A Book I Read and A Challenge
A Book I Read and a Challenge
I get some wonderful recommendations from readers of this blog about books I might be interested in. And the readers are often right. Thanks, folks!!
One such recommendation was for a book titled Paperback Confidential: Crime Writers of the Paperback Era. Author is Brian Ritt. The book has only been out a few years and it had passed me by. So when it was recommended, I got it at once. I love history of writers.
So a discussion on it below and some interesting things about how this kind of thing works for me sort of like what many of you say this blog does for you.
Errands, more errands, and then add in more errands. Then walked with two other professional writers, then back to WMG to work in the store.
Two other professional writers stopped by and we talked for a time, then around seven Billy, WMG’s Director of Sales stopped in and we talked for a time about the stores and some things we are planning for the summer.
Home by eight to cook dinner, then took a long nap, not getting to my e-mail until almost eleven p.m.
Watched some television at midnight, then got to my writing around 1 a.m.
I did a 1,100 session by 1:45 a.m.
Took a short break, did 1,200 words by 3 a.m.
A short break, did 1,000 words by just before 4 a.m.
So 3,300 words tonight and the novel is running right along. No clue how I am going to solve any of what I am writing, but the characters are in deep trouble just 4,000 words into the book. (grin)
Something Completely Different
The Not Only Human bundle I was in for a short week has now been converted into a massive boxed-set collection of novels and is for sale on all the normal spots.
12 novels. Twelve professional writers. Over one million words. One price. $9.99.
Can’t beat that. And this will only be available for a few weeks or so. Limited time.
Here are some normal links but you can find it most places or will be able to shortly.
July Workshop Schedule
All July workshops have room. All are limited to five writers max. But at the moment there are very few in any of the workshops. No surprise in this time of great forgetting. This way every year.
All details at www.wmgpublishingworkshops.com
Class #2 July 5th How to Write Thrillers
Class #3 July 5th Adding Suspense to Your Writing
Class #4 July 5th Plotting With Depth
Class #5 July 5th Character Development
Class #6 July 6th Depth in Writing
Class #7 July 6th Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #8 July 6th Cliffhangers
Class #9 July 6th Pacing Your Novel
Class #10 July 6th Teams in Fiction
Classic Workshops and Lectures are also available at any time.
Topic of the Night: A Book I Read
As I said above, I read a book about writers called Paperback Confidential: Crime Writers of the Paperback Era.
Now this book did about one page of basic details about the author, talked about the crime series, gave some recommended readings, and also said that if you liked the author’s work, you might like so-and-so’s work. Most of entries took two pages total.
I learned numbers of things, but the most startling was how many books writers I had thought were very prolific had actually written. Now granted, in many cases, the author of this book didn’t have a number for every writer listed.
Also, there were a lot of information about author pen names. Some of the authors mentioned had a half dozen or more pen names. (I am well past a dozen myself.)
And in a number of authors, it was clear there were a lot of series and books not even mentioned. That’s fine, it wasn’t in the format of the book to have that.
One writer (Real name Robert Leslie Bellem) caught my attention, however. He had written about 8 novels, a bunch of scripts for Hollywood, and over 3,000 short stories.
Now, I am one of the most prolific writers working at the moment. Not the most prolific, but one of the most. That 3,000 number sort of interested me as a wild goal. (grin)
Another thing that sort of surprised me was that writers I thought would have written far more than I have written actually didn’t. Many, many, many prolific writer’s careers tended, for one reason or another, often Hollywood, to top out from 70 to 120 novels.
Not all, but a large, large number of them. That sort of interested me as well since I am around 150 novels written and published now. And as of last count about six years ago now, I had 17 million copies of my books in print. Got a hunch now that number is way, way higher. Too lazy to try to count it, though.
So I went to the internet to find out which writers were considered the most prolific. And found a bunch of really interesting stuff.
If you go to an article listing the seventeen most prolific writers in history, you get some fun stuff.
Corin Tellado is, without a doubt, the most prolific and will hold that title for some time at over 4,000 books, all short novella length. A stunning number.
(There is some guy using a computer to find bits of things like stock reports and such from the public domain and slap them together for Amazon, but not a one has hit paper and he never writes them, just a computer program puts them together. So he flat is not worth talking about.)
Down 6th of the list is Barbara Cartland with 723 books.
Way down at #15 on the list was Issac Asimov who had 468 or 503, depending who is counting.
Now what I find interesting is how authors and people watching counted these books.
It seems that almost anything the author edited counted.
Any collection counted.
Novels, both short and long, counted. And for a writer by the name of Prentis Ingraham listed at #8 wrote over 600 dime novels back about 150 years ago. Dime novels tended to be about 100 pages long, in other words, about 10,000 to 15,000 words.
So it seemed that if it hit print in stand-alone form, it was counted no matter length. Very interesting.
Asimov, in his total of books, counted science books he co-edited with Techno Books Martin H. Greenberg, and others. Plus anthologies where he only did an introduction. Asimov actually had very few novels. Just a lot of books.
So my research has been very interesting.
In some lists out there, they count writers like Bradbury even though he did very few novels, but published about 600 short stories in his career.
The Guinness Book of World Records has L. Ron Hubbard holding the title with 1,084 different books. Of course, he never wrote that many, but Galaxy Press, his estate manager and publisher has continued to combine his work and put out new books. The value of a great estate for copyright. (I personally have done introductions for a couple of those repackaging books.)
Then, of course, there are the years of soft-core erotica books written by a ton of major writers under pen names. Robert Silverberg and Lawrence Block to name just two major writers who wrote a ton of those books in the 1960s. Great stuff to research if you have time. Harlan Ellison first and then Algis Budrys were the editors of some of the major houses doing that work at that time. There is some data finally starting to come out about those books and who wrote them. And Lawrence Block is actually reissuing some of them under his own name with the pen name included. Nifty.
I find it interesting that very few people ever mention names like Robert Sheckley in the lists, who did maybe a thousand short stories and who knows how many books along his long career. He was very, very disorganized and so far has had an awful estate that has let his name and work vanish it seems.
Did you know Agatha Christie only wrote 83 books in her time.
Earl Stanley Gardner wrote only 82 Perry Mason novels and another 29 novels under the A.A. Fair pen name, but he also wrote upwards of 400 short stories along the way.
My Point to All This?
Damned if I know.
I just an thinking about resetting some goals here as I head toward the end of the third year of my own magazine. So over time I think I will count up my books, all of them that hit paper in one way or another.
When a friend asked me if I should count the stories that only hit electronic, I said that if I did that, I would have to try to count all 1002 of these blogs, plus all the years and years of blogs I did before I started this streak.
Nope, not counting that.
If the book hit paper with my name or one of my pen names on the cover, I’ll count it. If I edited it, I’ll now count it as well.
So, using that rule, how many books have I published? I honestly don’t have a clue yet. As soon as I do I’ll report back.
But I think given time, I might be able to go by Hubbard. I will certainly get by Asimov if I live just a little longer and keep writing.
The 3,000 short stories, however that’s a horse of a different color of challenge.
The Writing of The Taft Ranch: A Thunder Mountain Novel
1,050 words. Total words so far
Day 2 3,300 words. Total words so far 4,350 words.
Totals For Year 3, Month 11, Day 16
Writing in Public blog streak Day 1,002
— Daily Fiction: 3,300 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 28,600 words
— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words
— Blog Posts: 1,400 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 10,000 words
— E-mail: 11 e-mails. Approx. 800 original words. E-mails month-to date: 254 e-mails. Approx. 17,700 words
— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 2 Covers
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Not wild about the “books I edited” part as that would be more of a compilation than an actual writing, but either way I look forward to seeing this number. Onward.
Seems every writer has them included in totals. And trust me, editing sometimes takes more time than writing. Sometimes. (grin) Editing the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds volumes cost me a couple novels a year in time, at least.
Corin Tellado’s output is truly impressive. She averaged a short novel a week for most of her adult life. Her first novella was published at age 19. Her last, if I’m not mistaken, was mere days before she passed away (she lived to age 81 and also had a child). I asked my wife if she’d ever heard of her, and she said that Tellado was a big name in Spanish language romance.
As for Ryoki Inoue (you can find him on Facebook, but he only speaks Portuguese), it would be unfair to mention him without also pointing out this amazing article:
S.E., Interesting to know he went by Hubbard for the Guinness record. And he’s still going. Tough to go up against Tellado or Inoue in any reality. But sure fun to learn about them. Really puts things into perspective, huh? (grin) Thanks for the link.
David Alastair Hayden
I love the part where Inoue sees a pile of bills, sits down, and cranks a novel out in a night. Short book or not, that’s impressive. Because it was probably 20k words, at least.
I believe she was a house name from memory. It was more of a collaborated effort. Can’t remember where I read that. Could have been Wikipedia or something that was connected to her article there.
Glad to see Bellem’s name in there. I only recently discovered his works via kindle reprints and they are punchy, pulpy fun. Like yourself he filled a magazine each month (The Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective magazine) as well as being a regular spicy title/ Horror Stories/ Terror Tales writer. Love his work!
Yeah, Bellem was amazing and funny at the same time. Some facts about him… he had a story in every issue of Spicy Detective from 1934 to 1947.
And the magazine featuring one of his detectives, Dan Turner… Hollywood Detective ran from 1942 to 1950. It always had a longer Dan Turner story, plus some shorter ones in every issue. Bellem wrote some full issues, but not all of them by a long ways. He also wrote some of the stories in the issue under pen names. But even with his output, he never wrote the contents of every issue, only a few each year. He was too busy selling to a ton of other magazines at the same time. He really was amazing. It’s hard to imagine 3,000 short stories.
I’ve written somewhere between 400 and 500 in my life (about 100 or so were lost in my house fire.) And another 50 to 100 will never be published. Call them “retired” and mostly lost. (I have paper copies of them.) So I have somewhere over 200 short stories and climbing that will be in print. That’s a long ways from 3,000.
“will never be published”? Is that because you have no desire to type them out again?
Yeah, pretty much the case, James. And most are from my horror period and I just have no interest in having that stuff back out. I even have rough electronic files on about twenty sold stories from that period I am never putting them back out. Not that they are bad, honestly don’t know because I haven’t reread them, but I did reread a story I wrote called “She Would Have Been My Wife Had I Not Died” and it is so brutal, no chance I would put it out again, even though it was in a major horror anthology of the day. (I’ve been nominated a few times for the Stoker I seem to remember back then.)
So my time and energy is best served moving forward. That’s honestly the reason.
There are some pretty impressive novel totals in that list, but Paul Wheelahan and Keith Hetherington have each written more than 1000 novels, most of them fairly short (35,000 to 40,000 words). Hetherington is still writing Westerns, I believe. The late Leonard F. Meares wrote more than 800 novels, mostly Westerns. Bob Randisi is upwards of 500 books now. I think wordage has to be considered, too. I’ve written 335 novels and more than 100 short stories (I honestly don’t know how many) and have published around 25 million words.
PAPERBACK CONFIDENTIAL is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the popular fiction of that era. Like you, I was surprised that some writers I grew up reading didn’t write more. I would have guessed otherwise.
James, I agree, there are a lot of writers not on those lists. Bob Vardeman comes to mind and Ed Gorman and Robert Sheckley and Robert Silverberg and the ones you mentioned and yourself as well. I think Fanthorpe is still writing as well under a bunch of names on the Christian side of the planet. Got to meet him a few years back.
I’ve been doing this, first because I love learning about the pulp writers and the crime writers and that book was fun. And I’m working to give myself a new challenge, mostly to try to get everything tracked for estate purposes. I have been so disorganized and always saying, “I’ll get to that.” Never do. Just don’t want to leave a huge literary mess to the poor soul who gets this stuff.
So figuring an actual hard inventory of every book I have one of my names on the cover in paper editions and all my short fiction would be a fun way to get things at least in some sort of order. (grin)
Going to take time, so looking for the motivation. I would never expect to be at the top of the lists of prolific writers, but it would be fun to end up in the top 25 or 50. (grin) And realizing from Paperback Confidential that I had already written far more than some of my old pulp heroes got me started. We shall see how it goes.
Concerning Isaac Asimov: He wrote a lot of non fiction, from essays to full length books. I consider Isaac Asimov one of the best non-fiction writers.
I like this article. I think 100 novels in a lifetime is a good goal for anyone. If someone was writing short stories in the new world (maybe only going Indie) then 1000 would be good. 1000 shorts and 100 longs would make anyone prolific enough to never have to consider the topic again in my opinion.
Totally agree there, Ken.
may you ever pass by asimov and l ron hubbard. Rootin’ for you. I hope you live to be 100 in clear mind and strong body and writing like a maniac, Dean. Keep on truckin’
Wow, that article is inspiring and daunting in equal measure! The number of books depend on how you count them. For books totaling 40,000 words or more, including nonfiction and titles ghostwritten for other people, I recently topped 40. If you just include standalone titles, I’m well over 70. That’s because I do a lot of 12,000 word history books for a client. My name is inside most of them but not on the cover because they would bury my own stuff!
Corin Tellado is a legend here in Spain. I saw a special on her a while back, when she was quite elderly. She was dictating her latest novel to a typist, telling the story as fast as the typist could get it down. Tellado was completely ignoring the cameras, totally in the zone and loving every minute of it. That’s a life well spent.