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Speed Limits

Writerly corners of the internet have been abuzz this week about this little piece in the New York Times: Impatience Has Its Reward: Books Are Rolled Out Faster:

The practice of spacing an author’s books at least one year apart is gradually being discarded as publishers appeal to the same “must-know-now” impulse that drives binge viewing of shows like “

House of Cards” and “Breaking Bad.”

While 24-7 internet culture may be shifting our entertainment expectations, digital publishing is surely of influence as well, with its quicker production schedules and near-instant distribution options. Digitally published authors often hope to capitalize on the binge impulse by including sell pages in the back of their e-books with links to their other titles. As the article quotes,

“It’s so much easier to buy books online,” Ms. Weis said. “The temptation is right at your fingertips because you don’t have to go to the bookstore. We have to play to that.”

As with any new innovation, an accelerated pub schedule is not going to be one-size-fits-all success for every book. As traditional publishers experiment with some of the speedy strategies that have served self-pubbers well, they’re accepting some risks alongside the advantages:

But for many writers out there, all this talk of release dates and market trends is still ahead of you, in the tantalizing future when your book is published. It’s a dream come true for readers to discover your work at all! Don’t be impatient as you pursue this dream – the most important place to slow down is before your project even gets to the market. Not just writing a great book, but revising and re-writing, polling beta readers, incorporating professional editorial input. Digital publishing can seem like a quicker path to the finish line, but it’s still more of a marathon, even a relay, than a sprint.

What do you think? Is the binge-watching spirit of Netflix spreading to the book business?

Do authors need plenty of time to hone their work and build anticipation, or should they shift their focus to publishing schedule that feeds a (hopefully) hungry market?

3 Responses to Speed Limits

  1. Melissa says:

    The one-book-a-year market is dead as far as I’m concerned. I find a new series and read it as fast as I can… and then if there’s more than a couple of months before the next book, I put it aside and end up forgetting about it. When I see the next book (or books) later, I don’t bother picking them up — even best sellers.

    My favorite series now is self-published and appearing like clockwork 4x a year. They are well edited and not shoddy in the least. I buy them — and read them — the day they come out.

  2. jeffo says:

    Personally, I find if I read too many books by the same author in a row, I burn out. I happily binge-watch certain TV shows, but for whatever reason, binge-reading just doesn’t work for me. As for me as a writer, I just can’t work that fast. I’m not going to be capable of churning out multiple titles in a year. Folks will just have to wait for me. (taking the positive view that I will be published)

  3. Lynn says:

    Thank goodness not everyone is like Melissa! I can wait a year for an author to write a sequel and I’ll remember to look for it. Like Jeffo, I don’t like to read one book after another by the same author. It’s tiresome to have that same voice, almost like listening to the same song over and over. At first, you love the song, but if you play it incessantly, you’ll get tired of it rather quickly. The same is true for reading books by the same author.

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