In 2013, I spent most of my free hours working on the 12 in 12 project. It’s a project in which I attempted to produce 12 books in just 12 months. I finished the year with nine. Overall, I’m happy with that. After all, it took 10 years to write and produce my first novel, Super. Nine in one year is amazing.
The 12 in 12 produced nine titles.
- Four were released through publishers (three through Emergency Press and one through Timid Pirate Publishing).
- Two titles will generate proceeds for charities. Uno Kudo Volume 3 will donate its proceeds to PEN International. Ka-Pow! will donate its proceeds to the Foundation for Sustainable Development.
- Eight of the titles were ebook-only releases. If the titles are successful enough, we’ll consider releasing them as a physical book at a later date.
- Most of the titles were over 100 pages in length. There was one that was about 50 pages and one that was about 75, but the rest were over 100 pages, so while these book projects were not always 200 to 300 pages, they still contained substantial amounts of content.
- Three titles were incomplete at the end of the year. These will be completed in my free time, probably within the next six months or so. I could have rushed to get them out in early January, but as the deadline for the 12 in 12 project has passed, I’m going to take my time with these while I focus on other things (house projects, for one!). Plus, I’m ready for a brief rest.
The most positive element of this project was the chance to work with these amazing people and entities. Thank you to all of the following!
- 12 in 12 Art Director Charlie Potter. Potter designed 8 of the 9 beautiful covers, and provided illustrations for Adventures of Dogboy. His covers required few iterations, his timeliness was spectacular, and his fantastic artwork helped inspire me to keep going.
- Emergency Press, publisher of three 12 in 12 titles: the remake of Super for the iPad, Just the War, and Just the Peace (the latter two published together in one volume).
- Editor Caroline Dombrowski and Timid Pirate Publishing, who worked with me to produce Ka-Pow!, a for-charity project that grouped together superhero-related fiction and non-fiction.
- Art Director Erin McParland and Editor Bud Smith from Uno Kudo, who are always a joy to work with. McParland produced exquisite layouts and Smith made the task of reading through over 400 submissions enjoyable.
- So many others helped with aspects of this project, from promoting the books to editing and more. Thank you!
There were definitely other positives as well, including the following observations:
- Ebook releases are super convenient. Even in the age of Print on Demand publishing, I couldn’t have done this project relying on physical print books. It takes longer to lay them out in InDesign (or other software), and then it takes days for you to get each proof copy to ensure the quality of the product. Ebooks, by contrast, made it possible for me to produce the book, proof it, and sign off on it, all in one weekend if necessary. Producing them was quick and easy.
- Emergency Press and Timid Pirate Publishing moved quickly. In an age when publishers are still planning titles several years ahead, these two publishers were willing to work with the short time scale, embraced the ebook-only release method, and moved quickly through all the contractual elements of publishing in order to meet the deadlines for their projects. It was nice to work with the type of publisher who is aware of the changing needs in today’s book-publishing world and is interested in supporting a project like this.
- Overall, I think I set a realistic goal. This year had some extra challenges in it (for example, I bought my first house mid-year) and some very unexpected challenges (like a disastrous day job work schedule for me), yet despite this, I finished 9 titles and came close on the last few. In a year with fewer complications, 12 titles would have been possible and even realistic. Though I probably won’t do 12 titles in a year anytime in the near future, I can easily see myself doing similar projects within one month on a regular basis (but taking breaks between them).
There were, of course, elements of the project that were unexpected obstacles or just greater obstacles than I had predicted, including the following:
- Although projects almost always benefit from group participation, some elements of group participation inevitably slow down a production line. Some of these projects involved dozens of people and it’s fair to say that more time was spent writing emails about the project than actually working on the project. Still, the diversity of the type of project was worth this hassle. But the group-participation factor is something I will definitely consider in future projections for how long things will take.
- I underestimated the demands of my regular day job. I lost far too many weekends and nights working on my theoretically-only-50-hour per week job. Even after I was laid off in November, the 12 in 12 project was already too far behind for me to bring it to completion within the last month of the year.
- I underestimated the impact that the holiday season would have on my year. I unfortunately forgot that during the month of December, it is essentially impossible to get a lot of work done due to the many many obligations (some good, some bad) that inevitably arise because of the holidays. This factor I should have foreseen and accounted for, and in the future, I will definitely count December as a non-working month.
Overall, I had an amazing amount of fun, and worked a tolerable amount of time on each project (meaning: each project went rather smoothly). I got to experience the joy of putting a book out into the world nine times this year! And each time is special.
I also learned a lot about my writing process and what I can produce in the course of a weekend, or two weeks, or more. It was fun to put myself to the challenge and see what I can do.