I don’t normally read The Huffington Post since they don’t pay their contributors, but I did come across this one post I couldn’t help but agree with which says that self-published authors shouldn’t write 4 books a year.
Like most writers, and most non-writers actually, I would love to do nothing but sit at my desk and write books all day but I don’t just yet. Not only because it’s impossible but because it would involve using a writing and marketing model I don’t want to use. There is a growing trend of people who claim that the ease of self-publishing and online promotion makes it possible to publish a high quantity of books and make a living off of them. You just have to spend 6 hours a day writing and another 6 on marketing. I don’t mind that part, I know how arduous the writing process is and how hard you need to work at marketing. But they also claim that you can use the ‘write, publish, repeat’ model to put out 4 or even more books a year. The problem I have with that is you can’t just write whatever you feel like and expect it to sell enough to earn a living. You can only succeed with this model by succumbing to public demand or writing gross porn, neither of which particularly interests me. If I forced myself to write that, I would probably lose all passion for writing. It is true that I have to use a similar process to write the SEO articles I churn out for bread and butter money, but an 800 word article serves a different purpose than an 80,000 word book.
There is no problem with publishing so many books if you are a competent enough writer to put out 4 good books a year, but few writers are. Even traditional book publishers only expect their writers to put out 1 book a year at most. That’s because it takes time and effort to write and publish a book that is of good quality and will actually sell, even if you do spend 6 hours a day on writing. Writers put their names on everything they publish so they can’t afford to ruin their reputation by putting out an inferior product, and that is what you will get if you try to write a full length book in 3 months. Yes I know that pseudonyms are a possibility, but they make branding difficult and it is annoying to have to constantly switch between them.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I am taking my time with my first book on purpose. I’m turning 28 next week and I would ideally like to publish 1 book before I turn 30, but that’s just a projected timeline for motivational purposes. If I had hastily written and published the book before my skills were polished, I would be looking back at a problematic book that I couldn’t be proud of. Perhaps in years to come I will look back on my first book and feel embarrassed by it, but at least I will know that I put my full effort into it and learnt how to be a better writer from it. I don’t even know if anyone will like this book, but that’s not the reason I’m writing it. While it is true that you need to write an awful lot of crap to learn how to be a good writer, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to publish all of that crap.
Once I become more accustomed to self-publishing, hopefully I can publish books quicker and perhaps even do it full time, but not with the 4 books a year method. I still like my freelance work and I don’t want to give it up entirely. But through this freelance work I see far too many books that were written to fit supposed consumer demand or were published half-heartedly lurking at the bottom of the Amazon rankings. I have too much respect for the industry and for readers to put more books like these onto the market with my name on them. I may not have 100 books to my name by the time I’m dead, but I’d much rather have 1 book I put my whole heart into.