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.
It 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?