There is a sense of urgency among writers that I’ve never seen in any of the other industries I’ve worked in (which have been numerous). We are constantly in a state of deadline. We push ourselves to write more, write faster, write better. We need bigger ideas, more series, more marketing, more social media, more conferences, more book signings, more more more. How many books can we write in a year? Can we squeeze in a novella? How about a short story? An “extra” scene that we can use as a teaser or a freebie? Is there a box set we could be in? An anthology? What else should we be doing? Because we’ll do it!
It’s exhausting. And we do it to ourselves. I’ve kind of done it. I did it last year to some extent when I decided to write three books back to back to back in my Nocturne Falls series so that I could launch that series in a big way. It meant saying no to a lot of things, but I was okay with that because I had a plan. That’s not entirely what I’m talking about here.
What I’m really getting at is that sense that we’re not doing//producing enough. It’s always been there, even before the rise of self publishing. But now it’s gotten worse.
Self publishing means the timeline of traditional publishing no longer applies. There’s no eighteen month delta between a book being finished and release day. Indie pubs finish a book, get it up for sale and start right in on the next book. In some cases that unwritten book is already up for pre-order.
And why do we do it? A few reasons. 1. To keep ourselves and our books visible. “Discoverability” is a huge buzz word in publishing. Your books need to be discoverable for readers to find them and how do you do that? By releasing tons of them! We’ve got to stay in those Amazon algorithms, right? 2. To build our backlist. If you’re new to indie and you don’t have many books out there, putting as many up for sale as you can will give readers some place to go when they finish your first book. I get that. But I also think readers aren’t going to forget you just because you’re not putting out a book a week. 3. Now here’s the one that doesn’t get talked about much – because every other writer we know is publishing as fast as they can.
Competition drives us. Which is fine, but if you’re killing yourself to put books out so that your readers don’t abandon you for another author, you don’t understand how readers work. Ever heard the phrase a rising tide lifts all ships? What happens in the world of readers is they find a genre or a theme they like and then they read all the books like that they can find. This is how Amazon’s “Also Bought” lists are created.
Did Twilight hurt the sales of other vampire books? No! It helped them! Vampires got hot again. Fifty Shades had the same effect on erotica. Readers may have auto-buys among authors, but they’re also always looking for new ones. Authors who can give them more of the same experience, more of the same feelings, more of the same entertainment.
As writers, we’re not in competition with each other. We really aren’t. My readers are your readers and your readers are mine. Do you really think someone who can read a book a day is only going to read one book a month?
So take a deep breath and give yourself a day off. Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. There’s no point in burning yourself out on the first mile.
Comments, questions, suggestions? Have at it. And happy writing! But you know, maybe not today…