Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Of Slaves and Slavedrivers...


Various writers' forums are all abuzz with talk of a NY Times article (HERE)
published last weekend. It seems that the one-book-a-year model, long the standard for writers of mystery, thriller, or romance, is no longer good enough. Now publishers are urging writers to turn out (churn out?) two books a year. Or if not two, a novella or a short story in addition to the yearly novel. 

 Evidently the proliferation of e-books -- instantly available and often very low-priced or even free -- has something to do with these increased expectations.

Even best-selling authors like Lee Child and Lisa Scottoline have succumbed to this new model, keeping to grueling schedules in order to appease the appetites of their readers. I doubt they need the money -- I can only assume they prefer writing to the exclusion of pretty much every thing else.

Not I. 
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26 comments:

Victoria said...

I think this is horrible. I would rather wait for a a year, or longer, for a book from a favorite author and have it be the usual well-written, enthralling read that I have come to expect from them. This is just my opinion, but I think if a writer is forced to produce more and more under pressure, what they churn out will be the stuff that usually gets tossed in the trash.

Victoria said...

Sorry about that 'a a'... my finger stuttered.

Ms. A said...

Can't imagine the pressure that must be.

Vicki, I don't know how you keep up with everything you do, as it is. I'm grateful you find time to take amazing photos and blog, in between all the busyness, so you can share your life with the less fortunate... like me. LOL!

Thérèse said...

"...appetites of their readers..." what about re-editions?? :-)

Pat in east TN said...

Even though writers heads seem to be full of wonderful ideas, having to write, in my opinion, would be quite a chore.

I agree with Victoria that I would rather wait that time out for a really good book from a favorite author.

You are going to continue writing, aren't you Vicki? I couldn't remember if you has fulfilled your obligations or if your contract had been renewed?

Kath said...

Seriously. Is this the Big Boys answer to not figuring out the changing publishing market place? Forgive the heresy, but does it occur to the geniuses that readers might read more than one author's work? That perhaps instead of slapping all their money down on worthless celeb books or this new idea of squeezing out mass production out of current authors, they could invest in publishing a panoply of new authors? Sigh.

Brian Miller said...

it is crazy that james patterson pushed out like 35 last year...of course he has teamed up with many a protege and i wonder how much of them are just lent his name but...

KarenB said...

I think this may be more of the fact that traditional publishers haven't adjusted their business plans to incorporate the ebook and the new abilities of authors to market their own work without following the traditional path. I, like others, would certainly prefer an author take their time to craft a well-written book than just churn out drivel. And, as Kath wrote, we do read more than one author!

Elora said...

It does seem to be the age of insatiable appetities and quantity as opposed to quality--not limited to writing.

Elora

Mel said...

Good for you. Quality, not quantity, that's what I wish mattered.

I watch with amazement and have read a few I wish I hadn't, the proliferation of cheap ebooks online. There's a lot of crap out there, and we can only hope the readers appetites include good writing. I'm sorry good writers are feeling pressure from publishers. It seems like the wrong answer to their problems, doesn't it?

Glad you make time to smell your roses.

Louise said...

Money, money, money! As quantity goes up, quality goes down. You stick to your guns and just continue to write the wonderful material that you do.

Vicki Lane said...

To answer Pat in east TN's question: I am not under contract at the moment. UNDER THE SKIN was the fulfillment of my last two-book contract and as I was working on proposals for another contract, I came to the realization that I really didn't want the pressure of deadlines any more. A lot of the fun of writing was disappearing, not to mention the fact that I DO have other interests. So I am choosing to go another direction in my writing -- more literary, not so many murders...

I'm writing -- but I'm also spending a lot of time catching up with things left undone in the past seven or eight years.

Poetry24 said...

When it becomes a chore, it's time to be looking in other directions.

Barbara Rogers said...

It's all been said in other comments, but I just want to say what a pleasure it is to have personal contact almost daily from you on your blogs. Whether you chose to write about nature or your art, neighbors and friends, or your own opinions, it's a chance for me to share a bit of your life. And then there are the photos...which are like the whipped cream on top of a delicious treat. Thank you.

Pat in east TN said...

Although your response makes me sad Vicki, I totally agree with what Martin says.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Thank goodness poets aren't under this pressure! That means, of course, that we have to put pressure on ourselves, which can be hard to do with so many other things to do.

Deanna said...

That's crazy!

I'd rather read one really good book than several books hastily written.

Keep the good life and I'll keep watching for the next book.

Susan M. Bell said...

What the heck? Not everyone can be Stephen King. I mean, I understand why that has happened. As much as some hate the ebook idea, I think it has actually gotten people reading more. So of course, there's more of a demand. But if an author is just churning them out like that, the quality will definitely go down. Not to mention the fact that the author is more likely to suffer burnout with all that added pressure. They have to write more AND do all the book signing stuff on top of that still. Turns something you love and have always wanted to do into a miserable life....a REGULAR job for goodness sake.

Besides, there's something to be said for anticipation; the wonderful waiting for that next book to come out, a time when you are chomping at the bit barely able to contain yourself while you wonder what your favorite author will come up with next. :-)

JJM said...

As I said in reply to your Facebook post:

This reminds me so much of the time, three years ago almost exactly, that Neil Gaiman famously replied to a fan who complained about how long it was taking George R. R. Martin to write the next installment of his _Song of Ice and Fire_ series: "George R. R. Martin is not your b****." (The book in question came out some two years later: A Dance with Dragons. You might have heard of it.) You can read Gaiman's full response here:

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html

Vicki, if you didn't go out and garden, and smell the roses, and deal with the critters, how could you possibly write the way you do, with such love of the mountains and its people? And with such quality of writing? Being a writer is *not* the same as being a widget installer on an assembly line, for pity's sake ...--Mario

Vicki Lane said...

That's it, Mario -- my writing draws from my life and my surroundings. If I spend all my time inside at my computer, what will I write about?

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

Wherever your writing takes you, Vicki, I hope it doesn't stray from these southern highlands we both love so well. Jim

Darla said...

UGH. I can't imagine pushing out two books a year. Good for you for staying centered in what is important in your life. :-)

Terri said...

That sounds like a grueling writing schedule to me. I can't imagine finishing one book in a year, let alone two!

Vicki Lane said...

Having read the reactions in other forums, they ARE varied. There are some who enjoy this kind of pressure -- I have a writer friend who does 3 books a year. She writes fast -- and well -- and is delighted to have the demand. More power to her.

jennyfreckles said...

I suppose it might suit some writers - but if something one enjoys becomes an ongoing pressure and chore then surely it's time to re-evaluate. Very occasionally, even my blog becomes like a beast I have to feed. Time then to take a short break!

NCmountainwoman said...

It has been my reading experience that when an author writes too frequently the quality of the writing and the depth of character development and plot suffer. I hold many authors in great esteem and eagerly await their next books.

But I also appreciate the "one-shot-wonders" who gave me one book that touches my soul and then never wrote another.

I do look forward to your books, Vickie. But I also enjoy your life, your farm, and so much more you bring to us through your blog. I should hate to think of you tethered to a deadline. Much better to see you helping deliver a calf, working in the garden, and even (gulp) rounding up the chickens. Your books are richer because your life is richer. And we are all the better for it.