Monday, March 23, 2020

The Perils of Rapid Release

Yeah, yeah, I know. This blog has been pretty quiet lately. And it’s my fault. I’ve been so focused on editing my story that I felt guilty every time I even thought about posting. But thanks to COVID-19, I now have plenty of time to write. 

These days, a lot of authors are opting for Rapid Release as a technique for selling their books. Rapid Release is when an author releases multiple books in a series at once, typically about a month apart. The idea is to keep interest in a series high for an extended period of time, stimulating the Amazon algorithms into promoting the books for you. 

Lucy's version of Rapid Release - Photo by Giphy

Unfortunately, turning out that many books at once is problematic. You either have to be a really fast writer (definitely not me), or you have to hold off on releasing any books in the series until they’re all written, something most writers can’t afford to do unless they have a large backlist paying the bills. There are many risks to this approach, one of them being that you may find yourself three or more books deep into a series before discovering none of them are selling. The biggest concern, however, is that the quality of your books may suffer if you’re driving yourself to write too quickly. 

While I’m much too slow of a writer to ever consider this approach myself, I’m disappointed to see some of my favorite authors heading down this path. Not that I don’t want to read more of their stuff, but the quality of their writing has definitely taken a hit. 

For example, one of my favorite fantasy/science fiction writers jumped onto the rapid release bandwagon last year. Normally, she’s pretty good at weaving her worlds into the story naturally, letting us savor her worldbuilding one piece at a time. To my dismay, the first chapter of the first book in her new series (released in early 2019, I believe) was little more than an infodump. I couldn’t believe it was the same writer. 

It was like she was trying to cram all the details of her world in at the beginning, so she wouldn’t have to worry about them later as she cranked out her story in record time. Even worse, much of this info-dumping was done using cringeworthy “As you know, Bob” type dialogue. For those of you who haven’t heard the term before, it’s where the people having a conversation are telling each other things they both already know as a way to force feed info to the reader. It was painful to read, and to be honest, I couldn’t even finish reading the free sample provided by Amazon. 

Recently, another author whose stories I enjoy also jumped into the rapid release pool. I had volunteered to be an arc reader for them, but quite honestly, the stories were so poorly written, I stopped reading halfway through the second book. It was like reading a first draft. Not that the grammar was bad or the editing poor, but the writing needed lots of tightening. 

Pages passed with nothing happening. Mysteries brought up earlier in the story were forgotten. The main character spent a LOT of time thinking about what he should do. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the character kept thinking these same things over and over and over again with no resolution. Entire chapters could have been cut without hurting the story. It felt as if the author was padding the wordcount. To top it all off, so little happened during the story that when I reached the big reveal near the end of the book, it felt as if I were only at the halfway point of the story. 

So be careful if you opt for rapid release. If the quality of your book suffers, you’re going to pay for it down the line with disgruntled readers.


Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Insecure Writer and A Lack of Progress

Today is March's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?

I’m not exactly sure. Just a vague sense of unease that I’m not where I should be at this point in time. 

For one thing, my series of posts on building my brand have come to a screeching halt. It’s not as if I haven’t been working on building my platform, but there are so many facets to this marketing stuff, that breaking it down into blog-sized pieces may take a while. In the meantime, the edits on my urban fantasy are progressing at a reasonable rate, but it’s March and suddenly I’m worried I'm already falling behind. 

This month’s question is: Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories? 

The short answer is no. Maybe it’s because I haven’t written that many stories yet, or perhaps it’s because my family and I don’t really have much in the way of traditions. I’ve borrowed habits and traits from family and friends to round out my characters, but that’s about it. 

I'll be returning home today from a very enjoyable trip to Florida, so my ability to visit everyone’s blog may be limited. See you next month.