Challenge,  publishing

I’m Doing The Great Publishing Challenge

Yup, I Will Be Documenting What I Am Doing…

For those who want to jump into the Great Publishing Challenge of publishing 12 books in a year, you will also get my progress reports regularly as videos in the challenge. But I am taking it to another level, as you might expect.

I will be publishing three times the challenge, or 36 books in one year. And if you are doing the challenge, you can watch me do it.

But first off, if I was in the stage many of you are, here is how I would do the 12 book challenge. (Think how fantastic it would be that one year from now you have 12 books earning you money.)

First, I would do what I said in the first video already up and open to view on the challenge, and what I have told many writers to do in different workshops. I would do an inventory of all my publishing and unpublished work.

So say if I was at a different place, earlier in my career, I had been doing the short story challenge and have 30 stories done so far. I am sure I would have many in the mail to magazines, but over the year I would plan at least six or so collections from stories that had a bunch of rejections and needed to be out for sale.

I would count how many unpublished finished stories I have.

I’m assuming I have a few books already in print, I would check for omnibus possibilities.

Remember, the definition of a book in this challenge is a novella (20,000 words or more), novel, story collection, or omnibus of a least three novels or novellas.

Do I have a book I just finished or a couple that are done, but not published yet? (This isn’t a writing challenge, this is a publishing challenge.)

And how many novels can I write in the coming year? Numbers of writers are doing the Novel Challenge of one book every two months. (If you did that, you would have six books right there. See why I say the other two challenges work great with this publishing challenge?)

So if I was earlier in my career and doing the regular challenge, I would look at it and say I could do six collections, two omnibus, so that means I needed to write four novels and publish them. That is a challenge, but possible.

The hard part is what can you get done and out the very first month. The challenge is to publish at least one thing a month.

Now how will I get 36 major books out in one year?

First off, I did what I told everyone else to do first. I did inventory.

I have a short novel and a novel that will be in the next two issues of Smith’s Monthly, along with five short stories each issue. Novel has already been published this last month (new Cold Poker Gang), but each issue of Smith’s Monthly will be like a collection of my work, so they will count.

That will be at least 10 books right there, maybe more if I get the first one done quicker.

The novella will also be published stand alone in my Thunder Mountain series, so that’s eleven.

I have about 50 or so unpublished short stories I will be putting into Smith’s Monthly. I will write about that many this coming year if I have a normal year.

Almost 400 of my short stories have NOT been in collections outside of the 250 or so that have been in issues of Smith’s Monthly. I should easily be able to do one 5 story collection per month.

To do Smith’s Monthly for another year, I will need to write ten more novels. Those will be published as stand-alone novels as well as in Smith’s Monthly issues. So ten novels.

10 Smith’s Monthly

1 Novella

12 Collections

10 Novels

That leaves me three short of my goal of 36, but that’s easy. I am finishing up right now the introductions to the three 33 story collections of my stories that I promised for the Make 100 Kickstarter.

That’s three books, which gets me up to 36 books for the year. And since all the stories in each collection are proofed already, I think one of them can make it out in January.

Notice, I didn’t even cheat because my name will also be on the cover of four Fiction Rivers, four Pulphouse volumes, and two Pulphouse anthologies that will publish in 2020. Counting those, which I will not, that would bring my total to 46 books in 2020.

So I am going to use the Great Publishing Challenge to also challenge myself in 2020. And I will be doing videos in the challenge not only about hints to help all of you with publishing, but what I am dealing with and my progress.

And in the novel challenge I will be talking about my writing at times as well there, as I write novels this coming year.

So I hope a few of you want to join me for a fun and challenging 2020. Going to be great fun.

More information on any of the three challenges and The Decade Ahead Class on Teachable.


  • Annie Reed

    What a great plan! I think I’ll join along on my own at a two-book a month (24 for the year) level. I have a ton of short stories that haven’t been in collections yet that need to go out in the world, and some longer things (novellas especially) that I need to finish. Plus, as you’ve told me, I need to write more novels *g*, which is part of next year’s overall business plan. So 24 publications for the year will be a stretch for me, which is what goals are all about — striving to reach something that’s possible but not easy.

  • Dave Raines

    This is cool and tempting. I’m wondering if there are other costs associated? Would you recommend we buy Vellum, for instance? ISBN codes? InDesign? Or… given your statement about “if you were just starting out” – maybe we don’t need every cool tool, but are there things we definitely would need?

    • dwsmith

      ISBN codes maybe, if running through IngramSpark for the paper. Check out the comments on that post you linked because a lot of people found even cheaper ways of publishing books than Vellum and InDesign for covers.

      What you need is some program to do a cover. Something to do the layout in ebook and pdf for paper. I think you need someone to read for typos. That is the basics. Above that, everything is bells.

    • dwsmith

      Nope, just fiction I’m afraid. Sorry. Collection of 5 stories, a novella (20,000 words or longer), a novel, or an omnibus of three novellas or novels. Those are books under the challenge format.

  • Stefon Mears

    This is an interesting idea. I think I’m already up to four since October. I should be able to make it twelve by this coming October. Tracking on my own, anyway.

    I particularly like the five-story collection approach. My short story singles aren’t exactly selling like gangbusters….

    • dwsmith

      But you should still put them out there as singles. And in collections. And use them for give-aways for mailing lists and on web sites and so much more. Short stories are valuable if you use them to their full potential.