In the past few weeks, there’s been a bit of a stir in social media about how many books an author should publish in a year. An author on Bowker suggested that four books was a good number if you wanted to earn a decent living writing fiction. Another on Huffington Post balked at that idea, fearing that quality would suffer. (The art! she lamented. What will happen to the art!)
This satirical article from Bad Advice for Writers should perhaps have the last word. It’s frankly silly for authors to debate the ideal number of books to write in a year, because it depends entirely on the author: their goals, their writing process, the time they have to write.
Prolific authors existed long before indie publishing revolutionized the industry. Often they wrote under different pen names to hide the fact that they were writing so much. Also, traditional publishing is slow, so even if you write four books a year, your publishing house may not be able to keep up with you. That’s a consideration indie authors don’t have to worry about.
I know bestselling authors who release a novel every month. That’s right, twelve books a year. And their fans love them.
Readers read for a variety of reasons. It’s not always about the art. They want to be entertained. They deserve a well-crafted, well-edited story that delivers the reading experience that they’re looking for and that they’ve come to expect from a particular author. As long as the author is able to deliver that consistently, it doesn’t matter how many books a year they publish. What matters is keeping their audience happy.
As a reader, I look forward to new books from my favorite authors. Some are writing so fast that I can’t keep up with them. But at no point have I ever thought, I wish she’d slow down and think more about the art! Instead, I think, I need to make more time to read!
How about you? When you see authors producing four or more books a year, do you worry that they’re not paying enough attention to quality? Or are you just excited that they’ve got another book out?
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The raising of kids. Self-improvement. An exercise regimen. The writer’s craft. Doesn’t matter what it is.
Commitment — making a fixed decision toward achievement and allowing no other option — is the #1 factor in whether or not we make good things happen. Or really, whether things happen at all.
I was floundering. After my participation in 2014’s National Novel Writing Challenge (that I didn’t “win” but during which I wrote a lot), I vacillated between whether I should continue down the path of novel writing, or try to focus more on freelance work and the contribution of my personal essays to various websites and publications.
I have a desire and aptitude for both, my reasons for choosing one or the other varying. (Though balancing them together is not an option, not while working full-time and being an involved mom.) But because I was open to both, and couldn’t make a decision about which should be my priority, I was spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. Doing nothing, as far as writing goes.
So then I expressed the lack of direction to my writing group. Put my thoughts out on the table, so I could get feedback, and view it from all sides. Really take a good look and make an informed, progressive decision.
It was hitting on the realization together — thank you, V.K.! — that it all comes down to commitment that cleared things up for me. I had to choose something, plain and simple. And then I had to decide that I would be committed to that choice, even on the days I don’t want to be, or when it’s really, really hard.
That’s it. Truly.
It was a powerful epiphany for me, and so I committed. I picked that I will continue down the path of novel writing, which led to an instant rejuvenation for my current WIP. Decisions regarding the manuscript and the integrity of the story asserted themselves. My verve to actually sit down and write returned.
I’ve written 5,000 new words toward my novel in the last two weeks, and the progress feels awesome. It feels solid and justified.
But really, it’s the commitment. That feels awesome, too.