Saturday, September 19, 2015

Choose One—You’re a Winner!

There is always debate being waged in the writing world. It can sometimes feel like a binary alternative universe where, in order to be successfully published, one must choose Method A or Method B.

The latest raging argument, though an often recycled one, is quantity versus quality, explained in what I believe is an exceptionally well-argued blog Dear Self-Published Author: Do NOT Write Four Books a Year (

The author, Lorraine Wilke, points out no one should attempt to publish four book a year unless they are exceptionally well written. She gives a few examples of well-known authors whose publishers, despite the quality of their work, despite the fact that their reader bases would buy a grocery list if that author wrote it, would never ask them to write in such quantity.

Reading Ms. Wilke, one would think the survival of Western civilization relies in large measure on whether some of us who have chosen to self publish before would dare do so again with greater frequency.

From the perspective of a fellow author, might I say this is just crap?

If you can churn out four books a year, and people are buying them, keep it up. If people aren’t purchasing them, your bank account or your spouse will shut you down soon enough. I think it’s called capitalism or marriage or something. 

From a marketing perspective, might I say this is just bunk?

If a consumer is going to separate the wheat from the chaff, the best-sellers from the returns, then somewhere along the line there has to be some chaff. You don’t see a football coach telling his  competitors, “Hey, don’t give your quarterback sixty snaps per game unless every single play gets you a touchdown.” No. He’d say, “Run what the hell you want, just don’t score.”

From a logistical perspective, might I say this advice is worth the paper it was written on, and given it was a blog, that ain’t much.

What if I’ve written an epic 200,000-word manuscript I decide is best suited to be broken into four 50,000-word books? Short read. Gets you hooked. Have another. The end.

Every one of us is looking for the magic formula to reach success. It’s long past time we all realize the magic formula is as different as our own body chemistries. What works for me, will not necessarily work for you. So just write. Write like you mean it. Write like there’s no tomorrow. Just write.


Shari Randall said...

I agree that authors should just write, and write what they want, and publish (if they can) what they want.
As a reader I'll just say that there are certain authors who have bumped up their output and are putting out books that are a disappointment to me. I don't know if they are using ghostwriters or just drinking a lot more coffee, but sometimes quantity is not better than quality. At least for me.
Let the comments commence!

Warren Bull said...

I have noticed that authors of series sometimes produce a work that satisfies the timeline of their contract, but lack the quality of other books in the series. i think those books do not have the "feel" of fully revised and edited works. I don't know why the writer of the article chose self-publishers. it applies to all writers.

Sarah Henning said...

I do have self-pub clients who produce four books a year. That's their prerogative and they turn out good work time and time again. But I definitely think it's best that if you can and want to self-pub, you should publish whatever you want to. That can be fast or slow—neither is wrong.

Sam Morton said...

Thanks, guys. Food for thought.

Jim Jackson said...

Different strokes for different folks, as the saying goes.

I will say this, if an author rushes a book out before it is ready and that is the first book of the author's that I read-- it will probably be the last book of the author's I read. This has happened. I've picked up what looks to be an interesting book and it is filled with copyediting errors or poor sentence construction and after a bit I put the book down, make a note DNF (did not finish), and I move on.

If the author is also the publisher, there is no one to blame but the author and I put it fully on his/her shoulders. They don't care enough about their writing to make it right, then I don't care enough about their writing to read it.

If the publisher is a small press, I cut the author a bit of slack and put a black mark on the small press. (And there are some well known small presses who I don't think much of based on the product they put out.)

So if an author can write four quality books a year, I applaud them. For me, one is about it -- maybe some year there will be two.

~ Jim

KM Rockwood said...

There's something to be said for putting your best foot forward and polishing your work before you present it.

That said, I remember H.L. Mencken's statement, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."

Kait said...

I get your drift, Sam. Personally, I think it depends on the writer. I am a slow writer, spend tons of time in edits and agonize over everything.Other writers I've known manage to turn out relatively clean first drafts that honestly require little editing and then are good to go. They also do this in record time. It is said that Danielle Steel used to write a book in as little as three weeks. Now, say what you will about the genre, but her books were always well written, and often complex. So, I vote for doing what you are comfortable with, and what you are good at! Interesting premise.

Kathleen, great saying!