Mediocre or Prolific?
Today’s topic answers the question: How good is that book?
Confused? Let me explain...
I was reading a blog about publishing, and someone made the comment about an author who claimed to have written x number of books last year. The writer of the comment made mention that surely those books had to be mediocre. Mind you, the post was about the numerous low-quality books found on Amazon.
I’m not about to defend those books. First, I can’t and won’t. The person never mentioned a title or an author. Second, I speak for my work alone. So let’s look at what I did in 2018.
Under SF Benson, I published six titles while my alter ego published two. All in all, that was eight novels. Notice the key word? Published. I did not write all eight of those in one year. It was a matter of careful planning during 2017.
How did I do it?
I’m someone who does NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and Camp NaNoWriMo. Participating in these events has taught me how to write a draft of 50,000 words in a month. At the end of thirty days I have a rough draft. Definitely nothing I’d send to an editor or even attempt to publish. I take that manuscript and put it on the shelf for a few months before revising it. While that one is ‘marinating’, I go on to the next planned draft.
So when do you revise?
Ideally, anywhere from four to six months after the draft has been written. I sit down and read from beginning to end, making notes before I make changes. This is a month-long process.
When does it go to the editor?
A month before the scheduled publish date—at least two months after revisions. Some books sit for five or six months before this process begins.
How do find the time?
Time is something I have plenty of.
Back in 2014, I left the work force. My intention had been to find employment in an unrelated field. I’d done interviews. I’d spoken to experts. After six months, all I got was despair—the so-called experts said I should pursue a Master’s Degree. That’s when I stumbled across NaNoWriMo and thought it might be fun to try. My husband suggested that I do more than try. He told me to make a real go at it. He remembered that I’d wanted to write a book for years. He warned that finances would be tight, but urged me to give up the job search.
So I did. I wrote Regress in 2014 and published it in 2016. It took me that long to figure out the self-publishing game enough to become a beginning player.
Let me break down my free time for you.
Unlike a lot of my author friends, my only child is grown. I don’t have any obligations in that department. My husband doesn’t require constant companionship either. His job requires working long hours. Up until the time I quit my job, my world centered around a daily routine of going to work and then coming home and vegging out in front of the TV. Not much of a life (a subject for another time).
If I told you that in twelve months I could only write one book, you might ask me what else did I do with my time. I admit that with the first books, it did take me a lot longer to write. The research took up a lot of hours. I was a pantser and not a plotter. Writing more than two manuscripts seemed an impossibility.
I met an author who embraced being prolific. I envied her and wanted to know what that felt like. So I sat down and worked a plan. Last year was the culmination of that plan.
Cool, but what’s the point of this post?
Being prolific isn’t always a matter of pushing out a ton of mediocre books. My books average around 60,000 words. Not excessively long books by any means. They are able to be drafted in a month. Anything longer was tackled during revisions. Which means draft 50-60K and then add in the first revision. A second revision is a guarantee. On average, I might revise three times.
Each story I write is PLANNED and PLOTTED. My characters are DEVELOPED. This is how you take the mediocrity out of the equation. I have nothing against pantsers. In order to be prolific, I had to give up this style of writing. Otherwise, I get lost in my own story and the revision process is much longer.
To insure that the book is worthy of publishing, I use a team of experts. The manuscripts are professionally EDITED. The covers are professionally DESIGNED. I have used professional formatting. It’s something I’m learning myself and is the only area I cut corners with. KDP provides tools to make this easier as well.
I’ve had a few times where I’ve postponed the release to make sure everything is right. Rest assured all of this is for a reason. I don’t want to read a mediocre book. I sure won’t publish one.
Before judging the publish rate of an author, maybe ask HOW he or she managed to do it. If the author tells you they wrote a book in January and published it in February, that might be worthy of raising an eyebrow. But if they say they wrote it in January 2019 and published it in February 2020, find out what else was done. There’s a chance that he or she wrote a few manuscripts during that time period.
Until next time...