RSS

Tag Archives: authors

How do some novelists write book after book after book?

I recently started answering some questions over on Quora. I thought I’d share them here now. This particular question is a good one, one that is asked a lot…

*************** Answer *************

Lots of people will be telling you “they write crap.” They aren’t completely wrong. There are some authors who do churn out “crap”, but what you call crap and what the readers like might be the same thing.

Take James Patterson for example. He writes a lot of books, and he sells A LOT of books. He sells them because people love them. Even Chuck Tingle, who clearly writes toward the ridiculous, can churn out a book a week, and sells enough books to never work again.

Then there’s Stephen King who wrote so many books a year that he kept manuscripts in his drawer because the editors refused to publish more than one a year. He eventually publishd under a pseudonym just so that he could do something with the work he had done. And he has contributed a huge amount of work to the horror genre, and inspired many people to build upon his foundations.

List of prolific writers – Wikipedia who have more than 150 books to their name, some with more than 1000. Nora Roberts, RL Stine, Issac Asimov, and more.

Are they geniuses? You might consider some of them to be. But really, if you pay attention to what these authors have to say you realize that it isn’t genius that drives them. They simply want to create a story, and they write it. They don’t agonize over every word, or rewrite 50 times like their counterparts who write less than a book a year. They just write. In Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury and On Writing Stephen King both authors insist that anyone can write. Bradbury even suggests writing a short story a week every week for a year (because no one can write 52 bad short stories.)

2k to 10k: Writing Faster, by Rachel Aaron and 5, 000 Words Per Hour by Chris Fox offer some fantastic tips and tricks to help you write more consistently, and steadily increase your word count per day. Because really that’s what it comes down to. The more you write the more words you have down on a page, and the faster you get to the end of a novel. The more you practice writing the better your writing becomes. The more finished novels, short stories and novels you have the more practice you have at completing work.

Writing, noveling, is a job. A plummer can’t take a day off because he just doesn’t feel like it. An neither can an author. Call it crap if you want (and clearly a lot of people do) but that doesn’t mean you can’t write a good novel quickly if you just take the time to do so.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 13, 2017 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , ,

Podcast Recommendations

It’s been about a year since I shared my favorite podcasts. Some of them have ended, others have been created, so I’m sharing my favorite podcasts that involve writing with you here.

Author Strong – fantastic 30 minute episodes interviewing and talking about writing.

Sell More Books Show – Five tips, and five top news stories in publishing. Quick, and to the point podcast.

Self Publishing Podcast – One of the original podcasts. Three guys discussing their journey through indie authorship. Not always safe for work.

Rocking Self Publishing Podcast – Interviews from authors, marketers, and others.

Authorpreneur – interviews with authors, marketers, and others who talk about the business side of writing.

Creative Penn – Interviews from authors from every walk of life.

Self Publishing Roundtable – usually interviews with authors who are selling a lot of books.

Grammar Girl – A girl bent on making the world a more grammatically correct place.

Literary Roadhouse – Every week they read and discuss a short story.

To Be Read – Weekly discussion of the books they are reading, and what they loved or hated about certain books.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 13, 2015 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Why not both?

book vs kindleWe see it a lot these days, “Ebooks are killing print books!”

They pull up stats, and show us how ebooks are starting to outsell physical books. Physical book readers fight back and say how awful ebooks are. Then we get more stats from publishers saying print books are outsold ebooks. Back and forth like an endless yo-yo.

Why can’t we have both?

Ebooks are convenient. I love the fact that I can take my kindle filled with a thousand books anywhere I go. I can read on the bus, at the park, poolside, or just during my lunch at work. The text and e-ink are easier on my eyes then the computer screen or smart phone, and I have a paperwhite so I can read in bed with a low level of light if I really want to. If text is too small I can adjust that. If text is too big I can adjust that too.

But I have to admit that my digital collection of books isn’t as awe inspiring as my physical one. I don’t rush to see my own book on kindle, I want the paperback in my hands so I can show it off. I like the smell of old books, and the look of their covers on my shelf. I love having a non-fiction paper book that I can write notes in the margins, highlight, and fold pages. Bookmarks in kindle aren’t quite the same.

The music industry is a fantastic counter example of where the publishing industry is going. They had iTunes, then other music shops open to regulate prices. We had Amazon. They had access to iTunes, soundcloud, and other services where indies could go straight to the public, we had Amazon, then Smashwords, and others. They struggle with the same “go free or don’t go free” quandary that faces writers.

Just as writers can see a correlation with their indie writers, readers can see a correlation to their music lovers. CD’s, and even LP’s, have not faded away to obscurity because of MP3’s. On the contrary, they have become collectible, sometimes specialized to give them greater value to the listeners. While lovers of great music continually search out the new, and fill their technology with MP3’s they are also sharing, buying, and trading CD’s and LP’s.

Why wouldn’t books do the same? Print books aren’t going to disappear into the ether. There will always be those who shun technology, who can’t afford it, or simply enjoy the feel of a good book.But like music book publishers are going to have to be a little more creative in how they market, or stick to the big boys who sell the most books. As print on demand becomes easier, and even more cost effective, fewer bulk books will be available.

One of the biggest markets hit by the change in the music industry may have been music stores. Many of them failed while others changed their model, becoming more specialized and catering to specific crowds. Book stores are doing the same thing. While Boarders disappeared Barns and Nobel adjusted their business model and is surviving.

It’s nice that music lovers no longer care if it’s digital or physical. They’ve gotten past the logistic of how their music gets in the hands of the fans and just gone on to make great music. Hopefully that will soon be the case for authors and readers as well. Then we can get back to the business of writing good books, and getting them in the hands of those who love to read.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 27, 2015 in Commentary

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

What is slow?

I just read this article about slow writers, and their place in the current Amazon world. They make some valid points about certain authors who advocate for writing fast and not editing. I also advocate just getting that first draft out and on the page, and then turning it over and writing something else. That is because a person who writes often, and a lot, has more practice then someone who does not.

But I digress, the question today is “what is slow?”

I know the guys over at Self Publishing Podcast can crank out the wordage. They managed to publish quite a few books last year. I think they are slowing down this year to focus a little more on their brand and put a little more time into their writing, but even then they still crank out more words in a month then I do in three.

Dean Wesley Smith writes TONS of words every single day. He also advocates Heinlein’s Rules about writing fast and not editing (unless your editor tells you to.) He has some great reasons to do so. He also has good examples of published writers who do write incredibly fast. Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury and every other author on this list. From authors that wrote a short story every week (because no one can write 52 bad short stories) to those who wrote several novels a year.

Then there are others who wrote one single book and earned great acclaim. Withering Heights by Emily Bronte. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Gone with the Wind by Margret Michelle. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. All books that have made their way into the national culture, film, cartoons, spin offs, etc.

A huge difference between Ralph Ellison and Stephen King… One makes a living as an author. The other made his living in other things and also wrote a fantastic book that has inspired generations. Not to say that Stephen King hasn’t written some wonderful things, some of which might inspire others along their path. Ray Bradbury, Philip K Dick and Isaac Asimov were all extremely prolific authors who made their living writing. Their works are now considered classics that will inspire and influence our culture for a very long time.

To me I suppose when I say I am slow it is because I am unsatisfied with how quickly I am writing. I know I can do more, spend more time at it, and get the ideas out of my head and on to the paper.

I think if you want to make a living at being a writer then you have to write enough to sustain that career. Every author who has come forward to say they are currently making a comfortable living off of their writing has said the same thing: they write almost every day, and they write a lot. You can not sustain a house, cell phone, car, water, and electricity off of one book in a lifetime… not unless that was a REALLY good book. And striking that really good book isn’t likely. It happens to one author every couple of years. Do you know how many authors there are out there right now?

There is something to be said for writers who are still learning their craft, honing their skills, and fine tuning their instruments. A pianist doesn’t go out to play in front of a crowd until he’s had years of practice. And those of us who started writing as children have an advantage. We had those years of honing our skills while others were out playing kick ball and hop scotch. You, the beginning writer, need to take that time to hone those skills and become more comfortable with your words. Take that time, get it right, and then decide what you want to do with those words. What level are you comfortable at.

There is also room for the part time author. The author who has a “day job” while they write. (That’s what I’m doing.) I am still an author. That is how I think of myself, and how I introduce myself, because that is what I am even if I don’t make my entire living off of it.

How slow is slow? That depends on your goals. For me I feel slow because I know I can do more, and I feel that I need to because I want more then anything to be writing full time. To get out of the rat race once and for all. I need to write faster, which for me just means less time gaming and more time on scrivener.

But you have to make your own decision. You have to find what your comfortable with, and decide if that fits the life style you eventually want. It might mean you are perfectly happy with exactly where you are. It might mean putting in extra hours every week to learn that skill, to get better on your instrument so that you can finally play for the crowd.

(Also listen to this great podcast with Neil Gaiman who comments on the subject of writing every day, finishing, and breaking through the wall.)

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 2, 2015 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Science and Art

I just got done watching Adam Savage’s SXSW Address and I needed to talk about it. Adam Savage is a fantastic speaker, and usually has something very thought provoking to say. In this speech he is talking about Science and Art. That they are connected because they are both ways to discuss the same thing. Human Culture.

I am a writer, and I also do art. This makes me an artist, right? Yes, I would say it does. But I also am a scientist. I enjoy performing thought experiments about scientific advancements. I use these thoughts in some of my writing. How can a space ship save it’s passengers from cosmic radiation? If electromagnetic fields on earth do this how can we create an artificial electromagnetic field on a space ship? How can we encompass an entire colony ship?

I’m not the first writer to think about how things could work, and use those things in there writing. The writers of Star Trek did this every week, and create some interesting technology that no one ever thought would be realistic. Then we got communicators, and touch pads, and reusable shuttle crafts. They, Star Trek, inspired so many scientists. And yet “Star Trek” is still often seen as low brow cinema. Even though Star Trek was one of the first TV shows to comment on the cold war, the inequality of African Americans, and sexism. Not directly, of course, but it was often written into the show in such a way that people could accept it, and discuss it, when they could never have done so before.

Art opens doors for communication. It doesn’t matter if it is “high brow” or “low brow” art, it doesn’t matter if you initially understand the piece, but it get some people talking. And that is what art is for.

In my novella, “Osiren’s Tears“, there are several themes. The extremist view point leading a society astray, the difference in two cultures clashing and causing war, the idea that women are less then men just for the fact of their sex. I did not write the story with the idea of these things being talked about, but they probably made their way into the story because they are effecting me more now then they ever did before. Crimea, Iraq, Afghanistan. Extremists on every continent are trying to drive entire societies like leading a bull with a ring in it’s nose. The bull doesn’t want to go there, but the pain from the ring in their nose makes them move. Sometimes the bull will break free and go it’s own way, but other times it can’t stand the pain and just goes along with it.

Writing is a way of sharing thoughts and ideas, and exploring both sides of a story, without consequence. I can write from the view point of someone who thinks and does atrocious things without anyone actually getting hurt. I can explore why they would do such a thing, and what drives them, and maybe understand them a little more while doing it (though never condoning).

Cultural Anthropology, the study of cultures and people, is a science, and I think every artist would benefit drastically from that science. Statistics are math, and statistics show some invaluable information. How things are better, how things are worse, how things effect you or societies. Then there are environmental sciences, biology, and basic geometry. How does your world fit together? How do the creatures evolve? What are the dementions of a temple, and how do people access each floor?

Science and art work hand in hand. Science explains how the world works, and art is a communication tool to explain it to the layman. Art is a way of exploring facets of the world we have yet to experiment with scientifically. And science is the way to explore those same ideas even further.

There is a movement to add art to the STEM programs. It’s called STEM to STEAM. They want to add art to the middle of STEM where I think it belongs. And I completely support this. Schools don’t just need scientific exploration, they need understanding of the culture around them, and they need to know how to communicate in different ways which is taught by music, painting, writing, and sculpture. All things that use math and science to get their points across.

But the bigger question: how do we get our children to engage in science and math?

MAKE IT PERSONAL! If it isn’t personal to them then they won’t care. I did not care about history in school because the history class was so boring, and did not link the past with the future so I kept thinking “this doesn’t matter to me.” But when I got to college I took some awesome college classes in history that made the world come alive.

But if you teach a child through mediums that they enjoy, and show them how science, math, and history link to those things, then they are likely to take a closer look at them as well. Some students will stop thinking of themselves as just creative, or just scientific, and realize that they are both.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 19, 2014 in On Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How do YOU find new books to read?

I stopped by the library today to drop off old books, and pick up a couple of new ones. Because I just watched this Neil Gaiman video yesterday about how we find our books, and what piracy really means, it got me thinking…. How do I really find new books and authors?

First, the three books I picked out:

harrisKim Harrison’s, “Into the Woods”. This is a collection of short stories from the Hallows series, and I absolutely LOVE the Hallows series. I’ve read every single book I’ve found, tracked down the graphic novels, and even own a couple. While I describe it as “A female Harry Dresden” that only scratches the surface. But, like Jim Butcher, Harrison is a FANTASTIC author who adds lots of sub plots, lots of emotion, and great twists that keep you coming back for more. So of course I got it.

briggsPatricia Briggs’, “Frost Burns”. This is another series that I’ve read all of. At least I’ve read all of the Mercy Thompson novels. I haven’t gotten into the Omega or Alpha series because really I just love Mercy Thompson. While not my favorite, Briggs is a great writer, and I really enjoy her books.

The third book is by a new author. New to me, anyway. Diana Rowland writes the “White Trash Zombie” novels. I happened upon her by browsing the “new” section at the library, and the cover looked really interesting so I picked it up. From the title I really didn’t expect anything but fluff, but I was nicely surprised. Angel, the zombie, struggles with everything a normal girl struggles with, plus her natural desire to eat brains as well.

rowlandThey didn’t have another zombie book at the library, so this time I picked up “Sins of the Demon“. The cover looked interesting, and I like her style of writing, so I thought I’d try it out.

So, the question… how did I find these writers?

I found Kim Harrison when a friend of mine suggested her book. She owned ALL of them, so I borrowed the first in the series and I was hooked. I even went to facebook and followed Harrison. She’s a really awesome person, likable, witty, and smart. She loves getting direct feedback from her readers on cover art, and other things. Win-win all over the place.

A Patricia Briggs happened to be on a shelf one day when I was sitting in a library between classes at the college. I was bored, and it was there, just sitting on a “suggested reading” shelf. It talked about werewolves, and the girl on the cover had a very no nonsense look about her… so I picked it up and started reading. I ended up checking it out and taking it home for the week. Came back for more, too.

The third one I found while browsing the “new arrivals”. I do this a lot, looking for new books with interesting covers and descriptions, and seeing if I can find anything to strike my fancy. This is one of my favorite ways to find new books since the new arrivals shelf is a miss match of every genre, including non fic, and I love all of it.

I do buy books, often ebooks, but I usually only buy new books from authors I already like. I only by print books from authors I LOVE, or from used book stores where I can find little known, or forgotten books for less then a dollar.

I have to agree with Gaiman. Free books are POWERFUL. Pirated versions are just more opportunities for people to find your books. I know the majority of new authors that I’ve taken a chance on were because of free, or really cheep books.

I’d love to be able to buy, or even read, all of the books by all of the authors I love, but that would take a LOT of money. So when I publish my own books I keep this in mind. I want more people to read my books, and maybe they will buy a few. Maybe they’ll get print copies and then give them away. Every new set of eyes on my books, every person who tells someone else how great this particular book is, that’s one more potential person who might look into my books.

So, in that spirit, if you haven’t read one of my books and you’d like to just send me a message and I will be happy to send you a PDF, or mobi file of one of them for free. Just look at my book shelf here, and send a message to crissymoss AT gmail DOT com, and I’ll get it to you shortly.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 6, 2014 in Commentary

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,