Maintaining Visibility: How Often to Publish?

Conventional wisdom from authors attending the Gay Romance Northwest meet-up covered the subject of how often an author should publish in order to stay on the readers’ radar. The answer surprised me: there’s a push to publish quarterly to stay on top.

I am a prolific writer myself, but the thought of putting out something every quarter seemed pretty exhausting. After all, the process involves brainstorming, turning out a first draft, going back for the first edit, submitting, doing another, potentially more extensive edit for pre-publication that might involve re-writes, and galley approval. All of that for one manuscript–then the prospect of juggling four (or more!) manuscripts a year can be overwhelming.

That led me to take a look at my own experiences over the past year and a half. I started out submitting three manuscripts right out the gate. By the end of the year I’d submitted two more and gotten them accepted. Fireborn came out last summer, Signal to Noise came out in autumn, From the Inside Out in December. This year, I’ve had the three volumes of Appetite staggered from March to May to July, and Courage Wolf Never Sings the Gorram Blues made its serial debut in May, and its anthology debut last week. Convergence comes out next week, and The Fall Guide will come out in December. In the meantime, I have Body Option, The More Plausible Evil, and Klaxon at the Core accepted and going through various parts of the editing process. And I’ll be starting Dragonspire next month! Not to mention, I have other short stories planned for anthologies or collections due at the end of the year and beyond.

No wonder it feels like writing is its own part-time job, on top of my already full time employment.

So, without intending to or planning for it, I seem to have positioned myself for that ideal “publish quarterly, or around that” philosophy. At least for the first couple of years!

Now I ask the question: is it really necessary? Are readers so fickle or easily distracted that an author needs to keep up with the demand and publish quarterly, or lose their readers?

When I was younger, I remember waiting years in between books for certain authors. Most notably, I think the longest I ever waited for an author was Melanie Rawn, and her next published title was a huge break from her previous work. It was more of a contemporary urban fantasy, where before she had been working on otherworldly epic fantasy, vast in worldbuilding and political scope and, I think, a trilogy that will remain forever unfinished. That aside, authors worked in the framework of years as opposed to the go, spend, buy consumer culture we have going on today, and I was accustomed to waiting at least two years between books for the “big name” authors.

The landscape of m/m fiction seems to come with different expectations. Regardless of what the big name authors say, I think it’s good advice for someone getting newly established, like myself, to make a push to get something published on a regular basis to get your name out there.

At the same time, in my opinion I think it’s also important to pace yourself, and make sure you and the people you’re working with are satisfied with the quality of the material you’re putting out there. When you rush something to an artificial deadline, no matter the reason whether it’s keeping your name out there or just a determination not to change dates, it’s all too easy to make mistakes in the process, whether re-writes are part of it or not.

When you feel rushed, stressed, or under the hammer to produce, that’s also when the quality starts to suffer. And that’s definitely when it’s time to take a break. Whether you’re getting yourself established or already at the top, telling the best story that you can is what really matters. Everything else falls into place from that.

11 comments

  1. I’m just starting to delve into the idea of trying to write for publishing (even if it means having to actually polish my work a little more…humph). Haven’t been around any websites for more than a cursory glance, but I’m relieved to see that you’re writing about the process as you go through it. Thanks for taking that effort! – Margo (Mizu)

    1. It’s good to be in a mindset where you’re ready to dig into edits, because boy, nothing is more humbling than the pro edit. At the same time, I feel like I’ve learned so much from the editors I’ve worked with over the past year and a half, and it’s really helping to improve my writing!

      I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about the process. I also attended an event with panels filled with industry professionals and got a lot of good information there, too.

  2. I just want to say I found your post inspirational. I love it. And I admire your strength. As someone whose day job takes about 16 hours of her day, was wondering, how you’re able to squeeze in time to do some writing. I can’t get any writing done and was wondering if there’s any advice you could offer. By the way, congrats on the release. Shall be getting Convergence at the end of the month when my salary comes in. Knowing you, I’m sure it would be an amazing read :).

    1. Oh, I’m so glad! That’s why I keep posting stuff like this. Sometimes I feel like I have no audience, but then there are days I actually get comments, haha! ❤

      My key is being consistent, and using little breaks every day to write. I'm not sure if my method would be practical for you, but I bring my laptop to work, and on my two fifteen-minute breaks, and my lunch hour, I sit down and I write. Sometimes I only write a little. Sometimes I manage around 2,000 – 2,500 words. And I do that every day. Weekends are a little more difficult to make time, but when I'm under a deadline, I do make sure to sit down and write until I've met that daily goal of around 1,700 – 2,500 words. Doing it in a place with no internet (for me, work because there's no wireless) is pretty essential. Otherwise it's so easy to get distracted.

      Thank you so much! 🙂 I'm really happy with Convergence, I feel like it turned out just the way I wanted, and better than my initial idea which ended up scrapped. And I really hope you enjoy it! ❤

  3. Thanks for the advice :D. I think I will follow it. Take some little moments during the day to write. Another friend also advice that since I spend about 5 hours of my day commuting from my house to the office, I could also work on my stories on my phone, then transfer them to my laptop. Tried that yesterday and I remarkably wrote about 2,000 words. It was a wow moment. I couldn’t believe the brilliant opportunities that I’d allowed pass me by. Lol.

    I shall get Convergence (hell, I’ll get the entire bundle) at the end of the month, read it, and put up reviews weekly on my blog. Will let you know when yours goes up ;).

    1. That’s really great! I used to write on my phone as well, when I had time, and it was amazing how much I could get written during stolen moments throughout the day. Keep at it!

      Thanks, Alessandra! Can’t wait to see what you think.

  4. I need to learn now to pace my self since over the last two years I’ve been on a release schedule where I will have a whole bunch of stuff come out all at once and then nothing for a few months and then a whole lot again. I would love to have things come out at regular intervals without the long gaps between flurries of releases. I think it would be better both for my mental health and my sales.

    1. Yes, pacing oneself is essential! We don’t want to court burnout, you know? But it’s hard NOT to submit something right away when it’s all shiny and polished and ready to go.

  5. Reblogged this on The fiction of Amelia C. Gormley and commented:
    I started 2013 with the intention of publishing one novel-length story every three months (this was when I thought Strain would be published in the summer.) It hasn’t quite worked that way, because Strain has taken longer than I first was led to believe, and I also have had several novelette/novella length books released. I’ll have five releases by the end of the year, but only one will have been a novel.

    March: Velocity (novel)
    April: Giving an Inch (novelette)
    May: The Laird’s Forbidden Lover (novella)
    September: An Inch at a Time (novelette)
    December (I think): Inch by Inch (novelette)

    1. Is publishing a novel/novelette something you feel the industry is pushing you to do, or is it something you’ve been advised to do, or is it more your own personal drive to stay up there on the public radar? It seems like that kind of pace could get pretty grinding after a year or two, and that worries me, as someone who’s just starting out.

      I hope your release schedule gets back where you want it, and definitely hope your December release pans out!

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