Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Indie Life: The Pace of Self-Publishing

Please don't forget I'm still jousting at M. Pax's blog this week. Cheer me on up to three times a day using the phrases "Lady of the Lab," "Lyon's Legacy," or "Tosspot" for a chance to win an eBook from me!

This month's issue of Indie Life was inspired by a post called "New Rule: No More Binge Publishing!" You can read the original post here and some excerpts on Passive Voice. It's very interesting to see how the comments differ on the two sites: commenters are more supportive on Libby's blog than on the Passive Voice blog.

Is there a limit as to how much one should publish each year? What is the ideal number of stories one should publish, and does the length of the story matter? I for one don't think there's a hard-and-fast rule for this. Someone who has a backlog of stories, whether unpublished or with rights reverted, might be able to publish them more quickly than someone starting from scratch. Also, the more time you have to write, the more quickly (in theory) you should be able to finish, edit, and prepare the stories for publication. However, novels will probably take longer than short stories. The ideal and realistic number of published stories each year is going to vary from author to author.

So far, self-publishing seems to favor authors who can write quickly and publish rapidly. Since every work promotes all the other stories by making you more visible, this is a good strategy. I think even when the self-publishing industry matures a little more, the advantage will still lie with the prolific authors. However, it's also an industry that looks to the long-term. No matter what happens to the current distributors, there will be other ways of getting your books in front of readers. Since these stories will be around for a long time, it's best to make sure they're as good as you can make them at the time of publication. Even though your skills will improve with practice, you can learn more by finishing several stories instead of revising the same one over and over. Ultimately, each author will have to figure out for herself how quickly she can write and publish well.

Personally, I originally planned to publish six works this year. I did publish three early in the year, but the other projects I've been working on have turned out to be longer and more complex than I thought they'd be. Sure, it's frustrating that they're taking so long, but I think they'll turn out to be better stories for it. I'll know when they're ready to share with the world, and I hope my readers will agree. I also hope as my son gets older, I'll be able to find more writing time, since it's currently very limited. In the long run, I'd like to plan a writing/publishing schedule every year so readers know when to expect the next book in a series, though of course real life has a way of trumping plans.

Check out the linky below for other Indie Life posts:




7 comments:

Andrew Leon said...

Well, I am not a fast writer, but I do plan to serialize another book at some point, which makes up for the slowness at least a bit.

Laura Pauling said...

I read that article and didn't fully agree with it. It's not how fast you publish that determines success but the stories you tell and the way you write. And I know some writers that write really fast and they are successful. Not that one always equals the other. :)

Johanna Garth said...

Lot of thoughts on this, but I'll try to condense them.

I feel like writing is a craft and I worry that when work is rushed, the craftsmanship gets lost. Which, isn't to say you can't still be prolific, but I do see a lot of work that, in my opinion, could be so much better if more time was spent pushing both storyline and writing into everything it could be instead of settling for what it is at the moment.

Johanna Garth said...

Lot of thoughts on this, but I'll try to condense them.

I feel like writing is a craft and I worry that when work is rushed, the craftsmanship gets lost. Which, isn't to say you can't still be prolific, but I do see a lot of work that, in my opinion, could be so much better if more time was spent pushing both storyline and writing into everything it could be instead of settling for what it is at the moment.

J.L. Campbell said...

Sometimes, I wonder how some writers manage to put out so many books in so short a space of time. However, I know we all are at a different place on our journey. Also, we have full time jobs along with other activities. I'd be one of those people if I had more time to write. More power to those who can pursue their dream full time!

Briane P said...

Imagine this:

"New rule: Singers can only release one song per year!"

"New rule: Actors may appear in only one movie per year!"

"New rule: TV shows may only release 1 episode per year!"

Why is releasing a lot of books only a bad thing if indie authors do it?

I remember growing up, reading Piers Anthony, and my mom saying "No one person could write as much as he does; it must be a group of people writing under a pseudonym." I don't think that's true, but even so, all the books were very similar in style and tone but I loved that there were seemingly millions of them.

I'm actually DEPRESSED when I run through an entire author's oeuvre. This year, I discovered Nick Harkaway. I read both of his novels already and I'm going to buy his short story when I can because I love his writing.

Limits need to have a purpose. What's the purpose for limiting how much you or I or Andrew can publish? I haven't read the original posts you linked to, but I can imagine a few possibilities:

1. Avoiding crowding the market. This only works if everyone -- publishers and writers -- agree to abide by the same limits AND you limit the number of publishers. Suppose you say "No more than one book per writer per year." We all have to agree to abide by that, but unless you cap who is a 'writer,' you won't stop the market being flooded, as there's an unlimited number of writers.

2. Quality control: this assumes that more=crappier. But there's no such cause and effect. I'm not great at editing; will limiting me to 1 book per year make me a better editor? No. The idea gets even worse if you include subjective quality, instead of simple typos/grammar/formatting. Will making me publish only one book per year make my writing better? No. Because there's no guarantee I'll use the extra time to edit, refine, improve, etc. I may just publish a book and then wait my next year.

REALLY, all this is is people trying to slow down competition. When I race my son, who is 7, he doesn't know I'll let him win. But he wants to win, so we race and he will frequently tug at my shirt or try to cut me off so that I can't win: he knows he's not as good as me, so he tries to slow me down.

That's what your artificial limiters are up to.

(We will get into the fact that I am apparently raising a terrible cheater some other day.)

Pk Hrezo said...

Wow 6 works is amazing! I'm aiming to have another release in 6 months, but that may not be realistic considering all I've got on my plate. Still, I believe in quality first, so however long it takes.

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