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Quality Over Quantity

I recently read a blog post by self-published author Jeff Ambrose that detailed his goal to publish a certain amount of stories in a self-imposed timeframe. The reasoning behind this is that the more books you have available to read, the higher your chances of selling more books. This makes sense, because if you have only one book out, your exposure is limited. It’s only through diversifying that catalog that you can attract an audience to your writing. Plus, it helps people see that you’re serious and devoted to your work, thus devoted to readers.

I considered this with my releases, which only stand at three in about a ten month time frame. That is small in comparison to other self-published authors – especially considering my releases are all novelettes.

This stimulated my mind to begin thinking about a more ambitious writing schedule. If I could write more stories and release more stories quicker, perhaps the ramp up would result in higher sales.

There are two problems, for me, with this line of thinking. First, do I want high sales? Of course I do. What writer doesn’t want to make money on what he writes? But right now, I just want people to read what I write. That’s why I have devoted more time to my blog. Everyone can read for free what is on there, including free stories that I have started writing for the site. So sales are important, but not my main motivator right now.

The other problem is quality. My concern is that if I take on a quantity approach over a quality approach, what I write may suffer. And I do not want to do that. I want each story to capture the imagination of the reader. I also want the reader to see that a lot of thought went into the story. Other writers may be able to accomplish this quickly, but I know this is not my strength.

So it may be that each story in the Miscorrection series takes a couple of months to write and publish. No big deal there. The motivation is for you to read and enjoy them not to maximize sales. And if you don’t want to read them, well you’re reading this site. So either way, you win and I win.

I hope you enjoy reading what I write no matter what form it is. If you do, let me know in the comments. If you don’t, also let me know in the comments. There’s no better way for me to improve than to receive criticism in all its forms!

Comments

  1. You're thinking about all it wrong, Ben. Quantity has nothing to do with quality. Slow writing is just slow writing. It doesn't guarantee quality. And fast writing doesn't guarantee

    Consider the following:

    Ray Bradbury's first published story -- "The Lake" -- was written in one afternoon.

    Harlan Ellison's most anthologized story -- "Repent, Harlequin, Said the Ticktock Man" -- was written in a day.

    Ernet Hemingway's most anthologized story -- "The Killers" -- was one of TWO stories he wrote that day.

    And this list could go on.

    Sure, there are slow writings. George R.R. Martin is a slow writer, at least when it comes to his big epic fantasies.

    But my point isn't about how fast or slow a writer writes, it's with the myth that speed means less quality.

    It doesn't.

    Besides, it's not how FAST you TYPE, it's how long you spend working.

    Suppose you write one page every fifteen minutes -- 250 words. Suppose you only have 30 minutes to write a day. That's 2 pages a day, or 700 pages a year -- about 35 20-page short stories. That's almost seven times the speed your working at now.

    Will your work suffer?

    Who knows? You don't. At least not until you try.

    And look at what I'm saying. I'm not telling you to type faster, just write longer. Carve out those 30 minutes, get those two pages in, and see what happens.

    Second: How do you think one become a better writer? By writing, of course. Ergo, the more you write, the better writer you become, and the better you're able to tell stories that capture a reader's imagination.

    If you write a story a week and I write a story a month, you'll have four times as much experience after one year than I will. You'll also have 52 stories for sale to my 12. Who is going to sell more?

    One more thing. The BEST marketing for your stores are more stories of different variety. Plain and simple. It's not twitter, or a blog, or facebook, or free story promotions, or anything else you see going on. Sure, you release a story, tweet it, put it on facebook, write a blog post about it. But forget everything else.

    Of all the readers I know, I'm the only one active on the Internet. All the other readers I know get on Amazon or B&N or some other online seller looking for a good story. The more stories you have, and the different kinds of stories you have, the better chance a reader will download a sample and give it a shot. And if they like the sample, they'll buy the story. And if they like the story, they'll come back looking for more.

    Sorry if this was like a juggernaut coming at you. It's just that for years I was caught up in all these myths about slow writing, rewriting, promotion, etc., and it nearly killed my writing. Only when I just sat down and started writing fast (more time, no rewriting) did I see tremendous improvement.

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  2. I agree with you on the above points. I'm also just starting off with being really serious about this. My ability to do it quickly will come over time. Actually, I already see it happening. But my concern lies with quality. And if i feel my need to be quicker sacrifices my quality, I won't do it.

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  3. I like the above comment. I am also a slow writer. I try to be a good writer. I do not assume that the two are necessarily connected.
    I spend the majority of my writing time rereading, reworking, and otherwise editing, so I am actually more of a "slow editor". Sometimes in the process of editing, I come up with new ideas. I believe that helps my quality, but it doesn't help my quantity at all!

    ReplyDelete
  4. [...] that I would be releasing a story. Ironically, this release comes hot on the heels of my blog post “Quality Over Quantity” . I was challenged in the comments that just because something is written quickly, doesn’t [...]

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