Monday, December 28, 2015

The Pressure to Produce



It's that time again. Yes, it's the end of the year when everyone's had too much wine, too much food and (maybe) a little too much family togetherness. But it's also the time of year when everyone starts looking ahead, thinking about Goals and Plans. Intentionally capitalized for the importance they take on at this time of year.

I'm all about goals and plans (intentionally NOT capitalized b/c, well, I've got a few more days) and I'm thinking about my publishing schedule for 2016. I want to put out at least two books, with the possibility of a third. I tell non-writer friends this and they say, "Wow. You're really getting them out there." I tell writer friends and and they nod sagely. When they share their own goals and plans, they're almost always more aggressive than mine. For many of my romance writer friends, two books per year is nothing. Even romance writer extraordinaire, Jill Shalvis, published four books in 2015. What am I thinking, settling for only two?

Admittedly, romance isn't the only genre where being prolific is the norm rather than the exception. Mystery writer David Baldacci put out three books last year and I'm not even going to count how many James Patterson has written, although I think he's in a class by himself (and has a team of ghostwriters to boot). Still, for many writers, one book per year (or less) is the norm. I saw a tweet by Sarah Dessen the other night where she was saying she hadn't written anything significant since the release of her last book in May 2015! My first thought -- that would totally stress me out! Following quickly by, "Why?'

Where does this pressure to produce come from? A certain amount of it is self-imposed, and there's definitely a fear of becoming irrelevant. But are fans so fickle that we have to win them back with every new book? Certainly we have to make sure each book is as good as, if not better than, the last, but can we do that and write seven books per year? And, if so, at what cost?

I wish I knew the answers, but this whole topic leads to more questions for me -- especially in regards to Goals and Plans. Should I be more aggressive in my goals? Is two books per year enough? Who decides what enough is, anyway?

I'd love for you to weigh in, both as readers and writers. What do you expect from your favorite authors (assuming quality is a given)? Does the number of books you expect per year differ between genres you read? As a writer, do you feel a pressure to publish or risk extinction and starting from zero if you wait too long? And how long is too long anyway?

6 comments:

  1. Indies have a big pressure to produce or their sales dry up. I'm hoping to write 3 books and one novella this year and that's a huge amount of work considering I only write during nap times. Best of luck --I look forward to seeing the end of 2016 post and see how you did.

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    1. Agreed, although is it only indies in your opinion? I know my traditionally published friends feel the same pressure, if not more so, b/c they're bound by contracts. Granted, that's money coming in, but I feel like there are a number of writers who produce tons of books per year and they set the bar everyone tries to meet.

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  2. I've heard two books a year to stay relevant. I decided to switch it up last year, though, and publish as many short stories as possible to see if that affected things. Honestly, if there were a magic bullet, the industry would have figured that out and we'd all do it and be successful. I think you just have to figure out your groove and go with it. Remember, you only have to write 300 words a day to complete a full novel a year.

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    1. I have no doubt I can finish a novel or two. It's more than that which is questionable. So how did the short story thing work out? And where did you pub them?

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  3. I know what you mean about feeling the pressure. I had wanted to get two out this year, but I only published one. In truth, I think that's fine. But the overachiever in me wants it to be more. I just have to keep reminding myself that everything happens when it's supposed to. If I tried to rush a book just to get it out, it may not be as good as if I took my time.

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    1. Exactly! My second book this year, which released in December, was originally in MY schedule for October. But it wasn't ready and I would have had to kill myself to just make it passable, which isn't what I'm going for. Sigh. Double-edged sword it is!

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