How many eBooks is too many?

Libby Fischer Hellman recently wrote a thought-provoking blog decrying the surge in "binge publishing," the practice of publishing multiple eBooks over a short period of time (up to five or six titles a year).  This is particularly common in the Indie world and now even traditionally published authors, who used to publish one book a year, are feeling the heat, being urged to produce more material in order to feed the beast.  Read a 2012 New York Times article about that here.)
Hellman argues the current flood of eBooks has led to market oversaturation and by releasing a flurry of books in a short amount of time, writers leave themselves little room to actually practice the craft of writing.  The focus has shifted to producing books at a dizzying pace, rather than letting readers anticipate the next release.

I'm a pretty fast writer.  I can't turn a book around in four to five weeks like other authors I've read about (my hat is off to you, because I just don't have that kind of juice), but I can complete a pretty solid 80,000-word first draft in about two months time.  However, I'm also a thinker and I like to let my words and my story marinate.  So even though I can churn out a draft in about eight weeks, I need time away from what I've written so I can come back and look at it with super-fresh eyes and a crystal-clear perspective. 

This is what happened with one of my forthcoming books, "Live to Tell," which I will release sometime in 2014.  I started writing it on September 1, 2012 and completed it on October 30, 2012.  Then I didn't look at it again for six months.  When I opened it back up, there was a lot there I liked and a lot that needed sharpening.  A previous trip to Boston inspired the addition of several new elements.  I had to determine what research was needed, conduct the research, incorporate the research, decide what scenes needed to be fleshed out or deleted altogether and what characters needed work.  After I worked through (most) of those issues, I put it away again until this past summer when I really drilled down on it.  At the moment, it's about 97% ready for beta reading/critiquing, which will commence by the end of the year.  Then comes the process of absorbing those comments, making the necessary revisions, letting everything sink in some more and then making some tweaks. And sitting on it some more before making final, FINAL tweaks. Only when I feel I have written the best book I can will I start production on it (cover development, proofreading, formatting). 
It's a long process, but it's the process that works best for me.

When I first decided to dive into Indiedom last Spring, my grand plan was to publish the three manuscripts collecting dust on my computer by November 2012. That grand plan went up in smoke pretty quickly as I realized the sheer amount of work outnumbered the hours in a day.  Although I had worked in publishing (on the retail side) and in PR for a number of years, there was a lot to learn and I spent a massive amount of time studying production, marketing, distribution, etc. (and still do).  Oh, and I still had to revise those manuscripts.  And there was a LOT to revise (alright, some more than others).  So despite my best intentions, I came to the conclusion that releasing three books in a few months time just wasn't feasible for me.
If anything, I do know my limitations.

Because I like to take my time, I've realized I will probably be a two-book a year author.  Besides "Every Breath You Take" and "Live to Tell," I have four more books in various stages of development (i.e. a page here, three chapters there) and coming up with new ideas every day.  While I strongly subscribe to the notion that the more work you have increases your chances of readers finding you, I'm not pushing myself to release all four of those books in 2015.  Spa days were invented for a reason.                 

With that said, I've actually done all my writing for the day and am off to read a book.
Until next time...



  1. When I first started I had a crazy publishing fantasy that I could put out three books a year plus a novella. Ha! I'm barely managing two books a year with no novella. It's not the writing, it's like you said, all the other stuff that I actually enjoy too, but takes so much time. This post made me feel like I'm not alone in the world of prolific indies. Great post, Bianca!

  2. Oh, you are definitely not alone! It's a balancing act. Here's to being a 1-2-a-year author :)


Post a Comment