The Other Side of Taking Your Time with Your Book

Fast SlowI’ve been a recent advocate of taking your time with your book: showing patience, getting help as needed, perfecting your work, doing pre-marketing, etc.

Let me balance this by referencing an article in the Wall Street Journal regarding self-publishing at a fast pace:

I have some trepidation that authors might read this article, especially given where it was published, and interpret that to mean that writing and publishing as quickly as possible is a successful business model.

No matter how you publish, it will take a special brand of content and packaging to attract a large readership, and discoverability is only becoming more challenging each year.

If the book isn’t attracting readers, having thirty such books probably won’t help.

But if you have a special book that’s just a magnet for readers, those readers will crave more, and the faster they can get it, the better.

The getting-more-books-out-there-quickly plan may have some merit.

Let me emphasize that there is more to it than just a large number of books; content is especially important, and so are packaging and discoverability.

I’ve mentioned previously the power of a backlist: Most authors who put out many titles in a few years already had much of the work done before publishing.

I benefited from a backlist, a coauthor, and publishing many workbooks that don’t compare to writing a novel. I know that it can help to have several books out. The more marketable books, the better. Having a large number of books that aren’t too marketable won’t help much.

What’s right for you? That’s the million-dollar question you’ll have to figure out. πŸ™‚

Publishing Resources

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Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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7 comments on “The Other Side of Taking Your Time with Your Book

  1. Just wrote a long comment and deleted it. I wish I knew how someone can write a publishable novel in five weeks, or how people can follow the advice that’s out there to never revise. I know it works for some people, but if I’d “just hit publish” on early drafts of my work, I’d be too embarrassed by plot holes and weak character motivations to ever try to release anything again!

    I’m probably losing money by actually revising and polishing my work, but I’m too much of a perfectionist to release anything that’s not the best I can make it. With so many choices out there for readers already, I’d rather take up less shelf space with higher-quality work than take up more with work that’s less than my best, even if it means I make less money (and I know that in the current publishing climate, I AM losing money). Silly, right?

    • I agree that the example given in that article is too extreme. I also believe that model won’t pan out for most authors. But I thought it would provide balance to my previous suggestions of taking more time.

      One constant in book marketing is change. If word spreads and more readers begin to favor authors who perfect their books, the author who rushed dozens of books to the market will suddenly have little to show for much hard work. Perfected content, in my opinion, can thrive in any market. We already see the market changing from a social-media frenzy to content-rich websites. It seems like content-valued books would fit nicely with this.

      I also believe that putting extra time to perfect the book, create buzz, and build a following has a much greater chance of success, especially in the long run. But if an author can succeed with a quicker-to-market plan, it would be hard for me to contradict the results and say it was the wrong thing to do. It’s ultimately the readership that makes such decisions.

  2. I guess it’s really a matter of finding your own pace and what works for you. Me? I take a few years to get a decent novel written and ready to be seen by outside eyes. Other people can pop out two or three a year. But that’s the thing — some people can and should write quickly, because they’re really good at it, and their brain just works in a way that lets them come up with ideas fast, write fast, edit fast, and turn out a great end product. But, like you said, there are also a ton of authors out there who write a first draft, run a spell check, and hit Publish, which is ever so worrisome.

    • That’s a good point. I can think of some popular traditional authors, like Heinlein, for whom ideas just seemed to roll right off their fingers. It’s a rare talent, though on the other hand there are millions of active writers.

      (Those drafts tend to fall off sooner or later, either into oblivion or eventually to get revamped. They aren’t really in the way, except how they figure into the indie image overall. My main concern for them is the lost potential.)

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