Prolific writers

Prolific writers

According to Guinness World Records, L. Ron Hubbard is credited with having the most published works by one author (1,084). But the man who once said, “You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion,” and promptly did so, (Hubbard founded the loony Church of Scientology), doesn’t hold a candle to Philip M. Parker. Parker, who has developed a way of generating books from templates that are filled with data from internet searches and databases, reckons his programs have written over 200,000 books!

But if titles like “The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-milligram Containers of Fromage Frais”, (which won a prize for Oddest Title of the Year in 2008), don’t grab you, plenty of other authors have turned out an astonishing number of books.

Still with Guinness World Records, R. L. Stine is reckoned to be the “Most prolific author of children’s horror fiction novels“. Frankly, that sounds more like a title made to fit a writer. (Where’s the record for “Most prolific author of children’s horror non-fiction novels” for example, or “Most prolific author of children’s novels featuring cats”?). Still, Stine has written over 300 novels including the Fear Street, Goosebumps, Rotten School, Mostly Ghostly, and Nightmare Room series,

Still with living authors, Nora Roberts has written more than 200 novels under at least four psuedonyms since 1981.

The late Isaac Asimov wrote 506 books, many of them non-fiction. He published books in nine of the ten Dewey Decimal System categories.

Jacob M. Appel wrote more than 200 books and reportedly received around 21,000 rejection letters — which averages out at 105 rejection letters per novel.

Enid Blyton produced around 600 books.

Barbara Cartland wrote 722 books and also holds the record for the most novels produced in one year (23).

John Creasy wrote more than 600 books under his own and ten pseudonyms.

Terrance Dicks is credited with 666 books, including around 75 based on the Doctor Who TV series.

But they all pale against Charles Hamilton who is reckoned to have written more than 100 million words in his lifetime — the equivalent of more than 1,200 80,000-word novels. Hamilton specialised in writing long-running series for weekly magazines and is perhaps most famous for the Billy Bunter books and stories, written under the pen name “Frank Richards”.

Hamilton died in 1961 at the age of 85. His first story was published in 1895. when he was 19. Over the following 66 years, he turned out the equivalent of 4,151 words a day, every day.

So, how much have you written today …?

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Seven things writers should remember

konrathA gentle reminder from Joe Konrath

This post goes out to no one in particular for no particular reason. Maybe it will motivate some. Maybe it will make others think a little bit. Maybe it will irritate you. But it’s good, tested advice, and worth repeating.
1. Nobody owes you a living. I’m old school, and I busted my ass to get where I am. But I don’t feel any sense of entitlement. Yeah, I worked hard. Maybe I’ve got talent. But I don’t deserve readers, and neither do you.
2. Success is mostly due to luck. You can do everything right, and still not be satisfied with the state of your career. That’s life. No one ever said this would be fair, fun, or easy.
3. Stop whining. The internet is forever. No one likes a person who constantly complains. Even if you feel that bemoaning (insert whatever here) is justified, it will always be linked to you if someone Googles your name.
4. Don’t Google your name. What people think of you is their business, not yours. Remember, one of life’s greatest journeys is overcoming insecurity and learning to truly not give a shit.
5. Never respond to criticism. It will make things worse. And if you apologize, it will get even more worser. Keep out of any discussion about you and your work. You may think you know better, but you don’t.
6. Remember your Serenity Prayer. Fix what you can change, accept what you can’t fix, and learn to know the difference between the two. If it is beyond your control, drink a beer, do yoga, go for a run, or bitch to a close friend where it can’t be seen online. And if you can’t stop dwelling on your bad fortune;
7. Quit. The world will keep turning without your work. If writing and publishing is so traumatic, go use your time doing something else you can derive some pleasure from. Life is too short.

Read Joe’s original post.

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The benefit of my experience

Or how John Steinbeck kept from going nuts …

… let me give you the benefit of my experience in facing 400 pages of blank stock—the appalling stuff that must be filled. I know that no one really wants the benefit of anyone’s experience, which is probably why it is so freely offered. But the following are some of the things I have had to do to keep from going nuts.


1 : Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
2 : Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
3 : Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
4 : If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
5 : Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
6 : If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.


Found in the magnificent Paris Review, issue 63, Fall 1975
John Steinbeck, The Art of Fiction No. 45 (Continued)
Interviewed by George Plimpton and Frank Crowther

(The whole piece, around 10,000 words, is a rewarding and entertaining read.)

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