Say what?

In one of my rare breaks from the keyboard yesterday, I went wandering around the internet in search of inspiration for today’s post. I’ll be honest. I thought the search would be fruitless. Why? Because so much digital space was being wasted on conspiracy theories about Envelope-gate from the Oscars or more screaming about politics. Then, there it was. A story that had me looking at my screen, looking away and then looking back, sure I wasn’t reading what I thought I did.

Nope. I read it right. After beating my head, figuratively at least, against my desk, I put the link in a private writer’s group I belong to and waited to see if they had the same reaction I did. It didn’t take long for the responses to roll in and they were all about the same as my own. Imagine a group cry of “WTF?!?” going up, followed by shaking of heads and chuckling and then each of us shuffling back to our keyboards to get back to work.

What, pray tell, caused such a reaction, you ask. The answer is simple. This article chastises indie authors for writing too much, too fast. The author of the article is Michael Cristiano who works in editing and acquisitions for Curiosity Quills Press.

As I started reading his post, I had a feeling I wasn’t going to like what he had to say. After all, when someone begins with “I’ve been a little wary of the potential backlash I might face,” you get the impression that he is either going to strike right at the heart of some sacred screed of writing or he’s about to go political. When that is followed by admitting there is no one right way to write, that everyone’s process is different but. . . well, he just foreshadowed how he is going to begin telling us that there is a rule we must all follow and it is his rule.

Guess what that rule is?

We, as indies, are to slow down.

Wait, let me do that the way he had it in the post. We are to SLOW DOWN!

Today in the publishing industry, especially in the indie-author market, quantity is king. I’m not saying that quality isn’t being taken into account, because to some extent it probably is, but there is a new mantra for indie authors like myself: write a lot and publish as often as possible. That means that some authors are publishing three or more novels a year, sometimes as many as ten novels a year.

That one statement is enough to justify the author’s concern that he would take flak for the post. As he should. The chutzpah of assuming to know what drives the indie movement is mind-boggling. I don’t know any indie author who takes their work seriously, who has pride in what they do, who is more concerned with how often they click the publish button more than they are about putting out the best product possible.

Are there exceptions? Of course there are. But they are, pardon the pun, the exceptions and not the rule. But let’s continue.

Apparently, according to the OP, publishing three or more novels a year is a bad thing. Hmmm. Wanders over to Amazon to check my author page. I published three novels, a short novel of approximately 40k words and two short stories, both of which were between 10k -20k words. I guess that makes me a bad author because I write too fast. Funny thing, I have folks who are constantly asking me why I don’t write faster because they want to read the next entry in of series or another. Does that make them bad readers?

Okay, second amendment (and I’ll be generous): I judge authors who release three or more books within a year ESPECIALLY if the three books are not part of the same series.

Wait, what?

So, here is an author who begins his post by telling us there is no one correct way to right who is now telling us there is? Bad Amanda, you have now broken two of his rules. You put out three or more books in a single year and — gasp — they weren’t part of the same series. Oh woe is me. What am I ever to do? I know. I’ll tell the readers of the Honor and Ashes series, as well as the Nocturnal Lives series and Eerie Side of the Tracks series that they are going to have to wait at least another year or three for the next book in their favorite series while I finish the Sword of the Gods series. I’m sure they’ll understand and wait patiently for me to get around to writing the books they like. Oh, and I’m sure they won’t forget about the series at all as they wait years and years for the next book to come out.

NOT!

I don’t know the OP’s writing process any more than I know that of any other writer except, perhaps Sarah’s and Kate’s because we tend to bounce ideas off one another. For me, I need to step away from a series after writing a novel and, perhaps, a short story, for a while. By doing so, it lets me get a clearer perspective on what the plot for the next entry in the series should be. Yes, I could do that by simply not writing anything else for several months after publishing the latest book in the series but I’m a writer. I make my living writing. If I spend months not writing, I am not doing anything tangible to increase my income. So, instead of sitting around, twiddling my thumbs until my head is ready to wrap itself back around the next book in a particular series, I move on to something else, something different form what I just spent the last few months researching, writing, editing, formatting and then publishing.

I’m sorry: a writing career shouldn’t be a puppy mill of stream-of-consciousness vanity projects.

Wow. Condescending much? Even giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming that by “stream-of-consciousness” he means pantsing — and I don’t think he does — the “vanity projects” kills me. But it gets better.

I just don’t see how anyone has the time to publish more than three novels a year AND maintain consistent literary quality.

So, because Mr. Expert here can’t figure out how to do it, none of the rest of us can either. And remember, he started out by saying there are no two processes that are the same and no one “right” way to write. I guess that’s right, as long as you also accept his exceptions to those two rules.

He has a series of questions about how long you spend writing, how many drafts you write, how long you edit, etc. Then he comes up with this little gem.

Sure, if you’re a full-time writer and you have a really quick team of beta-reader/editor-robots, you could have a really good, polished manuscript in a year. Eight months if you’re lucky.

Now, show of hands. How many of you are laughing hysterically at this point? For one, I have this vision of robots sitting at desks, red pencils in hand, editing.

What the OP is forgetting is — gee, I think I mentioned this earlier — that no writer has the same process as the next writer. We write at different speeds and in different manners. Some of us are pantsers — hi, Kate! — and others are plotters. Some do a bit of both. Some authors put out a rough draft that is publishable with very little content editing needed — hi, Sarah! — and just a bit of proofing. Not every author needs to do three or four or six rough drafts.

Also, the more you write, the more you study the craft, the better you get. When I started out, I was lucky to get a book out a year. Why? Part of it was confidence. Part was that I needed heavier structural editing than I do now. Part was I couldn’t let go of a manuscript and wound up editing the life out of it. Ask Sarah. She got to the point of threatening to publish my work and then tell me about it because I was doing so many editorial passes.

So, where’s the sweet spot? How many novels should you release a year in order to ensure highest quality? I don’t know, frankly.

Wow, after telling us for how many hundreds of words that he knew and if we were releasing more than two or, at most, three books a year we were doing it wrong, he now says he doesn’t know? Surely there’s a catch. Ah, there is. You see, according to him, a book is like good wine or cheese. It has to age. So, if you haven’t taken enough time — whatever that means — you aren’t putting out the quality of work he wants.

Too bad he judges by the number of books an author releases and not by, gosh, actually reading the book. But I guess he’s afraid he might get the equivalent of moldy cheese and he doesn’t want to ruin his literary palate.

I will admit he is right on one thing. You shouldn’t release novel after novel just to inflate the number of titles you have out there. But to say it is nigh on impossible to produce quality work more than once or twice a year is to insult every indie author — and traditionally published author — out there who does just that.

I assure you, I will continue putting out more than one or two books a year, real life willing, as long as I am satisfied with the quality of the work. I will work on more than one series at a time because that helps keep it all fresh for me. Unlike the OP, I am a working writer, like so many of you. This is how I make my living. I don’t have the time to go backpacking around the world — or the spare cash to do it. So I write. As long as I have people out there wanting to read my work, I will continue doing so.

And so should you. Write at your own speed. Use your own process, as long as it works for you. And ignore everyone who tells you you are doing it wrong just because it isn’t the way they do things.

***

And, just to show I am doing it my own way, linked below is the pre-order page for the second book in the Sword of the Gods series. The first book, Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1), is currently available for purchase.

Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2)

Publication date – March 15.

Plots form, betrayals are planned and war nears.

Cait Hawkener has come to accept she might never remember her life before that terrible morning almost two years ago when she woke in the slavers’ camp. That life is now behind her, thanks to Fallon Mevarel and the Order of Arelion. Now a member of the Order, Cait has pledged her life to making sure no one else falls victim as she did.

But danger once more grows, not only for Cait but to those she calls friends. Evil no longer hides in the shadows and conspirators grow bold as they move against the Order and those who look to it for protection. When Cait accepts the call to go to the aid of one of the Order’s allies, she does not know she is walking into the middle of conspiracy and betrayal, the roots of which might help answer some of the questions about her own past.

64 Comments

Filed under AMANDA, WRITING, WRITING: CRAFT, WRITING: LIFE

64 responses to “Say what?

  1. O what a singularly deep young man
    this deep young man must be!

    Deep in BS, that is.

  2. Pingback: Nocturnal Lives » Oh, flu, how I hate thee

  3. You piker! I’m much worse than you. I’m averaging over six titles a year–mind you there are short stories in there–but I’ve already blown my Three Book Limit for 2017. Guess I ought to take the rest of the year off.

  4. *Snort* Aaaand what about those of us who go on writing streaks and produce three eighty thousand word novels in five months, publish other stuff we either wrote earlier or that are short stories, and go back and slowly revise, tweak, correct, and then publish work we wrote two years ago or so? Right now I’ve got one pending new release (as in, this week, G-d willing), a second in edits, and a third waiting on edits, plus six finished novels waiting for slots. And I dreadfully fear that a second book may demand to be written in the world of the soon-to-go-on-sale book.

  5. That “Slow Down” article was – what’s the word? – special (as in Ed).

    Now, I’ve been taken to task for suggesting that being prolific is a helpful, perhaps even necessary (albeit never sufficient) factor in making a living writing. But I made that determination based in my experience. Yeah four, finishing my tenth novel, averaging those three novels a year Mr. Cristiano finds objectionable.

    In that experience, I’ve found that my book sales do very well on the month of publication (lifting my entire backlist), decline steadily over the next month and then drop off a cliff by the third (usually to 50-70% of the release month). So, from a pure “filthy lucre” point of view, it would behoove me to release a new book every 90 days. Every two months would be better.

    Now, I’m not a “puppy mill of stream-of-consciousness vanity projects” (As an aside: what does that even mean? Vanity projects aren’t likely to sell regardless of their frequency of appearance. My idea of puppy mill authors crank out genre novels with metronome regularity and for them it’s a 9-to-5 job, the total opposite of vanity project producers). But anyway, I like to think I write the best books I can, and I don’t put a book out until I’m satisfied. In the past, that has meant sometimes it took me six months to get the next book out. In the end, a book takes as long to write as it takes. A rushed book isn’t likely to be a quality book.

    The thing is, I know that when I’m “on” (putting six hours a day in front of the computer, not Facebooking or watching Netflix or playing Civ VI), I can produce a 100,000-word first draft in twenty days, edit it in fifteen, and have it proofread in ten. If I was consistently “on,” I could produce six books a year with time to spare for a vanity project or two. So far, things rarely work out this way. But I can’t conceive spending a whole year on one project, not if I’m doing it full time. Only time it’s taken me more than four months to finish a book, I was, quite franking #*@*&ing off instead of writing for a good deal of the time. I get lazy, or get the blues, or spend a week convinced I’m a fraud and I might as well play computer games. Working on it.

    Admittedly, I write genre fiction, not literary, and I’m not trying to win a Hugo. I have stories in my head I want to tell in an entertaining way. Perhaps Mr. Cristiano writes headier fare that requires more percolation time (a quick search of his oeuvre reveals a single YA post-apocalyptic novel written two years ago, but perhaps his efforts are focused on his editorial career). Or he simply has a different way of doing things. I wouldn’t criticize his output or lack thereof; I only wished he’d extended everyone the same courtesy.

    tl; dr: I disagree strongly with the idea that three novels is too fast. Depends on the writer. For some writers, ten years is too fast. For others it’s ten days. YMMV.

  6. Someone should introduce this dude to the works of Chris Nuttall. It’s always interesting to see someone’s head explode.

  7. Some authors put out a rough draft that is publishable with very little content editing needed

    When I finish a first draft, as far as content is concerned (not speaking to typos and the like), it’s probably 80-90% as good as it’s going to get. Not that I’m so great at the start (no illusions there) but that fussing over it isn’t going to make it better.

    In my case, I’m not a fast writer. I’m hoping to get faster with practice, but as things stand now, once you consider various interruptions and distractions (life happens), my average copy per day just isn’t that much. Still, working to increase that.

    • Ah, “awaiting moderation”. I presume because this is my first comment to MGC since going to the new email address.

    • I am glacially slow. Why? Because I am a newbie, not because I am the next great literary genius.

      Like everything else I have ever done, I will get both better and faster as I gain experience. Including all of the “fiddly bits” that take me hours or days right now – that people like Amanda can do before the morning coffee finishes brewing.

  8. Something I have noticed in my own works. The ‘nanodrafts’ (my first rush to get the whole idea down) have gotten better over the years. I’m eyeing three or four I’ve done very recently and seeing how to whip them into shape more quickly than the current one (which I nanodrafted in ’03.) This one’s been a long slog because I’m learning MY Process. I anticipate the next one going more quickly.

    Personally, my goal, before I hit publish on ANYTHING, is to have 6 novels ready to publish. I figure producing that will give me time to figure out my process and figure out how frequently I can publish so I can keep a steady release rate with my own stuff. Current thought is the Duology I’m working through now, two novels in unrelated worlds, and two novels in (one of them semi-standalone, one of them the first in a a different series). All fantasy with this, as my science fiction is MUCH rougher at this point. (I’ll be nanodrafting it to get it on par with the fantasy!) I’m anticipating 1-2 novels per year while, there is a day job. Which makes for a slow start, but we’ll see how it actually goes.

  9. Carrington Dixon

    Obviously too young to remember the old pulpsters, like Walter Gibson, Lester Dent and the Kuttners (admittedly a team of two writers). At his peak Gibson was turning out two novels a month. The others were not far behind that.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Study those people, not whoever it was that wrote the OP?

    • I remember reading how the guy behind Doc Savage almost drove himself crazy doing that. One day in the midst of writing he looked up to see Monk and Ham (two of the series characters) standing in front of him. He remembered having a wonderful conversation for half an hour before he realized what was going on.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        And then there was Norvell Page, who was just plain crazy.

        • I’ve never heard of Mr. Page (shall remedy that soon).

          I perhaps may fit into that “just plain crazy,” though. I would love to have a nice long interview with several of my characters right now…

          • Christopher M. Chupik

            He wrote the majority of the Spider pulps under the name “Grant Stockbridge” and some other stuff under his own name. You can almost see him pantsing as his stories unfold.

    • Matthew

      Two words for this idiot:

      Isaac Asimov

  10. Oh, my gosh … I think I have broken every so-called rule, too – first novel was written in a white-hot blaze of energy in about two months flat. That was writing from about nine to four daily with a short lunch break. It was polished, edited and ready to go six months later. The second novel – which is marketed as a trilogy but it’s just one long story broken into digestible parts – too two years, start to finish and came out all at once. The following novels, I am usually working on two at a time, with an eye toward bring out one per year. When I get stuck on one, I work on the other until the blockage clears. I’ve sped it up in the last two years with the Luna City chronicles – those are an easy write, being contemporary and having a-author. So last year I did one historical and two Luna Cities.

    Is he one of these precious snowflakes who labors for years over a single overwrought literary novel? Just asking for a friend.

  11. Martin L. Shoemaker

    He’s 20-something. He has one book out. His bibliography lists one short story/vignette, published on his company’s web site.

    Those who can, do. Those who can’t, lecture those who can about how they’re doing it wrong.

  12. Litrachure, you see, is difficult. It is deep, it is dark, it is many layered as the onion.

    Young Mikey laments that such grandiosity cannot be accomplished in less than an entire year. Even with EditingBots and other peons beavering furiously in the wake of The Ahhhhthor, putting a gleaming shine on his saintly prose. The sheer strain on the Authorly Soul would be too much to bear.

    Sigh. Greatness is such a burden.

    • One book? And he sees fit to tell others how to write? And here I’m feeling incredibly arrogant to ever do a post on the theme of “here’s something you might try” in writing.

    • aacid14

      Really? Any English major that tells you they never vomited out multiple essays in a week or one overnight in school is lying (I wanted to use another verb but being nice). So litrachur doesn’t take years.

      • My greatest work of word vomit was written four sheets to the wind, emailed to the professor, and on a computer that promptly crashed, leaving me no idea of what I’d actually written. It was hailed as a work of genius, used by several professors in some of their work, and I still have no idea what I said. I know the general gist was “uh huh, fantasy is too literature”

        • I did that once in school. The assignment was to imitate styles—the conceit was that Benjamin Franklin had written a Utopia-like book, and that some other historical character we were studying (I forget who—John Locke, maybe?) had written an essay in response: we were supposed to write “excerpts” from these works.

          The pseudo-Franklin went well enough, but I was swamped with other classes and didn’t get around to the response essay until late the night before it was due. So I composed the essay directly in email, as if Locke had appeared and was talking and I was just taking dictation. The advantage of this framing was that when I lost my train of thought I let him ramble and explained that I got bored and missed a bit of what he was saying. And when I reached the required word count, I broke off mid-sentence with the “explanation” that I’d dozed off and he was gone when I woke. Sorry, professor.

          Got an A, too.

  13. Chuck C

    I wonder what looking at Michael Anderle’s Amazon page would do to OP?
    15 months, 15 solo novels, 12 collaborations. Author ranking:
    #5 in Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction
    #6 in Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Horror
    #8 in Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy
    #9 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction
    #19 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy
    Mind, I have no idea how Michael Anderle can write so fast, and I doubt there is much re-writing, but it’s 9 times the writing pace allowed by Michael Cristiano, and the sale rankings indicate that many readers don’t think it is drivel. Compare that to one book listed on Michael Cristiano’s Amazon page, and no sale ranking.

    • I know how he can write so fast, I’ve seen some of his early stuff before it was edited. He now has a team that he sends like 5 chapter chunks to who edit heavily. This saves him a lot of time and effort, as they do all of the clean up for him. He also keeps his books short, 60K words is about the max.
      In the first book you can see he had a few problems getting on track with his story, but he focused in pretty quickly by the second. Yes, he does a lot of fairly standard tropes, and he is very much writing to market. He is first and foremost a strong marketer.
      Which is not to detract from his stories, because they are a lot of fun and he stacks his actions scenes well. He’s also not very ‘literary’ his books will never win any awards (unless his fans flood them) beyond the oh so popular Benjamin award (he’s a millionaire now).

    • mrsizer

      Exactly who I thought of when I read the post. Even more so when I read this comment: “The market doesn’t care if it’s good quality. Just look at 50 shades.”

      Silly me. I thought the market DEFINED quality. I love the Kurthurian books. They’re “good” – for what they are. I’ve read them all through KU, but I’m thinking of buying the first one just for the audio version. How could anyone read all that cursing without starting to laugh?

      And he re-did/had someone re-do the covers. They are much better, now.

  14. In the first place, Isaac Asimov.
    In the second place, the ONLY reason I can see for a writer to advise other writers to slow down is because they are concerned that their book will get lost. To which I say “Tough noogies, pal. We aren’t going to level the playing field for you. You want to sell books? Good, you are on the right track. Are your books the kind people want to read? Good, that will show up in your sales figures.”
    ON THE OTHER HAND!!!!!
    I am PAINFULLY aware that there are a LOT of outstanding books that just don’t get the sales they deserve. Jessica M. Ney-Grimm; Alma T.C. Boykin; David Burkhead; Laura Montgomery; unfortunately, I could go on and on and on. And that’s not even counting the frappen brilliant stuff written by Kat Ross that she won’t publish! I have 35 pages of reviews on Amazon, & most of those are of books, and most of the books are by authors who really, really ought to be showered in public adulation.
    So, shall we have a rule that crappy writers may not publish? I do not know this for a fact, but it’s my understanding that there really is a writer going by the name of Chuck Tingle who has LOTS of fans. Crappy writer? Yeah, from what I have seen of his work, it’s crappy.
    Heck, I forgot for a minute I was commenting on MGC, and not writing a blog post. Sorry for the verbosity.

  15. Martin L. Shoemaker

    Ah. And it’s a guest post on the blog of someone who has one fewer publications.

  16. Once upon a time, it was reasonably well known that there was an SF author–who was also a superb typist, as it mattered — who wrote four (short) novels. In two weeks. The novels were somewhat repetitive, and admittedly not SF.

    Chuck, please, what it the link to author ranks?

  17. Uncle Lar

    To quote a favorite cartoon character of mine, what a maroon!
    The only reason I can ascribe to his rant is that he is overwhelmed by the competition, so would greatly appreciate if all y’all more prolific writers would just wear these lead boots for a bit and allow him to lead the race. Thank you very much.
    “very little content editing needed — hi, Sarah!”
    You almost owed me a new keyboard on that one, very funny. Wait, OK, I’ll give you content, but oh those typos, OMG.
    As for your own self, there was that book you didn’t want to write, but Myrtle the Muse wouldn’t let loose. Took, what, something like four weeks from start to up for sale on Amazon? And the book was finished enough to copy edit before you even had a title.
    Still say that Witchfire Burning is one of your better efforts, a very entertaining read if I do say so.

  18. I can understand his frustration. I don’t anticipate that I’ll ever do more than a novel a year and I know that hurts my chances of making a living writing. But I understand that’s my problem, not the fault of people who do write quickly. Breaking everyone else’s legs won’t fix my limp.

  19. Yeah, another one of these articles from a self proclaimed literary genius who figures he doesn’t have the sales he SHOULD have, because we’re all publishing so much more than he is and sucking all of the oxygen out of the room.

    He obviously subscribes to the ‘Zero-Sum’ theory of book sales.

    I published 5 novels last year, in four different series (though to be fair, one book was related to one of the other series) and one of those books was the start of a brand new series. I also put out two novella’s under an alt, and put up a free novella on my website for fans.

    I suspect any one of the novels I published last year outsold all of his efforts in the last year combined. Some people say I write fast, but I honestly feel that I write slow myself. Because I treat this as a nine to five job, and work every day (and sometimes do overtime) when I average my word count for the year it is below 5K per day. My goal is to get above that number, because I really do want to be able to publish six (80K words plus) novels a year, every other month, because I have a lot of stories I want to tell, and apparently my fans are okay with that.

    As everyone will tell you, the more you write, the more you write. And the better you get. I understand not everyone has the time to do this 8 or more hours a day. And not everyone is a Mozart, who has the story fully formed in their heads and simply has to put it down on paper. But I have seen pieces of crap that someone slaved over for years, and pure wonder that someone popped out in a couple of weeks because they had an idea.

    The idea isn’t to be jealous, the idea is to learn to emulate and do the best that you can do.

  20. I am reminded of the WWII poster of “America’s Answer: PRODUCTION!”

    Take that!

  21. TRX

    “There’s only a fixed pool of readership, and if you’re writing faster than I am, it’s coming out of my fair share of sales.”

    [cue violins]

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      But how do the faster writers get sales out of my fair share, which is zero?

      I don’t understand.

      🙂

  22. Phil Sevetson

    Asimov. 300 books written. Q.E.D.

    • While Asimov was prolific, no question, there are others who put out just as many books without the same reputation for prolificity (prolificness?). Asimov, in his autobiography, suggested that what generated his reputation wasn’t just the number of books but how wide he cast his nets. He didn’t just do SF or Fantasy but mysteries, books on science, books on history, books on the historical origins of words, and so on and so on. I think he said that he had books in every major category of the Dewey Decimal System.

  23. *laughing* That’s obviously Someone who HASN’T read the Kevin J Anderson book, Million Dollar Productivity, and probably won’t condescend to read any of Larry’s teaching on the subject matter. Because *sniff!* ‘my art is better than that!’ Or something.

    • Martin L. Shoemaker

      Hey! Thanks! I missed that one. I knew it was coming out eventually, but somehow it slipped by.

    • “Oh Sons of Adam how cleverly you defend yourselves from anything that might do you good.” ~Aslan, of Uncle Andrew in the Magician’s Nephew.

      These days seems to apply to more matters than the spiritual.

  24. Is Ammosoft a safe company to buy software from? Need to reset admin PW on my tower.

  25. aacid14

    Correct .E if I’m wrong but the typical reason tradpub authors may only do a book or so a year is because of the release schedule of the publisher. I’d bet a bunch of authors could do significantly more than they do with tradpub.

  26. I sold my first manuscript in 2008. It came out in 2009. I currently have 30 titles published which I’ve authored, co-authored, or to which I’ve contributed (anthologies, etc.). The math is easy; that’s over 4 books per year, on average. Some are traditionally published; some are indie. They span a range of genres including: fantasy, space opera SF, hard SF, mystery, romance, paranormal/horror, nonfiction how-to-write, and nonfiction popular science. (I might note that, in my experience, trad pub actually takes considerably longer to get onto store shelves than indie — especially if the indie author knows what s/he is doing.)

    I just went back to my Amazon Author Page to look at the years that stuff came out and there were two years — when I had been ill, or a close family member died, that sort of thing — when I only put out one; three more years when I put out two. But in 2011 I put out five. And in 2012 I put out TEN. Three books were released (2 novels, 1 short story in an anthology) in the last 5 months alone. I have at least five planned for this calendar year, and at least as many for next year.

    Now, some of those were novellas, novelettes and short stories. But as a general rule, when I write a novel, it ain’t a skimpy 60K words. In fact, it’s rare for one of my novels to come in under a full 100K words. And of those 30 titles, more than half are full-up novels, or COLLECTIONS of novels. An additional 20% are novellas or short pop-sci books. And I’m planning to collect the short stories into a solo anthology. A certain former colleague has decreed it shall be called “Eclectic Osborn.”

    It’s called the publishing BUSINESS for a REASON, folks. I’m here to try to write, market, and sell good books, and use the monies earned to pay my bills. If that’s not why you’re writing, maybe YOU’RE the “vanity” writer.

  27. I write “science” (papers, grant proposals, etc.) not fiction, but the process isn’t entirely dissimilar. What this person seems not to address is that writing is a lot about “the flow”. For me, both quality and speed go way up in the flow. The flow state can also transfer to the next project for months at times until exhaustion and life break it. Why stop if it’s flowing?
    In my experience, once things start moving, it is the external delays, reviewing,, etc., that slows down the productvity….
    At least in science writing, I’ve also seen that reader’s responses to my writing is only weakly correlated with the number of redrafts, pauses, etc., at least after some minimum point!
    Therefore, you science fiction writers, ignore this guy and give me more books to buy!

  28. Mary

    The fun thing is that he does not know how long a novel has been a work in progress. It’s quite possible that they weren’t all written just before publication.

  29. Warning. May contain heavy doses of sarcasm.

    Hum. I was thinking about this, and I think I understand the complaint. See, it’s based on a deep understanding of muses. You and I may consider muses to be somewhat enigmatic, but in fact, it’s a well-known fact of the literati that the pool of muses are only given a certain quota of great ideas every year. So, if the indie writers are grinding out lots and lots of books and stories, obviously their muses are being drained, producing a shortfall of ideas for the general muse pool, which ends up reducing the ideas available to the literati!

    Imagine their poor muses, being asked for yet another rendition of grey goo in erudite terminology suitable for coffee tables everywhere, and they strain and fret, but… the muses’ quota has been used, and there are no ideas to be had. Why, muses have been known to go mad, and start dealing in black market ideas! Just to keep their writers mumbling.

    So, you can see, it’s a very clear and present danger.

    Let alone the worldwide shortage of words! If writers write quickly, they use up the words, and then what is the poor literati going to do, when they try to write a haiku and there aren’t enough syllables free? It’s like trying to play scrabble without any vowels!

    So, on behalf of the quota of muses, and the shortage of words everywhere, don’t just keep writing those great works!

    Or, of course, you might be one of those people who finds ideas everywhere, and words just springing from the leaves and bees and falling from the skies! In which case, go ahead. Make my reading!

    Sorry, gotta go buy an ebook or two.

    • It is for this very reason that I’ve given my muse combat training, armed him with a cudgel, and protected him with a helmet. While I’m busy working on his one allotted idea for the year, he is off mugging other muses and stealing their ideas. Many of those ideas don’t appeal to me, but there are plenty of other muses out there. I just have my muse whack a dozen at a time and then sift through what he finds, looking for a winner.

      You know that feeling you get when you had a great idea and then had it slip away? That, um, might have been because your muse met my muse when a dark alley was close at hand.

      Sorry about that.

      (Not really.)

    • LOL! It sounds like the premise for an urban fantasy crime thriller set in an alternate universe in which Michael Anderle and Chris Nuttall die in mysterious circumstances, driving prolific SF authors into hiding. Guided by Jodi Taylor, the Oracle of St. Mary’s, a heroic trio of Vaughn Heppner, Autumn Kalquist and Terry Mixon solve the mystery, though Terry takes a bullet in the process. Turns out it was a hit ordered by the Literati desperate to retain their monopoly on muses. The Lit-hitmen pose as fans to give Anderle and Nuttall gifts of poisoned pens. Which is ironic, because as everyone knows, the only reason Anderle and Nuttall can write so quickly is because they are time-traveling refugees from a future in which Microsoft bundles a Word-compatible thought-to-text brain implant with every Office subscription.

  30. Aimee Morgan

    He’s not Indie, so his publication schedule is stretched out, but having “watched” John Ringo write all 4 books of his Black Tide Rising trilogy over the course of a few months on Facebook, and then more recently his Monster Hunter Memoirs trilogy in what seemed like a long weekend, I can say with confidence that the guy who wrote that article is an idiot, a moron, and possibly a mental deficient.

    If you’re publishing dreck just to say you publish X books a year, you won’t have a writing career, but a writing hobby. On the other hand, if you’re spending years writing the next book in the series (cough…GRRM…cough), you’re going to have trouble keeping your fans.

    I like it when my favorite authors publish two or more good books a year. I’m a fast reader, and if y’all don’t publish fast enough, I wind up reading the phone book.

  31. Although Mr. Cristiano’s opinion is too broad for my liking, there are authors out there, some on the New York Best Seller list, who need to spend more time editing. One, in particular, uses way too many and’s in his/her novels and explains so much in the narrative, I often wonder if I’m ever going to get back to the story. Yet, s/he keeps on showing up on the best-seller list and I don’t know why.

  32. Michael D. Houst

    There is no best number of books to write per year; because what’s best for anyone changes from one person to the next. Some publishers may like volume from popular writers; but the for one to say that writers need to slow down seems to imply that: the quality of writing has dropped so much that readers aren’t buying it anymore, or that editors are having so much volume to wade through they can’t keep up, or that the publisher’s physical capacity to print and distribute is maxed out (and they’re not willing to expand.)

    I think that the Michael Cristiano perhaps doesn’t understand writers very well. Writers write. When they’re not submitting or selling, they’re still writing. And that any “excess” product goes into the various manifestations of the Hold Bin/File Drawer of Forgotten Dreams. And that excess product can then be used for a rainy day. Writers have lives. (They do?!) Which means stuff happens.

    Reminds me of one of my favorite authors, P.C. Hodgell. I stumbled across her ‘Dark of the Moon” years ago. But when I went looking for more books by her, there were none to be had. I thought her far too good of an author to be a one shot wonder; so lacking any other information on her, I assumed the worst and that she had either accidentally died or had passed away from some other reason. I was overjoyed when 10 years later I discovered she was writing again, and saddened to learn that it was due to some kind of family tragedy that she had stopped in the first place.

    I consider every story offered up by an author to be a gift; albeit one that deserves some compensation. Gifts should neither be demanded, nor spurned. Bards and troubadours have to eat too, and you better ones deserve to eat at better tables.

    Thank you.

  33. I’ve read from other comments exactly what I expected to hear about this guy: he only has one book out. That alone really should disqualify him from trying to lecture anyone on the amount of books they should write in a year. But it also makes me think that he’s probably just jealous that he can’t write that fast. I know the feeling, honestly. I’m not writing very quickly right now (purposefully, since I’m focusing on college), and that makes me feel like I’m falling behind. But I would never even think to lecture those that not only write faster than I do, but also have tons more readers than I do.

  34. mrsizer

    I’m a slow writer simply because I don’t write (40K and climbing!). If it were my job, things would be different. It reminds of when I left the Air Force to return to college. That first year back was so easy! You mean I’m only in class three hours a day with an hour of homework?!? That’s a half day’s work. Yay, free time!

    Then you get used to it and going back to the real world with eight-hour work days is horrible.