Sunday, December 9, 2012

Do Some Authors Release Too Many Books Each Year?

I read an interesting blog post recently that sounded as though the blogger was complaining that there are too many m/m romance books released by some authors over the course of a year. It was worded with care, but very passive aggressive. And I can't say I wasn't stunned. I walked away with the feeling that this author/blogger is judging those who may be slightly more prolific than others.

It's a flawed theory at best, to say there are authors writing too many books per any genre fiction. One, because if the publishers are buying those books the books are obviously selling. Don't pay attention to bestseller lists on Amazon. They don't indicate actual book sales, not by a long shot. I've posted before how my own books on bestseller lists on Amazon don't reflect sales...or compare to sales of books that aren't on those lists. And two, because there are no set standards for writers when it comes to this. In the twenty years I've been in publishing, working as associate editor to published author, I have never once seen two authors who work the same way. All authors work at a different pace, which makes all this so wonderful.

But the one fact that the blog post I read missed so completely is that in genre fiction, which is exactly what m/m romance is, it's been classic...if not expected from publishers...that authors produce more at a faster pace than authors who write mainstream or literary fiction. This is why romance authors typically produce at least three books a year. Authors working in genre fiction don't have that wide fan base, at least not as wide as authors who write books like "The Help." The odds of them getting a big book like "Fifty Shades of Grey" are limitied. Romance...and m/m romance as a sub-genre...are still niche markets and authors have to produce more each year in order to survive. In m/m romance, because it's such a small sub-genre, it helps if an author is prolific and can produce quality work faster. And I find it odd that another author would judge that.

That's the other issue with the post I read I'm not sure I get. The blogger made the assumption that because an author is prolific he or she might not be producing quality work. This not only shows me the blogger knows little about publishing, but isn't seasoned enough to make generalizations like that in public. Most authors I know have pen names and write in other genres to make a living. These authors...and most hate the term author, me included...consider themselves career WRITERS. They are in this for the long haul, no matter what it takes, because it's what they love doing and can't imagine doing anything else. We love every single aspect there is to publishing, not just the writing part. We breathe it, which is why I'm starting a new project in 2013 I'll talk about soon. So by making a broad generalized statement that m/m fiction might be lacking in quality because a specific author (or authors) produces a book faster, again, shows a lack of knowledge, experience, and common sense.

It would be like me saying that just because an author works slowly and only publishes a book every ten months or so he or she is not as good as an author who is more prolific. That would make no sense. I would be the biggest jackasswipe of publishingville if I said something like that. Because there is no way to measure the balance between time and quality. But more than that, not every author has the same set of circumstances. For many years I wrote part time, edited part time, and ran my own businesses. I set goals during those years where I would try to get into at least ten anthologies a year with short stories. I loved what I was doing, and I reached a point where editors knew they could depend on me to deliver. Some of those same editors still contact me and I rarely say no even though I'm not making much money on the projects. I'm in an anthology coming out soon with Cleis Press that was edited by Shane Allison, an editor with whom I've worked several times over the years. I get calls for submission from him all the time. I still do those books because I LOVE doing them and I love working with Shane, not because I think there's going to be money involved.

So when new authors make broad generalizations like the ones I've posted about above, take them with that proverbial grain of salt. Or, better yet, dismiss them completely. I don't know why they do this. I'll never forget the blogger or the comments. But I wish they would think before they put something in writing.


A.B.Gayle said...

I chuckled when I thought about Barry Lowe in relation to this. Over the years he has accumulated a wealth of different experiences which he weaves into his short stories.

He has always been a professional writer. Words are his bread and butter. His format suits his writing pace and output.

He has admitted to me that he would hesitate to write a novel.

So, a lot depends on what factors go into writing the books themselves. Those demanding research are going to take a lot longer than a writer with a gifted way with words who is drawing on his own experiences.

Having said that, I think publishers need to be careful not to demand too much from a writer as then they risk burning out the goose that laid the golden egg.

ryan field said...

That's why I love Barry's stories. I actually prefer short story writing myself, and love how e-books have opened up that market for authors and readers.

I agree about publishers asking too much. But I don't think I've ever heard of one doing that to anyone I know. One of the things I love about publishing is that I've always found it to be a decent industry where people don't push too hard. Up until recently, it's been considered the slowest business in the history of the world. I'm sure others have had different experiences. But I haven't. And typically genre authors produce more based on reader demand.