Thoughts on the Industry #amwriting

Indie authors sometimes feel pressured by Amazon and the publishing industry as a whole to write fast and publish often. Certain genres are more prone to this sort of pressure than others. The push to produce a new book every sixty days (or less) has spawned a scandal and prompted a debate about ethics.

First of all, why are authors writing in some genres pressured to produce new work so quickly?

Let’s look at Romance, as it is the most visibly dysfunctional of the popular genres right now. There is a root cause to this, something all Romance authors face, whether traditionally published or Indie. Financial rewards favor Romance authors who publish frequently, which drives the emotions behind this free-for-all.

Emotions are hard to conquer when it comes to your career.

You might ask why readers of Romance feel they have the right to demand new books from an author every month? Do they not understand that the kind of work they will get will be stamped from an established mold with the names changed and decorated differently?

The fact is, a large majority of readers in all genres don’t know what it takes to get an original idea from concept to print, and don’t care. Readers of Romance like the comfort of the predictable plot and the sureness of the happy ending. The books they crave are devoured and then forgotten as the reader moves on to the next Romance fix. These readers demand a new book regularly from their favorite authors, and if not immediately satisfied, they move on to a new author and forget the old.

Amazon has placed an added burden on all authors, not just indies. Regularly releasing new work helps an author when it comes to Amazon algorithms. See Mindy Klasky’s post, Rapid-Release Publishing: How to Do It, and Whether It’s Right for You.

To meet this challenge, Romance authors must develop a work ethic that would daunt even the most driven CEO. They must have several formulas, a one-size-fits-all basic plot outline, and a set of stock characters they can repurpose to fit any scenario. The author limits their word count to 50,000 or so words, has a set length of time to write the book, a short window in which to edit, and then they publish. Some authors write in the morning, send the morning’s work to an editor and make revisions on the previous day’s work in the afternoon. These authors inject as much creativity into their work as they can and put in long office hours to meet this challenge.

Some authors hire ghost writers to help with the workload.

A few desperate authors resort to plagiarism.

That someone could be so desperate to keep their name up in the rankings is a scandal that has had repercussions throughout the industry, as it affects traditionally published authors as well as Indie Romance authors. See this Inside Hook article, This Plagiarism Scandal Has Rocked the World of Romance Novels by Reed Richardson 24 Feb 2019.

Big name, traditionally published authors like George R.R. Martin, the late Robert Jordan, and Patrick Rothfuss are regularly treated to a landslide of verbal abuse from anxious, misguided readers because they choose to write at their own pace.

Some fans don’t understand that if you love the quality of an author’s first works, you must allow them the time to write the succeeding novels the way they want to, no matter how long it takes. After all, it’s their creation.

I’m not what you would call prolific. Fortunately, I don’t have a large fanbase, nor do I have to sell books in order to eat, so I don’t feel this sort of pressure. It takes me four years to get a book from concept to print. For me, short stories and novellas fill the gap, but even those can only emerge once or twice a year.

Fortunately for me, readers of literary fantasy and epic fantasy are more patient, willing to wait a year or two if that is what it takes. These readers understand that authors are not machines.

I have friends in the industry who are prolific compared to me, and their work is both original and well-written. They aren’t spewing a book a month, but they have established a publishing schedule and are able to stick to it.

My next series will focus on how these successful Indies work. We will explore ways to write successfully with a co-author in an interview with USA Today bestselling author, Lee French. I will also be looking at the careers of several other well-known authors, and show how method and discipline are the backbones of their success.


Filed under writing

7 responses to “Thoughts on the Industry #amwriting

  1. So relaxing to read this post!
    I’m never going to be a speedy publisher – I can manage a book in around 18 months, I might even push that to one a year when my work life eases up a little, but I don’t ever see it being quicker than that. For one thing, my subconscious works at that pace, popping ideas and connections into my head when its ready, not when I try to force it. I don’t think I could come up with the quality of work I like to produce if I tried to work faster just to play the Amazon algorithms.
    I am fortunate I don’t depend, nor have any intention of depending, solely on my fiction income, but I do look on it as a long-term bank I am saving into for my advancing years. Long live the steady writer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Deborah – as usual we see things out the same window! I admit I wish I could write faster. I tried speech to text–which was hilarious.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol, I’ve thought of trying that, but I think my result would be the same.
        I can write fast enough, it’s having the plot structure that takes me the time. Perhaps I’ll get better at that with more practice, but I’m not holding my breath.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Like you, I don’t need to write to eat. I’m retired. Which, ironically, means I have less rather than more time to write. I have OTHER things to do. Still, I have an ambitious schedule through 2031–nine books, including a couple series, some standalone novels and some fill-in the gap short story collections. I do plan on completing a two of three books in a series before releasing the first while well along on the third. I too, get impatient with GRR Martin. 🙂 I don’t want to be like him (oh, except for rich and famous).

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a good idea to get at least the first two of a series written before publishing the first. That way you can publish on a good schedule and still write. That is my plan too, with one the works-in-progress.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Chris ❤ You made my day!