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I joined a forum for self-publishing ebook authors a little while back, but found it depressing. Many of the posts were about how easy it is to write a book or two a month. One guy bragged that he writes 10,000 words/day until he “gets to the end of a book” in about five days, then publishes it immediately and starts the next one. Everybody seemed to think that his speed was admirable. The common wisdom around those parts seems to be that the best way to make money in the Kindle Store is to put as many books as possible into it, as quickly as possible, and then put some more.

This feels like another ugly bubble to me. I’ve lived through a few of those. One or two people have success at something, some new business model with its own power and attraction and inevitability, so then a million people try to do exactly the same thing — but most do it poorly and quickly. Then it all collapses when the weight of the awful overtakes the buoyancy of the new business model. The good goes away with the bad, and the whole way of doing things gets discredited, for a while.

I hope that doesn’t happen with self-publishing ebooks, but I think it will, and I don’t see how to stop it. The only thing that could stop it is if self-publishing authors started exhibiting more discipline about what they publish, and how often, and how thoroughly they’ve made sure it’s worth publishing, serving as finicky curators of their own work. That won’t happen, probably. So it’s just a matter of time before the bubble collapses, I guess.

I can write quickly. But I never finish anything that I write quickly. I’m talking about fiction, I mean. I like to let words sit on the screen while I think about them — sometimes for days. Switch out a verb here, a tense there, move a dependent clause to the beginning of a sentence, or the end. I like to dig as deep as I can into a storyline, and get to a certain point and realize it’s unworkable, then start over.

This has resulted in me being 47 years old with only one published book to my name, though. I’m not saying my way is “the right way.”

I have to think there’s some kind of happy medium. Surely?

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