How many books will you write this year?

Sunday afternoons I usually devote to writing projects.  This Mother’s Day, after a little prompting from my family, I took the entire day off.  And I enjoyed myself!  That is, until later that evening when a NY Times headline caught my eye: Writer’s Cramp: In-E-Reader Era, a Book a Year is Slacking.

Oh, my.

Those commercial fiction writers who previously managed to put out a book a year are now “pulling the literary equivalent of a double shift.”  These writers, whom we love and hate, are churning out extras–short stories, novellas, e-books– to satisfy their impatient readers whose attention spans have shortened, thanks to our revved up world.

Thriller writer Lisa Scottoline has revved up her daily quota to 2000 words.  That translates into a 12/7 workweek.  Best-selling literary novelists are, so far, off the hook. (Go ahead, take your ten years. We still love you!)  Since I don’t belong to either camp (not yet), I’m wondering what to make of this madness.  Between book marketing, building my platform, speaking engagements, circulating short stories, writing query letters, entering competitions, raising my kids, and the Other job, my next novel is still in note form.  Maybe I could offer this for 99 cents while my fans await the real thing.

Let’s suppose that you could (or do) write full-time?  How many books could you (would you) write in one year?

7 responses

  1. As someone who does work fulltime as a writer, I’d like to fall into one to one and a half books a year. Two tops. It can be done once you find your voice. ONCE you find your voice. That’s important. Keep in mind that authors no longer have to tour like they used to, and all that time once spent traveling can now be spent on the keyboard, and even if they are traveling, they have a laptop. So . . . yes, I can see it. But more than two? Can’t see it. Not unless you are famous enough to have an entourage that takes care of your brand, blogging, FB and Twitter. However, I can see some burnout taking place with more than two. Also . . . everybody forgets about the editing involved. Either those editors are working double time as well or there’s a lot less editing taking place.

    C. Hope Clark
    Lowcountry Bribe: A Carolina Slade Mystery
    Bell Bridge Books, Feb 2012


    • Hope,
      It seems you come from a perspective of someone who hasn’t been published by a large publishing house. Perhaps you go the vanity press route. Either way, saying “authors no longer have to tour…” shows you have little experience in the large publishing houses.


      • Alex – I’m published at a mid-sized, traditional publishing house. I’ve actually been scolded for traveling too much for the cost involved. I choose to tour, but these days there are so many options. Of course the big names put in personal appearances, because millions are at stake, but we have a lot of breathing room and choices until we reach that tier.


  2. I write biography and historical fiction. It’s not unusual for me to take two to three years just to research one book. My solution? I juggle three books at once,: researching one, editing another, and revising a third. It’s madness, I know, but as a single mother and a college professor, I’ve never had the luxury of writing fiull time. But I can dream…


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