I grew up before the internet (which makes me sound ancient, but I’m really not given that the internet rose to it’s current status in the 2000s according to Wikipedia). Back then my author role models were Margaret Atwood, Suzannah Dunn, Philippa Gregory, Aimee Bender, Carol Shields, Chuck Palahniuk.
An eclectic bunch, to say the least!
All of them traditionally published, of course, and all of them putting books out once every two or three years. A comfortable pace, perfect for me, both as a writer and a reader.
But the rise of ebooks and self-publishing has caused an incredible upshift in books being released every three or four months in the case of some authors I know of.
There are two main reasons why:
- To remain in the public eye in a busy market
- To increase the likelihood of making a living
and I understand that. They are both very good reasons.
But is it too much? Does it mean that readers have to narrow their reading habits? If you have twelve favourite authors who publish a book once every two years, you’ll buy six books a year, enabling you to discover new authors, or re-read your favourites, or fall back in love with your twelve second best authors.
If those same twelve publish four books a year, you’ll be reading forty-eight books before you even begin to look around for anyone else.
It may not seem a lot to some people, but although I’m a fast reader I often have gaps between books meaning I will sometimes miss my Goodreads reading challenge of twenty-five books per year. My TBR list is overflowing, I never take my publisher up on reading ARCs from my fellow authors because I know I’d struggle to read to the schedule, I often end up reading an author’s previous book while they’re publicising the next.
I know I’ve asked this question before, but I’d love to know what you think. Are readers overwhelmed, or is it just me? Are writers doing themselves a disservice by writing so quickly, or is that the natural speed of things?
20 thoughts on “The Big Question: does no one think of the reader??”
Hi Annalisa – there is so much going on isn’t there. Not being an author … I don’t know what I’d do. However keeping in touch with those who have read one of your books – which you do – and just keeping writing … and publishing as and when.
I do think our personal communication is something we need to think about … personally and also in social media – people seem to forget others find themselves more interesting and what they have to say than the recipient. Here people are always bringing in their own opinions – when if we’ve had visitors … we should be interested in their lives …
I’m not sure if I’ve put across what I meant … but hopefully you realise what I was getting at?!
Take care and good luck … cheers Hilary
I think so, Hilary. In my day job, I meet the most amazing people – I’m lucky to have the time to talk to them.
I know a number of people who try to produce at least two books a year to keep their loyal readership. However, these books are easier to read and shorter than the ones that I enjoyed growing up. So I make no attempt to read everything that an author writes, and I miss the classics of my childhood. However, I have made the conscious decision not to read everything that my favorite authors put out but wait for their best books. I would prefer that writers spend more time producing more thought provoking work. Some readers prefer the easily consumable ones and these readers have always existed. It is the books that they consume that are soon forgotten.
Hi, thanks for commenting. That’s a good point about the length of the books – I’ve read several shorter novels recently (practically novellas but without that tag). I much prefer to read stories which will stay with me and ease themselves back into my recollection months later.
Having said that, I’m currently reading a book I’ve had on my shelf for ages and could have sworn I hadn’t read. I have. I can’t remember how it ends, so I’m continuing with it.
That’s a valid point. Are author over-saturating the market just trying to keep up and keep themselves on the radar? Possibly.
However, I am definitely not one of those authors…
It’s a catch-22 isn’t it Alex? The more books, the less easy it is to find you, so you maybe increase the output to counteract that, but then everyone else does too.
I’d say one book per series per year is sufficient. In other words, an author might have one major series (e.g. Janet Evanovich wither Stephanie Plum books) and might have a collaboration, or maybe a “one-off” book that has nothing to do with his or her main series. More than that has people saying “maybe next time…”
That would seem like a good compromise, John. I don’t read many series – I prefer standalone novels – and often wonder if the quality reduces over time.
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There’s definitely a business model to write and produce frequently and fast. Personally I can’t do it – a book takes as long as it takes. But I’d never thought of the reader’s point of view, as you’ve explained it here. You’re so right – how is somebody supposed to fit in all the books by all the people they like? I know I can’t – I’m a really slow reader because I savour every line, so I probably read even fewer books than the average. Good question!
Thanks Roz. At the end of the day, we write to be read so the audience really should be in the forefront of our minds. It’s a tricky balance.
Everyone is trying to produce as fast as possible and it has flooded the market a bit. Also take in the fact less people are reading now.
I’m not sure if that’s true, actually, about fewer people reading. I’m not on TikTok, but I hear there’s a huge reader presence on there. Perhaps they’re all just writers helping out others! One of my teeny bugbears is I only seem to reach other writers when I market my books rather than solely readers. Unless everyone truly is trying to write a book these days?
I can’t keep up with the faster pace either as a reader or a writer. And there is so much noise out there, I am missing favorite author books.
I’ve also heard tik tok is the new hot spot, but I just know as soon as I learn how to do that, the new hotspot will change.
I’m know I’m missing many books, Elizabeth!
I have absolutely no plans to head down the TikTok path. Let’s see what the next new thing after that will be, and then I’ll make a decision on that one!
A book a year is a good target for me to aim at, I know I can’t produce them faster than that. And does two to three books a year help visibility that much if many readers can’t keep up? I can’t help feeling those books might have less depth, and get a flurry of reviews when released before people move on, rather than building over the longer term. Also, there’s something to be said for having a chance to look forward to the next book from your favourite author, rather than being overwhelmed with material…
I hadn’t considered the longevity of a title, but that’s actually really important to me. Years ago, in one of those ‘meaning of life’ conversations you have in your teens, I said the meaning of life is to be remembered. Having books out in the world means – hopefully – I will be.
Readers have such a plethora of options these days. My thoughts are it’s overwhelming for both readers and writers. Unless I’m totally enamored of the author, if I don’t read them for a while, they’re likely to drop off my radar.
Exactly, Sandra, and dropping off someone’s radar is the exact opposite of what an author wants.
I don’t read as often as I should, time is a big factor and I’d love to spend more time reading. As a writer, my books take time to get to the publishing stage. My last book was two years in the making. Working full-time does make it harder to keep to a publishing schedule, like some writers who produce a book every three months. I’m in the for the long haul so I am hoping my readers and future readers will stay the course with me!
Two or three years is standard for me – I am a serial reviser and if something isn’t perfect, I tried to improve it. I couldn’t ever work in a three-six month window!
I, and several people who’ve already commented, agree we’re striving for longevity rather than an instant, throwaway hit.
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