The DWS method | Writing 50 short stories in a year

by - April 27, 2020

dws method | writing 50 stories in a year

Dean Wesley Smith (DWS) is a famous author who is the mastermind behind this method. Some swear by it, while others don't support what it stands for. Let me explain. His idea of writing 50 stories in a year, which is roughly once a week, means that you will compromise the quality for the sake of quantity. Some people don't support this idea; however, this man is pretty transparent when it comes to the purpose of this method. Making more money and becoming a full-time writer.

I get both sides, but I would have to side with Mr. Smith on this one. Approaching this as a business is not a bad idea. In fact, I would argue that it will make you a better author at the end of the day. Why? Because you'll have more experience in a year, then others would have in 10 years. After writing 50 stories, you can always go back to writing novels and spend months, if not years, on each one.

Now let's talk more about this method and how it works. As you know, each year has 52 weeks. You are supposed to write 50 stories in 50 weeks and have a two-week vacation at some point. The length of each should be around 5,000 words, and you should charge at least $2.99. That's right, let that sink in. Each story should be in at least one five-story collection, priced at $5.99. Also, you should make larger collections with at least ten stories, priced at $7.99. All of these numbers are for ebooks. When it comes to paperbacks, this is what he has to say.

"I also put all my short stories into a stand-alone paper version just for me because there is no extra costs. I sell those paper versions for $4.99 and surprisingly, every-so-often one sells. But they do make my $2.99 price look better for the electronic version."

However, a 5,000-word story will not be eligible for turning it into a paperback version. Amazon makes it very clear, the minimum page count is 24 pages. I suppose Mr. Smith refers to some of his longer stories. Having different formats of your book makes the algorithm work in your favor. For audiobooks, use the Audible and their ACX program, or even do your own audio recordings.

He mentions Kindle, B&N, D2D, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords, etc. I am currently using Kindle and D2D.

You should write in most main genres and keep your pen names separate.

When it comes to covers, that would be your job. It makes sense because I cannot think of one person who can pay for a professional cover every single week. It makes things that much harder for you, though.

Other than self-publishing, he talks about selling your stories to magazines and to overseas publishers. This is where I get disconnected. Personally, I will not follow this particular advice, but that's just because, to me, it sounds too daunting, and it makes me think it's not worth the trouble. I'm willing to give up on that source of income.

Now let's talk numbers, the most exciting part of all.

His assumption is that after a while, you should be able to sell two copies per title, on average. That includes all platforms, not just Kindle. Now, because I'll skip the part with other sources of income, such as selling stories to magazines, my math will be slightly different.

By the end of year one, you will have 50 stories, $2.99 each.
So, 50 stories x 2 sales per month = 100 sales per month.
Income from sales is $2 per sale.
Next, 100 x $2 = $200 per month.

When it comes to collections, he assumes that you could have five sales per month per collection. As I previously explained, each story should be in at least one five-story collection, priced at $5.99. That means that by the end of the year, you will have 10 five-story collections published. Although the price is $5.99, your profit would be roughly $4 per collection. Math time.

10 five-story collections x 5 sales per month = 50 sales x $4 = $200

Now, 10-story collections. Again, as I said, you should make larger collections with at least ten stories, priced at $7.99. The assumption of five sales per month per collection. With 50 stories, you will have 5 ten-story collections published. For the price of $7.99, your profit would be roughly $5.50. Let's do the math one more time.

5 ten-story collections x 5 sales per month = 25 sales x $5.50 = $137.50

If we combine all thee numbers so far, this is what we get:

$200 + $200 + $137 = $537 per month.

When you first start publishing, you will not see these sales he is talking about. Think of it as an avalanche. The more you publish, the better results you will have. That's the whole point of this method. There is a huge power that comes with quantity. You'll have to experience it to believe it. And although you'll earn maybe $500 a month by the end of the first year, by the end of the third year (if you continue with this method) you will not make three times more money, but rather ten or more. That's the avalanche I mentioned.

You may ask yourself, how come more people aren't doing this and making tons of money? Because it's so freaking hard! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's a huge commitment, you'll need to find endless ideas really quickly to keep writing new stories every week, and you'll be sick of this tempo quite often. You can forget about having a writer's block because time is running, and you have to keep publishing. You'll have a deadline every single week for a year (or more). Fun, right?

But at the end of the day, chances of making decent money are in your favor. Do you want to make this your career? Think of it as a business. Not everything you'll have to do will be fun, creative, or enjoyable for that matter. Some of the stories you'll love, others will be meh. Reviews will be brutal. But that's where pen names usually come in handy. And after you have enough passive income coming your way every month, you can finally start writing that novel, you always wanted to share with the world. Spend as much time and money as you can perfecting it and slap your name all over those covers. You'll be financially secure no matter what happens with that one title. That's the luxury you'll be able to afford.

In the end, I would suggest reading these two threads on Kboards where people shared their experience (and their income per month) using this method:

54 Titles - My Results

1 Year, 100 Titles = My results

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