Tag Archives: self-publishing

Quality v quantity: should authors really churn out books?

A MEMBER of the popular BooksGoSocial authors’ group on Facebook recently told how she was “on a mission” to finish the third instalment of seven novels by the end of the month – bashing out at least 65,000 words in just two weeks.

The frantic writer also told how she held down two jobs and looked after a baby (and a husband) while writing her books and self-publishing them.

Her post on Facebook prompted responses from many of the group’s 16,800 members, with one writing: “65,000 words in two weeks? That’s crazy.”

Yes, it does seem crazy – but it’s increasingly becoming the benchmark in the world of self-publishing, where quantity can sometimes overpower quality in the race to produce as many books as possible in the shortest time.

Another member of the authors’ group, formed by Irish author Laurence O’Bryan, posted that he had five books all lined up to be self-published and asked if he should release a box-set first, or publish all five works individually first.

Leading the charge among self-published authors is Bella Forrest, who cranks out “fantasy, romance, action and mystery-infused stories” – and has sold more than six million copies on Amazon since her first novel was released in 2012.

Bella, an American writer, has written a staggering 58 books in just five years – averaging nearly a dozen titles a year.

In an interview on goodreads.com, Bella told how her debut novel, A Shade of Vampire, took just one month to write, although the idea had been brewing in her mind for several years. Her sequel, A Shade of Blood, took her two or three months to write.

She said her writing schedule was “crazy”, adding: “The early hours of the morning are my favourite for writing. So I get out of bed at like 1.30am and work through until 9am. The biggest chunks of my writing get done during this period.”

It all sounds like a word factory, but Bella’s books have garnered good reviews from readers. For example, A Shade of Vampire has more than 1,500 reviews on amazon.co.uk, and more than 1,100 of them are five-stars.

However, Bella’s multitudinous offerings are never going to go down in history as great works of literature. And on Amazon, you can find a host of other prolific self-published authors, releasing book after book after book.

Unfortunately, some of these books are absolute dross. The authors are too busy hammering out their works to worry about revising their manuscripts, or getting them professionally edited and proofread.

The world’s most famous novelists wrote at a much slower pace, usually producing no more than one book a year, and honing and revising their manuscripts for months before submitting them to their publisher.

Graham Greene: wrote one book a year

Graham Greene wrote around 500 words a day. “Over 20 years I have probably averaged 500 words a day, for five days a week. I produce one novel a year, and that allows for revision and correction of the manuscript,” he said.

Ernest Hemingway: the writing well never ran dry

Ernest Hemingway also wrote 500 words a day. He said: “I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

Michael Crichton: no dinosaur at 10,000 words a day

However, Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton pounded out 10,000 words a day. Well, who wouldn’t, with an angry tyrannosaurus rex looking over your shoulder? But he said: “Books aren’t written – they’re rewritten, including your own. It’s one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.”

Gustave Flaubert: wrote one perfect sentence a day. Madame Bovary, below, took him five years to write

Gustave Flaubert, French author of Madame Bovary, is often described as a writer’s writer, but he was also one of the slowest authors in history, working at a drunken snail’s pace. It took him five years to write Madame Bovary and seven years to finish L’Éducation Sentimentale.

Despite working for 14 hours a day in his summerhouse above the River Seine, it often took him a whole week to write just one page. On an average day, his wastepaper basket would be full of discarded sheets, while he would salvage just one sentence that he was happy with.

Yes, good writing is a skill, an expertise developed over time – not on a conveyor belt in a word factory operating 24/7.

So why do some self-published authors work almost night and day to bash out a constant stream of books? Is it because of a love of writing, or purely a money-making exercise?

As a general rule of thumb, on Amazon it pays to self-publish a series of books, which can thrive off each other to boost sales, especially with Amazon’s special book price-cut promotions, such as daily deals and countdown deals. Many new authors discover this and cash in on it.

However, some self-published authors have had careers in other fields before catching the writing bug later in life. They get hooked on writing, and are happy to spend hours on end tapping away on the computer keyboard, producing a plethora of books. The income derived from these works is of secondary importance to them – the joy of creative writing is paramount.

If you’d like to comment on this blog, please use the comments box below.

FOOTNOTE: If any of you have written a book – either fiction or non-fiction – and need help with editing, proofreading, formatting for Kindle, or paperback design and cover design, I can help you on the road to publication. See below.


kindlegirlJPEG - Copy (2)

My ebooklover.co.uk business offers editing, proofreading, formatting and book and cover design services to self-published writers, of both fiction and non-fiction. See my website www.ebooklover.co.uk for full details. Check out my Facebook page www.facebook.com/ebooklover.co.uk and follow me on twitter www.twitter.com/ebookswizard

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Kindle dwindle is a fantasy story

Simon Jenkins

Simon Jenkins, Guardian columnist, applauds the ‘demise’ of ebooks

IS the Kindle on the dwindle, while the paperback claws its way back?

Well, that’s the latest shock news from the book publishing industry, as reported this week in The Guardian newspaper − but is it the real picture or a distortion of the truth?

The article cites new figures from the Publishers Association showing digital book sales in the UK fell by 1.6% last year from £563 million to £554m − the first drop in seven years (when such sales were first recorded).

Meanwhile, printed book sales in the UK rose by 0.4% from £2.74 billion to £2.76bn − the first rise in four years, albeit a small one.

Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins applauds these figures, saying: “Clearly publishing, like other industries before (and since), suffered a bad attack of technodazzle: It failed to distinguish between newness and value. It could read digital’s hysterical cheerleaders, but not predict how a market of human beings would respond to a product once the novelty had passed.”

Deriding ebooks, Jenkins adds: “Virtual books, like virtual holidays or virtual relationships, are not real. People want a break from another damned screen.”

And he backs up his argument with this quote from the Publishers Association, which represents 120 publishing companies: “Readers take a pleasure in a physical book that does not translate well on to digital.”

But are these new figures an accurate reflection of book publishing in the UK, with ebooks seemingly on the slide?

computer-book

The Guardian piece (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/13/books-ebook-publishers-paper) triggered almost 900 responses from readers, with many of them rubbishing the claims.

Mike Robbins wrote: “The Publishers Association release should be taken with a large pinch of salt. Actually, an entire salt mine.

“I assume they’re referring to ebooks sold by their members, which are likely a small minority of those sold, because mainstream publishers’ ebooks are so stupidly overpriced. I buy more ebooks than physical books, but none of them are from members of the Publishers Association. They’re from independent authors and small presses. So the figures Mr Jenkins quotes are meaningless.”

Another reader, Lynne, wrote: “The Publishers Association publishes figures from publishers. It doesn’t take into account sales from a site like Amazon. Where do you think most ebook sales are made?”

Eden Sharp also slammed the report, saying the Publishers Association did not count books without an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) in its sales figures. Self-published ebooks often don’t have ISBNs, especially on Amazon, which allocates its own serial number (ASIN) to an ebook released on its Kindle Direct Publishing platform, at no charge.

Authors’ earnings figures probably give a more accurate picture of the state of the market. They show that self-published ebooks now account for 45% of digital sales on Amazon, while ebooks from the five biggest publishers have fallen to less than 25% of market share on Amazon.

My book editing operation (www.ebooklover.co.uk) helps independent authors to publish their books as Kindles on Amazon, and almost all of my clients choose not to have ISBNs − and so sales of their ebooks, and many millions more across the self-publishing spectrum, are not included in the Publishers Association figures.

One self-published author recently claimed to have sold 750,000 Kindle books on Amazon − all without ISBNs and therefore excluded from the Publishing Association figures. And there are many more like that.

So, far from being a Kindle dwindle, surely the real story continues to be an ebook explosion, largely driven by a fast-rising number of indy authors? And perhaps it’s snobbery in the traditional publishing houses that excludes self-published success stories from the big picture on book sales.

 

FOOTNOTE: If any of you have written a book – either fiction or non-fiction – and need help with editing, proofreading, formatting for Kindle, or paperback design and cover design, I can help you on the road to publication. See below.


kindlegirlJPEG - Copy (2)

My ebooklover.co.uk business offers editing, proofreading, formatting and book and cover design services to self-published writers, of both fiction and non-fiction. See my website www.ebooklover.co.uk for full details. Check out my Facebook page www.facebook.com/ebooklover.co.uk and follow me on twitter www.twitter.com/ebookswizard

 

 

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