It’s a sign of our time, to be sure, but one of the issues for writers that has risen especially with the advent of the self-published artist is the notion of how to stay visible. To that end, the rate at which one has to put out books—especially as a flighty public finds so many other media to catch their eyes—has increased dramatically. Where once a book was a very personal process, that allowed for time and dedication and that very personal touch, deadlines are getting ever so much crunchier, and every stage of the process is finding less time to devote to their field.
In point of fact, it’s often advised today for writers to get as much as a book a year out if they want to stay in the spotlight. Some people even go as low as six months—a concept, I have to say, that would even begin to label Stephen King as something of a slow writer, and that’s just sick to think about.
Personally, I think it’s a load of hogwash. Naturally, there is more pressure on indie and self-pubs to keep up the pace, as they have more to worry about in the fading spotlight than big names like George R.R. Martin or J.K. Rowling. It’s the tragic inverse of fame; as fame goes up, the demand may increase, but you can also afford to crack the knuckles and take a bit of lean-back time without fear. You know your readers will come back. Indies have no such job security—go too long, and your readers will simply move on to a dozen or more other indies, or so stands the theory.
Fact is, it’s madness to expect every writer to meet such a rigid standard. It’s not going to happen. Each of us writes at different paces, not to mention the fact that each writes to different styles, different genres, and certainly different lengths. A saucy romance writer is much more likely to meet such a deadline than an epic fantasy novelist.
The important piece of the puzzle is to get your book done and get it done right. Will some over-anxious folks peace out before you can get your next work out if you take your sweet time? Of course, but that’s the beauty of marketing—separate from the act of writing, its sole goal is to win people over. Focus on the writing when you’re writing. Focus on the marketing after. Don’t muddle the two, or both will get watered down in the process. Fans will be much more disappointed if your fear of abandonment causes you to toss out a half-baked novel at them.