As some of you may have heard by now, Carlos Fuentes (pictured above), Latin American literary giant, passed away yesterday of an apparent heart attack. If there is one legacy that Fuentes leaves behind is his prolific writing career. The man was a machine. He would finish a novel and then start on another writing project immediately.
I read an article today in the Christian Science Monitor which posited that the e-reader market has caused writers to basically pull a double shift because of demand. James Patterson published 12 novels this year alone and is churning out even more short stories and Kindle Singles for the growing e-reader market. “[T]he e-book age has accelerated the metabolism of book publishing,” Julie Bosman writes for the New York Times. “Authors are now pulling the literary equivalent of a double shift, churning out short stories, novellas or even an extra full-length book each year.”
What does this mean for we self-publishing novelists? It means that in order to say ahead of the roar of other writers who may publish one book per year, we should probably be writing little short stories, poetry collections, or serialized novels in order to get more of our writing in front of readers.
I have a few thoughts on this subject that merit discussion:
1. The Day Job - People who have to work to make ends meet (in my case, sometimes the ends don't meet) must sacrifice evenings and weekends to write a novel and often shun family and friends to produce good work. Will the e-publishing industry be led by those who are either independently wealthy or are supported by a spouse? If I had all day to sit around and blog, promote my book and write my novel, I could probably turn out more than one novel a year.
2. Quality over Quantity - Even if I were independently wealthy and sat around all day writing, not all the prose I write is the best I am capable of writing. Sometimes my ideas are not good ideas. Sometimes I write 1000 words of garbage. Even if people like James Patterson can turn out best selling work it doesn't mean it is any good (Stephanie Meyer comes to mind). I have to admit I haven't read any of Patterson's work, but apparently its popular enough to merit 12 books. I know people who read Patterson and love his work. Patterson will release 7 books in the next five months and doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. Read this interview with him where he shares how he pulls off being the most prolific writer of our time.
3. Stress - I like having my own deadlines as a self-publisher. I do not set them so that I can laze around and give myself extra time like some high school student too busy texting to do his work. I stick to my deadlines so that I can set and reach personal goals. I also have friends who keep me accountable. I have enough drive to get novels finished, but I would be stressed out trying to get 12 novels done in a year. I know that some people are taking the 12 novels challenge this year, and I applaud you, but I know too that this is not for me. I would rather focus on one novel at a time and produce my best work by carefully crafting the prose...then revising those carefully crafted prose...and revising again.
How about you, dear novelist reader? Could you churn out 12 novels in a year and be proud of what you wrote? Do you think that all of this e-book nonsense will calm down and the good work will rise to the top? Are you a reader of James Patterson and want to sound off about his work? Does writing like a Victorian produce good writing? Post here if you have comments. I always love to hear from you.