Dear Writer: STOP Releasing So Many Novels!

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by Michael Cristiano

As I’m sure you know, dear readers (or Mom… Hi, Mom!), I’ve come to a couple realizations over the past year or so since the release of my first novel. The biggest revelation, the one where I decided to go back to writing for myself, I’ve written about extensively already, and you can read that post here…

But the focus of this post will be on something I’ve wanted to say for a long time, but I’ve been a little wary of the potential backlash I might face. I’d first like to preface this by saying that everyone’s writing/publishing journey is different. Every individual writer is unique, and what works well for one writer may not work well for another.

And that’s two-fold: I acknowledge that what I’m about to say is simply my opinion, and it by no means is meant to shame other authors or demean their work. Besides, you do you, fellow writer, you. There are no rules in writing. Well, there are, but you know…

Okay, deep breath. Here goes.

SLOW DOWN!

I’m not on board with the culture of write-fast, publish-much that’s taken hold of the publishing industry lately. Okay, amendment: I’m not on board with the culture of write-fast, publish-much that’s taking place in the indie author sphere (because, let’s be real, long production times are the norm, albeit necessary, with a traditional publisher).

What is the write-fastpublish-much culture, you ask? Today in the publishing industry, especially in the indie-author market, quantity is king. I’m not saying that quality isn’t being taken into account, because to some extent it probably is, but there is a new mantra for indie authors like myself: write a lot and publish as often as possible. That means that some authors are publishing three or more novels a year, sometimes as many as ten novels a year.

“But that’s not a bad thing, Michael,” you protest. “If I write three or more novels a year, and I’m able to release them, whether through a small press or a self-publisher or on creased rolls of toilet paper, why shouldn’t I? Besides, I’m building my brand, and to expedite the process, I’m growing a catalog  of my titles so that readers can discover my work.”

Well, in my opinion, there is a big problem with that mentality.

The Eternal Quality vs. Quantity Conundrum

I’m not going to lie, I judge authors who feel the need to release more than two books a year. Okay, second amendment (and I’ll be generous): I judge authors who release three or more books within a year ESPECIALLY if the three books are not part of the same series. I’m sorry: a writing career shouldn’t be a puppy mill of stream-of-consciousness vanity projects. I just don’t see how anyone has the time to publish more than three novels a year AND maintain consistent literary quality.

To me, releasing novels rapid-fire-style is indicative of premature work. If five or ten or *gasp* fifteen individual novels are being released per year, how much time was spent on each one? How many drafts did you write? How long did you spend on developmental editing? Copy editing? Proofreading? Getting notes from beta-readers? What about that break you should take between the final edit and the final read-through to clear your palate? I’m pretty sure a single evening of binge-watching Netflix doesn’t count.

Sure, if you’re a full-time writer and you have a really quick team of beta-reader/editor-robots, you could have a really good, polished manuscript in a year. Eight months if you’re lucky. But a quality novel every month and a half? I just don’t believe it’s possible. Sure, if you have a back catalog of novels you’ve written since childhood and you think they’re all ready to go at the same time, by all means, release away. But three or more is overwhelming, and did you ever think that maybe those back-cataloged books are in the past for a reason?

So, where’s the sweet spot? How many novels should you release a year in order to ensure highest quality? I don’t know, frankly. But I have a hunch: unless you’re J.K. Rowling or Shakespeare or Stephen King, or you’ve had independent third parties verify your equivalency, I’d focus more on the quality of your work and not on the quantity if I were you.

And Now: A Moment for Cheese

Because let’s be real. The number of books released in a year is just that: a number. The ratio of novels to years is arbitrary. But you know what’s not? Quality. In my opinion, books are like good cheese or wine. Good cheese and wine need time to grow–time to mature. That’s why older cheeses and older wines are more expensive: they’re better because they’ve been given time to sort their sh*t out. I’m just doubtful that the sixth novel you’ve released this year is any good.

What’s the rush for? Take your time. Be the aged cheddar of the publishing industry: digestible and dependable and a classic. Be the brie: smooth and double-creamed served with red pepper jam. Hell, be blue cheese: an acquired taste but oh-so-prolific.

Just don’t be processed cheese. Got it?

But wait!

I’m not saying it’s not possible to draft a novel in a month or less. That happens all the time, and even though sometimes I take  upwards of a year to complete the first draft of one of my novels, I know that is not the norm. Drafting a novel quickly is not the problem; rather, the problem is releasing everything that touches a Word document within six months of conception in an attempt to inflate the number of works attached to your name.

 

 

 

Guest post contributed by Michael Cristiano. He works in editing and acquisitions for Curiosity Quills Press, and his freelance work has appeared on websites such as Nexopia, FluentU, and BlushPost. Check out his blog for more of his work.

122 thoughts on “Dear Writer: STOP Releasing So Many Novels!

  1. So glad you stuck your neck out for this. I *totally* agree with you – what’s the rush?! Yes, quality vs. quantity. I suspect too many of these rush-to-release books are really first drafts! When is there time for editing? As you say, “I just don’t see how anyone has the time to publish more than three novels a year AND maintain consistent literary quality.” Not to mention the thought buzzing in the back of my head, how the heck do these production machines (much like hens laying eggs every day) support themselves? Are they all independently wealthy? Ok, ’nuff said. From me, at least. 😉

    Liked by 4 people

    1. “how the heck do these production machines (much like hens laying eggs every day) support themselves? Are they all independently wealthy?”

      No, they are Genre writers rather than literary writers. A lit author is chastised for rapid production of shorter works 45-60k) so I get it.

      But genre writers are expected to publish, or they make no money. They produce a stream (often serials) as often as possible because readers want the next one. Think James Patterson, who routinely did 12-15 novels a year (Alex Cross series), and he is because of this independently wealthy. I think the Genre writers attract a different mindset, Lit is in-depth and complicated, but sometimes people just want to read at the beach and its just entertainment. I don’t think anyone is aiming to be a hemming way (who also produced a lot of work, and then there is Steven King who has books falling out of his butt and is again independently wealthy because of it.)

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “Books falling out of his butt”!!! Hahahaha! What a visual. Ok, I see what mean. Thanks for the clarification on the distinction between lit and genre. Appreciate it!

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      1. You know, I actually shared it more so because I agree with the writer in that I can’t see how content can be very flushed out or original if so many books are being produced in such a, relatively, short time. I have spent ten years on my book and it has received an award and is finally being published. I realize not everyone is the same and no two situations are typical, but it’s been a long time for me to throughly flush out my world. Just my thoughts, of course 😁

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  2. This. All of this! I’m an indie author who just published my first novel as well. I also have a writing degree from UNC and traditional publishing was always the way I was directed. Choosing this new path was tough and though I’m happy I did it there are definitely some things that make the more classically trained parts of my brain hurt. This is a HUGE one. It takes my betas a month to come back with critique. My developmental editor takes between 2-3 weeks on first round edits and 1-2 on second. My copy editor takes 6 weeks. My formatting takes me at least a week. That’s four months where I’m not even involved. That doesn’t include drafting and editing and working with the cover designer and doing marketing stuff and working a full time job and cleaning my apartment and trying to have an actual life. And I get all these emails “From draft to published in 60 days” and I’m just scratching my head. I don’t know that it’s not possible but it doesn’t seem likely that all these people following these plans to pump out “novels” in no time whatsoever have some secret that I don’t have when it comes to maintaining quality. My dad always said there are three things involved in every profession: Quantity, quality, and speed/time. You can have two but not all three. Sometimes, when you want quality, you can only have one. Thank you for saying this. It’s so important.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not to mention the hours put into research! i write a blend of women’s fiction and epic urban fantasy. It takes time to create a brand new world that sounds authentic and not like something you just threw together. I also put in a lot of time creating my characters. Are they an only child or one of 3? Maybe they’re one of 6. That small detail changes the way a character behaves. Think of that friend you know who’s an only child. He’s probably nothing like that other friend you have who’s the youngest of 4. Even something as minor as being the youngest by a year or the youngest by 10 years can change the way a character behaves. Then add to that their emotional damage… I’ve spent days doing research about rape survivors. And don’t even get me started about writing diverse characters! I’ve sent my book through a beta-reader just to make sure I had my transliteration of Hindi correct. This alone required major research just to make sure my character was from the right place in India to be able to speak Hindi in the first place! Great post, thanks!

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    2. Your dad’s words are quite right. It was a similar adage I used to argue about during my 40+ year career in the UK Civil Service (Our work load I insisted placed Quantity & Speed/Time first). When it comes to writing Quality & Quantity are good partners. (You can edit them both later)

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I am an indy publisher, and it is possible, but 1) these guys are not doing 120,000 words its 50-60k, second they draft a book a two to four weeks. A lot of the time they are using dictation. Traditional dictation a transcriptionist is doing it, and they correct stuff as they go, they are also the copy editor. I use Dragon dictation, and I can reach the first draft on 60K in 10 days. Three sessions a day at about 5000K words and hour. That’s the first draft. The second pass takes me 2-3 days so effectively I could do two books a month. I have two editors BTW so the production schedule would work out if they each took six weeks, which they don’t they do about 4-5. So suppose the book was done mid-January, editor one starts, then end of January editor two starts. I start book three, mid-February, editor one is done, and they get the new book, then book four and then editor two, etc… some I know employ 3-4 editors, some six because they may be busy.

      In any case, the production cycle (book cover, epub/kindle) is a few hours here and there to produce the final title.

      During my edit I use Grammarly, so I am hitting a lot of fundamental issues very passively. The editor does the rest.

      This is a very different genre of writing, not literary writing and it does not take itself super seriously, it’s recreational. It’s not for everyone, and there are different niche markets for it. Long novels take a long time to sell, your in Amazon for example with 1.3 million other books. So it’s a numbers game, the broader the net gets cast, the more sales.

      Liked by 3 people

    4. I think it all depends on what you want your books to be, and what kind of expectations the people who work for you have.
      My beta readers get back with me within a week. During that time, I’m doing my own editing, so when I get their suggestions, I go through them and then it’s off to my editor. I also have a great editor who gets back to me within a week. I do my own cover design and use Scrivener and Vellum for formatting. (Vellum takes about 10 minutes to format an ebook)

      You’ve been trained to think one way, and other people have been trained to think differently. *If you want*, you can learn to look at it differently. Learn to write faster, and set up assistants that are faster. But that’s only if you want your books to be that way.
      A lot of people make a living off of writing this way.
      I don’t believe that one way is better than the other. It’s just different and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s all about the mindset, and if you really want to, you can change yours. If you don’t, then that’s great as well. But there are plenty of resources for those who do.

      I’ll share with you the “secret” for free: What the author of this post failed to realize, is that the “secret” to writing faster with good quality.. is to write! My first book took me more than a year to write. Last year, I put out 3 books. I just wrote my last book in one month, and the last 3 have been really clean copies. My reviewers don’t complain about quality. (well, most of them, you can’t win them all 😉 )

      You can do it, if you want.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with you, Michael. Quality is the most important factor. Let’s not forget about the publisher’s staff ghost writers assigned to a brand name author, and thus can turn out oodles of titles in a year. I’m referring to the big publishers where the brand author submits an outline and poof! A new novel is released with that author’s name on the cover. Though James Patterson is not a publisher, he admitted in a TV interview that he gives another author his outline for that author to write the book.

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  4. Completely agree. I would love to be able to publish three books a year, or even one book per year, but that’s just not how I work, and I know that. I know what my first three novels will be, but my third novel will likely not be published until 2020 at the very earliest, and that’s a stretch. But you know what? I’m okay with that. I want to write in-depth world-building fantasy, and that takes a lot of time to develop. My first novel has been in development for five years (true publishing development for a solid 2.5)! I want to learn to develop my stories more efficiently, but if I have to take two years between books one and two to make sure everything fits, so be it.

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  5. Yes!! I agree with you! I’ve read so many series on Kindle that should’ve stopped at one book or even three. If they go further than that it tends to get redundant. I can understand that they don’t want to let their characters go, but there does come a point…

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  6. Sooo true!!! I’m a book reviewer and after reading quite a few bad quality indie books and seeing how many books those authors have released I completely agree and have been thinking the same for a long time. Great cheese analogy 🙂

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  7. Extremely prolific writers make me a bit nervous about the quality of their work. I’ve also noticed a trend with some prolific authors publishing works that are significantly shorter than average. Not every novel needs to be a door stopper, but, for example, fantasy novels tend to be a bit on the long side. So, if I see an author with 6 fantasy novels published in the last year and notice they’re averaging 100 pages per book, I’m likely to take my money and give it to another author that produced something more substantial.

    I’m not trying to say all short works are automatically inferior, and there’s nothing stopping an author from publishing a novella or short story as a standalone work. But, at the same time, an author consistently and rapidly producing works 1/3 the length usually found within a specific genre makes me suspect the work is not fully realized or a single novel is being split in half or into thirds to increase the size of the author’s backlist.

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  8. As someone who takes an awfully long time to get a novel-length work done, I, too, am perplexed by those who churn out numbers of novels in a year. It’s not just about quantity vs. quality; it’s also about TIME. I have a full-time job that is all-consuming of my time (I bring work home because I have to)…and I would not survive well without it, so everything that goes into my writing has to be secondary, unfortunately (sometimes, not even, because of everything else about adulting that sucks). How do they do it?

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  9. I’m so glad someone finally spoke out about this. I’ve been saying this exact same thing for years, and of course, all the indie lynch mobs come after me with their torches and pitchforks. I have *rarely* come across an author who can churn out a book every month and it actually be worth the read. Yes, while there are authors out there who -can- do this, they are the exception, not the norm. Amazon is too awash in books that had zero rewrites and barely a proofread without novel-churners adding to the craziness by producing even more subpar books. I managed to get 3 out last year around working full time and that was just too much for me. Most authors are forced to work regular jobs, so I always question the quality of work being put out that quickly. But again, I demand Anne Rice, not EL James.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Reblogged this on adaratrosclair and commented:
    Marvelous quote from Michael Cristiano’s post “What’s the rush for? Take your time. Be the aged cheddar of the publishing industry: digestible and dependable and a classic. Be the brie: smooth and double-creamed served with red pepper jam. Hell, be blue cheese: an acquired taste but oh-so-prolific. Just don’t be processed cheese. Got it?”

    Thank you, Michael. Because with three sons (teenager and two toddlers) and a husband I have been stressing myself out in between working full-time and trying to write, publish new stories, AND re-publish a novel when it was abandoned after publisher went out of business! Oy!

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  11. Bravo for saying so. The lack of quality shows for writers who just churn them out. The “Sports Direct” approach is unsustainable. I am sure it will spring back the other way, especially if readers start to realise that they won’t get a quality product paying 99p for a writer who churns out another book ever other month.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Four years ago, the prevailing advice for indies was to publish three books a year–rush to get ’em all out there. I did that, and my novels were a mess. Why? Because it can take as long to revise and edit properly as it does to write the first draft.

    I care about my stories and my writing. For that reason, I rewrote two of the books and I’m working on the third one. From now on, “I will sell no wine before its time…”

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hmmmm I disagree. My favourite authors produce several books a year, and you can’t beat their quality (some are Indie, some traditionally published).

    No doubt there are plenty of authors out there who consistently produce speedy crap, but who’s to say they wouldn’t be producing crap anyway, even if they took it slowly?

    For me, if I’m reading a series and I have to wait too long for the next book, my interest wanes and I don’t bother about buying the next one. I think it’s important for the next book to follow along fairly quickly.

    Besides that, the Amazon algorithms only keep an author “fresh” and promoted for about 28 days. After that, sales start dropping. To keep sales up, authors need to keep producing.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Are you serious? How do you think writers eat? They write. Many blockbuster authors are prolific writers, most used multiple pen names to hide how quickly they were writing.

    Your first few books are the slowest to write. But once you do that a few times, it’s a skill set that your mind is well-trained to do. I can’t GET a story idea that doesn’t quickly flesh out into a simple 3-act structure to support it!

    And let’s be REAL about how long is ACTUALLY takes to write… most authors worth their salt are writing 1,000 words in an hour. If you’re not, then do what works for you, but a 50,000 word novel is 50-75 hours of actual writing time. And if you hire freelancers, like a publishing house, to get the editing done while you are working on the next one, you can easily put out 6-10 works a year.

    50-75 hours is 12.5 to 18.75 hours a week. It’s picking up a part-time job. I write 5:30 AM to 8:30 AM M-F so I can write and homeschool my youngest. It can be done.

    How about instead of being all “Oh if you write multiple novels a year you must be awful…” thinking how you might feel for us who do it to say “oh, if you write so slowly you can only 1-2 novels a year you are a hack and not a TRUE writer because it should be coming to you naturally by now.”

    Think about it. Your finger pointing at those of us who put out multiple books a year could just as easily be pointed at you slow writers as being NOT GOOD at this profession because it’s hard for you.

    Bottom line is EVERY author has fans, even if it’s just 1-2, who love their work and therefore the author’s work should be available to those readers. Period. End of story. How that happens and how we are different from one another as writers shouldn’t be something we use against each other.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. I partially agree, but I have to ask…as someone who has only just released their first novel do you feel fully qualified to make this statement? You said it best, each person’s journey is unique. The judgement upon writers who release several books a year is unfair. What if they are a truly gifted writer? What if they have great editors and these are stories they’ve had outlined for years? Stephen King pen named under Richard Bachman for this very reason, some publisher decided no one would buy more than two of his novels a year…so instead of being able to have one large catalogue he was forced to have two large catalogues. Guess who was wrong? The publisher. If you’re a writer who pumps out great work quickly (Lee Child only writes one draft before it gets sent to edit and then publication) who’s to say you’re doing it wrong? If people are buying and reading and enjoying, what’s the harm? Writers write. They love writing. WE love writing. If I can write a first draft in a month, then let it sit for a month, why can’t I write another draft the second month? Let it sit, then return to the first for a second draft? At that rate, when multitasking—four or more books a year is highly achievable.

    Food for thought. Seems like an unlikely scenario but I also believe this post of yours lacks credibility if you’ve only just released your first novel.

    Forgive me! I don’t mean to be insulting or overly critical.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re fine Steve! I encourage opposite viewpoints of the guest post articles I have on (as long as they’re courteous). To chime in, I’d say that Lee Child is the exception to the rule, certainly (Because Lee is awesome). Although Lee likely has a whole team of top level editors which we all don’t have. Thanks for reading!

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  16. While I do find that a lot of rapid-fire releases are lacking in quality, I’m not sure I completely agree… There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that you just aren’t going to be privy to, so judging books by release timeframe alone isn’t a good idea. I can think of two instances immediately since they pertain to me personally as a writer.

    For one, it did take me a year to write my first novel… but the second took ten months and was twice as long. My seventh only took ten weeks and my beta readers all agreed it was the best thing I’ve ever written. The more you write, the better you get, and the faster, too. With the experience I have now, I can confidently say that if I commit to writing every day for an hour a day, I can probably publish three quality books a year.

    For another, how do you know how long it took an author to write something? Many people who take an indie path have been working at it for years before going that direction. I have a complete epic fantasy series I’ve been sitting on for several years while I send query letters, but the agent consensus has been that the books are too long and traditional publishers don’t like long books–the paper to print them is expensive. I’m planning to split each of them in two and continue queries for a bit, but if it doesn’t pan out and I go indie, that means I’ll have a six book series ready to publish rapid-fire, one massive fantasy book a month, for a solid six-month run. If the immediate assumption is the books are bad because they’re published quickly, you’re going to miss out on a series I’ve spent the better part of a decade polishing for publication!

    Likewise, I’m working on a four-book series right this instant… the first is professionally edited and formatted and ready to go, but I’m holding off on publishing it until I have the third book complete because publishing in quick succession builds momentum. It doesn’t matter when they’re completed, so long as they go out fast. In an instance like that, is it still a bad idea to put out a bunch of books in one year? I really don’t think so. Everyone has their own pace for writing and that’s okay, but publishing fast doesn’t immediately mean junk!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. How many of the people responding, as well as the original author, work full-time jobs outside the home?

    I write full-time. I can dedicate 8+ hours a day writing. I can get a heck of a lot done in 40 hours a week. Plus when my book is with betas and editors, I’m writing the next book. By the time my book is ready to be published, I’ve got another one going through extensive edits.

    Quality is subjective. You don’t have to publish 6+ books a year to be successful but plenty of authors who are successful publish that frequently. I’m not seeing their fans complaining. Other authors aren’t my target audience. The only thing that matters to me is whether my readers enjoy my work.

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  18. I think those who don’t believe it’s possible should certainly not attempt to do it. If you don’t believe you can do it … YOU can’t. Not everyone lives their lives by those limitations and I don’t appreciate other people putting their limitations on me, telling me what I should and shouldn’t be doing. I believe I can do almost anything. You clearly don’t … so don’t.
    I’m guessing this post won’t be approved because it appears the only ones getting through are those that agree with the topic. It doesn’t surprise me.
    The quanity vs. quality argument is something manufactured by those who either don’t want to or can’t increase their production schedule. That’s fine. I think everyone should write at the speed they are comfortable with. I don’t believe speed has anything to do with quality. I’ve seen books that took years to write that are unreadable … for me. That’s the other difference you don’t seem to note. Not everyone likes the same things. Not everyone wants to read literary fiction.
    I write genre fiction. I wrote 2.3 words last year (that’s 31 novels and six shorts). Not everything I write is short and terrible as one of the other responders above said. I write 60-95K in general, depending on the series. I have three editors on my payroll. I didn’t always have them and my work suffered a bit early. I’m stuck with those mistakes because of audio, too, but I’m happy with my crew. Still, I would never pretend my work is for everyone. It’s extremely sarcastic and snarky. The author, however, seems to think that his opinion is for everyone … which is hilarious to me.
    I write fast because I don’t want a day job. Not only do I do this full time, but I’ve managed to build a nice life. I satisfy my readers, who keep buying my books despite the crap I so obviously write because I do it fast. I overlap my production schedule so I have multiple editors working on multiple things at any one time. I release in regular fashion. I’m debt free. I bought my dream house with the cash I made selling my substandard books. My retirement should be set in a few years from the money I make selling my woeful production line stuff.
    If you don’t want to write fast … don’t write fast.
    Don’t tell other people what they should and shouldn’t do, though. That only reflects a certain way on you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. In Michael’s defense, he did say in the beginning that it’s in his own opinion. I’d also add that there are exceptions to every rule. I agree with you that everyone should take the path that feels right to them. Thanks for reading!

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  19. Thing is, cheese and wine are still cheese and wine regardless of the quality. Some people like grocery store Colby Jack and boxed wine. Others like Serbian donkey milk cheese and revolutionary Thomas Jefferson-raised vintage. Different strokes for different folks.

    What you’re seeing is the evolution of the industry. If you’ve followed the changes in the music industry over the last few decades, you’ll be familiar with the changes happening in the indie author community. Where power to distribute was held only by a few monoliths, technology has advanced to all but eradicate the gatekeepers.

    The result is a massive and seismic shift in the way people consume the end product. That being said, quality does shift as this happens because the market is flooded with well-intentioned creative effort.

    The overall goal then should be quality and quantity, which is what many indie authors who work at the paces you’re observing strive to accomplish.

    And to the folks wondering how they support themselves? They sell books. A lot of them.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. You are quite right. I believe a balance of Quantity and Quality works best (you can edit in the aftermath). Speed/Time is OK if you are professional who is producing formulaic work for a niche market (That requires its own particular disciplines- I don’t know how they manage it). But for an indie writer in a very busy and competitive market you need to produce something that will catch the eye and that’s where Quantity and Quality comes in.

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  21. A perfectly timed article. I was discussing this with a number of writers over the weekend and we all were of the same opinion that it was impossible to release a book a month. Even if you write full time and can manage upwards of 10K per day, you can’t have a ready to publish book at the end of a month. Editing takes time. You can have a first draft, you may even have a novella, but what about leaving it sit? It’s been said time and time again that you should always leave your work for a period of time before you begin your edits. I don’t know any editor who could work to this timeframe either. For me, I will write and release my books when they are ready to be released. If that takes a year or two, I’m perfectly fine with that. I would rather release a quality book that has been edited and polished. It’s so good to see that there are other writers who feel this way too and not everyone is taken in by the write fast and publish even faster mentality that seems to be taking over the indie world today.

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    1. I have three editors on my payroll. I didn’t always have them, but I do now. And who says you need to leave it sit? When did that become a rule we have to live by? No one says you have to write faster. I’m kind of curious why people want to demand others write slower.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have to agree with you, Amanda. I don’t let my novels sit. Once I finish them, they go straight to my beta-readers before they go to edits. Writing is a career to me, and I don’t finish a book for it to sit on my computer for three months while I ponder whether or not it’s good enough to go to my beta-readers.

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  22. Kudos on the click bait title and premise. 🙂

    But seriously, quality and quantity, or publishing quickly, are not mutually exclusive. The premise here is as false as the justification behind it. Slow publishing doesn’t inherently equate to better quality and not everyone is going for “literary” prose with their books. Although improving craft should always be a goal for authors, genre fiction rarely calls for the same focus on prose that literary fiction does. They’re completely different beasts.

    The slow timeline of traditional publishing has to do more with the volume of work in the company’s pipeline and a limited number of editors rather than a hyper-intense focus on each book. While rushing a book to publish that has not been through a thorough editing process is a horrible idea, writing, revising, and editing a book doesn’t actually take that long if you have a good process, a well selected team, and you’re not having to wait in line behind hundreds of other authors in a traditional publishing house.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for reading, Tim. I agree with things you say and things Michael said. I disagree that what he said is false, because it can be true for him and something else can be true for you. It’s a subjective outlook, and there certainly are exceptions to every rule.

      Like

      1. It’s subjective to a point. Unfortunately, it’s indicative of a destructive, limiting mindset, flawed perception of writing and a false premise of being a writer.

        There’s so much of an echo chamber around how “hard” writing is, procrastination is inevitable, the expectation (if not inevitability) that you’ll have writer’s block, and the idea that slow writing/publishing equals better writing that it sets up low expectations, self-sabotage and self-fulfilling prophecies. It’s a different version of the tired old indie vs trad pub argument that was sparked in the early years of the ebook revolution.

        Writing is the only creative endeavor where under performing is the collective expectation thrust upon us. No one would ever tell a painter that more than three works per year means their quality has inevitably dropped. No one tells a graphic designer that more than two logos and one marketing poster is too much. No one would tell a musician that writing or recording a song per month is clearly suspect. What about the book cover designer crafting a cover per week? Do they need to slow down? Why do we have these beliefs around writing?

        It perpetuates a false narrative.

        For indie authors, publishing consistently is how we maintain our income so we can continue doing what we love.

        There is no quality vs quantity conundrum in relation to how many books are published or writing speed. If an author writes something and publishes it without quality checks, like revisions or editing, that’s simply being naive, foolish or lazy and has nothing to do with speed. It’s a totally different issue. Which is why I say it’s a false premise.

        Dean Wesley Smith has a great article about this: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/killing-the-top-ten-sacred-cows-of-publishing-2/

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah! This is another one from Dean Wesley Smith that is relevant to the discussion and helped open up my mind to writing faster.

        “You say you are happy with your two 70,000-word books per year. Good for you. You have yourself convinced you are a hard-working writer. And all your family and friends are convinced because you have sold them a bill of goods.

        You type fiction at about 1,000 words per hour. So over the entire year you spend 140 hours for the two novels. (You also have yourself deluded by your English teachers that rewriting is important, but we won’t go there, but because of that you write very sloppy first drafts as well.)

        So you spend 140 hours per year writing. That works out to about 390 words per day.

        I’m betting you write e-mails longer than 390 words.” Read More: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/excuses-and-the-fine-art-of-self-sabotage/

        Liked by 1 person

  23. I think it is rather sad to see this. I know several authors who can churn out very good books in a short amount of time. They have incredible editors, cover artist, JIT readers, beta readers. The books got through more than 15 sets of eyes before they even think of releasing. Just because you can not do something does not mean others can not do it. I can’t perform open heart surgery… does not mean it can not be done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think Michael was speaking from his outlook, which likely doesn’t come with so many editors, beta readers, and other resources. Mine certainly doesn’t. I’m sure the spirit of his post includes that there are exceptions to every rule.

      Like

  24. I’m not exactly a factory, nor do I pretend to be the world’s greatest writer . However, I think maybe someone like Joyce Carol Oates might disagree on the quantity thing. Very prolific. 70+ books and a pretty darn fine writer. Some people take 10 years to write a book, an amazing book. Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises in 6 weeks. Everyone is different.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I agree, mostly. I wait a solid year after I’ve written, revised, revised, and revised a book before submitting it. And then I wait even longer. I write (stand alone) series and I don’t like submitting book one until I’ve written all the books in the series. When I finally published my first series, the books came out a month apart. And then the following year I did the same–three books a month apart. Now my third. So while it looks like I’ve been pushing these books, they’ve been written and reworked for a few years. Granted, time is catching up to me. I’m into the third book of another series I hope to have out in 2018, but not until they’re all written and revised. It may not be until the end of next year.

    But I totally agree about not publishing the moment you type THE END. Take some time to process. Set the book aside and work on another, then go back and revise. Edit. Send to beta readers (which I don’t do until I’ve revised multiple times), critique partners etc. Don’t rush the writing process.

    And in the meantime, drink the dang wine!

    Like

    1. Hi there, M. There have been several dissenting opinions below, and you’re welcome to add yours as well! I encourage opposing viewpoints to the guest writers I have on, as long as they’re done in a courteous manner. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Excellent post! An issue that needs to be addressed, if only to encourage writers who give the process of creating and producing a book the time and attention it deserves. I’m just finishing my third novel (the first two written and published over the last 4 1/2 years). After at least six months of research, which is on-going, it’s taken over two years for the 1st draft (I do some editing as I go along). My editing process before I send it off to my publisher (a small press) will take about a month. What I like about being published by a small press as opposed to self-publishing is that there is a period of about 6 months before they will get to it for professional editing and production and I will look at it in-depth again. I have a day job and so don’t write full-time and, yes, am a fairly slow writer. But I think the main point is that churning out books/novels quickly and in quantity should not be a writer’s bragging platform – something I see more and more. The QUALITY of their work should be.

    Like

  27. Unfortunately, for slow writers like myself, quantity is what pays. If you want to make money and pay your bills as an indie author, you need to have a lot of books out there. 8 to 10 is what my friends who are making a living tell me you need to reach to have enough sales coming in and supporting each other that you can actually write full time.

    I write slowly. I love books that have an emphasis on quality…but I’d rather see Indie writers eating than not eating.

    If writing a book a minute is what it takes, more power to ’em.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. And yet, people are making a living by doing this. I’m a slow writer. I have short stories that have been 2-3 years in gestation, never mind the novel that’s been going for 4 or 5 years now. Part of this is the process of learning my craft. It’s taking time.
    But I’m not going to argue someone else can’t do it differently. There are only two credible measures in writing: Writer’s satisfaction; Reader’s satisfaction. If a person is writing for themselves, and want to get the stories out pdq, then all power to their elbow. 100k words published may be the thing they need. If a person has a happy readership, then they are obviously doing something right. Perfect? Award winning? Critically acclaimed? Who cares, if their readers are happy.
    Good luck to the people who can churn out a template book every 4-8 weeks. Some of them are perfectly enjoyable reading.
    It’s not how I can, or even want to write, but I’m certainly not going to decry them, especially when you compare it to some of the dreck churned out by publishing houses (plenty of it ‘co-written’ by low paid lesser known writers).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Writing and publishing a book every 4-8 weeks doesn’t mean it’s been churned out or a cookie-cutter, template book. You might be surprised to learn how quickly some classic (and yes, award winning and critically acclaimed) books were written. Of course there’s nothing wrong with taking longer to write a book, and all of it – fast or slow – depends on goals, consistent writing, available free time, and skill level.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. I totally disagree, and think it’s insulting to those authors who are able to craft and publish a well-written, full length manuscript in a short period of time. You or even the majority of authors may not be able to accomplish that, but implying that those who can publish inferior quality work is offensive.

    Using the traditional publishing world as a standard for superior quality and proper timeframe is an extremely poor example. Poor editing has been on the rise for at least the last year or more while extended print schedules remain the same and costs continue to rise. I just finished a full length novel by a very well-known, traditionally published author. This book was on preorder for months. I paid $ 7.99 for it and discovered seven errors, including missing and incorrect words. I am livid, not only because I was charged so much for inferior work that takes 2-3 times longer, but also because the higher cost and errors reflect badly on the author.

    You do you and let others do them is a great idea. Stick with that. Of course, this is just my opinion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi kspalismo. Michael’s post certainly is controversial, but I decided to include his guest post because I feel it’s important to hear opposing viewpoints to the same topic. I don’t agree with all of my guest posters, but I feel that they have something valuable to offer, even if it isn’t 100% applicable to me, my experience, or my future. You offered your opposing viewpoint in a relatively courteous and polite way, and I applaud that. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. In the highly interconnected world of writers, this article is generating a lot of discussion worthy of consideration, on both sides of the argument. It’s unfortunate that comments appear to be deeply skewed toward agreement with the author’s premise. Surely such a thought-provoking topic can bear up under diverging opinions!

    Like

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