Running At An Artificial Pace

At the top of the email it reads, “To: Susan”

These emails I get from Holly Lisle, I so often wish that I could find them and link you to them, because they’re so often very wise. And, of course they are. Holly’s been putting out great books and teaching writers for how long now?

Since I can’t show it to you and I can’t copy/paste it for you, I’ll give you the gist. Once upon a time, Holly decided, based on some extrapolation of daily page count and faulty thinking, that she would be able to write 12 books a year. An agent whom she queried with this plan shot her down, explaining that he wouldn’t rep anyone who wrote twelve books a year, because they would all be crap.

Now it is true that everyone writes a different pace, and I think that a lot of people can write more than the one or two books a year that NY will publish for you. Some people can write twelve good books a year, witness Amanda Hocking with 6 out of 12 in the Kindle top 100, last I checked.

And you know, that’s what I wanted to talk about. They’ve been talking a bunch around the indie blogs lately about what some are even calling the “Amanda Hocking Effect.” (Poor thing, I wonder what she thinks of all this.) I first heard this theory from Kait, and then the term itself a few days later from Zoe. The basic idea is that one of the ways to climb quickly and build a very excited, involved fan base is to keep feeding those fans new work. Amanda hasn’t let two months go by without a new release. She doesn’t have to worry about her fans forgetting about her, and when she comes out with something, it goes to the top of the list for those fans because they’re still reeling from the last Hocking book they loved.

So in addition to having a backlist available, feeding your readers new work without too much time lag between releases now goes into our theory about how things work.

Since that came up, a bunch of indies I know are talking about ways to do that. More short stories and novellas, the possibility of serialization. I don’t like serials. Cue Queen: I want it all, and I want it now. I don’t read many short stories. I like novels, I understand the…physics of novels, and that’s how my brain works. And yet this recent talk has made even me think about these things. I don’t know if that’s me being open-minded, or just plain wacky.

But this was all still stewing in my head when I read Holly’s email because I’m just trying to remind myself that it has to be good. I know everyone who’s thinking about doing shorts knows that. We all know that. But I needed to remind myself that it might be better to play to my strengths. There was the idea that maybe I could dash off some shorts and that would take some of the pressure off, make it easier to ask people to wait for the next novel.

And then the Gin Blossoms came in and said, Susan,

How you gonna ever find your place, runnin’ at an artificial pace?

I know, it seems odd, but people be showin’ up to tell me all kinds of stuff all the time. It’s part of why nothing gets done.

Do you know what occurred to me the other day as I read my piece on Hush Money at 6 months?

It’s only been 6 months. It seems like so much longer to me, but it’s only been 6 months. Jesus H. Washington Christ, what I have I been flogging myself for for the last few months? I’m totally new at this. I set myself an unreasonable deadline. I made a mistake. Criminy, how long am I going to make myself pay for that?

I’d guess that most trad authors get at least a year to write book 2, and probably longer than that to get it all polished up and ready to go. I dunno. It just seems like Holly was giving me a wake up call. Wake up and listen to what you friends have been trying to tell me.

The top of the email reads, “To: Susan,” and it’s like she wrote it just for me.

If you’re a writer and do not get Holly’s newsletter, please consider doing yourself that favor.

That segues pretty well into this week’s

Recommended Reading

Why I’m a Fandrew
Actually, I’m not just any fan of Andrew Mocete, I’m Fandrew #1. And if you want to see an example of why, check this out. Andrew’s writing a Love Series on his blog, about loves that have shaped him as a writer. Who gets the first spot? His wife. In a charming and heart-felt post, Andrew talks about the importance of support, how rare it is, along with some good ideas about why it’s so hard to find in My Wife: Love Series Part 1. (found because you know Fandrew #1 subscribes)

I’m a speshul snowflake too!
Ok, this is a bit of ramble, but stick with it, because it’s full of sincerity, and drizzled with beauty. It may inspire you a bit, and open up your brain a bit, as Larry Brooks so often does for me. Writers, Give the Gift of “Getting off the dime” is Larry’s answer to that every-person who casually says “Yeah, I’d like to write a book someday.” (found via subscription to the Storyfix blog)

I don’t wanna sully my art by doing what I love in any way that’s less than…
If you’re on the fence about going indie because of the stigma factor, here’s a post to think about. Another from Larry Brook’s Storyfix blog, this is a guest post by Carol Tice. (via subscription)


I’m a bit backwards this week, and I’ll admit that ROW80 hasn’t been much on my mind. I wrote a lot on the short piece this week. In both the stories I’m working I’m now at a point where I will have to break down and write an action scene on something. Damn.


Filed under Recs and Links, ROW80

23 responses to “Running At An Artificial Pace

  1. Man I wish I had a cool name like Andrew… cause of Fandrew. This makes me very very sad.

  2. I think sometimes it’s difficult not to judge one’s own success by the success of other. My critique partner has told me a couple of times: That worked for them, but you’ve got to do what works for you.

    Publishing a book kind of reminds me of graduating from college. We each leave with different abilities, connections (friendships, associates, etc), interests, backgrounds, and such. And of course, a bit of luck. 🙂 We never know where we’re going to land until we get to the end of the trip.

    We can push ourselves to follow the exact same steps of another and still not have the same results. Not only is the world is just too fluid to end up at the same point, we’re too unique to copycat with precision. 🙂

    Guess we just have to be ourselves with our own hopes, dreams, success and failures.

  3. Opinion from a reader:

    I say you publish a book when you are ready to publish it and not before. Yes, it’s cool when an author cranks out book after book within a short space of time, but I’ve found that either the later books aren’t as good or I find myself getting burnt out reading so many of them even if they are great books. Because you know if the book is there I’m going to read it. Not like I can buy it and put it to the side and wait a few months. Nope not going to happen. Especially if it’s a series.

    My opinion of putting out shorts in between? They’re ok but I really kind of like the suspense of waiting for the next novel. If you’ve taken the time to work on that novel and make it the best it can be then it is by far worth the wait.

    However, as an indie author that’s struggling to build a following without having a publishing house spewing out your books all over the world then I’m sure you do wonder if your readers will forget you. Well, I will just say that until last year I never knew there were so many of you out there until my friend, Lauralynn Elliott, started indie publishing her books. I’ve subscribed to your newsletters and blogs, followed on Twitter and Facebook, and I must say you guys ROCK! Just keep us readers up to date on what’s going on from time to time and we won’t forget you’re there. We will be anxiously awaiting your next wonderful work of art.

    Oh and @ZoeWinters : We can be your ZoeZealots! haha

  4. I agree what is good for others isn’t always good for self – do what is comfortable and causes the least amount of stress
    keep smiling

  5. It took me 2 years to write my first book, and I still haven’t published it yet. I’m going through the amazon dtp process right now.

    I learned a lot about writing in those 2 years. I took several breaks that would last weeks. Anyway, whatever the pace, that’s the pace. Although I do tend to write much faster now.

    • I’ve been through that too, learned a lot and can more easily spot what works and what doesn’t. It’s going to continue to get easier with time and practice.

      You’re publishing your book! Very exciting time. I wish you the best of luck with it.

  6. Claire

    You could drive yourself crazy trying to compare the pros and cons of what other writers do, and what you think people expect of you. Do the best that you can to produce the best work that you can, and your readers will be kept happy. Promise. 🙂

  7. I think it’s great that all this hoopla got you to reassess where your at resulting in a better understanding of how you want to handle your career. We all need to do that from time to time.

    Besides that, I find it interesting that the title of my update is a Pearl Jam lyric and yours is Gin Blossoms. Two popular 90’s bands. I get the feeling I could send you a half written post and have you finish the thought for me. That’ll come in handy.

  8. Wow, it looks like everyone else has already said most of what needs to be said. So I’ll just say that I’ll support you no matter what you do. :0)

  9. I always love your posts, and you and Kait are such an inspiration in the indie movement. I was a fence-sitter for a long time, strutted my work along Query Street. Have a collection of rejections with “doesn’t resonate” and “I don’t think I’m the right agent for this” and “your voice is terrific but I’m not repping screenplays” (I didn’t send her a screenplay, because I don’t write them, but when I respectfully requested she give my work another look as the novel it is before rejecting it as a screenplay, I never heard a word from her. Oy.

    So after watching the indie movement–well, move, I’m jumping in this year. I’m a doer, not a waiter, and the waiting eons to hear back from NY or LA is making me crazy.

    And I didn’t accomplish much by way of ROW80 either. 😉

    • Thank you, Sharon! And that’s awesome news. You know little makes Kait and me as happy as hearing we helped lure another writer over to the Dark Side. A few more and I earn a toaster.

      • Well, you call it the Dark Side. I call it relief. LOL But when you’re in the dark, the other side can’t see what you’re up to, right? Here’s to that toaster!

    • Those rejection letters can really play a number on a writer’s ego. What I’ve learned during my time of querying is a rejection means nothing other than an agent/editor doesn’t think he/she can make big money off your work.

      The market is fierce; money is tight. It’s a business, and the traditional publishing industry is trying to be practical (I think) in a model which has been problematic for a long time.

      Good for you for taking a chance on yourself, Sharon.

      • Thanks, Reena! I know my writing is strong–the economy is weak so no one will take a chance on it. So I’m gonna take my own chance. WOO! I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? I could make no money on it. Hey, I’m doing that now!! lol

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