According to most research, the average reader goes through a book or two a month. Authors of most styles of fiction publish a book every year or two. A few, like Stephen King and James Patterson might publish more than two a year. Until recently, it wasn’t unusual for novelists to spend three or more years writing one book.
Think Diana Gabaldon of Outlander fame. Or hell, George R. R. Martin, who is happy to complete one in five years these days.
On the flip side, the average romance reader devours two to three books a week.
When self-publishing first took off, so did the number of books an author should publish per year. The general wisdom became that in order for independent romance authors to gain readers, and keep them, they needed to write three, five, seven, or even twelve books a year.
Granted some might be short stories or novellas, but seriously? That is a shit-ton of writing. More writing than I ever want to do or subject my body to, and I love writing.
How can anyone keep up that kind of pace? Authors aren’t robots, or factories. They’re humans who only have so many hours in a day. Seems to me either you’re going to burnout, or your books are going to be rushed and crappy. Or both. (not saying prolific authors books are always bad, just that, on that schedule mine sure as hell would be.).
Starting out, I had no idea how long it would take me to write and edit a novel into something worth reading. I underestimated.
I wrote and published my three novella ski romance series in a year and a half, and that seemed easy. So, I set deadlines with an editor and drafted two novels in seven months and my wrist crapped out because I put in too many hours on the keyboard to get them done on time.
For me, writing fiction is like building a home by hand. It takes time, and planning, and dedication, and passion. And more time. Because every story I write is meticulously crafted so it flows easy and everything ties together to fit my theme. I rewrite, edit, tweak and refine until the characters are well-developed and interesting, and the sex hot. Then it gets edited, read by a few beta readers, and edited again (and maybe again and again and again and again), then proofread. Twice.
Nowadays I’m thinking if I can put out a novel and a novella every year, I’ll be thrilled.
With authors publishing so many titles so quickly, I wonder about the economics of scarcity (the theory that having fewer of something available creates pent up demand and drives up value/price and desire). Has that been squandered because everyone expects romance authors to churn out books and give them away, sell them for $.99, or offer them on Kindle Unlimited?
Sure, having a back catalog of published titles ASAP is good for authors and readers. But I don’t want to be a book-writing robot with no other life. I’d rather work at becoming a Diana Gabaldon or Gearge R. R. Martin, and develop a legion of fans willing to wait for my next book because they know it’s going to be worth it.
I’d rather put out one or two amazing books a year than four mediocre ones. As a reader, I want my favorite authors to do the same.
Readers and authors, I’d love to get your thoughts on this…
Do you expect your favorite romance authors to publish more than one or two titles a year?
Do you forget about authors if they take longer than a year to publish another book?
What’s the most you’re willing to pay for a romance ebook by an author you don’t know, versus one you already know and like?
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