A post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group
Internet marketing gurus say that the more books a writer has available online, the better her chances of sales (and income). Many indie writers take the advice to heart. Recently I read on one writer’s blog that she is going to write and publish 25 novels in 5 years. It’s a commendable goal: 5 novels a year. She is probably going to end up with many sales (and a nice income), but the number baffled me. How many novels can I write in one year?
Not nearly that many. Sure, I can type as fast as an average typist and produce four or five books a year, and I’m talking about novel-length, at least 60,000 words, not short stories, but to produce GOOD books, I need much more time. Each book needs at least three rewrites, maybe more. Here is a quote from the writer of Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton: “Books aren’t written – they’re rewritten…It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.”
If Crichton needs more than seven rewrites for a book, so do I. Plus I would have to come up with new and original plot twists, contemplate story structure, work on character development and other craft elements, and implement everything for each book. In my estimation, one professionally-written book needs a minimum of six months or more.
In the past, when nobody used the self-publishing road and big publishers ruled the book world, it was customary for prolific writers to release a book or two a year. Donna Tartt needed a decade to write The Goldfinch, which received the Pulitzer Prize in 2014. Some might consider such a long gestation time for a book extreme, but one year was average, and the time allowed writers to polish their craft. Quality was the goal, and each book was custom-made.
But if quantity becomes the goal, as seems to be the case now, self-publishing will go the way of the assembly-line belt: more and cheaper. Then, like in any other mass-production industry, quality will inevitably suffer.
To get their quick income, some writers are willing to forgo quality and opt for quantity. Am I ready to go that road? No! I’d rather my income suffered than have my name associated with sloppy writing and dull plotlines. But gosh, I do want that income…