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.

19 responses to “The Number 10,000

  • Tom

    I have to say It has been a long time since I read a book that would not let me put it down. Thank you so much for a great story

  • Giuseppe Puccio

    I have just finished Blood Song, and posted a review at Amazon. Please accept my heartfelt compliments for everything: for your wonderful book, for how you write, for the deep contents of your work. And, obviously, for selling 10000 copies!

    I am now reading the three Slab City novellas and they look extremely good too. Go on like that, and you will be one of the few writers I treasure.

  • Pain #1

    Congratulations Anthony! I cannot think of a better book for 10,000 copies to be read. I hoped I helped a bit with Anthony Ryan Day on my Blog. I haven’t added anything yet, so it’s still the leading thing on the blog. I saw your blog post about it, and was tickled. Wishing you all the luck in the world – you deserve it. Cheers, Melinda

  • Dennis Jewell

    Reading The book now about 25% complete. Very good stuff. Just wondering about a characters name. When the boys do a knowledge test on of the Aspecs name is Corlin. My son’s name is Corlin I got it fro a Janny Wurts book. He is 21 now. Just wondering where you came up with the name?

    • Anthony Ryan

      Thanks Dennis. I haven’t read Janny Wurts so it didn’t come from there. I’m afraid there’s nothing particularly significant about my naming methods, it’s largely a matter of throwing syllables together until something sticks.

      • Dennis Jewell

        Cool it was a nice surprise coming across that name! Any way cant say enough about the book. You can write with the best of them. I read a lot and I can say this is one of the best this year! Love the part when Varlin’s about to knife Makril but then realizes life a bit messy and we do things were not so proud of. Thanks for keeping the characters real I look forward to seeing your name more. No response needed just wanted to let you know your liked.

  • Dave


    I am an avid reader of your current genre. Like most of the bloggers here, I’ve read countless authors from Tolkien to Jordan to Sanderson to Goodkind to Martin and Cromwell (although more historical fiction that). After reading Blood Song, I believe the storyline and quality of writing is every bit as good, and has the potential to be a classic trilogy. Congratulations on selling your 10,000th copy. I suspect its only the beginning of a long and illustrious career.


  • Clark

    I have to say, I almost don’t trust cheap e-books with five-star ratings on Amazon, as it just screams to me that family and friends are all in there tilting the scales (ignore that I am a hypocrite and don’t post reviews myself, that changes here!). I always look to the lowest ratings in the reviews for a book, to get more honest feedback. I decided to take a shot with this book, just because I figured there was no way the author knew THAT many people to help boost ratings with 5 star reviews, and plus the handful (and I mean a couple at most) low ratings didn’t make a lot of sense. Boy, am I happy I took the chance, I haven’t enjoyed a book like this in a while. Hell, I am on Amazon right now on your book’s page, hoping that something half as good turns up in the “What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?” section, since I’d use this work as a benchmark. Keep writing! Hurry up with book #2!

    As per one of your earlier blog posts, I certainly think it makes sense to go the route with a traditional publisher. One, you get much more exposure, which is good for someone with storytelling ability like you have, and two, I think all of us would pay 10x more for a book of this quality and it’d be nice if you can make a little more money. I am happy to be one of those that purchased the book to bring you to 10,000, and I am working on making that number climb even higher with family and friends. Keep up the fantastic work, can’t wait for more!

  • Juliet Obodo

    Congratulations! I actually came across your book and then your blog because of a comment someone made about how well you were doing as an indie author. Very inspiring.

  • Sailor

    Congrats, I will expect that number to have 1 or 2 more “0” s before too long, and be listed on the times best seller list

  • WarriorWolf

    The most important factor for me is hat the novel didn’t attempt to dazzle me with ‘fansy’ world building that really amounted to nothing. It was very straightforwarded story telling. That’s not to say that there wasn’t significant world building…there was. I just get so tired of writers ‘trying to be smart,’ when the ending product didn’t add much at all. You added small gems that you took the time to unfold throughout the story. So many times, I find myself ready to scream at the writers to just tell the freaking story! I really can not wait (though I assure you I will!) to see how the Blood Song develops and whether there are other ‘songs’ that we discover. Write, Ryan, write! ::G::

  • James

    Congratulations on a fantastic debut. I literally could not put my Kindle down for over half a day and I still can’t believe the book is only going for $3 on Amazon. Best of luck with the new publishing deal but I hope it doesn’t take too long to get #2 out!

  • kirk dudgeon

    I just finished ‘Blood Song’ and you made the short list. Coming from a guy thats reads a little over 500 books a year, mostly fantasy and writes fes reviews to have me right one for you shows that i love your book. Its hard to do sometimes but keeps on writing, i think i speak for all your fans when i say good job.

  • Mike Redd

    Just finished this book honestly I don’t even remember why I bought it but it was hands down the best book I’ve read all year. Not only that but the cheapest book too. You deserve a million reads at least, can’t wait for book 2!

  • Tammy

    I loved your book. It is the best. Thank you for writing it and congrats on your sucess. please continue to write. I will be waiting for your next book.

  • Mike Bok

    I bought your book on a recommendation from r/fantasy, and it was a hell of a value (I got it when it was still $1.50). What a great story, paced well, with great characters. I will be happy to pay full price for the sequel!

  • Megan

    Finished reading Blood Song, and I almost wish I hadn’t. Finished, I mean. Now, just don’t G. R. R. Martin this series! By this I mean, publish a sequel worth reading and don’t take decades! In an effort not to sound like an overly demanding ass, I will summarize and add “please” to my request. –

    Fantastic book. Please follow up.

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