Friday, December 09, 2005

Stacking Numbers

We're bombarded with numbers every day, but they really don't mean much.

One way I put numbers in perspective is by turning them into heights.

So far, my family and I have completed 2000 of the 6500 library mailers. It's taken over 80 man hours so far.

2000 envelopes don't seem like much, but it you put them in one big stack, it would reach over 30 feet high. 30 feet of envelopes that had to be stuffed, stamped, labeled, and sealed. And we're not even 1/3 of the way done...

I've written a million words prior to publication. It all resides in a file cabinet. For fun, I stacked it all up---every original story, screenplay, book, (not counting rewrites.) It's over nine feet tall, each page original.

Hyperion printed 22k copies of BLOODY MARY. If stacked, they'd be 1833 feet high, which is 50 feet higher than the Sears Tower.

If you laid my books end to end (Paper and hardback copies of Whiskey, and hardbacks of Bloody) they'd stretch for 11 and a half miles.

When I did that calculation, I got really excited. Then I figured out how many miles the DaVinci Code would stretch---1500. You could drive from New York to Miami with copies of Dan Brown's book lining the highway the entire time.

But I bet Brown doesn't have five full inches of rejection slips...


  1. Or, you could think of it in terms of trees cut down for your books ... or all those homeless squirrels and owls and woodpeckers, tapping on your window during the night... :)

    Today's word verification spells: jackass


    Mark Terry

    And just out of curiosity, I reformatted The Serpent's Kiss (scheduled for 2007 publication by Midnight Ink/Llewellyn Worldwide, 2nd book in the series) that originally was in Times New Roman at 369 manuscript pages. Under Courier it came to 488 pages. Same word count, of course, but a curiosity. Cheaper to mail with TNR, I suppose. I asked my agent for her opinion out of curiosity, to see if this was just a bunch of authors arguing about minutia.

  2. FYI:

    The courier font that comes with Windows prints too light. You can download dark courier for free from Hewlett-Packard's web site.

  3. J.A.,

    Want to have some real fun? Take all nine feet of that old stuff, all million words of it, along with the five inches of rejection slips, load them into some Hefty sacks and sling the whole shebang into a dumpster somewhere. You won't believe how liberating it is, how cleansing it is to just purge the past and move forward.

    I did that with a couple feet of text from my first novel, and it felt great.

  4. I can see the attraction Jude, but I like looking back--it keeps me grounded.

    In order to know where you're going, you need to remember where you came form.

  5. As I suspected...

    My agent says something along the lines of, word counts are more contractual issues. Fonts aren't a big deal as long as they're legible, in 12-point font on one side of 8-1/2 X 11 paper.

    I would add, be aware of the typical length of novels in your particular genre, be aware at least on the outside that length of novels affect costs of book production, and rules are made to be broken.

  6. I wouldn't throw thwm away either, Joe. I agree with the grounding thing!

  7. My son asked, "Why would anybody WANT to be grounded..."

  8. At the very least, you can hope to get famous and/or well-regarded enough that your university library wants them for their archives, then you can donate the whole damned mess to them and probably write it off on your taxes. :)

    Word verification: pucker nose, Vern


  9. Don't throw away the rejection slips! You need them to take your losses on your Schedule C at tax time. The rejection slips help convince the IRS that your writing isn't a hobby, it's a business looking for a profit.

    Yeah, yeah, In another life, I was an accountant.

  10. What a fun way to revisualize your process!

  11. I suppose that's a nice mathematical concept--when the height of your publications is taller than the height of your rejections, then you're a success.

  12. Dorothy Parker...