28 In 6 Years?

As I wrote the other day, I am taking a few more months “off” before truly delving into my next book – a book that will probably not see the light of day before late 2024.

In comparison, some other writers never stop. Indeed some will have possibly written “6 or more” books in that same next year or two years…

[Photo by Judit Peter on Pexels.com.]

I don’t want to reveal who this independent writer is, but I have followed her writing “journey” for some years now. I have read several of her books’ free samples, but none grabbed me (and to be honest often I felt they could have been far better written). I have not bought any of her books.

She has 28 books listed on her Amazon author page, all published since January 2017.

In the same six year period, I have written… three.

Following her Twitter, there is, I feel, too much hurrying to complete each new book and promising the next one – as if writing novels is to throw the proverbial spaghetti against the wall, hoping something sticks with some readers (and a streaming service finds you and presumably cannot wait to adapt one to the small screen). Also she seems obsessed with pushing her books – evidently not yet having learned that despite how many tweets you tweet, potential readers will buy a book only if they are genuinely interested in it. Aside from interactions with sympathetic tweeters (few of whom seem actually to buy her books), and the occasional run-in with someone critical (especially of something to do with her writing), she tweets mostly repetitive self-promotion, among displays of self-pity about not selling “enough” books, as well as now and then defiance that she does this because she wants to…

Yesterday, she tweeted that her latest “darkly (although she did not use that exact word) themed” tale is “not expensive” because it is “not as long” as her other books.

[Photo by greenwish _ on Pexels.com.]

One might want (as she seems to) to produce books in large numbers in a manner similar to a “Danielle Steele.” Yet unlike Steele’s mostly contemporary romance novels, she seems all over the writing map. For example, a cover is often the first thing any reader encounters of a book, and skimming her stuffed author page it can be tough to grasp within seconds (and that is all it usually may be) from briefly looking at any cover what a book may be REALLY about. Another problem is the covers are not all that “enticing”; they all seem to be “stock” covers (pulled from web sites that do book covers): One book may appear to be a modern romance/suspense with a Christian religious imagery cover; another perhaps is a thriller with a neon “Bar” sign (that looks like someone might have been channeling Stephen King); another may be a nostalgic tale given the cover is the front of what looks like a 1930s-1940s car; another cover is an arty naked (obscured in the “correct” places) woman adorning “a ghost story”; still another is what looks like a murder tale with a pretty standard tacky “motel” pic (that immediately reminded me – only very vaguely – of a “Jack Reacher” novel cover); and yet another is a “five-day” unshaven male model on the cover of a time travel love story… and so on.

It is not difficult to see why she is having limited to no success with many of them. There seems no compelling reason I can think of as a potential reader to want to buy and read one over another or even any. Her writing seems an unfocused mishmash of, I would argue, way TOO MANY titles, with the consequence that none of them really stand out. If I were her, I would “unpublish” most and concentrate only on those that appear to be doing “the best”: Start by making perhaps “3-6” of them within a single genre the focus of herself as an author – and stay in that genre going forward; and in doing so also choose new covers (with real cover artwork and/or real cover photography – not canned “stock” online stuff) and then re-write improved new editions of each.

I get the distinct impression many new authors write at warp speed thinking they need to have a massive catalog of books out there. They seem to believe quantity will more quickly get you “noticed.” In fact, all of those books may just get noticed as not all that well-written and see you dismissed as just another indifferent “potboiler” writer.

[Most major novels by Charles Dickens, first published between 1837-1865. Photo by me, 2023.]

There are endless ways to be an author, of course. Some authors do/did write well at good speed – example, Charles Dickens. (My Mrs loves Dickens.)

However, it is probably more worthwhile as a new author in the 2020s, I believe, to try to stand out by carving out an identifiable “niche” within a genre (and/or closely related genres), so potential readers grasp as soon as possible what they are getting from you as an author and even who you “are” as an author. (I feel – based on my book covers and synopses and even the sidebar on my site here – that potential readers are able to discern pretty quickly what I write generally about.) Above all, I am a fervent believer in quality: If my choice is speed or quality, I take the view that (for a new author in particular; but common sense says it applies in some way to every author) it is far better to try to focus on aiming to write “one good” book in, say, “two” years, rather than tossing out perhaps “6” that are at best mediocre. Readers who PAY for your book(s) deserve no less.

A not so good book is likely to be quickly forgotten or never much noticed in the first place. A good one may also not be discovered by hoards of readers within “24 hours” of its publication either. The difference is no matter what the overall sales, in the long run a good book is something to be proud of having written.

That’s what I think anyhow.

Have a good reading (or writing) day, wherever you are. 🙂