Yesterday I overheard an interesting discussion, and that’s what I’d like to tell you about, but first, a heads-up.
I mentioned in the past the StoryBundle as one of the tools that I am using to keep reading in these times of money shortage and other disasters.
They have an offer up called The Write Stuff Bundle 2017 which is highly recommended – you get books about writing by the likes of Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Lawrence Block and Dean Wesley Smith, among others. You also get an 80% discount on Writer’s Café, an excellent writing software. You don’t pay much, and a share of your money goes to a charity.
Nice and smooth1.
Now I mention this because the bundle includes Dean Wesley Smith’s Writing a Novel in Seven Days, that is quite fun to read, and proposes a very interesting challenge.
Which brings me to the discussion I overheard yesterday, the gist of which was
It is better to write just a few stories rather than write a lot, what really matters is that the little you write you sell to a big publisher and then you land a big prize
And this is a theory I do not subscribe to.
I think I already bored you to distraction with my theory that self-publishing and digital publishing have brought us back (or forward) to a new age of pulp writing.
Not just in terms of contents (which is debatable), but in terms of practice: writers writing a lot of stuff, fast, and selling it for cheap, covering those niches where the readers are, and finding a way to thrive (or maybe just survive) in the proceedings.
So, my rationale is, the more I write, the more I sell (hopefully).
It means writing a novel in seven days (I did it once, and would love to do it again2), it means putting in eight hours a day at the keyboard, it means being on it 24/7: taking a walk thinking about the dialogue, cooking dinner while searching for a way out of the corner in which I painted myself
It may mean using two or five aliases, not so much to hide my identity, as not to saturate the market.
It may mean doing work for hire, or work with publishers once in a while.
But it’s all part of the package, and it’s a work, and it’s fun. And sometimes it pays.
The trick being, of course, to turn that sometimes into often, possibly always.
But basically, in my world, word-count equals earnings, and it’s OK like that.
The alternative, the single once-in-a-while novel sold to a big publisher that makes a splash, gets you a national prize, puts on the telly, a lands you side gig writing for a newspaper or a magazine is something completely different.
The key word being make a splash.
It’s not about hard work and getting the words right, but it’s about marketing.
And it means it takes effort and success out of your hands, and puts them in the hands of the boys in marketing, and makes you a pawn in a game that has very little to do with writing 3.
And I don’t doubt a big publisher likes this model a lot – because it means focusing publicity and production on a single title and a single writer at a time, trying to funnel all the readers in that direction. Big numbers, big money. Also, the award-winning writer that made a splash becomes an on-demand worker, writing a new book only when the market can’t flog his earlier work anymore. In the interim, let him pay his bills with his weekly column on the local newspaper.
Indeed, I know a couple of fine writers, here where I live, that are being given a hard time by publishers because they write too much.
But if the stuff you write fulfills readers requests, if the guys are buying everything and keep asking for more, it’s not too much at all, right?
Or am I missing something?
(the comments are open as usual)
- For the sake of balance, I might also point you to the Humble Bundle site, where they are selling a ton of books and audiobooks by Brandon Sanderson, that are highly recommended and you might like to check them out. ↩
- I’ll have to get back to this in a future post. ↩
- this is not to diss award-winning colleagues, far from it – what I mean is, the number of variables in the big publisher/awards model are just too many, and a lot of those are out of the writer’s control. Which is something the writer should be aware of. ↩