Monday, August 31, 2015

This is Not Your Mother's Publishing Career (part 3)

If you just happened to pop over to the blog today, I’m chatting with L.B. Gregg about how publishing has changed from the good old days. (Although the Good Old Days had their problems too.)

The conversation began over at LoveBytes, continued at LB’sblog and we’re finishing up here—and hoping to get some other insights and perspectives.


Platform and persona


Once upon a time a writer’s “persona” amounted to a decade-old staged photograph on the back of a book jacket. Raymond Chandler with his cat. Mary Stewart with her pen. Pearls or elbow patches optional. Now it’s a whole different world.

The problem with the new emphasis on persona is it creates this huge pressure to be out there being social and personable and “on” twenty-four seven -- which is not necessarily the writer temperament. Not everybody is good at making small talk.

L.B. - And ai yi yi, not all of us are good at blogging. I’m very good at small talk and cocktail conversation. I wish there were more opportunities to chat with readers, but I don’t like doing so online. I am uncomfortable with the nature of online commenting and social media. It’s a shit storm on the best of days. I’d rather chat with someone at a conference or signing.

But see, you go to conferences and talk with readers in real life. And, I want to make the point that you were/are a brilliant blogger. You just made the decision not to continue reviewing/blogging once you became an author. And while I miss your blogging, I think that choice to quit reviewing was shrewd.

Once you create this expectation of accessibility and interaction, there really isn’t any way of going back without appearing to withdraw or subtract previously added value.

L.B. - You can go back, but I think if you withdraw once (and I have) the real question becomes whether interaction and accessibility add value to your writing. Because if it distracts or depresses or overwhelms or angers you, then find another avenue.
Puppy Makes Everything More Interesting


Maybe it’s crucial to set up realistic parameters to start with. Because I started out being Everywhere All the Time, and that was a contributing factor to burnout.

L.B. - You were all over the map. I think finding that one right place, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or what, is better than spreading yourself too thin.

Which I learned, to my cost.

Then there’s the notion of platform in genre fiction. This is an idea that evolved with mainstream publishers hoping to give certain books a marketing edge in a crowded market. So a former police officer writing a police procedural is theoretically going to be more interesting to readers than, say, an ordinary run-of-the-mill author writing a police procedural.

L.B. - Or a housewife writing a romance novel.

Ha! So if you’re a gay man writing something like male/male romance there’s supposed to be this added cachet to your work. But that’s nonsensical. You’ve got to bring more to the table than genitalia.

Um. In a manner of speaking.

L.B. - Not touching that table. No.

I don’t care who you are or what you’re writing, platform is about how the work is marketed. It’s an advertising gimmick. It’s not a substitute for the work. And I think sometimes people are disappointed because they’re leaning very heavily on their credentials, and credentials don’t turn pages, don’t leave readers misty, don’t lead to someone heading straight to your website at midnight and clicking a buy link. 

L.B. – Well, true, the notion of platform can and does work against some authors in this flooded market. Does that make sense? There are a lot of people asking for justification. Or offering it. Why do your write x,y, or z when you’re not an authority? Here’s why I write x,y, or z.

 I don’t have time or patience for that.

No, it’s boring. It’s pointless. To even ask the question is to miss the point of FICTION.

This concept of “authority” in fiction is a new one, and I believe an ephemeral one. It’s part of that Every Child Gets a Cookie mentality wherein passion and sincerity are supposed to be just as good as talent and craft. We all give lip service to the notion—nobody wants to be the Genre Grinch—but the fact is when it comes to buying books, craft and talent trump enthusiasm and sincerity (or even authority) because what readers want is a great book. Every. Single. Time.


Readers buy books they want to read. Building a readership means you consistently supply the books your readers want to read. If there is such a thing as branding, that’s what it amounts to.

And as for platform, well, readers will support enthusiasm and sincerity and authority, but they’ll do it in different ways. 600 likes on your FB post, for example. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, AUTHOR X!! but your books are boring, so I usually don’t buy them.

I had an interesting chat with Nicole Kimberling at Blind Eye Books the other day, and she was theorizing that it’s not so much that more books are being published as the slush pile is now largely filtered through DIY publishing. Readers and citizen reviewers have replaced editorial and agent assistants as the new gatekeepers. I think there is a lot of truth to that.

But now I digress. What platform does do—and this is very valuable—it gives you something to talk about besides BUY MY BOOK FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Original and continual content in the Age of White Noise is an issue. You can’t just keep posting about new reviews or new releases. You have to have something else to talk about. In order to engage with readers, you have to talk to them. And a sales pitch is not conversation.

So the pressure is on to be charming and personable and witty and pleasant and…and…say something interesting.

L.B. – Or I can tell a joke. Or post a photo of a puppy.
More completely gratuitous puppy 

LOL. You have adorable puppies.

Then there is branding, which is a big part of—

L.B. - I am not a brand. I’m an author. I say this smugly, with the kind of mustached self importance of a hipster, but I’m not selling as much as I’d like so maybe I need to focus on branding myself.

It just sounds so painful. And distasteful. And…dishonest. Is it me? I don’t want to walk around with a giant sign that reads LB GREGG BOOKS and, IDK, hand out business cards to strangers like I’m witnessing for Jehovah. (can I say Jehovah?)

The thing is…the thing is publishers will try to create a brand for you and sometimes, if you’re not sure who you are yet, you allow that to happen. If if it’s not a good fit? You have to start all over again. The LB Gregg I was when I wrote the first Smithfield books, she’s not the same LB six publishers later. She’s a little less starry eyed and a lot more cautious.

So isn’t it better to define your brand yourself?

L.B. -- I still don’t know what my brand is. But I know what it’s not.

But then I also think too often people are worrying about their tagline and brand before they’ve actually worked out what kind of writer they are. Honestly, I see more authors worrying about promotion than about whether their writing is good enough for prime time.

Is this cynical on their part or are they right? I go back and forth on the question.

L.B.— Well. Look there’s bubble gum music and quality pop, and people buy and enjoy both.

A lot of people buy books based on the ‘cool kid’ word-of-mouth factor (not mentioning any names here—oh fuck that. EL JAMES). The issue is that as a romance author, we’re already viewed as bubble gum writers by the rest of the publishing (and reading) world, and it’s in our best interest to do good work. To focus on craft. Not that I’m the bees knees of romance. Holy no. In truth, I’d love to be a cool kid who sells books based on my incredible promotion machine because there are bills to pay.

Well, I guess it comes back to what you want out of your publishing career. I think people aren’t always honest when they answer this question. Me, I want to continue to do the work I love for a living. I don’t need six hundred “likes” on my posts and I have zero wish to be a celebrity.

Genre authors as celebrity

What? Who? Define celebrity in this genre.

I guess we could both name a few of the “celebrity” authors in any given genre. Basically these are the people with name brand recognition (I know!) which translates into earning power.

I mean, being known within your genre doesn’t always translate into earnings. The nutjobs are well known but they usually don’t earn well. And there are those who are highly respected by their peers and reviewers, but they don’t always earn well either. Which of course creates great confusion and frustration.

Success in publishing is not always fair. 

Nor is publishing a democracy.

At the same time, celebrity does not always equal success (unless ego-stroking was the primary goal). But maybe again here is where people need to be honest because, not to be the Debbie Downer, most authors will not earn a living at writing fiction. Period. And maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe you love your day job and being considered one of the cool cats in your publishing circle is all you’re really looking for.

L.B. –I like to believe one can keep on the radar without being an online personality. In this new publishing world, where producing four books a year is considered the bare minimum, keeping readers interested is vital, particularly if you’re not producing four books a year. Free reads, self-publishing the back list, producing audio books, foreign rights—blogging—there are small ways to keep your name on the radar, but you have to be realistic if you’re a) not able to churn out books and b) you suck at promo.

So. I’m not going to buy a Tesla with my earnings any time soon, but I’m okay with that.

I will have my friend J. Lanyon buy me a Tesla.

I wish. And not just about the Tesla. I want to believe you’re right about the promotion side of it, and maybe you are. I do know that I can be out there tap-dancing twenty-four-seven, but three months without a new release, and my sales slump. You have to feed the engine. Or maybe "monster" is a better word.

You also have to be honest with yourself. And I think you have to get informed about the industry. Frustration and anger and depression are a reality, but I think information helps diffuse some of that anxiety.

Or maybe not. But the bottom line is, this is the new publishing reality. This is not your mother’s publishing career. That was then, this is now.  

 For the moment. 




L.B. Gregg –When not working from her home in the rolling hills of Northwestern Connecticut, author L.B. Gregg can be spotted in coffee shops from Berlin to Singapore to Panama -- sipping lattes and writing sweet, hot, often funny, stories about men who love men. Buy her books here:


Josh Lanyon – A distinct voice in gay fiction, JOSH LANYON is the multi-award-winning author of nearly seventy stories of male/male mystery, adventure and romance. Josh is the author of the critically acclaimed Adrien English series, including The Hell You Say, winner of the 2006 USABookNews award for GLBT Fiction. Josh is an Eppie Award winner, a four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, and the first recipient of the Goodreads M/M Romance group's Hall of Fame award. Learn more at



  1. As a reader, what works for me is a couple of things. Recommendations, for one, whether it be from an author I already love (Josh recommended L.B. a while back, now I'm dedicated to both of you), and of course reader recs from people I know have similar tastes to me. But their are SO many books out there, I can't possibly buy everything that gets a good rating on goodreads. I've found that I have become loyal to quite a few authors where I will buy their entire backlist and they become auto buy authors for me. Otherwise something has to pull me in to a new (new to me) author. For instance, last month Rhys Ford's book Sinner's Gin was on sale for $1.00 and I was able to get the audio for $1.99. I've heard great things about this author but have never bought anything until this super fantastic promo. So I read/listened to the first book in this series, fell in love and have since bought and read the rest and preordered the coming soon release. So that was something that worked, at least on me, and worked well. I will also go on to buy other books from this author and get sucked into more series.
    As a reader I need to be kept interested, it's really hard to stay loyal when an author takes three years to release a new book. If that's going to be the case, throw out some teasers along the way, anything so you're not forgotten. Just the other day I was on goodreads and someone asked Josh a question. And because I'm a fan on goodreads it popped up on my news feed. It was an Adrien and Jake question so I perked up and just the little answer you gave, Josh made me want to reread the entire series for the fourth? Fifth? time. :) Now rereads don't help with sales but it puts the book out there again. So I post I'm reading it on goodreads, I tweet it on Twitter, etc. and maybe someone who hasn't read it gives it a shot, falls in love and buys every book you've ever written. Unfortunately for my wallet that's what happens with me if I fall in love with a book or series. So, lots of rambling on my part...sorry about that :)

    1. You're talking about the interconnectedness of all things. :-) And I think that is one of publishing's truths. It's all about cumulative effort.

      When people ask me what the ONE thing is they should do, I always say WRITE THE BEST BOOK IN YOU. Because everything else is cumulative. Even writing great books will be cumulative in its effect.

  2. This was a really fascinating read, so thank you both for your time. The book world is definitely changing, and I find myself (as a reader and writer) hopping back and forth between old mindsets and new.

    Such as 4 novels a year being the minimum! What madness! I'm a slow reader (even slower writer) so the idea of trying to keep up on both ends is overwhelming. But you're right, I see it out there, happening now. There are some authors who I love and adore, and I'm struggling to catch up with their latest because they have to simply keep producing, producing, producing. I used to think 4 novels a year was a great goal-- I am apparently very wrong.

    And it does make me worry about the craft. After having to pump out so many pieces just to keep up with this new age of information, do you fear that the words suffer? That the novels don't get the time and dedication they deserve? And burnout, which you mentioned, Josh. It's a real thing!

    As for the persona, the digital age definitely does make writers more accessible, and I think it's perfectly fine to chat and interact. It shows who you are, there's no reason to create some personality for readers that maybe some authors are worried about? But I do think there are folks who overstep the boundary of personal space and time that writers need, and expect you to be there 24/7. The world is instant gratification, some forget that authors are people, and people with a hell of a lot of commitments.

    1. On the bright side, humans are good at adapting, and the more you write, the better you get at it. At least in theory. I think most writers are attempting to hone and refine their craft, so those writers certainly improve as they go along.

      But by necessity the books cannot be as layered, detailed, nuanced as they would be if we all had a year or 18 months to work on a single novel.

      But reading has ALSO changed, so frankly spending a year layering and nuancing would be wasted effort in the day of Goodreads dancing penis gifs. :-D

  3. What for me works are the books. If I read a book and know this book will go with me a long time, then I naturally remember the name of the author. And then I look for new books by this author. Important is then more, how I heard about this author the very first time. ( Josh audiobooks were recommended in a German audio book blog and L.B. Gregg's book were recommended by Josh.

    1. Yes! When I read a terrific new book, I do absolutely make a note of the author. In fact, I usually go and check out the whole backlist. Because if there's any chance the other works live up to the one I just enjoyed, I want them all.

  4. This was such an interesting blog. As a reader, I have authors that I buy because I KNOW I'm going to get a good book. Occasionally I will buy a book from someone I have interacted with on FB, because I want to like the books because I like the author...that's usually a 50/50 shot. Most of the books I buy are rec's from friends that know my tastes and interests. I never read reviews unless it's for my friends' books. Thank you for this series of posts though.

    1. Thanks, M!

      This is such an important point. So often writers mistake promotion for interaction. They're not really the same thing. And readers are pretty sensitive these days to the difference.

      Sincere interaction is still effective because it's REAL. It is all about forging connections and that's ultimately what you want to do as a writer -- whether through the stories or through your contact with readers -- you're trying to connect. You're trying to communicate.

      But the message has to be more than BUY MY BOOK

  5. Very interesting read, thank you. I can't imagine the pressure of producing 4 new releases a year - full length or not.

    As a reader, I find this new publishing world a bit confusing as well. It's like going to a massive food hall vs the few trusted restaurants you "always" go to. It makes the buying decisions a lot more complicated. You constantly thinking maybe you are missing out on something, or you break your bank account buying everything and never get around to read half of them - because more "food" are on display again!

    I agree with both your take on the online interactions with readers. There has to be more than about pushing your books. It's more about giving readers something more after the stories they love. A connection, that's all. But yes, minefield too. I'm always afraid of finding out any of my favourite authors is a Tory-voter :-)

    Ultimately, there is no magic bullet, speaking from experience - I based on mostly 3 things to make purchase decision, very often only one applies is enough. 1. Do I like this author's works before? 2. How much do I like a blurb/storyline? 3. Recommendations/reviews from source I can trust.

    I don't get when those readers who buy 99c books to just have something to read. When I read something I don't enjoy? I consider it a waste of my time.

    1. I've bought a lot of those free and .99 books. In fact, I still buy them now and again. They could be fabulous. I honestly don't know because I never seem to get around to opening them. And I think again it gets down to the fact that I have a very limited amount of reading time (and don't we all?) and there are too many books I know for sure I want to read. So I stockpile like everyone else.

      I think the cheap and free pricing is one of the biggest rabbit holes authors fall down. If you sell 10K or 20K books at .99 it's not unreasonable that you would expect a considerable bump in your backlist, but that doesn't happen anymore because readers now collect cheap fiction for a rainy day that will never come.

  6. Great blog post. I enjoyed hopping around from blog to blog. It was fun, kind of like you and L.B. had me in your pockets. :) I think it's so easy to glut the market. If every author has to put out four books minimum a year that's a lot of books flooding in. No wonder readers are scratching their heads and looking at their empty wallets nervously. But there's the problem of trying to be noticed too. It's quite a dilemma. But for me the answer is just keep writing stories I love, whether they all connect or not. Because that's the fun part of all of this.

    1. So true. There is an inherent collision course in this kind of dynamic between the authors who have been around long enough to have started to trust that they can earn their living through their work versus the authors who've just arrived starry-eyed and full of hope--and carrying reams of never-previously-published works they hope to crank out as quickly as possible to build that all-important backlist so they can earn THEIR living.


      Of course none of us want to think of this way and we all want to be encouraging and supportive, but it's a publishing microcosm reality. There is more supply than there is demand.

      And it will get worse before it gets better.

  7. I responded to you and Lb on your pages about how much I enjoyed this blog. But another thing I thought was fun was clicking the link to the next blog. I was on my iPhone on the trolley and just thought it was neat.

  8. Interesting series of blogs. I enjoyed reading. Like Steve, I also had fun clicking the link to the next one. Thanks, you two! :)

  9. I also enjoyed this bit of blog hopping. This is one of the things that social media does well, giving readers this behind the scenes RL peak at the writer's writing life. We have a chance to empathize and find correlations with our own RL challenges. That kind of connection makes sense.

    Delighted to see With This Bling available for preorder. I'm so looking forward to getting back to those two guys. And yes, I paid my $6.99 and am sure it will be more that worth it.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Karen. :-)

      I think there is a lot of misconception about what a writer's life is like. First of all, many readers would be astonished to learn most writers earn as little (or less) than they do. Yet the myth persists that all writers are rich and spend most of their day hobnobbing with other writers and drinking cocktails. ;-D

      I think there's also a general feeling that writing must be such a fun job that just getting to do that ought to be recompense enough. :-D

      But really...professional writing is more like the difference between someone who rents a horse to go riding on Sunday versus someone breeding and training racehorses. :-D

      If you do it for a hobby it is relaxing and fun. If you do anything for a living, it becomes an entirely different thing.

  10. Great post. You hit so many points, it's hard to comment on all of them except to say: So very true!

  11. Thank you for writing this! (And remembering our conversations--LOL).

    I had no idea that the panel on depression was the most-attended at RW, but I could completely see how that could be true. I often wonder if the urge to tell stories and violent mood swings are somehow comborbid conditions. Then again as an editor I might experience author's violent feelings more than the average joe.

    I think one way that authors might find enough comfort (emotionally) to continue to engage with readers and with the publishing industry in general is to remember that the fabled "reclusive millionaire blockbuster writer" has always been mostly a myth." Everybody who has ever made a lot of bank has promoted themselves. It's just that disengagement from promotion used to be easier because disengagement from other humans at all used to be easier in ye olden days.

    But the online world is here to stay and that's good because it is what is making this particular genre (m/m) possible.

    I know this is going to sound kind of annoying, but it might be that resigning oneself to not seeking money might actually be one of the most effective ways to deal with the problem of burnout and the subsequent depression it brings.

    I don't mean that authors should write for free. That would be a devaluation of an author's fundamental worth as a creative artist. But I suggest that rather than thinking of promotion as a way to extract money from a wider range of people, the author might consider promotion as a continuing effort to reach the appropriate ideal reader.

    With so many human beings in the world, it's a pretty fair bet that any given author has not reached every single person who wants to read her story but just doesn't know it yet. So thinking of promotion as a way to continue to reach out to find those people who genuinely enjoy and find pleasure in your writing--rather than attempting a mass-dredging of the ocean in hopes of finding random reader's spare change--might be more sustainable for authors who are more self-conscious, shy, guarded or private.

    And I would also add one tip for readers who want to engage with authors:

    Authors want to have real conversations. They absolutely want to hear how much you love their books. But past a brief compliment, in a very real sense they would rather hear about almost anything else.

    That's because the vast majority of writers get material by observation. For the most part they want to hear real people talking about actual subjects.

    I'm not saying that you should tell a random stranger (cause that's really what an author is, at first) your entire life story and personal manifesto. But don't be afraid to try and be as engaging as you would be to any person with whom you are trying to make friends.

    Rather than writing, "I love your book and if you are having trouble writing another one I will personally come to your house and nail your foot to the floor to make it easier for you produce more pleasure for me," try something like, "I was so excited to read your book set in my hometown. If you ever need someone to do recon for a sequel set here, please don't hesitate to ask."

    Or, if you're not trying to win friends and influence writers a simple, "What a wonderful story! Thank you for taking the time to write it."

    I think I'll stop here cause this is already the longest comment evah, but once again, glad to see you and LB tackling the challenges of This World In Which We Live.

    1. Among your many insightful points is this: "I often wonder if the urge to tell stories and violent mood swings are somehow comborbid conditions."

      I do think a lot of us go into writing to work out our own questions -- sometimes our own demons.

      Art is always personal.

      And the clash of personal with the commercial often leads to horrendous collisions.

      It probably always did, but thanks to social media we now all get to witness these collisions. Whereas they used to be conducted in private or in letters to the editor or in early morning duels. ;-D

    2. "I know this is going to sound kind of annoying, but it might be that resigning oneself to not seeking money might actually be one of the most effective ways to deal with the problem of burnout and the subsequent depression it brings."


      And this is where I think writers must be honest with themselves. Because so many people talk about their love for writing--I couldn't do anything else! Even if I never earned another penny. But then the rest of the time they're frantic over not earning, bitter about the "hacks" who do earn a living, angry with NY publishing for not seeing their genius, furious at women for hogging up all the readers and spoiling the genre, etc.

      You have to be honest with yourself, and if you really do want and need to make money writing, then you must face that fact and plan accordingly.

    3. "I'm not saying that you should tell a random stranger (cause that's really what an author is, at first) your entire life story and personal manifesto. But don't be afraid to try and be as engaging as you would be to any person with whom you are trying to make friends. "

      This is it in a nutshell. What it all comes down to are people trying to connect. And all the regular rules must apply. Plopping down amidst strangers and blabbing nonstop about your books is just the same as if you were pitching Amway to them.

      Because books affect people so strongly, I think authors are sometimes placed in the uncomfortable position of Father Confessor or psychiatrist. We hear things we should probably not be hearing. And I think mostly we learn to put it into perspective, but it is always refreshing to hear from someone who wants to have a pleasant conversation.

    4. "With so many human beings in the world, it's a pretty fair bet that any given author has not reached every single person who wants to read her story but just doesn't know it yet."

      This resonates so strongly with me and is one reason I distribute widely across platforms. When I think of the authors whose names I didn't know but whose books really spoke to me, I feel so lucky to have found them -- especially since many of those finds happened before the Internet existed. :)

    5. I am a big fan of multi-platform publishing. Both in who I choose to publish with and where I choose to sell my self-published work.

      Like the Marines say: Diversify. Diversify. Diversify.

      Oh wait. Maybe that's Wall Street. ;-)

  12. What a wonderful Blog hop, thank you! I always enjoy taking a peek into your writer world.

  13. The most effective promo is word of mouth and it's the hardest to actively seek out. Free stories, giveaway, etc. can get your stories in front of more but they only go so far. Constantly spinning on the promo wheel and churning out four books a year are make it hard to write books people will recommend to their friends.

    1. This is very true. Although I used to be staunch in my belief that word of mouth could not be faked, and now I suspect it actually kind of can. But whether it ultimately succeeds...that remains to be seen. What is "ultimate success" in a business like ours.

      Once upon a time, like you, I thought four books was a huge amount for a year. Then I had a 14 book year (including 4 full-length novels). So now a four book year seems like a blessed relief.

  14. I just want to say I appreciate both of you! I actually read and purchased LB Gregg books before I heard of Josh Lanyon, believe it or not (back in the days of FW)... and all I can say is thank you for continuing in the quality versus quantity. There is a glut out there of new authors, and while many are fun and exciting, it's hard not to get burnt out from the same old trope. For me there are few authors I would pay to purchase their paperbacks and have on my bookshelves to go back to again and again. You are both appreciated, and LB, I wouldn't mind being part of your 'street team' if you ever deem to put one together :) Cheers!

    1. The weekly, almost daily flood of new authors and new titles is frankly overwhelming. And behind that tsunami is a second wave of authors "deciding to take the plunge!" guaranteeing several more years of publishing swampland before reality finally begins to sink in. It sounds so heartless, but publishing is kind of heartless. That's what I've always liked about it. :-P

  15. Aw. I like every one of you here. I think maybe I'll kick Josh out and take over the blog.

    Just. Kidding.

  16. "But by necessity the books cannot be as layered, detailed, nuanced as they would be if we all had a year or 18 months to work on a single novel."

    I was just thinking about this the other day, Josh, wondering if you take as long to write your books today as say when you wrote the Adrien English Series or Holmes/Moriarity Series? It's always the multi-layered nuance that draws me to your books, but I have seen a difference from those that came before.

    Thank you for this post - most enjoyable to get a peek inside what works/doesn't work for the author!

    1. Well...probably I take longer! I write relatively little these days. This year I've done a short story, a short novel, a novel and I'll do another short story. So that's only a fraction of what I used to turn out in half as much time.

      It's a great question.

      You can't really compare a series to a single book though. Fatal Shadows is as bare bones as it gets, and really A Dangerous Thing is pretty simple too. But the overall effect of a series is layers and nuance because every book builds on the previous books (and even, to some extent, the readers' hopes for what is coming) so the overall effect is much stronger, more intense.

      Which is why readers love series. When it works, it's like visiting old friends.

      No single title can compete with that effect, unless we're talking War and Peace maybe? ;-D

      And it doesn't really have to do with length when it comes to series. The Dangerous Ground books are novella length but the overall effect is layered and complex because there are five books there and every book explores another aspect of history, character, relationship.

      Books like Boy with the Painful Tattoo or Stranger on the Shore are probably more layered, more complex than anything I wrote in those early years (certainly the H&M series is more nuanced than the AE series, but the AE series hits a more universal emotional chord--Adrien's struggles are the struggles of a younger person whereas Kit's struggles are that of a more mature adult dealing with life changes in career, etc.)

      I think probably what happens with prolific authors like myself is you feel like you've already covered certain territory and it's just no longer of interest, so you use a kind of shorthand with it.

  17. Thanks so much for this conversation. As someone who came into romance as a self-publisher in the past two years, I've operated under the widely given advice to publish often. I've never considered that that release schedule might overwhelm my readers. I agree that it could -- I've had that reaction as a reader lately with a couple of rapidly-released series. But I find myself eyeballing two audiences.

    The readers who support me now are amazing. They've been patient with my missteps as I figure out the strengths that will shape my brand. They're reading along as I write the first series of my heart (one of many, I hope -- I wouldn't mind being promiscuous that way!). They're awesome, these readers, and I think of them every day.

    But I also think about the folks who will find my books years from now and be able to dive into completed series.

    So I'm writing my current stories for my current readers, but publishing on an intense schedule to be ready for those future readers. Does that make sense?

    So many good points in these posts and comments. In thinking about promotion and author/reader contact, it's interesting to think that social media and other online interaction capabilities might make a writing career more comfortable for introverted writers while still giving them more reader contact than they might have had in the '90s, '70s, '30s, or earlier.

    1. Sure! And the earlier you are in your writing career, the easier it is to produce in volume.

      There is no rule about how fast someone can or should write. That said, when I see authors getting huffy over people pointing out that mass production is probably not quality production, I recognize someone who is defensive because they know in their hearts they're sacrificing quality for quantity.

      But in this new publishing paradigm, that's kind of what it takes to survive.

      "Good enough" is the mantra for many successful writers who have come to rely on mass production.

      That's an observation, not a judgment.

      But we also have to remember that *there is a reason* publishers do not put out every book in their pipeline the minute it's ready to go. :-D

      You want to pace yourself. Because it is ultimately to *your* advantage to do so.

      You want the release of a Your New Book to be an event, not the Weekly Reader. :-D

      The other part of pacing yourself is something entirely new -- and that is you want to avoid having your promo lost in the blur of constant white noise. Promo is increasingly irritating to readers and even other authors because it is UNCEASING. And it's starting to have a cumulative effect of making readers blind and deaf to it--just out of self-protection.

      But it is so much easier to do what you have been doing for the past five years rather than stop and rethink, so authors keep dragging that cart down that well-worn track, never noticing that the town picked up and moved eighty miles north. ;-D

  18. That noise is insane. I want to be friendly with other authors on, say, Twitter -- follow them, retweet meaningful things to my followers -- but I also don't want to encourage incessant promo. I feel a cull coming on. :)

    Thanks for your advice on pacing production and releases. Besides quality and overwhelm issues, I recently finished reading MAN, OH MAN and have taken your burnout experience to heart.

    1. I'm glad you're finding MOM useful.

      I was lucky in that my burnout happened at a point where I could take a year off. I needed that, and I'm not sure I would have recovered fully without it. At the same time, I'm not sure there has ever been another such point in my life where the forces aligned to where I could afford to not produce new work because there was so much happening in my backlist.

      The lesson for me was I have to guard my creative energy the very best I can. It's not always easy.