I’m Rich Leder, screenwriter, novelist, publisher, and founder of Laugh Riot Press. (One of these blog posts I’ll stop introducing myself.)
This year, as I prepare to launch Laugh Riot Press and publish four of my novels under that imprint, I’ve been thinking about something I’ve been reading in self-pubbing blogs I follow and hearing in like-minded podcasts I listen to. It’s been bothering me a bit, and I’m wondering if it’s been bothering you too. It has to do with how many books a year successful indie writers are writing.
These writers, many of whom I stand in awe of for their courage and talent and generosity and entrepreneurial success, are writing and self-pubbing three or four or five or more novels a year. By any measure, that is a heavy word count.
They have learned from their experience as indie writer business people that one of the true keys to being a successful self-pubbed writer—successful as in selling lots of books—is to have as many self-pubbed books as you can and to keep adding to that total in an exponential way year after year.
It makes sense, of course. And the numbers don’t lie. It’s true. Speed is good for sales. The more books you self-pub, the better you position yourself in the marketplace, and the more potential you have to increase your sales.
I’m going to have three self-pubbed novels on Amazon and beyond by the summer and a fourth novel in the marketplace toward the end of this year. That’s four in one year. But I didn’t write them all in the same year. It’s taken me a bunch of years to write them.
When one of my icons learned I was a screenwriter before I became a novelist, she said to me, “Wow, you must be a fast writer.”
I’m not. I’m one of those novelists that write and edit at the same time. My first draft takes months, not weeks. I’m a fast rewriter, but by the time I’m rewriting my first draft, other already very successful indie writers have finished and published two books or three and are becoming even more successful while I’m still at the starting gate. They’re offering book packages, co-writing more books with other indie writers, filling their Amazon pages and websites with book after book.
It’s amazing how they do it, how they keep the quality of their work at such a high level while writing at such a high speed. It’s awesome. And intimidating.
So I’m wondering if I have what it takes to be a successful self-pubbed novelist. I’m wondering if I’m going to publish enough books in any one given year to make a difference in my sales (if I’m lucky enough to have any sales in the first place), to make a dent in the marketplace. I’m wondering if I’m behind the eight ball before I’ve even chalked the stick.
I’m wondering these things because I’m never going to write four books a year. It’s not in me to do it. I’m not built that way.
I’m good for two books a year—if my characters behave the way I think they will, if my story unfolds according to my outline, if the rest of my life cooperates so that I have enough time to write. Two books a year, max. That’s what I think.
So I’m wondering about all of this, and, like I said, it’s bothering me a bit, and then I turn a corner and I’m thinking, Who gives a shit in the end?
I want to make money at this, yes, of course I do. But I want to write books that I like, and I want to like the books that I write while I write them. If I force myself to go too fast, I don’t think I’ll write as well as I write when I write at the pace I write well at—if you get my drift.
I’m going to do all the other things my indie writer heroes recommend I do to market myself and my books—I founded Laugh Riot Press for one thing—and I’m going to work hard at making my books as fun and funny and professionally produced and presented as I possibly can, and that is going to be good enough because it has to be.
After all these years, I still love to write. I mean the actual writing, the sitting-at-the-desk-and-stringing-words-into-sentences part. I still love that. I don’t think I can go faster and feel that way. I think I’ll feel like I’m going too fast.
Do I wish I could write at warp speed? I do. But I can’t, so fuck it; I’m not going to. And I’m not going to worry about it anymore either.
What about you?