~ One book a year?
~ One sub-genre?
~ One publisher?
~ Is it quality vs. quantity?
As long as there are writers, agents, readers, publishers, and stories to write and sell there will be debates within the publishing industry. A current debate: Should authors publish more than one book a year?
Most discussions I’ve seen online approach this from limited viewpoints of the industry. The readers and the writers. So what are they saying? And what about the rest of the industry?
Editors may choose to only produce one of your books a year, but they often want to see you working on other things in the meantime. Editors consider many things when they are looking at authors, books, and schedules. Some of it is what slots they have available in their house, but another thing they consider is how much can an author produce. They are not against taking on Author A, an author who takes a year to write a fantastic book, but if the choice is between that author and Author B, one that can produce two great books a year, they will likely go with the more prolific author. It’s sad to say, but from a publisher’s standpoint, it is a numbers game and they have to consider what is going to make them profitable.
Agents, while they have a little more flexibility in the amount of time they spend on an author’s career and selling a book, are in a similar situation as the publishers. If they have Author A and Author B sitting before them, they will look at the situation differently than the editor. Author A may have written an amazing story that they love. Author B has talent, writes a clean story that’s engaging and they produce faster. In both situations, the agent benefits from taking on these authors. Author A may write a better book that sells more copies when it releases, but Author B may have a higher earning potential due to the quantity of projects.
Readers want to read their favorite authors as often as possible without finding themselves setting a book aside with the question “what were they thinking when they printed this thing?” As consumers and fans, quality is crucial. Especially in today’s society where there is so little spare time and in many cases money to waste.
That’s a lot to consider in the debate of more than one book a year or more without touching on the viewpoint of the person in charge of creating the worlds, characters, and stories.
For authors, answering the question of how many books to write and publish a year requires the consideration of a lot of factors.
~ Do they stay at home full-time?
~ If they have a job outside of the home, how demanding is that job? Is it part-time or full-time? Does it require a lot of travel? Does it eat up weekend and evening time?
~ Are there children in the house? How old are they? How active are they in school activities? How self-sufficient are they?
~ Sadly. How supportive is their family? Are they able to write during the day when the family is awake, or do they have to work when everyone is sleeping so they don’t cause resentment?
~ Are there physical handicaps or ailments that force them to work at a slower pace?
~ What are they writing? How long is the story? How many words a day/week can they produce?
~ Creatively, how do they work? Can they sit down and just write out the story, letting it flow? Do they have to think and stew on it for weeks or months? Do they plot it out down to the last detail, or just create a framework of the highpoints?
~ How complex is the “world” they’re building? Is it paranormal, in which case the world could have unique rules? Is it a historical that requires a lot of research and familiarity with time frames? Is it a complicated suspense that requires attention to seemingly minor details that become big ones if they are ignored or allowed to slack off?
~ At what point do they hit their threshold that if they push anymore they will break or lose their excitement for writing? And when that happens, their lack of excitement tends to come out in their story.
~ What do they have in mind for their career as a writer? Do they see it as a career, or more of a hobby? Is their primary goal to say they’ve published one book?
~ Once they reach publication, how are they going to handle the demands of promotion and networking to ensure a book’s success?
As authors, the desire to write often begins as little more than a desire to tell a story. It doesn’t take long for that desire to grab hold and become a defining part of the life of a writer. There are as many types of writers as there are flavors of jelly beans, but regardless of how an author answers the questions above, no matter how they view their writing, there’s one goal that every writer shares: The desire to tell the stories living in their hearts and minds to the best of their ability.
An author never wants to put a book out there that someone may define a “put-downable.” So for some that means spending more time with a book, and it could mean being more patient in the process of finding an agent and editor who will work at their pace.
While every person involved in any part of a book’s life has an opinion on the One Book a Year Question, only the creator of the story has full control over what is right for their work. Only the author can judge what is the right fit for them and at what point their quality begins to suffer.
Every angle of this business and how it impacts different people is subjective. Agents, editors, readers, reviewers, and writers all have different definitions of what is prolific. What is phenomenal. What makes a satisfying story that takes you away from the troubles of your own life for just a little bit.
This is not a debate that can be solved with one answer, because no one answer, just as no one story, is right for everyone.
Nikki’s been a member of North Texas Romance Writers of America for close to two years, and has been recognized as an RWA PRO. She’s completed three novels and one novella. While seeking publication, Nikki keeps herself busy by creating the stories living vividly in her imagination and helping other authors with promotional materials, including things like book videos, bookmark designs, and website design and maintenance. More can be found about Nikki by visiting www.nikkiduncan.com.