Okay, so the headline overstates it just a bit, but according to an article in The Boston Globe some top tier authors are complaining because their publishers are pressuring them to crank out a book every year. Authors feel like they’re thrown into an assembly-line situation where they’re relying more on a formulaic writing style instead of creativity. Publishers know that authors who put out a book a year sell more books than authors who don’t. If you want proof of this, look up Stephanie Meyer on Amazon. As I’m writing this, she has four books in the top twenty just because they recently started pre-selling her newest book set to be released in August of this year. This announcement sparked increased sales in her three previous books.
This is easy for me to say as an independent author, but I would agree to a book a year in a New York minute. I’m basically doing that now. I published a book in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, and I’ll probably even have a second release this year. Now, I don’t have the same kind of editorial review that mainstream authors have, but I’ve had a small taste of it in the past, and I actually found the deadlines conducive to being more creative. I’ve always found that the more direction and restrictions I’m given the more creative I am.
Truth be known, I’m a little annoyed with the attitude expressed by authors like Patricia Cornwell. She actually said “It’s no problem, as long as you don’t have a life.” The rest of the world calls it having a job. Everyone sacrifices for their careers. Granted, I truly don’t know what kind of stress and strain she’s under, but I can’t imagine it’s more than your average cop on the street or doctor in the emergency room. I worked retail at one point in my life, and during that time I missed spending time with my family on major holidays.
I think what this article really proves is that no matter what job you have you’re going to bitch and moan about it. You don’t become a published author by accident. You work at it. You dream about it. You pray for it. I’m sure most the authors quoted in the article wouldn’t hesitate to sign a book a year contract with a publisher if they had never been published before.
Working this from the self-publishing angle, I agree with the publishers on this one. I sell more copies of each book because I have multiple books on the virtual shelves. It’s incredibly hard to sell books in today’s market. There were over 400,000 books published in this country alone last year. It’s a business that is not for the faint of heart. If a book a year helps you sell books, do it. But then again, you have to take my opinion with a grain of salt because I don’t have a publishing contract. I’m speaking on this particular topic from the outside looking in. Hopefully, I’ll be able to give you an insider’s view in the very near future.