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Artists are Weird, but Writers are Crazy: Tortoise versus Hare

Please note that this series is written in fun. If you don’t like hints of sarcasm and hyperbole don’t read this series. If you find the title offensive, don’t read this series. However, if you understand that this is a great time to be a writer of fiction and feel like a lone happy person in a tsunami of fear, read on.

In a previous post I described how many writers have been brainwashed into thinking that the pace in which they produce their work matters. Today I’ll talk about a different type of pace: Sales! Many writers have been brainwashed into thinking that fast sales mean a book is good, while slow sales mean a books bad. So:

Crazy Lesson #4

Artists create and sell at their own pace. Writers believe they have to write slow, but sell fast.

Velocity is a publishing buzz word and a critical component in the traditional publishing model, which has to deal with limited shelf space in brick and mortar stores. Velocity sales equal books that sell fast within the first several weeks. Selling fast means a book has a chance to hit a bestseller’s list (which focuses on the short term life of a book, not the long term), or helps convince a book store to keep a particular title stocked. In traditional publishing, fast sales have been translated to mean that a book is alive and worthy of attention and support; slows sales mean that a book will be pulled from the shelves and remaindered or destroyed and, worst yet, the author is dropped if they produce too many slow selling books.

In traditional publishing, books are looked at as perishable products like milk and yogurt, with sell by dates. This thinking forced authors to believe that their books could spoil if they didn’t sell at a certain pace.

Gone are the days when an author could grow their audience and skill. Gone are stories of authors like Jack Higgins who wrote twenty-some books before hitting it big with The Eagle Has Landed or Nora Roberts who wrote nearly 60 romance novels over 10 years before hitting the New York Times list.

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