02 July 2008

Writing Speed

Dear Author had an interesting post the other day entitled The Punishing Publishing Schedule. It talks about the pressure to produce, from a reader's perspective. I thought that was rather interesting.

Personally, I would rather have a book a year with each book being the best that the writer can produce after having a year to contemplate the work than having a new book every six months and having quality suffer. But selfishly, I recognize that if more than a year passes, my desire or hunger to read more might wane. Lengthy absences can hurt word of mouth buzz, particularly for a new author. And, frankly, I love the back to back releases.

People do seem to agree that less than one to two books a year, and readers can lose interest in a series or forget about the author. People also seem to agree that one book a year per author used to be the norm. Reasons given for the change vary, from Nora Roberts to ebook publishing to I don't know what else.

I'm not a particularly fast writer, at one to two books a year, so this issue interests me. I do sometimes feel at a disadvantage. Some of my favorite authors (Laura Kinsale, Jennifer Crusie, Loretta Chase) don't put out multiple books a year. That said, I'm also a Nora Roberts fan and obviously she produces quality and quantity. So I certainly don't believe that slower writers automatically write better books. On the other hand, I suspect industry pressure (and frankly it is impossible for a writer, aspiring or published, to be unaware of it) does result in authors writing faster than their "natural" speed, whatever that is.

A while back, Sylvia Day raised this issue at Romancing the Blog in her column, Too Much of a Good Thing. She asked:

Is it possible that one day we’ll go to the bookstore and find the romance section filled with books penned by a small group of super-prolific authors leaving no room for those who write less swiftly?

I hope not! I'd like there to be many kinds of authors with many kinds of books. I've tried not to sound defensive in this post. Because I'm not fast. But aside from that, I also just find the whole writing process and how it varies fascinating. I've heard writers say they couldn't just write one or two books a year, as they'd get bored. Whereas I'd get bored writing more than that, because, for me, my books get more and more interesting, the longer I stay with them and revise them and dream about them. (Until the very end, when I've had enough and it's time for them to go out the door.)

So do you write fast or slow, or does it depend on the book? Do you mind if your favorite authors put out too few (or too many) books a year?
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