I’m Not Drinking the Kool-Aid

I live and die by my schedule. I’m kind of obsessed with it, trying to plan out as much as I can in advance. I like to torture myself, you see.

The other day, I was on Twitter (because that’s where all the cool kids are, yo) and noticed an author I follow had another book coming out. I click over to her site and end up on her books list. I looked at it and I was like, hi, wow, holy shit. Three had already released this year, plus a serial (which I’m counting as one, so for a total of four so far) and she had another release coming up.

Cue whining.

She’s got this impressive backlist already, and I…don’t. And I could. I mean, I’ve got enough manuscripts completed that I’d keep an editor busy for a couple of years at least.

Then I remembered this post from editor Adrien-Luc Sanders and immediately shut up.

If I wanted to, I could easily put out four books on my own next year (and in this scenario, we’re pretending money is no object): Not About Love, Fracture, Game of Shadows, and Hidden Scars (the new, much more awesome title for What Didn’t Happen That Night). That doesn’t take into account any book I might have a contract for (still working on those. The contracts, I mean. And by that, I mean securing them in the first place. But that’s another post).

For those of you who chose not to click on the link above, here’s the reason I won’t: brand dilution. The idea is that while it might seem fantastic to have all these books to choose from when it comes to this new author you’ve just discovered and are totally gung ho about, after a while, it’s not so fantastic because the reality of it is, unless it’s someone who has earned a place on your auto-buy list, you’re not going to immediately snap up everything they write. Nalini Singh is on my autobuy list, and there are a couple of her backlist titles I don’t own and haven’t even checked out of the library.

Think about it. Say an author you’ve read and enjoyed has two books that release close together. Do you automatically buy both of them? Chances are you don’t. You pick one. Now think harder (yes, I want your brain to earn this. Shut up). If that author were to release one of those two books say, six months later, would you buy it? Probably.

As Sanders points out, there’s a reason publishing houses limit releases from an author to 1-2 per year. It really does build anticipation. I love knowing that every year around the end of May, beginning of June, there will be another Psy-Changeling novel to read (well, not every year. The series does have to come to an end some time). With Tana French, I know her new book comes out every other year, with the off year marking the release of the paperback version (most of the time).

It lets the excitement and anticipation build, and then once it’s over, it gives me room to breathe and read other books. Sometimes when I start a series I feel obligated to keep going, and the closer they are together in release, the more of a slog it becomes.

There’s a couple of other points in that post, and it’s absolutely worth the read. One of those points is burnout. I could release all four of those books next year. It’s possible I’ll have at least one other release (from a publisher, fingers crossed) next year. Two of those self-published books, Not About Love and Game of Shadows, are series starters, so there’s other books to be written.

By staggering the releases, I save myself from having to rush through those stories. So as hard as it is to wait, to not give in to temptation and throw a bunch of money I don’t actually have at them, I’m going to buy a store of patience (because I don’t have any of my own) and sit calmly in my chair, waiting for the appropriate time to come. I like knowing that if I suddenly suffered some sort of word drought, I still have a product I could put out and keep readers satisfied.

Let’s hope I never suffer a word drought. I’m pretty sure that’s a sign of the apocalypse.


6 thoughts on “I’m Not Drinking the Kool-Aid

  1. Well, and at the rate you’re going, if you limit yourself to two books a year, you’ll be able to quit writing when you’re fifty and keep publishing till you’re 147…

  2. I’m glad you wrote this, Amanda. I don’t know how author’s put out more than one or two books a year, unless they already have a plethora of manuscripts just waiting in the wings –Manuscripts that need very little revising or editing. Maybe they have others doing the editing for them while they continue to write story after story? I feel the pressure to write faster, but I just can’t do it, especially when I’m in the editing stages with a different project. Burnout happens, I’m dealing with that right now. I don’t want to push myself to the point where I don’t enjoy it anymore.

  3. See, that’s the thing – my production rate is such I can finish a draft in a couple of weeks, so that would make my output 3-4 per year. But that doesn’t mean I should actually RELEASE all of them. Some of them aren’t the most awesome thing I could have written. I’d hate to be pushed into releasing something I wasn’t completely confident in just so I could keep up with the ridiculous numbers I’ve set for myself.

  4. Really good points of rapid releases and why we shouldn’t drink the Kool-aid.
    When I see more than 2 book releases from an author, per year, I perceive that the writer is churning out not so great books. I like the ‘steady eddies.’ Every writer I buy from releases one per year, usually one per 18 months.
    I have 3 completed manuscripts and if I self-pub (in query stages now) I’d release every 9 months, like giving birth to a child. There’s months of prep for self pub and saving that money for the next kid.

    1. Exactly. There are ways to make self-pub inexpensive, but when you add everything up, you could be looking at about $2k. Doing rapid releases after spending that much money is risky because there’s no guarantee you’ll recoup your investment.

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