Awhile back, AJ wrote an excellent post on writing fast. I’m here today to tell you, you’ve got to write even faster.
For some lucky few, this will never apply. They’ll hit it big from the start, put out one book a year, and just watch the money roll in. But for the majority of us, we have to produce a lot each year in order to keep up with demand and make some decent money.
Let’s look at demand. I’m an avid reader. I can get through 3-4 books a month. Some of you will far outshine that small number, I’m sure. But let’s say the average reader only reads one book a month (note I wrote average reader not person). Heck, let’s make it worse and say one book every two months. So, this poor fellow only reads six books a year.
Now, at my absolute fastest writing speed that does not suffer the quality too greatly, I can produce maybe 4 books in a year. Keep in mind that I’m grossly over-estimating my abilities to make the point. The fact is I probably would be lucky to put out 3 books. But even at 4 — even at 5 — I still cannot meet the demand of just one, slow reader. In other words, one slow reader can read more than one fast writer can produce. Those of you worried about selling books can relax a tiny bit — there is, mathematically speaking, an infinite demand for books in relation to supply. Of course there are numerous other factors regarding the sales (or lack there of) of books, but when it comes to readers wanting material, we writers are in good shape.
That’s one reason we have to write faster. Because if you don’t write the books, somebody else will. Demand is high, and as e-readers continue to proliferate, the expectation of readers to get what they want NOW is growing. If readers buy your book and like it, you’ll want to have more for them to enjoy. Especially because according to the 2010 Book Buyer’s Habits survey, the #1 way people choose to buy a book is author recognition — they know your name, your work, and want more. In the world of indie-publishing and small press, this speed factor is even more important because one huge difference from the big pubs is that ebooks are forever — the long-tail can work for you since your backlist will never get pulled from the shelves (unless the internet ceases to exist).
Obviously we don’t want to hurt the quality of our writing. I’d rather put out 1-2 excellent stories than put out 4 crappy titles. But by training ourselves to write faster, we can work towards 2-3 excellent books a year or more. Believe me, it’s possible.
When I first started writing, I was happy to get one page done in a day. That’s about 250 words. But much of writing is habit. Over the years I’ve trained my body and my brain so that now I produce 1,000 words a day. My goal is to get to 2,000 words a day. After that, I’ll set a new goal.
The nice thing for those of us who have been doing this for awhile is that not only have we already been training ourselves, but we have a backlist to draw from. So, not only did I put out 10 Bits of My Brain but I’ve been releasing individual short stories little by little. Three are already up (that’s why the covers are in this post!).
Today’s big press market is ridiculously tight. I’ve been getting agent rejections saying that under former circumstances they’d happily take me on, but not under the present conditions. That’s becoming frighteningly common.
Back in the good ol’ days, you’d write your book and while you sent out queries and collected rejections, you worked on the next one. I did it that way for years. Now, you write your queries, collect your rejections, work on the next one, publish the old ones, work on the sequels that new fans are demanding, write the blog post, keep up with social networking, blah, blah, blah. It all boils down to this — write even faster.
And don’t be surprised if every few months I’ve got more material to post here. It’ll take awhile until I catch up to my current WIP.