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?
The German version is held up in the editing process, but the Spanish one is full-steam ahead. My first foreign-language version of my debut novel, “The Renegade Spy“, is now on pre-order at Amazon, entitled “La Espia Indomable” (The Indomitable Spy).
The Kindle version will go on sale on August 30th at the price of 99 cents. The paperback copy will appear a few days later at the price of $6.99.
I had some great help with getting it out. Kristina Henneke designed the cover, Natalia Steckel did the translation, and Maria Martha Arce edited and checked it.
There’s something particularly satisfying seeing your work in a foreign language. It’s almost as if you are starting to attain global reach. Let’s hope the sales figures reflect that.
Here is a video interview I did last week with Terri Wilson, who runs a book website. She interviewed me about my Department 89 books, as well as other things such as my writing technique, and even a question that almost stumped me at the end!
Being a quiet shy kind of guy though, I can never watch these things to the end, because I get so embarrassed seeing myself on screen. Even if I did a good job.
A fascinating piece in the Guardian newspaper a couple of days ago, about dead authors and their last wishes for their work after they are dead. Everybody knows how Kafka got royally screwed by his so-called friend Max Brod (mentioned in this article). Kafka wanted his work destroyed unread and unpublished, and Brod did the exact opposite.
But there have been so many other cases and the Guardian piece does a nice job of summarising some of them. Even the ones obeying the author to destroy any unpublished work gets dog’s abuse – from people who want it published! So literary executors are screwed either way. It’s not an enviable job by any means.Literary executors are screwed either way. It's not an enviable job by any means. Click To Tweet
Terry Pratchett & Harper Lee’s Last Wishes
The most famous recent example of course is Terry Pratchett who specified that the computer hard drive with all his unpublished work should be destroyed with a steam roller. No doubt many Pratchett fans were in physical pain after that and no doubt some screamed abuse. But it was Pratchett’s work and he had the right to decide its fate after he passed away. Another was Harper Lee, who saw a sequel to her “To Kill a Mockingbird” book come out, against her will.
This is why authors should have iron-clad wills from day one, even if currently they are not making any money from their books. One day they may, and then what if the author suddenly dies? That’s the attitude I am taking with my books and I intend to get a will together as soon as possible.
Today was the day I thought would never come. “The Traitor” is completely 100% finished.
Well I say “finished” but I am getting the beta reader team back together again and the book is now being sent out to them for reading, edification, and digesting. No doubt I will have to do a few quick rewrites in places before its official release date on March 31st.
For some reason, putting the book out the next day on April 1st – April Fool’s Day – just felt too weird!
I am now taking a break from Department 89 and doing some other stuff. Sophie will be back in the summer and in the meantime, I will be doing a crime series, a children’s book, and a non-fiction health book.
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?