I came across two thought-provoking blogs this week that had me wanting to shout “Yes!” One by Robert Bidinotto and the other by Libby Fischer Hellman both discuss why publishing a huge number of books over a short period of time is a bad marketing strategy for authors.
Let’s back up a bit here. On a forum I belong to, I’ve noticed that whenever an indie author bemoans dwindling sales, the response from others is to write more books, or write in a new “hot” genre. There are indie authors who truly believe that publishing three or four books a year is vital to success. The reasoning might sound good in theory...increased volume means increased visibility which means increased sales, but it’s not happening for a growing number of authors.
As Binindotto points out, authors are actually seeing reduced sales, referring to indie author Mike Dennis, as one example. Dennis provided the grim stats on a forum, which you can find on Binindotto’s blog. Bidinotto is quite right when he says that successful selling isn’t dependent on volume but on writing a distinctive book. Note that he doesn’t say a literary masterpiece, but rather one that has a unique plotting and/or characters. I absolutely agree.
He also refers to Libby Fischer Hellman’s blog, where she states flat out that what she calls “binge publishing” has to stop. The market is over-saturated and only about 10% of available reading material is actually read. I’m guessing that a lot of that is free downloads. Another important point she’s made is that so much writing and publishing is leading to exhaustion and anxiety for authors. It’s too much too fast. What happened to letting ideas simmer over time? What happened to carefully developing the best plot possible, and don’t get me started on the number of authors who refuse to spend a penny on experienced editors who understand the craft. As Hellman says, it’s nuts out there and the market is not sustainable. I think this is why so many authors are seeing decreasing sales despite the growing number of books on their CVs.
As someone who couldn’t possibly write two novels a year, it feels good to know that I can relax a bit. For a while, I was putting too pressure on myself to produce lots of books when I’d much rather take my time to write something unique and memorable. I encourage you to read both blogs. They're terrific.