Many published authors, especially those writing in genre fiction, keep up an incredible pace with their books, sometimes publishing one or more books a year. And it can really be a struggle to keep up with such a breakneck pace.
I’m curious about how you feel about this as both a writer and a reader.
As a reader, do you want a new book from your favorite author every year, or perhaps even more often? What about with a series? Do you expect that you’ll be able to read the next book soon?
As a writer, do you think you could keep up that pace for a decade? Would you like the steady income or would you prefer to let the creative juices marinate a while?
Oh! I noticed it in someone else’s comment and in the interest of full disclosure – I write 70k YA novels currently, although I know from past experience I can produce a typical 90k first draft in one to three months, and polish always depends on how much is needed so the total time would vary.
(I do think having a typing speed near 100wpm helps immensely.)
Christopher M. Park says
Jess — I can type just as fast as you, but it still takes me two years to write novels at present. It’s all the thinking and planning and decisions and such that slow me down… lots of staring at the screen, lots of tweaking sentences for the 30th time, etc. I imagine that most here suffer from the same sort of thing, not being slow typists.
As a professional reader (editor/proofreader/indexer), I can consume quite a number of books a year. Sorry to say (or not), the climax always involves a paycheck. And since most of what I read is academic/scholarly, that little bit of incentive helps. Not many old-style page-turners cross my desk.
If you’re in the publish-or-perish cycle, look me up and file the name away. Never know when you might need me:
I like my favorite authors who are writing a series to have one a year. I’m a fast reader, so there are several series writers that I watch for.
As a writer, I could do a book a year for a long time if I didn’t have a day job. I love writing.
Thank you for having this blog.
As a librarian, I like to see from a “quick read” type series (such as the Private books) a couple of volumes a year. A slightly more in-depth series, like the Percy Jackson series, 1-1.5 years per volume. Harry Potter, I was fine with the longer wait.
Non-series books, I think that it all depends on how the author writes and having a somewhat consistent time frame between books would be nice. Of course somewhat consistent could mean a lot of things. Some authors I know will take a few years between their stand alone books, others can put out at least one a year (series and/or stand alone). I do think I’ve seen some authors whose work has suffered because they are putting too many books out too quickly.
Chris: I didn’t say that slow writers must simply not be able to type fast enough to have a higher output, I said that I imagine *my* typing ability contributes to my own faster output.
If you type slowly but make your decisions and have your plot points lined up in your head, you’re still only able to produce the story as fast as you can type it. I’m blessed to make my connections quickly and be able to type quickly as well, thus a faster output. Everyone’s case is different.
writing is like playing an instrument, yu have 2 do it everidai, then again, given that i am bi far the best living writer in the universe, this does not really apply 2 moi, because mi talent surpasses ani literari giants worque in herstori and use of orthogaphical conventions is not 4 me eitha
Kate H says
As a reader, I always like to discover writers late in their careers because then I can devour all their books one after another without waiting. But if I happen to catch them early on, I’d rather wait longer and get a better next book.
As a writer, I can’t imagine producing a consistent book a year. But then, at this point it’s hard to imagine being in a position to write full time. If publishers want a book a year, they should definitely be paying enough to let the writer quit his/her day job. And even then, I think two years would make for a much better book.
Joe Iriarte says
I believe I’ve read one of your masterpieces.
Joe Iriarte says
(That was to anon@6:05, by the way.)
Echoing what many are saying. As a reader, I’d love a book a year–at least, especially if I really enjoyed the book and the author.
As a writer, I can appreciate the enormity of that task. As it is with blogging, if you don’t post often enough, you lose readers.
I always go for quality over quantity and realize that even an established writer can turn out rubbish. This can a result of arrogance or laziness, or external pressures, but if an author’s mind is not in the right place during the plotting, writing and editorial process than they should hold back on releasing the material until the quality is sufficient enough for the general public.
Knowing what I do about the requirements of signed authors, Ipart of their time is dedicated to book signings, conventions etcetera… not to mention the work requirements of many authors who are just starting out. And what about family obligations for parents? Heck, what about the case of juvenile authors in school?
There are lots of variables, but the focus should be on quality because there is enough poor quality prose being printed today.
I read that article with something approaching amused interest. During my period as a staff writer at local publisher, I was expected to produce a completely new manuscript every 3 1/2 to four months (although near the end it was strongly implied that I was a lazy bastard if I took more than three). During 2004, my most productive year, I produced two collections of short fiction, a book on urban legends and another on my six favorite horror movies. But rather than suffer from this pace, these four books are easily my favourites of the 12 and 1/2 I wrote during my time at the company.
I have found, and this could only apply to myself, that the length of time a person spends on a work ultimately does not contribute a whole lot to its success as a finished project. I’ve gotten just as big responses from works I wrote in two hours as I have from that which I’ve written in two weeks.
In the article Lehane laments not having his epiphany until after one of his books was already on store shelves, but I would argue that there is no guarantee that had he had that same epiphany earlier or had the time he needed to implement it that it would have resulted in a better work. It may have left himself feeling more satisfied, but that satisfaction might not have necessarily translated into anything for his readers.
Knowing myself, as well as other writers, I interpreted the article as further proof of our own natural laziness. Yes, writers write because they have to, but they also do it because it is so totally better than having a real job.
heather simmons says
In the past, I’ve counted the days until a new Dean Koontz or Janet Evanovich book came out. With JE, I’m following a series and when I have to wait,I actually miss her characters. I’ve identified deeply with Stephanie Plum, the main character and I’m obsessed with her hot Cuban bounty hunter, Ranger. (?) Seriously, I actually see and hear these people in my mind. You could chalk it up to either great writing on her part or mental health issues on mine. With DK, there’s no series; only the promise of an amazing ride and that’s enough for me. Personally, I have written exactly one book and it took me exactly one year, just as I knew it would. I think a year is long enough to miss the characters but soon enough to keep your juices flowing until the next one comes out.