How I Wrote a Novel in a Month

I thought that title would catch your attention. Let me explain how I wrote a novel in a month and how you might be able to do it too.

It really took me over nine months to complete my latest novel – the fourth in my Scott Tucker Series. The first three books are fast-paced mystery thrillers – clean but sexy. For some reason, this fourth book turned out much racier. MUCH racier. Not quite erotica, but definitely not of the same style as the first three. So what did I do? I rewrote it to match the earlier installments, and then I published both versions under different titles.

Writing two novels in nine months is not that bad, but really one only took a month. How can I do that? Well, I’ll tell you.

First a little background on my writing. Some authors let their story take control of their writing. I on the other hand, take a more structured approach and create an outline. Nevertheless, once into the novel I let the chapters deviate from the outline and write what seems like the right sequence and content. Something happened during this last novel’s construction – I don’t know why, but it was definitely hotter. So why didn’t I just say, “Hey, my readers will take this book and they’ll like it?”

I didn’t feel making such a drastic switch in a novel series was fair to my million readers. [Okay, so zeroes have no value unless they are at the end of other numbers.] I wanted to keep this series style consistent, but at the same time, I was really quite pleased with the racier version and didn’t want to discard it. So, I used that story line to construct a more consistent version to the earlier novels. The good news was there wasn’t a lot of rewriting involved. Basically, I watered down the naughtier scenes without having to make any plot changes. When all was said and done – I now had two books – targeting two different markets.

Before I went to the trouble of publishing both works, I decided to do some research to make sure it would be worth it. As luck would have it, I was at a seminar and when we broke for lunch one thing led to another and my writing came up. It was a perfect opportunity to ask which version the young ladies would prefer reading? It was unanimous: in favor of the racier version. I guess sex does sell. Or does it? I wasn’t convinced.

I decided to go ahead and publish both of those novels at the same time. Why go to the trouble? Again, I didn’t want to disappoint Scott Tucker fans. And, as far as the racier version goes, there was a method to my madness. I have to admit I was one of the millions who read the ‘50 Shades of Grey’ trilogy. If there are millions of readers who have an appetite to read something naughty, who am I to deny them? Now, I’m certainly not comparing my book to 50 Shades – frankly, I believe I have a more interesting storyline. Considering how new authors struggle with being found, maybe a racier novel will bring added attention to my writing. If I capture even one percent of those trilogy readers, I believe I will have a best seller.

So, I published both books. Fragrance of Revenge is in the Scott Tucker style but more a suspense novel, and Foreplay for Murder is the racier version. In order for people to tell them apart, I added an indication on the page listing the novels that Foreplay for Murder was the adult version of Fragrance of Revenge.

I still wanted to see if sex really does sell, so I performed a quick and easy test. I immediately made both free for a Saturday and Sunday back in July. I wanted to see if there was more interest in one versus the other. I was surprised that the free downloads on Amazon were within two downloads of each other. Which version had more? Fragrance of Revenge beat out the other. I think that was influenced by so many of my readers chomping at the bit to read the next novel in the series, and to read it for free.

Now, if I take my analytical background and look at this, can I offer you anything to consider? I think so. Instead of one novel in nine months…I have two. As I indicated, I spent only a month toning down and creating Fragrance of Revenge to appeal to that reader group. The addition of Foreplay for Murder provides an opportunity to reach a new reader group. More novel classifications = more potential readers = more potential revenue. The good news is the only added expense I incurred publishing two separate novels was two different covers. That was not a major expense and since I self-published I avoided many additional costs.

Since I’m new to this style variation, it is causing me a little trouble when it comes to classifying Foreplay for Murder. I wouldn’t classify it as erotica, because I tried to be sensitive in the wording. I would definitely call it hot, though. For the lack of a better classification, I have chosen erotica for that novel, although I’m still not convinced that is correct. Has anyone else had the same issue? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Regardless of my success or failure, I think it makes sense for every author to consider a two-version approach. Why? Why not? We all try to write efficiently and story lines are time consuming to construct. This method produces two novels for the effort of one. It wasn’t that easy, but it was far easier than coming up with a completely different story. Although in this case I started with the racier version and toned it down, I believe if Foreplay for Murder takes off, I could go back and spice up the previous novels. That would be three other novels in three months, and as mentioned to a different reader group.

We’ve all learned you can’t please everybody, but why not try to please two different audiences at the same time? It might just work in my favor to bring in readers who would never have read the earlier novels. And that’s never bad, is it?

Author: Dick C. Waters

Dick C Waters is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the Scott Tucker mystery novels; Branded for Murder, Serial Separation, Scent of Gardenia and Fragrance of Revenge (soon to be published). For more information please see his Author Central Page

21 thoughts on “How I Wrote a Novel in a Month”

  1. Wow, that’s quite a story you have there. I’m one of those people who take a LONG time to write a book because I write by the seat of my pants (I’m so NOT a plotter.) I’m going to keep your experience in the back of my mind. Whether I can pull it off – now, that’s another story.

      1. I know. I used to think plotting was the only way to go, because everyone said so. Then I read Stephen King’s memoir ‘On Writing.’ If seat-of-the-pants works for him, it works for me. 🙂

    1. I give you credit for being able to write that way. I write some flash fiction your way, but often times I make notes of what to include. Good luck in your writing.

  2. Dick, I think the idea is brilliant. Since you have a great following and there was anticipation for the fourth novel it would be interesting to see how it plays out. I write for the younger side of YA(sweet & romantic), however as the characters are aging through the trilogy I’ve often thought older YA would dive in for a hotter version?

    You are very clever. Please give us an update, and good luck to you as always.

    1. Thanks Aron. Thank you also for your past support.
      One thought about your aging characters – you might want to think about novels where they are remembering some past experiences. I’ll keep notes on how things progress. Have a great and safe holiday.

  3. An interesting idea, Dick. Keep us posted on how your sales do over the long run.

    I’m all for repackaging stuff. I’m going to be releasing the Pipe Woman Chronicles as a single volume at the holidays. We’ll see whether that affects sales of the individual books.

    1. I wish you success with your upcoming release. I’ll make notes and do a future article on how things turned out. Let us know how your sales are impacted. Be safe.

  4. It’s a decent idea. I don’t know that I have any work that would be good for that… Also, I might worry that you’d have people who tried reading both, and got annoyed. How are you preventing that?

    I am doing some repackaging, though – I’m releasing 12 titles this year, and 6 of them are the same book. Five episodes of about 12k words each, and then a compilation of those episodes.

    1. Thanks Kevin.
      I hope people don’t make the mistake of reading these two books and discover they are the same story. I believe some will read both intentionally. I’ve put an indication at the front of both books as to how they relate.
      Good luck with your serial novel and you might want to share how your sales go.
      Are the other six all stand-alone books?

  5. I had considered doing two versions of my latest novel with different endings and nuances depending on the cover that people chose. I was excited about the idea because it fit perfectly with the concepts in the book, but my beta readers and advisors discouraged it, thought it was too confusing and that it would muddy up any reviews. I don’t have a big enough following yet to split the readership in half or to think any of them would be interested in buying two versions (I am happy when they want to buy one!). I couldn’t justify the cost of two print versions but I definitely wanted to them in print, so I ended up on just one book. Maybe when I’m famous I’ll do a 20th anniversary alternate release. =)

    1. One comment about the cost of two print versions. Hopefully my next post will be on publishing on Create Space. I have print (Proofs) copies of all five of my novels and it cost less than $40. It also only took me a month.
      They have some excellent tools if you want to do things yourself.
      I hope you fulfill your dreams.

      1. Thanks, Dick, I’ll look forward to that post. I did my short story book with Createspace but went back to Lightning Source for my second novel because I get a better payout on sales from outlets outside of Amazon and I get a better volume and shipping discount on the books that I have on consignment at stores and take to speaking engagement and such. It’s not a big difference, but when I get to a million sales… =)

Comments are closed.