Publishing question - first timers push out one book? or three?

phileomiomai

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What is your take on initial released content by a new writer who wants to publish? Be it through traditional means or e-books.

I personally think if I saw a author I did not know and knew he had three books out I would much rather given hima shot than a guy with but one.

what do you all think?
 

kaufmannp

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I've never really given any consideration to how many books a particular author has published; my interest has always been in the story. If it is a good one, then I'll likely go through it and search for more. If it's really good and there's nothing else available I'll wait for the next one- while looking for another good pick.

Everyone starts somewhere, and it's always exciting to be there for the whole ride. More exciting if it's your own, I imagine.
 

thaddeus6th

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I've just released a single book.

The argument for several is strong, but there is a major drawback. The advantages are:
If the chap's written a few it's likely he'll write more. A single book could be a one-hit wonder.
If someone likes a book they can buy 2-3 more immediately, which will probably cement the author's likeability in their mind and get the author more money.

The drawback, which is hefty, is that it takes (obviously) much longer to write several books. Following on from that, if you're going to release 3 books in 3 years, why not release 1 in year 1, 2 in year 2 and 3 in year 3? You'll still have all 3 out in the 3 years but will have had longer to build up a readership and get people interested, as well as discovering any potential pitfalls (formatting, marketing etc) gradually, instead of potentially making mistakes with all your books at once and giving yourself thrice as many corrections to do?

There's a sort of halfway house, though. You could release a 'proper' book, and quickly writer a short story (which is free). That way you've got more than one book out, and the fact that the short story's free can act as bait for the other book. It also means you can get listed on certain websites which list free books.
 

phileomiomai

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thadd,

your thinking is similiar to mine and the issues I am ruminating on.

Personally, I am an avid reader, I do not own a TV, and I read two books a week, at least!

This means my selection criteria for authors is ones with multiple books for all the reasons you mentioned. I like that I have more of their work to read,and it proves they can pump out books,and I will not be left with but one good book if I liked them.

BUT! there is a middle ground liek you mentioned and I have seen some ways people have beefed up their content. SHort stories are a very good idea, I also like what Scarfy did; releasing 2 books in a trilogy, plus a free original version of book 1.


Boiling it down for my personal taste, content is king! but, only if its quality content of course!
 

thaddeus6th

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Aye, Scarfy's plan was very cunning.

My own plan, sort-of-adapted (or stolen :p ) from his, is, when I get around to ye olde trilogy, to release part of Book 1 for free. It'll be about a civil war, so there'll be the royal and regency sides so I plan to release something like a Regency Edition for free.

It's some way off (just released book 1, now working on a second stand-alone book) but that's my present thinking.
 

Anne Lyle

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What is your take on initial released content by a new writer who wants to publish? Be it through traditional means or e-books.

I personally think if I saw a author I did not know and knew he had three books out I would much rather given hima shot than a guy with but one.

what do you all think?

Seems to me you're asking about two separate issues here...

1. The realities of publishing schedules for new authors.

You're unlikely to get three books put out simultaneously through a commercial publisher. Occasionally they'll do this, or very nearly - I know Brent Weeks had his first trilogy published at monthly intervals - but it's more likely to be several months, even if the books are already written, as they have to be copyedited, etc.

If you're self-publishing, then it's definitely worth considering delaying publication so you can put several books out at once. It's pretty much been proved that the way to make money in self-publishing (a la Amanda Hocking) is to have additional titles available if readers like the first one they try.

2. Personal opinion.

For myself, I really don't care how many books an author has out. I don't get a lot of reading time owing to my writing schedule (I have a three-book contract with some pretty tight deadlines!), and between keeping up with authors I already like and sampling new ones, I'm never going to run out of reading material whilst waiting for the next one.
 

Anne Lyle

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If the chap's written a few it's likely he'll write more. A single book could be a one-hit wonder.

Depends - I'm contracted for three books, even though I only had one finished when I got my contract. Other people I know were only contracted for the one book initially, but have then had sequels picked up. Still others manage to get a first trilogy published then can't find a home for subsequent books (assuming they don't want to self-publish later books).

Whether someone has only one book out or several gives you no clue as to whether others are likely to be forthcoming in the near future.
 

thaddeus6th

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I was speaking about self-published writers mostly, but I didn't make that clear at all.

I don't want to go off on a tangent (but I'm going to!) but is the three book deal a trilogy beginning with The Alchemist of Souls?
 

Anne Lyle

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Yes.

/derail

:)

I agree that a self-published writer with only one book out might turn out to be a one-flop wonder - it must be devastating to put your heart and soul into a book and only sell a handful of copies, so why would you put yourself through that a second time?

OTOH if someone is riding high in the Amazon rankings, you can pretty much bet that another book will follow.
 

Kaldaur

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While you may have more than one book prepared, most traditional publishing houses will only publish one at a time to ensure a maximum profitability. Isn't the usual time centered around one year between releases?

E-publishing, it's your own choice. Having those extra books available for internet impulse purchases isn't a bad thing, though as pointed out above you need to make sure you didn't make a crippling mistake in every book. Best make sure those books are totally prepared.
 

Anne Lyle

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While you may have more than one book prepared, most traditional publishing houses will only publish one at a time to ensure a maximum profitability. Isn't the usual time centered around one year between releases?

It's about a year, yes - ideally a bit less to keep up momentum, hence my publishers aiming for more like 4-10 months depending on the books' state of completion. It's rare to put out several books simultaneously, though, because the bookshops won't order multiple titles by a debut author - why would they take that risk? Far more sensible to bring out a new title just as sales of the first are starting to tail off.

But in the long run, one book a year is about as much as most writers can actually put out - at least if they still have a day-job. It's a catch-22 - until you're selling loads, you usually can't quit the day-job to write the multiple books you need to earn a living...
 

Coragem

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Someone pointed out to me a while back that it's wise to be cautious about writing sequels until you're sure the first is going somewhere.

I guess no one wants to spend 6, 8, 12 years writing a trilogy only to find that premise isn't commercial? Better write volume 1 and see if it sells, and if not try something different.

That might not be an issue if you're writing three stand-alones. Although it might still be worth submitting some work, taking some knocks, learning some lessons (or becoming successful!) before embarking on a 2nd and 3rd novel?

That said, in future I think I may worry about approaching an agent or publisher with "only" one book. I'm a very slow writer (hoping to speed up with practice!) so if they asked me for two more books in two years I might be in big trouble.

I'm not keen on the whole book a year thing really, but it's obviously a reality in a market-driven world. Making money tends to be the endgame, rather than silly things like quality or happiness. If I think of the top fantasy authors just now many are NOT writing a book a year (e.g., GRRM, Joe Abercrombie, Patrick Rothfuss, Guy Gavriel Kay) – and not because they're lazy, but because they do it so very, very, painstakingly and well.

Coragem.
 

Brian G Turner

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I guess no one wants to spend 6, 8, 12 years writing a trilogy only to find that premise isn't commercial?

I think as you polish up your writing skills, it should be more than possible to make that first book saleable.

However, if agents/publishers don't bite, if your books are strong enough quality, no harm going the self-publishing route.

The trouble with writing a series is that it hooks under your skin ...
 

Anne Lyle

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Slowness of writing does not entirely relate to quality. Most of the writers you mention produce long, long books, which by their nature are harder to wrangle than short ones - they require more plotting, more editing and more rewriting. GRRM's slow pace is mostly down to writing a vast complicated multi-volume saga, and it's been remarked that later books are somewhat bloated (I've only read the first two). Also, the success of the earlier books has meant that he could afford to take his own sweet time.

Until recently Terry Pratchett was writing a lot more than GRRM, putting out two 100k+ novels a year - and of equally high quality if not better, IMHO.

What it comes down to is that if the book is sufficiently brilliant (in enough people's opinion), the publisher will wait for the next one - but if it's merely good, you'd better make up for that with productivity. Most of us don't fall into that "awesome" category, so...
 

Coragem

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Slowness of writing does not entirely relate to quality.

Absolutely. As in so many threads in the writers forums here at Chrons, it comes back to "we're all different" and "novels are all different".

As you say, GRRM writes huge 420K bricks that involve a highly involved world and MANY POVs, and he is a self-confessed "slow writer". Steven Erickson, on the other hand, has said his (huge) novels take him perhaps 8 months. Guy Gavriel Kay has said the "writing" of his novels tends to take under a year (then 1-to-2 years goes on research). Plus, Brandon Sanderson – great writer; fast writer! Alastair Reynolds – a novel a year plus lots of short fiction.

I've been a slow writer all my life, although who knows? My writing quality has improved ten-fold in the last year, so fingers crossed that my "wordy rappinghood" (a word borrowed from Alastair Reynolds) increases with time.

And on that subject, this is a block post that Alastair Reynolds wrote in response to an email from me!

http://approachingpavonis.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/wordy-rappinghood.html

Coragem.
 

Coragem

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I think as you polish up your writing skills, it should be more than possible to make that first book saleable.

I'm quietly confident precisely because I am (obsessively!) polishing my writing skills – getting better all the time.

However, it's tough. With sci-fi in particular, I'm told. We only need look around us at Chrons – there are some tremendous authors who haven't been able to break through because of publishers not willing to take chances on unknowns.

Coragem.
 

Peter Graham

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Making money tends to be the endgame, rather than silly things like quality or happiness.
You're quite right, but you talk as though this is a Bad Thing.

Quality and money are bedfellows - folk aren't stupid and where the price is the same (as it is with books by and large) high quality products are easier to sell than low quality products. Authors, publishers and agents will all ultimately make more money out of a high quality product than a low quality one.

And as for happiness? Well - whose happiness are we talking about? The publisher and the agent are business people. They will be happiest in their professional lives if their businesses are doing well - for which read "making money". Readers will be happy if their favourite authors are churning out a good corpus of work. Most authors will be happy if money is coming in.

I'd argue that quality, happiness and money are intrinsically linked.

Regards,

Peter
 

Coragem

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I'd argue that quality, happiness and money are intrinsically linked.

I'd very much agree, or at least 90% agree.

I just think problems can sometimes arise when publishers push authors too hard to adhere to their novel (or more) per year. Publishers have a publishing slots, they want products to sell, they want to make money, but isn't that just sometimes to the detriment of quality?

The quick-working novelist maybe fine with writing a novel in 6-9 months, with a little time for planning beforehand, revision after. However, I often read books and I think, "If only the author had had the luxury of putting this to one side for a month, then revisiting it with distance. Surely they'd have trimmed that endless, dry, wedge of description; surely they'd have noticed those blatant typos …'

I think another big problem (in sci-fi certainly) is that some authors are writing the "wrong sort of quality". Good or great work, just not what's fun or gripping for a mass market.

Coragem.
 

Anne Lyle

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I just think problems can sometimes arise when publishers push authors too hard to adhere to their novel (or more) per year. Publishers have a publishing slots, they want products to sell, they want to make money, but isn't that just sometimes to the detriment of quality?

Are the publishers really pushing, though, or is that just your impression? I have a number of author friends who have run late with books and their publishers have been nothing but supportive.

The quick-working novelist maybe fine with writing a novel in 6-9 months, with a little time for planning beforehand, revision after. However, I often read books and I think, "If only the author had had the luxury of putting this to one side for a month, then revisiting it with distance. Surely they'd have trimmed that endless, dry, wedge of description; surely they'd have noticed those blatant typos …'

Typos are the province of the proofreader - of course the author should try and catch them, but a profusion of typos speaks of shoddy editing, not poor writing. Also, some of the most bloated books I've come across (e.g. the later HP books) have taken the longest to write - I suspect that the author has a natural tendency to both slow writing and prolixity, leaving little time to edit the book down because the deadline has already passed.

It is hard, though, to go from writing a book at your own pace to writing one to a publisher's schedule, and not all writers make that transition smoothly. I suspect they feel they can't turn down a contract that's maybe more than they can actually cope with - the moral of the tale being, be careful what you wish for :)
 

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