Dear Writer: STOP Releasing So Many Novels!

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 (plus, there’s a potato! Who doesn’t like potatoes?!).

Scalloped Potatoes

Hmm… Scalloped potatoes…

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.

DeepBreathTony.gif

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?

oprahyouandyouandyoulego.gif

“You get a new novel! And YOU get a new novel! NEW NOVELS FOR EVERYONE!”

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: digestable 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.

cheese.jpg

Please excuse my drooling.

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.

What do you think? Is it a good idea to release a lot of novels in a short time span? How many books will you release this year?

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18 responses to “Dear Writer: STOP Releasing So Many Novels!

  1. I’m in total agreement with you on this. We all think our latest effort is the best thing going, but only time lets us evaluate thework, see its flaws and tweek it to the best we can offer. Well said, Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m totally with you on this, Michael. We need time if we are to evaluate our work properly, see its flaws (we all have them) and tweek it into the best we are capable of producing. We owe it to our readers. Well said.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all, I love the cheese metaphor, it really did make me laugh 😂

    Secondly, I completely agree with your opinion. I’m an aspiring author who personally wouldn’t want to publish, or even read a book that had quite frankly been rushed. I would much rather be known for writing a few well written stories than an abundance of sub-par ones.

    I recently went to a book signing where the author said ‘those who find writing difficult are often the ones that are best at if’ (or something along those lines)…and if this is true, mass producing manuscripts doesn’t seem all that great.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the reference to the puppy mill! Read a few of these myself – great haste makes great waste including typos and those ever annoying formatting errors with excess spacing where it shouldn’t be and page margins just are right.

    Like

  5. I’m working on my second love-inspired historical romance novel. The first one needs a lot of extensive reworking, which is on hold until I finish the second novel. Looking back at the first one it isn’t as great as I thought it was. Time is the great equalizer (or so I’m hoping it is).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This line right here is by far the best thing I’ve read today. Thank you for that. “Be the aged cheddar of the publishing industry: digestable and dependable and a classic.”XD

    I agree with you 100% by the way. I think it is a major problem. There should be some more thought going into it. Personally, I will not even send out my manuscript until I believe it is done. I’ve been working on it for a really long time as well. I like the old publishing ways because of this. They *help* ensure work of quality is published.

    Anyways, great article. And now I want Mac n Cheese.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As someone who has been perfecting their first novel for two and a half YEARS? A-freaking-men. I know I’ve made a lot of errors along the way and next time, I hope to get the process down to 1-1.5 years. But *still*. That is, at most, one novel a year. I think that’s good to shoot for. I’m actually trying to write three novels this year, but they will all be first drafts and absolutely not ready for publication. It will take another year of editing for each one before they can be seen by readers.

    So I’m with you. I do judge such writers. At most, they’re releasing capable, formulaic fiction that has nothing inherently wrong with it, but nothing worth remembering either. You are not going to knock the socks off a reader or become someone’s favorite author with a book you finished in 90 days.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is such a smart post. What’s the hurry?! I have really benefited from a book called, The Art of Slow Writing, by Louise DeSalvo, in which she discusses this very thing during the writing process.

    And secondly, cheese as a writing metaphor? OMG you win!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Michael! Per your earlier permission, I scheduled this article to be featured as a guest post on http://www.ryanlanz.com on Feb 25th. As usual, it has your credit/bio/link. Thanks!

    Like

  10. I absolutely love this insight. While I am sure there will be others that don’t agree, I find myself nodding along with this article. I’m a little new to the community as a blogger/writer (long time lurker if that’s a thing here) but I know as a reader that I hesitate to actually pick up a book that is one of a series that has multiple releases in one year. It makes me antsy and has a sudden taste of “Did they not take the time to write a few drafts?” in my mouth.

    Thanks for this great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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