Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Being A Slow Writer in This Day and Age

I’ve whined posted before on the topic of being a slow writer, but lately my plodding ways have left me more and more worried. Not because my goal was to have fifty books under my belt by the time my writing days are over, but because, based on everything I read, my chances of being a successful writer may be compromised.

For almost a year now, I’ve read about the strategies authors should use for maximizing their income. Not everyone agrees on all the details, of course, but one rule seems to stand out. The more books you publish, the better off you’ll be. On the surface, this seems pretty obvious. The more books you have for sale, the more books you can sell. But the rule isn’t about the total number of books you publish; it’s about how quickly you can pump them out.

If a reader tries your book and likes it, then it’s in your best interest to have more books ready for immediate purchase. In fact, some writers will tell you that if you’re writing a series, there’s no point in spending time or money on marketing until you have at least two or three books finished and up for sale. Yowsa! At the rate I write, that’ll be another ten years from now.

Even worse, I hear it’s important to minimize the time between books. One book a year is now considered too slow, because readers who love your current book may forget about you in a year. For this reason, some writers don’t bother publishing any of the books in a series until they’re all written. 

I know my speed will improve with practice, but less than a year for a book? Right now, the only way that’s going to happen is if I lose my day job and my wife lets me write all day. And that’s not a possibility I wish to explore any time soon.

So what’s a slow writer like me to do?

Hmmm... I probably should have saved this topic for my next IWSG post. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll come up with a new insecurity before October rolls around.



  1. Write anyway. Mine came out a year and a half apart and that's the fastest I can possibly write a book.
    And if I write another one, that lag time will be even longer...

  2. Yes, I've been told this, too. And in fact have seen it in action with my Sherlock Holmes stories on Amazon. Each new release results in a big boost of my catalogue. I'm being told to write more of them, quickly! But . . . I'm not one of those writers who can just pour things out. And I don't want to only write Sherlock Holmes, much as I enjoy him. So I feel your pain.

    I was at a conference and the Smashwords guy was saying a lot of writers bank 4 or 5 books before publishing so they can put them out every 4-6 months and grow their audience. Of course, this is assuming you stick to one genre. I don't, so . . . I'm all over the map. Probably wouldn't make a difference for me.

  3. Been thinking about this a lot now that I'm thinking of trying my hand at self publishing early next year. I'm told writing shorter books is one way to write more books, so I'm giving that a try. Just keep writing. :)

  4. I think a year a book is fine. Some of those done more quickly (not all--I'm a huge Russell Blake fan) read like it. I haven't heard what you're saying, but that doesn't mean a lot. I like the Margaret Mitchell model--one and fame.

    I wonder if what you're saying is why so many good authors are publishing novelettes these days. Hmmm...

  5. My first book is the one that took the longest -- over two and a half years to write the first draft -- and part of that was because I wasn't confident I'd ever finish the book.

    I needed to finish the book to know I was capable of finishing a book.

    I did get to be a faster writer after that, but each one does take whatever time it takes. 6 weeks? or 6 months? or 6 years.

    Let every story take the path (and time) it needs.

  6. For me it's seven years and three books. Too each writer his own time line, what works for one won't work for another. Be true to you!

  7. I worry about this same issue because of how slow I write. I'm just going to have speed up as best I can. I hear when you are actually getting sales and feedback from real readers, it motivates you to write a lot faster, so some of the slowness could be due to sitting in a cloistered vacuum consisting solely of you and your characters that won't exist after publishing.

  8. Maybe take the pressure off. Get one book done and then look around. Most of the huge sellers don't do more than one book a year. They aim for quality and their readers appreciate the effort by buying millions of copies. Something to think about. :-)

    Anna from Elements of Writing