I’m pretty much a fan of Dean Wesley Smith. He has lots and lots of interesting stuff to say about the publishing world. He may be wordy at times, but he’s rarely boring.
I’m not 100% certain he inhabits the same dimension as the rest of us self-pubbers, but that’s okay. I imagine he did live here in the not too distant past.
Sometimes I think he wants us to follow his lead, sometimes I think he would prefer we find our own path. He shares words of wisdom when he sees a void, and plays the role of all around big brother/occasional head-slapper. I don’t always agree with him, but he brings up an interesting issue… Speed.
He posted this back in February 2011, found it on Publitariat:
“Now, in electronic publishing, is when things get ugly for the slow writer. Especially the slow writer trying to break into this business now, in 2011.
“Same exact factors apply in traditional publishing and electronic publishing. Exactly. Only things are much, much tighter and hard to get into traditional publishing now as traditional publishers go through all this flux and upheaval.
“For a writer to make any kind of decent money at indie-publishing, the author either has to have a lot of products selling at low levels, but regularly, or the author needs to hit it big like Amanda Hocking. And even she has more than one book.
“So an author writing only one book every few years would be much better served to never think of indie publishing. The chances of a bestseller are much higher in traditional publishing where there is professional help on everything from editing to packaging to covers to distribution.
“But that said, it’s very, very difficult these days for a book to get through the traditional systems, especially if the writer believes in the agent system. So the chance of getting a single book through the system and sold and then made into a bestseller are between slim and a few factors less than slim.”
Just a few observations…
1. The last paragraph is right on.
2. I imagine he’s not talking about cranking out a 600+ page novel 3-5 times a year. Writing 3-5 300+ page novels would be a big undertaking. Not only is it a major feat to complete a solid 300+ page novel, most of us self-pubbers don’t have the luxury of writing all day long – we work the day job and a lot of us have family responsibilities. And occasionally we like to shower.
3. Does speed = quality? Which comes first – the chicken or the egg? The above post was written over a year ago, but this is still the question of the moment. I don’t know the answer with any certainty but I’ll venture to say this – one can complete and release a work fast, and the work may even be edited for spelling and grammar. But what about content? If the author lacks a singular voice, if the writing lacks authenticity and a well-crafted solid, convincing, engrossing story about unique characters… all that speed doesn’t matter a lick.
Or does it? Some authors who know very little about the craft of writing and publish extremely derivative work get snapped up, not only by the public, but by NY pubs. Not passing judgment, but it’s an interesting conundrum, isn’t it? There is no answer to that riddle– right time, right place, right audience, right theme, stars in alignment…? Who the hell knows?
Call me old fashioned, but as a consumer/reader I shop for quality. Quality of the story, quality of the writing. I’m not interested in crap so I won’t give you brownie points for speed writing if you put out crap.
As a writer I don’t expect brownie points for speed, especially if I put out crap. I write at a pace that fits my lifestyle and the particular story I’m trying to tell. In fact, speed has been my nemesis. It’s been a blessing to get back the rights to some of my books so I can take the time to do justice to the story and the characters. I’d love the opportunity to rewrite the end of my wonderful erotic romance, Pushing Her Boundaries. The ending would be so much better if I hadn’t been in such a rush to get the book published.
I’ll close with this – every author needs to pace herself. If you can combine a reasonable pace with reasonable quality, all the better.