Kristine Rusch is fast becoming one of my favourite bloggers when it comes to business dealings for independent writers. She also has very insightful opinions on the state of the book industry today, such as this article. Why is it that when a reader hates the book, they automatically insult the writer? Why not just say the book was not for them?
I can read over 750 words a minute and utterly devour books (2-3 a week). I have done this since I was first able to read. Teachers called me “unique” which I guess is their polite way of saying that I was a freak. My mother told me often in the past that she found it unnerving to see me reading so fast.
So when it comes to writing my books, I am also a speed demon. With a touch-typing speed of over 130 words per minute and a “pantser” writing style, it isn’t long before the smoke is rising from the keyboard and my fingers and wrists are screaming “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!! WE NEED A BREAK!!
Is Working Fast & Publishing Quickly a Liability?
I started the whole indie self-publishing gig back in August of this year. Now four months later, I have three books out and a 10,000 word novella. Another 10,000 word novella is out next month and I am working on the next book which is optimistically planned to be 100,000 words, my longest yet. This will probably be out in March, four months from now. The only reason it will take that long is because I am going into the hospital for two months very soon.
For 2018, I have plans to write four more full-length novels, at least five more 10,000 word novellas, and four non-fiction books. I guess you could say I am a workaholic, I am rocking the productivity and kicking away the procrastination.
But (and there’s ALWAYS a but), friends and family have commented that I am publishing too fast. They suggest I should be pacing myself and staggering the release dates. They protest they can’t keep up with me, that they are now several books behind because of my tendency to “pump them out”. That I am rapidly heading for burnout. Even my ARC team are complaining and several have dropped out.
But I can’t help it. When I get into “the zone”, I can produce tremendous amounts of work, and the excitement of publication means that when a book is finished, I see no point in sitting on the book and not putting it out for a few months. If it’s done, it may as well go out now and start earning for me.
In my opinion, putting it out immediately keeps the momentum going and keeps the customers happy. I am convinced there is no earthly reason to make people wait if you have the next book in the bag ready to go.
So the three questions these objections raise for me are these.
- Am I unintentionally harming my sales and my reputation by writing and publishing too fast?
- Should I be making readers wait longer for the next book to heighten anticipation?
- Is my accelerated schedule making the stories less interesting because there is no proper buildup?
I discussed this with fellow indie authors over at Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Community and they were evenly split with their thoughts. Here are the broad areas that everyone touched on when I asked them for my their opinion.
Being Indie Means You Can Publish On Your Own Timetable
If you are a “traditional” publisher, you are restricted by your publishing company on how many books you can put out per year. Otherwise you will be told you are saturating the market. According to people I have spoken to, traditional authors are limited to a maximum of two books per year. This is why Stephen King also wrote under the pseudonym of Richard Bachmann – to get more books out.
Two books a year? That would drive me completely insane being held back like that. But if you are an indie author, you are not beholden to a publisher and their arcane rules. You can publish as much as you want, whenever you want.
Some people have suggested that the people who have complained to me about my publishing speed are the ones who are only used to seeing 1-2 books a year from each author. That the idea that an author they like can pump out five, six, even seven books a year is just unheard of and absurd.
Publishing Too Fast Means More Chance Of Putting Out Substandard & Inaccurate Work
There was a certain camp of thought at SPF where people thought there was a very good and simple reason for slowing down. The faster you write and publish, the more chance there is that you will start producing substandard work and more chance of work having typos and grammar errors. Over the long term, this is going to destroy your reputation.
A lot of indie writers I know swear by hiring editors and proofreaders for hundreds of dollars to check their work. But before I started as an indie author, I was a copywriter, proofreader, and editor. So I feel that I am qualified to edit and proofread my own work. Plus I am tight with my money and I want to keep those hundreds of dollars for myself!
But I have been told that I cannot spot my own errors because my brain will see what it wants to see. So is my speed and my disinclination to spend money actually my own worst enemies? Is my over-confidence my Achilles Heel?
Some Of The Best Authors Wrote Fast
But then the pro-speed writers came back with a great argument. Some of the greatest writers ever wrote like they were on drugs. Nothing bad happened to them. So I am in good company and I shouldn’t be worried. If it worked for them, it will work for me.
How many books did Agatha Christie bring out in her lifetime? Or Barbara Cartland? Jackie Collins? It seems like Nora Roberts brings out a new book each week. Isaac Asimov’s back-list looks like a book itself.
If writing fast means I am going to emulate Isaac Asimov (who is one of my heroes), then I will speed up even more.
But Then There’s The Burnout…..
The human body has limits. I recently discussed on this site about how depression affected and influenced my writing. By working so much, something has to give. As the saying goes, you can’t burn the candle at both ends.
If you’re not working, you’re not sleeping. You’re not taking time out to do other enjoyable things such as spend time with your family and friends. And eventually the well of story plots is going to run dry. All of this is going to lead to serious burnout.
If you’re lucky, this might be something as simple as temporary writers block and a need to have a few more lie-ins each morning. But if you’re not lucky, you could be looking at a serious breakdown in your health. I’ve already had one breakdown in my life. I don’t need another.
What everyone agreed on though was that everyone is different and only you know yourself and your limitations. Writing fast, publishing fast, and establishing a speedy back-list has its numerous advantages, but if you’re not careful, it could spectacularly backfire in your face. But only you yourself know which one will happen to you.
Let me know in the comments what type of writer you are. Are you a flaming hot fast writer driving out dozens of books per year? Or do you prefer it slow and steady, doing only one or two a year? What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of both?
When The Renegade Spy came out, I inevitably had the nitpickers send me emails and Amazon reviews about inaccuracies they found in the book. Oh, this gun should be called this, you can’t do this, it should be called a suppressor, not a silencer, etc, etc. Being the polite person I am, I thanked them all sincerely for their feedback. But truth be told, when it comes to fiction, I don’t get totally hung up on researching every little thing to be 100% accurate.
Of course I would never say anything totally outrageously inaccurate in my books, like Sophie Decker bringing down a jet fighter with her pocket knife. But someone said somewhere (and it annoys the hell out of me that I can’t find the source now), that when writing a fiction book, you are not writing reality, but the illusion of reality.When writing a fiction book, you are not writing reality, but the illusion of reality. Click To Tweet
In other words, as long as it sounds believable, then treat the book as it is – a story. Something to escape into and enjoy. Don’t get hung up on every little detail being completely believable. Don’t freak out if I call a gun part, a silencer instead of a suppressor. Don’t hit the roof if I put the full stop outside the speech mark instead of inside it. So what if someone manages to get from Point A to Point B quicker than they would in real life? Did you honestly tell me you actually timed yourself doing it just to prove me wrong?
Books are meant to be for escapism. To escape from your normal life and indulge in a bit of fantasy for a while. So if you are writing a fiction book, of course make sure there are no pink flying elephants in it. But you don’t have to specify what kind of gun someone is carrying. A Glock or a Smith & Wesson, it makes no damn difference, because it is just a story.
When I was younger, I had four main ambitions in life – get married, have kids, have at least one dog, and get at least two books written and published.
Well, the kids are never going to happen now for a variety of reasons. But the others have come true. I’ve been married since 2010, I have my beautiful dog, Schlumpf. And now my second book – “The Reichsbank Gold” – is about to come out at the end of this month.
The first book though, “The Renegade Spy“, has been out since the beginning of August. Last week, I finally got the paperback in my hands, and let’s just say it was a proud, triumphant, and emotional moment for me. As I said to my mother later, it was (and will remain) one of the best moments of my life.
All I have ever wanted is for my name to be on a book cover. To create something which will be around long after I am gone. Something to prove I existed. Something tangible that I can hold and say to people “I made that”.
I am currently working on Book 3 of the Department 89 series that I want to bring out on Christmas Day. But writers block is really biting me in the ass at the moment over that one right now. So in an attempt to clear my head a bit, I spontaneously decided to start something totally new today. I won’t say too much about it, except to say “serial killers in space”. I’ll tell you more if I see the story coming together to form what might become a book!
I think it’s only natural that when a writer writes a book, they instinctively visualise a certain actor or actress playing a particular role. For me, knowing who that person is helps me to establish their voice in the story. Knowing how they performed in past movies or TV programmes gives me a good basis for figuring out how they would act in my story.
With the release of “The Renegade Spy”, I thought it would be fun to show you who I visualised in the main roles.
Captain Sophie Decker (Gabrielle Anwar)
I admit it, I am a HUGE Gabrielle Anwar fan. I am a helpless fanboy who would lose the power of speech if she came to my front door. I watched every episode of “Burn Notice” religiously, and her role as an IRA terrorist in hiding, helping a “burnt” CIA agent just captivated me every week.
If my books ever get made into a movie or TV series, I will insist on Gabrielle Anwar playing Sophie! I will agree to anything! Anwar has that “bitchiness” factor that Decker also has.
Lieutenant Wolfgang Schmitz – James Frain
I don’t know why I thought of James Frain when I wrote the part of Wolfgang Schmitz into “The Renegade Spy”. My mind works in mysterious ways, and when I invented Schmitz, Frain immediately popped into my head and refused to budge.
Frain is well-known for his role as Thomas Cromwell in “The Tudors”, which was mainly the reason I stuck with the series for so long. He is such a compelling talented actor. Right now, he is kicking ass as Ambassador Sarek in Star Trek:Discovery.
Hans Unterwald – Frank Langella
God, where do you start with Frank Langella? This guy is an absolute legend. Best known for his recent role in The Americans as Soviet handler “Gabriel”, Langella has acting credits going all the way back to 1965!
My first experience watching him was as the corrupt chief of staff in “Dave”, a rather offbeat 1993 comedy, starring Kevin Klein. But in my opinion, it was The Americans he will be best remembered for. His departure from that show is an absolute tragedy.
German Chancellor Claudia Meyer – Sigourney Weaver
In my opinion, Sigourney Weaver is one of the most underrated actresses in Hollywood. People seem to remember her only for Ghostbusters and Alien (and she was good in those franchises). But she was also particularly good as Queen Isabel in “1492: Conquest of Paradise“, and the short-lived “Political Animals” (which I thought didn’t get enough attention paid to it). In that, she played the US Secretary of State, with Presidential aspirations and a philandering husband (remind you of anyone?).
I think she would be perfect as Meyer. I probably couldn’t afford Weaver’s salary demands though! I wonder if she does small indie projects?!
I guess the only question now is – how good are their German accents?!
After countless tweaks and rewrites, I spontaneously decided on Saturday to just call it finished and put it out. In doing so, I finally became a published fiction writer. Yes, my 170-ish page novella, “The Renegade Spy” is finally out.
It’s been a long and tiring journey to get to this stage. From conception to publication has taken a lot out of me, even though the novella is so short. Anyone who says writing a book is easy is lying through their teeth. I am now writing a full-length novel as the sequel (which will be between 80,000 and 90,000 words), and that one is really taking it out on me. The Reichsbank Gold is due out on October 31st.
But I am enjoying the process, which makes it all worthwhile. Seeing this really got my adrenalin going on Saturday evening.
Just seeing that publishing status on Draft2Digital validated everything I have been doing up to now. The late nights, the endless edits, the doubts.
Yes, the doubts. If you have never published before, it is easy to tell yourself that your work isn’t good enough. That people are going to laugh and scorn. That you should stop because you have no business being a writer. But I am fortunate enough to have a lot of extremely supportive friends, a lot of whom are writers themselves (or are about to be). They kept me going through all of that self-doubt and self-loathing.
I just need to get the next one out now. Once the next one is out, it’s a doddle from that point on. Apparently.
“The Renegade Spy” is out for free on all major eBook platforms. It is still in “pending” on Barnes & Noble but that should hopefully be fixed by the end of today. There is also a price on it on Amazon, but that should also be gone by the end of today. It’s a complicated process getting a book to be free on Amazon.