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View Diary: A Kossack's Guide to Book Publishing - part 7 [updated] (87 comments)

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  •  conventional wisdom (1+ / 0-)
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    KMc that more than two books a year will leave you overexposed, potentially hurting all of your books. The idea is to lengthen your shelf life and keep your backlist in print. There are some cases where it makes sense to release books more quickly (i.e., successive volumes of a trilogy), but I suspect if you want to write more than that some of them will end up being published under a pseudonym (even if it's an "open" pseudonym and use use both names at cons, like John Grant/Paul Barnett).

    Economic -5.00 Social -5.49

    by Swordsmith on Mon Aug 07, 2006 at 02:53:27 PM PDT

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    •  That's about what I thought (2+ / 0-)
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      Swordsmith, Elise
      and one of the reasons I've started writing YA fantasy as well as general market stuff, though I'm not sure the conventional wisdom is right. Most of the prolific writers I know use multiple pen names like Dean Smith or Kris Rusch, writing tons under their own name doesn't seem to have hurt Weber or Lackey. It's an interesting problem at any rate.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Kelly McCullough - WebMage available from ACE books (Penguin) August 06

      by KMc on Mon Aug 07, 2006 at 02:58:51 PM PDT

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      •  Actually, I think it hurt Misty Lackey a lot (1+ / 0-)
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        The problem was she was in a situation where she needed money in a hurry (for the noblest of reasons), and had no choice but to dilute her name and churn out a lot of books in a hurry. In the long run, my impression is it diluted her overall sales in a big way.

        I've never felt that David Weber was particularly overexposed, but that may be because Baen essentially made him into a brand name, and were careful not to dilute the quality of his work.

        A mainstream example of someone who didn't do that would be Tom Clancy, whose work was badly diluted by quasi-tie ins.

        The Star Trek books regularly hit the best-seller lists until they dramatically upped the number of them published, at which point sales fell off.

        The last vampire craze before the current one was killed off by overexposure with, for instance, Zebra alone publishinbg two vampire boosk every month.

        Economic -5.00 Social -5.49

        by Swordsmith on Mon Aug 07, 2006 at 03:06:55 PM PDT

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        •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
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          Swordsmith, Elise

          I totally agree with you on Clancy, though I'd say that the quality of his work starting around Clear and Present Danger, does not match his earlier stuff, and that the collapse of the Soviet Union took a lot of the wind out of his sails.

          On the other hand, the production issue being a problem hadn't been my impression on Lackey, but I'm quite willing to defer to your significantly greater experience with all things publishing.

          That being the case. Do you think it was the volume of publication that hurt Lackey, or that she had to sacrifice some quality to reach that output? That's one of the reasons why I'm trying to find the right balance. Two books a year is no problem. I did that this year without feeling the stretch, and three should be very doable, but I wasn't sure about four.

          Much to chew on here. Thanks again.

          Kelly McCullough - WebMage available from ACE books (Penguin) August 06

          by KMc on Mon Aug 07, 2006 at 03:30:30 PM PDT

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          •  I think it was a mix of both (3+ / 0-)
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            KMc, Elise, Unitary Moonbat

            Just because someone can sell a first draft novel doesn't mean it's a good idea. (Not meaning to cast aspersions on Misty here, some of whose writing I like a lot.)

            I think two books a year is a great, sustainable output that won't burn you out. I know people who can do more than that, but it can be a problem when you're scheduled so that you have to do that. But if it works for you, great.

            I had one friend who got sucked into a trap of writing thousands of words a day to support the big-money contract her agent pushed her into - none of which was coming out in her name. She loved the money at first, but it really ground her down, and she got grumpier and grumpier and stopped coming to conventions (because she was always on deadlines) and returning friends' calls. I have another friend that's happening to now - he's so determined to get ahead that he no longer attends cons unless they pay his way, and has taken on an insane writing schedule.

            Neither of them is having a whole lot of fun.

            Granted there are times when writing isn't fun, but the magic is important to me, and if I wanted to be miserable, there are a lot of better-paying ways I could do it.

            I guess my point is that it's great to be prolific and enjoy it, but do you really want to be "feeling the stretch" constantly, instead of just for than that insane must-finish-this-now period at the end of each book?

            Economic -5.00 Social -5.49

            by Swordsmith on Mon Aug 07, 2006 at 03:44:35 PM PDT

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            •  Good points (3+ / 0-)
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              Swordsmith, Elise, Unitary Moonbat

              and I really don't know the answers yet. That's a big part of my reason for asking. I'm trying to be careful and to do things that will build a career over the long term that make me happy as well as keeping me from starving. And part of that is finding my pacing. When I took the contract for WebMage I asked my editor to give me a year for the second book for that very reason. It mostly got written in the middle six months of that, and I was certain going in that I could manage it in six months, but I wanted to give myself room to breathe in case I was wrong.

              The last year has been very interesting in terms of the writing life. I've got some good mentors, so I've always known intellectually that selling the first book meant same game bigger stakes, just like selling the first short was, but it's been instructive to experience it.

              Kelly McCullough - WebMage available from ACE books (Penguin) August 06

              by KMc on Mon Aug 07, 2006 at 03:56:42 PM PDT

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