Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Number 10,000

Just recently I’ve become preoccupied with the number 10,000. It’s a nice big round number, isn’t it? Not huge, not small, just about within range of the human mind’s ability to visualise, the number of people you can get into the average football stadium in fact.

The number 10,000 also has a tendency to crop up in history (terrible Roland Emmerich films notwithstanding). The size of Xenephon’s army during his famous march across Persia in 399 BC? 10,000 men. The length of the Vietnam war (from a US perspective)? 10,000 days.

It’s also the number of neurons each individual neuron in your brain is connected to, and roughly the complement of a modern army division or even a Roman legion (including auxiliaries and support elements). It also has a name, the Myriad, and when expressed in Roman numerals it comes out as a pleasingly contemplative MMMMMMMMMM.

Another reason for this present fascination is that I’m currently reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, a study of the various elements that make for a human success story. It transpires from numerous psychological studies that developing the muscle memory and experience needed to become truly proficient at a given task requires a lot of practice. How much you ask? About 10,000 hours. In my previous post about the Secret to E-Book Self-Publishing Success I estimated that it had taken me about 100,000 words before I felt myself reasonably proficient at writing prose. However, after reading Gladwell’s chapter on the importance of practice, I did a rough calculation of the actual amount of time those 100,000 words represented: I’ve been writing fairly regularly since the age of fourteen, despite some lapses, and my usual writing stint, up until recently, lasted about one to two hours. So, adding it all up to the point where I’d started on the first draft of Blood Song, accounting for occasional periods of inactivity, take away the number I first thought of… carry the two… The  answer? About 10,000 hours. How about that?

The number 10,000 is also of considerable significance in the publishing industry. The average advance for a single book? $10,000 (maybe a little less these days). The average number of copies an individual title will sell before it goes out of print? 10,000.

But perhaps the most salient reason for my current preoccupation with this  seemingly magical number is the fact that, as of this morning, l sold over 10,000 copies of Blood Song (10,042 to be exact).

I know cynics may look on the above post as just a contrived way of boasting about selling 10,000 books, and they’d be absolutely right.

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who bought a book, left a review or told their friends. I literally couldn’t have done it without you, or those 10,000 hours.

Anthony Ryan Day

Huge thanks to book blogger and Goodreads friend Melinda Le Baron for hosting Anthony Ryan Day on her blog:

She’s written extensive reviews of all the Slab City Blues stories and Blood Song so why not check them out and see if you agree. They do contain some plot details so you may want to to wait until you’ve read the books first.

You should also take a look at her Rafael Sabatini post – my next read for sure.

Anthony Ryan Day… surely a canditate for the first global public holiday. Write your congressman, MP, dictator or tribal chief now.

An Announcement

I’m very happy to announce that I recently agreed to sign a contract with Berkley Publishing Group in the US for publication of the Raven’s Shadow trilogy. Berkley is a US imprint of Penguin Books which includes the Ace and Roc Sci-Fi/Fantasy lines, so it will be an honour to have my work appear on the same imprint as Stephen Donaldson, Joe Haldeman, Ursula LeGuin and William Gibson (among many others).

It will take some time for the print edition of Blood-Song to appear so rest assured the current ebook version will remain available, at the same price, probably into 2013.

I’m aware of the ongoing debate about traditional versus indie publishing and fully appreciate why some authors have chosen to stick with the independent route. However, having thought about it long and hard, I decided this was the best choice for me. If I’m ever going to get to the point where I can start writing full time I need my work to reach a wider audience, including foreign language markets and bookstores, neither of which are open to me at present.

Many readers will no doubt be wondering what this means for Tower Lord. The fact is, at this stage I just don’t know. I still intend to finish it this year, but giving any indication as to a publication date would be pure speculation at this point. I’ll post any news here in due course.

Now, off to celebrate with a marathon session on Sniper Elite V2 (buy it, it’s really good).

Tower Lord Milestone #3

Passed 100,000 words of the first draft today. I must admit my daily word-count of late has not been as high as I would like, but I am writing every day and remain happy with the quality and the way the story is shaping up. And, in anticipation of an oft-asked question, no I don’t have a release date yet.

As Chuck Heston once told Pope Rex Harrison in answer to the question: “When will you make an end?” – “When I’m done.”

(And I’m not saying my work is on a par with the Sistene Chapel or anything… that’s for other people to say.)