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Old 05-14-2012, 08:49 AM   #1
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In the E-Reader Era, a Book a Year Is Slacking

"For years, it was a schedule as predictable as a calendar: novelists who specialized in mysteries, thrillers and romance would write one book a year, output that was considered not only sufficient, but productive.

But the e-book age has accelerated the metabolism of book publishing. Authors are now pulling the literary equivalent of a double shift, churning out short stories, novellas or even an extra full-length book each year.

They are trying to satisfy impatient readers who have become used to downloading any e-book they want at the touch of a button, and the publishers who are nudging them toward greater productivity in the belief that the more their authors’ names are out in public, the bigger stars they will become.

“It used to be that once a year was a big deal,” said Lisa Scottoline, a best-selling author of thrillers. “You could saturate the market. But today the culture is a great big hungry maw, and you have to feed it.”

The push for more material comes as publishers and booksellers are desperately looking for ways to hold onto readers being lured by other forms of entertainment, much of it available nonstop and almost instantaneously. Television shows are rushed online only hours after they are originally broadcast, and some movies are offered on demand at home before they have left theaters. In this environment, publishers say, producing one a book a year, and nothing else, is just not enough."

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/bu...pagewanted=all
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Old 05-14-2012, 09:02 AM   #2
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I saw that article earlier.

That's a seriously worrying trend. I mean, yeah, there are some authors who can put out two, maybe even three quality books (of an average length, say 350-500 pages) a year, for some years. Most authors? Over a longer period? No, just no.

As an enthusiastic reader, of course I'd love it - in theory! - if my favourite authors put out a new book in my favourite series every two months. In practice, I'd rather wait a year and have the book be well-written and without plot holes or inconsistencies or other signs of being far too rushed to print.

And in practice, I know that very few authors (or author-editor teams, even) could manage to keep up the quality and consistency over several years.

I don't much like the idea of waiting 4-5 years for each book in a series either, but a book a year still seems like a pretty good rate in every way to me... that gives enough time for the author to write the book (and have the occasional day off and allow for short periods of recharging the batteries) and for a couple of rounds of actual editing.
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Old 05-14-2012, 10:33 AM   #3
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I mind waiting 4-5 years for each book in a series. There are far too many authors who take advantage of their fans and continually delay the release of the next book in a series. If GRR Martin cannot find the time to finish the next book in his series in a year or two that tells me he is either too bored with it to dedicate the time to the series and he should wrap it up. Instead what was suppose to be a trilogy is suddenly looking like six books, all growing longer and taking longer to produce with the quality going down hill, all so he and his Publisher can make more money.

The Wheel of Time series is another good example of this type of behavior. If you are not interested enough in the series to write on a consistent basis, and I have no idea what that really means but I know that GRR has published on his website lists of other projects and things he is working on because he needs a break, then finish it off.

I respect Jim Butcher for limiting Codex Alera to six books. He wrote the story he wanted to and stopped. Trust me, I would love to see more from this series, and I am not the only one, but he has so far resisted the pressure and said no more. He wants to work a different project. I wish he would do the same with Dresden which has grown in length and is getting to be pretty repretitive. At least he sticks to his schedule so you have a clue as to when to expect the next book.

There are some series that lend themselves to the book a year schedule, Kim Harrison's Hallows series works well. The sookie Stackehouse, although that is a series that could have been wrapped up a while back.

The problem now is that some series are popular enough to sell even as the writing is getting repetative and boring. Kind of like sequels to Disney movies that go straight to DVD. But it dilutes the content of the series and makes me less likely to trust the author with a new series or other work.

I think JKR hit a good stride with her series. She had a natural series guide, one year for each year of school. She had the series outlined before she started writting so she had a guide to help her stay on track. She knew what the end state was going to be. She wrote on a regular basis and had a few delays in releasing but not many. Now if only others could follow her lead.
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:32 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ProfCrash View Post
I mind waiting 4-5 years for each book in a series. There are far too many authors who take advantage of their fans and continually delay the release of the next book in a series. If GRR Martin cannot find the time to finish the next book in his series in a year or two that tells me he is either too bored with it to dedicate the time to the series and he should wrap it up. Instead what was suppose to be a trilogy is suddenly looking like six books, all growing longer and taking longer to produce with the quality going down hill, all so he and his Publisher can make more money.

The Wheel of Time series is another good example of this type of behavior. If you are not interested enough in the series to write on a consistent basis, and I have no idea what that really means but I know that GRR has published on his website lists of other projects and things he is working on because he needs a break, then finish it off.

I respect Jim Butcher for limiting Codex Alera to six books. He wrote the story he wanted to and stopped. Trust me, I would love to see more from this series, and I am not the only one, but he has so far resisted the pressure and said no more. He wants to work a different project. I wish he would do the same with Dresden which has grown in length and is getting to be pretty repretitive. At least he sticks to his schedule so you have a clue as to when to expect the next book.

There are some series that lend themselves to the book a year schedule, Kim Harrison's Hallows series works well. The sookie Stackehouse, although that is a series that could have been wrapped up a while back.

The problem now is that some series are popular enough to sell even as the writing is getting repetative and boring. Kind of like sequels to Disney movies that go straight to DVD. But it dilutes the content of the series and makes me less likely to trust the author with a new series or other work.

I think JKR hit a good stride with her series. She had a natural series guide, one year for each year of school. She had the series outlined before she started writting so she had a guide to help her stay on track. She knew what the end state was going to be. She wrote on a regular basis and had a few delays in releasing but not many. Now if only others could follow her lead.
How boring... JKR as a standard... I would rather an author put out books that are well-written and enjoyable, I'm not interested in calendars and, although I'd prefer a shorter wait than years, it's not that much of a hardship to wait for something good rather than something written to fit a schedule...

Oh yes, WoT is no longer being written by the original author as he was inconsiderate enough to die. Brandon is doing a pretty good job of finishing the series but I don't see why that means he has to stop all of his own projects to finish for the "I have no attention span and I WANT IT NOW" brigade...

And as for GRRM, if money was his pure criterion then he'd be churning out more and more "Song of Ice & Fire" and ignoring anything else as SoIaF is the best paying work he's ever done... try and catch some of the interviews with him and you'll see that he writes what he does when he does as inspiration and plotting strikes... and he's always said that it's better to take a break if you feel stuck, even do something else to refresh your thoughts and the end result will be better...

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Old 05-14-2012, 12:01 PM   #5
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WoT was written on a silly schedule and highly repetative in many areas because Robert Jordan was allowed to get away with it. He could have wrapped that series long before he did but it was a cash cow for everyone so no one bothered to push to wrap the series. There is no reason, and I have read the entire series to date, for there to be that many books, repeating the same freaking theme without really advancing the story line.

GRRM is annoying as all hell and gone. His books are now being poorly editted, because he can get away with it. Book four and five were suppose to be one book but got to be so long that they divided them into two books. From all that I have heard, I stopped at book three because of my annoyance, book four was bad and focused on minor characters that no one really cared about about and book five was ok but to long and needed some major work. He needs a Publisher and an Editor to actually make him remove extranious crap that adds little to the books, decreases their size, and focuses on the story. My friends and family who have stuck it out through book five are seriously considering not getting book 6 due to the lack of decent editting in the last two books.

This is not a problem with just these authors. It seems to be a huge problem in the fantasy genre and is leaking to other genres. People find an author they like that starts a series. The series is well received and there is pressur to put out more books. The writing and story line slip because the emphasis is on writing more books and less on telling a good story. It is annoying. I would prefer to have a tightly written series that ends 5 books sooner but has good to great writing, a solid plot, and is delivered in a timely fashion. I find the greed drives me away from series because the focus is on more books and not good books.

It is lucky that I was turned onto Wheel of Time three years ago when the books first came to Kindle. I was travelling to Australia and New Zealand and knew I needed a good amount of reading material. I don't sleep well on planes. WoT had just been released as e-books and my friends raved about it, well up to a point. They loved the series but thought it was intentionally dragged out and would have been better had it been shorter. But I needed reading material for the plane and like the idea of a new series. It is good and enjoyable and got me through two very long plane rides. And a few long bus rides. And some shorter plane flights. Now I am waiting for the final book. I would not have stuck with the series had I started earlier.

You might not like the HP novels, not every one does and that is fine. I am not talking about series written in that same vein or by that author. I am talking about her approach to writing a series. She knew how many books she was going to write. She knew who the main characters were and had a solid idea about how they were going to grow and evolove. She knew how the series was going to end. She knew the major milestones that would be hit in each year. She wrote a seven book series in a reasonable amount of time that tied together well and was pretty well edited.

If more authors followed that formula, we would have better series delivered in a more timely fashion. Jim Butcher did it with the Codex Alera but has failed to do so with his Dresden series. Kim Harrison seems to have a good grasp on who her characters are, how they are going to develop, and where they are going. I have no clue if she has an end point in mind for the Hallows series. Robin Hobb has done a very nice job creating a series of trilogies that are all tied together, many loosely, but that develop new and old characters nicely and are released on a regular basis. You can tell that there is a plan to the novels. Heck, you can tell that Orson Scott Card used to do the same thing with his various series. Personally, I think that most of them fell apart by book four but you could see what his vision was and they were released regularly.

I'll take that any day of the week over GRRM and what he has produced of late. I know that there are people who love him and his world building. I enjoyed the first three books and got pissed off with how long it was taking to release the fourth book. I decided then that I would not buy any more of the series until he finished the books. Then I started reading the reviews and skipped over the fan boys who will say anything he writes is genius and focused on the three and two star reviews and saw a common theme. Too long, too wordy, too much crap. Slim back, get a new editor, and write on a freaking schedule.
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Old 05-14-2012, 03:59 PM   #6
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WoT was written on a silly schedule and highly repetative in many areas because Robert Jordan was allowed to get away with it. He could have wrapped that series long before he did but it was a cash cow for everyone so no one bothered to push to wrap the series. There is no reason, and I have read the entire series to date, for there to be that many books, repeating the same freaking theme without really advancing the story line.

GRRM is annoying as all hell and gone. His books are now being poorly editted, because he can get away with it. Book four and five were suppose to be one book but got to be so long that they divided them into two books. From all that I have heard, I stopped at book three because of my annoyance, book four was bad and focused on minor characters that no one really cared about about and book five was ok but to long and needed some major work. He needs a Publisher and an Editor to actually make him remove extranious crap that adds little to the books, decreases their size, and focuses on the story. My friends and family who have stuck it out through book five are seriously considering not getting book 6 due to the lack of decent editting in the last two books.

This is not a problem with just these authors. It seems to be a huge problem in the fantasy genre and is leaking to other genres. People find an author they like that starts a series. The series is well received and there is pressur to put out more books. The writing and story line slip because the emphasis is on writing more books and less on telling a good story. It is annoying. I would prefer to have a tightly written series that ends 5 books sooner but has good to great writing, a solid plot, and is delivered in a timely fashion. I find the greed drives me away from series because the focus is on more books and not good books.

It is lucky that I was turned onto Wheel of Time three years ago when the books first came to Kindle. I was travelling to Australia and New Zealand and knew I needed a good amount of reading material. I don't sleep well on planes. WoT had just been released as e-books and my friends raved about it, well up to a point. They loved the series but thought it was intentionally dragged out and would have been better had it been shorter. But I needed reading material for the plane and like the idea of a new series. It is good and enjoyable and got me through two very long plane rides. And a few long bus rides. And some shorter plane flights. Now I am waiting for the final book. I would not have stuck with the series had I started earlier.

You might not like the HP novels, not every one does and that is fine. I am not talking about series written in that same vein or by that author. I am talking about her approach to writing a series. She knew how many books she was going to write. She knew who the main characters were and had a solid idea about how they were going to grow and evolove. She knew how the series was going to end. She knew the major milestones that would be hit in each year. She wrote a seven book series in a reasonable amount of time that tied together well and was pretty well edited.

If more authors followed that formula, we would have better series delivered in a more timely fashion. Jim Butcher did it with the Codex Alera but has failed to do so with his Dresden series. Kim Harrison seems to have a good grasp on who her characters are, how they are going to develop, and where they are going. I have no clue if she has an end point in mind for the Hallows series. Robin Hobb has done a very nice job creating a series of trilogies that are all tied together, many loosely, but that develop new and old characters nicely and are released on a regular basis. You can tell that there is a plan to the novels. Heck, you can tell that Orson Scott Card used to do the same thing with his various series. Personally, I think that most of them fell apart by book four but you could see what his vision was and they were released regularly.

I'll take that any day of the week over GRRM and what he has produced of late. I know that there are people who love him and his world building. I enjoyed the first three books and got pissed off with how long it was taking to release the fourth book. I decided then that I would not buy any more of the series until he finished the books. Then I started reading the reviews and skipped over the fan boys who will say anything he writes is genius and focused on the three and two star reviews and saw a common theme. Too long, too wordy, too much crap. Slim back, get a new editor, and write on a freaking schedule.
Can't be bothered to refute again point by point, not got the time though I am becoming increasingly convinced that posts of this length are intended to put people off replying as it takes so long... I'm just happy to say you have your PoV and overall I think you're wrong especially as you admit to criticising GRRM for books you haven't even read... undermines your whole discussion...
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Old 05-14-2012, 04:04 PM   #7
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Missed the read the first three parts but put off by the long delay and crappy reviews part eh?
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Old 05-14-2012, 04:32 PM   #8
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I agree with ProfCrash. Thank goodness I was warned off Wheel of Time by a cousin who got sucked into it. As to G.R.R. Martin, I read the first three books but I started to get annoyed when I saw he wasn't going anywhere. I may watch the TV show if/when it is available on Netflix for instant streaming.

I have gotten tired of and annoyed by the Dresden Files. That has gone on too long. Suzanne Collins has two series I love, Gregor the Overlander and The Hunger Games, and was timely and of reasonable length with them. I am all for respecting the creative process but I think that, if an author embarks on a series, they have some obligation to see it through in a reasonable amount of time.

To get more back on topic, though, I don't see how anyone could put out more than one quality book a year.
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:54 PM   #9
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GRRM is annoying as all hell and gone. His books are now being poorly editted, because he can get away with it. Book four and five were suppose to be one book but got to be so long that they divided them into two books. From all that I have heard, I stopped at book three because of my annoyance, book four was bad and focused on minor characters that no one really cared about about and book five was ok but to long and needed some major work. He needs a Publisher and an Editor to actually make him remove extranious crap that adds little to the books, decreases their size, and focuses on the story. My friends and family who have stuck it out through book five are seriously considering not getting book 6 due to the lack of decent editting in the last two books.
Do you think this is due to poor editors? Or perhaps GRRM not allowing people to edit? As an author gets popular perhaps they need more editors, not less?
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Old 05-15-2012, 10:37 PM   #10
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Even in the pre ebook era Nora Roberts was writing 4 books a year and a couple more as J.D. Robb. Can't blame this on ebooks.
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Old 05-15-2012, 11:46 PM   #11
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All the more reason to get the backlist titles in print and in stores.
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Old 05-16-2012, 09:59 AM   #12
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All the more reason to get the backlist titles in print and in stores.
This was my thought as well, except bring them as ebooks.
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Old 05-16-2012, 10:03 AM   #13
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Yup. There are a bunch of series that I would buy the backlist for. I have some books I love to turn to for a comfort re-read or to help me get back into a reading state of mind when I find myself more focused on board games, tv, or video games.
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Old 05-16-2012, 10:28 AM   #14
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Crossroad Press is faster than slow light.Crossroad Press is faster than slow light.Crossroad Press is faster than slow light.Crossroad Press is faster than slow light.Crossroad Press is faster than slow light.Crossroad Press is faster than slow light.Crossroad Press is faster than slow light.Crossroad Press is faster than slow light.Crossroad Press is faster than slow light.Crossroad Press is faster than slow light.Crossroad Press is faster than slow light.
 
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As a writer of several decades with a lot of books under my belt...I can say that two to three books a year is comfortable, and more is easily doable if you are focused. Having a solid outline helps if there is a speed element, but honestly, most authors have several great new ideas during the course of writing any given book, and as long as they start outlining in their dead time and preparing, there is no reason that - particularly if it's your only job - you can't manage 1500 - 2000 words a day. That being the case - three to six books done or nearly done in any given year is not at all unreasonable. Some of my best-reviewed novels were written in a month or less (first draft). There is a lot of work beyond that point, but still...if a writer treats writing like their career / job - and they work it a good solid number of hours a day, one book a year is a ridiculously low output.

-DNW
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Old 05-16-2012, 01:30 PM   #15
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I remember on the TV show Castle, he was at his regular authors poker game, and guys like James Patterson were giving him crap because he was only writing a book a year, and how he needs to stop slacking. I'm sorry, but, Patterson is a poster child for being overly published. From 1976 to 1999, so over 23 years, Patterson wrote 17 books. from 2000 to 2004 he wrote 3 books a year. In 2011, he published his 89th book, and he has 13 books scheduled for release in 2012. At that high of a rate, how can you expect any level of quality?


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Originally Posted by Crossroad Press View Post
As a writer of several decades with a lot of books under my belt...I can say that two to three books a year is comfortable, and more is easily doable if you are focused. Having a solid outline helps if there is a speed element, but honestly, most authors have several great new ideas during the course of writing any given book, and as long as they start outlining in their dead time and preparing, there is no reason that - particularly if it's your only job - you can't manage 1500 - 2000 words a day. That being the case - three to six books done or nearly done in any given year is not at all unreasonable. Some of my best-reviewed novels were written in a month or less (first draft). There is a lot of work beyond that point, but still...if a writer treats writing like their career / job - and they work it a good solid number of hours a day, one book a year is a ridiculously low output.

-DNW
There are other factors that can limit writing output, such as number of rewrites, length of the book, how much time you spend promoting the book, etc.

Last edited by Hellmark; 05-16-2012 at 01:32 PM.
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