One popular strain of advice for independent writers these days is: write a lot of books really fast.
Then when a reader discovers you and likes one of your books, there are six more and she’ll buy the other five (Hey! They’re only $2.99!) and you make some real money (for writers, ‘real money’ means more than one latte with shots at Starbucks).
And if you can write a whole bunch of quality books really fast (you picked out the tricky word there right away, didn’t you?), this is obviously very sensible advice.
What it fails to take into account is that readers are already getting used to the $2.99 price – they will soon be assuming this is the appropriate price for a novel-sized work of fiction by an author they’ve never heard of – so the reader may not jump so fast to buy the others sight unseen.
Particularly once word gets around that many of these series are hastily and sometimes badly written, poorly edited (or not edited at all) and rushed online to maximize the writer’s Return on Investment (ROI for those of us who were too romantic or pig-headed to get an MBA like everyone else).
There are some writers who can maintain their level of quality and turn out six books a year – but even if the writing’s okay, I doubt the stories are going to surprise anyone. For a story to find its own path, you have to let it simmer, you have to worry over it and fuss and stew. Your stomach has to get bad. This takes time.
We live in a world where everything, including our own labor and dignity, has been devalued to commodity status. Most people’s daily work lives are insanely demanding and brutal – there’s so little time and interest paid to what we are as human beings.
We turn to popular art – books, television, movies, music – to find something with the human touch, something that reminds us that life isn’t all about the pricetag. Writers who write with the pricetag in mind are bypassing the greatest gift they can offer their readers.