Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing

Pulp Speed and the Indie Writer

Great Question This Afternoon…

How does an indie writer balance the writing at pulp speed with all the publishing stuff?

Got a hunch I’m going to be returning to this question a number of times in future posts, but for a short, first answer, here I go…


About 1,000,000 (1 million) original words per year. This averages to about 2,750 words a day for 365 days. (numbers rounded)

Or about 83,300 words per month.  So if you do 3,000 words a day and over 84,000 words per month ON AVERAGE for a year, you are writing at PULP SPEED ONE.

So first lets use me as an example…

I tend to average 1,000 words per hour writing fiction. Finished draft, ready to be copyedited.

So for me to do 3,000 words a day takes about three hours. A novel is about 45,000 words, so about 15 days when not hurrying. (That is Pulp Speed One… Over 2o novels a year.)

I do a lot of email, so that takes me a few hours a day to do emails and workshop assignments and new recordings. (Most of you won’t have that.)

Copyediting by others is something I can’t do. So I hire a copyeditor or give it to the staff at WMG Publishing to do.

Getting front and back promotion matter together takes a little time, but then can often be copy and pasted. I lay out all my short stories and Smith’s Monthly as well, so lately that has been a learning curve on InDesign.

I also do my own covers except for my novel covers. Allyson at WMG does those.

If I spend an hour a day at all that once I have the learning curve under control, it would be a lot.

I also count any “consumable” word in my daily word count. So on average I tend to write in introductions and blogs and things about 500 words more per day. (I do not count responses to workshops or responses on blogs or Facebook posts.) Takes less than an hour on hard days.


— Three hours a day writing 3,000 words.

— Two hours a day email and workshops.

— Average one hour a day layout and publishing.

— Less than an hour of blogs and other “consumable” words. 500 words.

Seven hours total to write 3,500 words and do the publishing and other stuff.

That is a total of 1,277,000 words per year or over Pulp Speed Two. 

That’s me. Most of you won’t have the two hours of emails and the hour of other “consumable” words.

So the publishing fits in when you are writing at at Pulp Speed one very nicely at 3 to 1 ratio.

Three hours of writing, one hour of indie publishing.

The hard part is for those with jobs and family and such to carve out those four hours.

If you don’t have a real-world job and a great family and are not writing at least at Pulp Speed One or higher, you might need to deal with some other issues holding you back.

Got a new lecture series on myths coming that might help you on that.

(By the way, this blog is over 520 words… just saying.)


  • Kenny Norris

    More maths for those, like me, who have school age kids.

    4,500 words 5 days per week 40 weeks of the year + 2,000 words 5 days per week 10 weeks of the year = 1,000,000 words (Pulp Speed 1).

    4.5k words should take me less than 4 hours a day (inc. breaks) to complete. Add break for lunch / housework and an hour for publishing. Added together that should be doable whilst the kids are at school. (Depending upon how long your school run is.)

  • Glen Sprigg

    This is my new favorite website. I believed so many of those myths when I was younger, and it killed my dreams of making a living at writing for years. I found this site less than three weeks ago, and I’ve been reading the earliest posts (Killing the Myths, New World of Publishing, and Think Like a Publisher) voraciously.

    I’ve felt my dreams rekindling, and I’m back in front of the screen typing away. I just wish I’d seen this ten years ago, or even five years ago. But, it’s better to start now and move forward. I have set a goal of writing 500,000 words by the end of the year, and getting my own indie publishing company started.

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!!

    • dwsmith

      Glen, more than welcome. And if you have questions about something, just write me. Always glad to help a writer who is driving forward and having fun.

    • Harvey Stanbrough

      Glen, I found Dean’s site in February 2015. Like you, I read everything voraciously and finally started writing seriously. Through Dean I found Heinlein’s Rules and DWS’s technique of writing into the dark, and most of all learned writing was actually fun.

      As a result, today I have almost 200 short stories (and 30 collections) as well as 43 novels and 8 novellas. You can do it!

      • dwsmith

        Harvey, how I think of myself is nothing more than a sign along a road pointing in a direction and basically saying “A lot of professionals go that way.” You are the one who did all the fantastic writing and learning along that road. Well done!! And Glen, you will always do right in following Harvey and his blog as well. Good stuff there and all kinds of great information on how to apply all sorts of things.

    • Phillip McCollum


      Dean and Harvey, a couple of my inspirations, have chimed in to respond to you here and I will toss in my congratulations on your chosen path. In 2017, I finally started to *really* listen to what they had to say (along with Kris Rusch) and apply their lessons to my own writing.

      I haven’t looked back.

      It looks like you’ve got the right attitude and I can’t wait to see what you do!