How Prolific Do I Want To Be?

Lately I’ve been wondering what kind of writer I am. In some ways the answer to that is obvious. I’m an indie author. I write fantasy. But in some ways I feel like I don’t measure up to other, “similar” authors. I put similar in quotes because these authors are also indie/self published who write fantasy in the same sub-genre but they write a lot more than I do, and seem to do it more professionally.

thumbnail_Elle s mIt took me about four years to write Beautiful, and another year to publish it. Some of that was because I had to figure out elements of publishing for myself, while working full time.  Now I’ve been working on the follow up, Frozen Heart, for about three years. It’s pretty much written, in that I have a manuscript with a beginning, middle and end. I’m somewhere between the second and third drafts  right now. I’d like it to be ready by early 2020. If I’m not able to manage that I might have to wait until the end of 2020. Beautiful was published in July 2018.

Indie authors usually try to write at least a book per year, preferably more. I’ve seen authors publish as many as three books per year. A lot of the research I did before publishing Beautiful actually recommended waiting until you have several publish-able manuscripts before publishing your first, so you have more ready to go. I decided not to do that because I wasn’t sure if/when I’d have a ready follow-up and I felt ready to send Beautiful out into the world. I don’t think that was a mistake but I don’t think I’ll ever be a writer who can publish one book a year.

I read a blog post once by an indie author who said she writes only one draft of each novel before having an editor look it over, making a few, small tweaks, and then publishing. I can’t imagine doing that. My first drafts are a mess! My second drafts are a little bit better, and so on.

I’m not criticizing anyone who can turn out great work on the first try! I’m envious! I don’t think that will ever be me.

Maybe as I go on, I’ll get better at self-editing. Already, I’m noticing improvements between my first book and my second. When I wrote Beautiful, I would see something in a draft that didn’t quite work but I’d stubbornly hold onto it until several beta readers had told me it didn’t work. Now I’m quicker to kill my darlings.

But I want my published novels to reflect my best work. In order to do that, it takes me longer to write a book than is generally recommended for indie authors. Obviously the more I publish the more opportunity I have for sales, but right now, compromising quality doesn’t seem worth it to me.

Do you prefer authors to be prolific or careful with what they publish? Does it have to be an “either/or” situation?

 

10 thoughts on “How Prolific Do I Want To Be?

  1. I don’t think it has to be either/or, but if I absolutely had to pick one I’d say that I prefer my authors to be careful with what they publish. I am a lot more likely to forgive a slow publishing schedule than I am to forgive sloppy writing or editing.

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    • I agree on both counts. I don’t think that it necessarily has to be either/or. As I said, if other authors are able to produce high quality work at a faster pace then I’m rather envious! For me, right now I’m not capable of producing work I’m proud of as quickly as I’d like. Hopefully someday that’ll change, but if not I’m more comfortable sacrificing speed and keeping the quality.

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  2. Yes, I prefer my authors to be careful rather than prolific. I’m champing at the bit with one series – six in total, only three out, each takes a few years, and I’m desperate to find out what happens next! And with a trilogy I’m reading, I’d forgotten all the details of books 1 and 2 as they came out 1/2 years ago, and I had to go back and skim read them to understand book 3! But I wouldn’t even have wanted to continue these series if the first books had been carelessly put together. You do it your way, Fran!

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    • Good point! With a series I’ll sometimes have to go back and scan earlier books if I can’t remember them because it’s been a few years. But like you, I wouldn’t want to read them at all if they weren’t well done, so I’d rather the author take a few years and do it right.

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  3. I think your outlook makes a lot of sense. I’m always surprised by the sheer volume of books a lot of indie authors can churn out. Even if you write a pretty clean first draft (I have had this happen- but its a rarity) then I find it takes longer to write the thing in the first place (because in order to do this you have to edit as you go- and this is something I noticed when I watched someone write like Stephen King for a day- he edits as he goes to have a clean first draft… which means it’s technically not the first draft). I also think that considering most indie writers (heck, writers in general) have day jobs, it seems most logical to me that it takes time for the work to be finished.

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    • I think that some of the lack of “professionalism” that some people see in indie publishing comes from insufficient time spent in the process. It’s not all indie writers by any means, but it does happen, and if your income is dependent on publishing I’m sure it’s tempting to put more out there!

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  4. Pingback: Evaluating Last Year’s Resolutions | Fran Laniado- Author

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