. I wrote my 2 novel in 3 months and spent the next 10 years editing it while writing 3 more novels. I would like a large measure of success. Not the Rowlings kind, but enough to have my hubby live the life he’s always wanted to live. I love Rowling’s story. How she was on assistance and living in a dreary flat when she was discovered. It’s truly a wonderful story. She said it took years before she began thinking like a rich person.
Is it weird that I have a twisted version of ‘I’m Gonna Be’ in my head now? I would write 10,000 hours, and I would would write 10,000 more!” LOL
Yeah, people have got this idea that Rowling was an overnight success but she wasn’t. I think HP was rejected quite a few times too. She definitely put in the work.
However, I’m not convinced that you’re ready after an arbitrary number of hours. I read you have to write a million words before calling yourself a writer, too. As long as you’re constantly learning and polishing your craft, that’s what counts.
Interesting and daunting post with the breakdown of numbers! Wishing you continued success!