by L.J. Sellers, author of provocative mysteries & thrillers
An item caught my eye yesterday that I think is huge news. Amazon made a bid to buy Dorchester, the 80-year-old, mass market publishing company that went bankrupt last year, owing a lot of authors unpaid royalties. If no other company outbids Amazon—and who could?—it will soon own the rights to all those books.
This is good news for the authors—who will get paid and see their books return to the market—but the bigger issue is that Amazon is acquiring titles like crazy. It’s already purchased Avalon (3000 titles) and a collection of titles (450) from Marshall Canvendish Children’s Books. And this may be only the beginning. More publishing companies, especially those focused on mass market products, will likely fold. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see Amazon keep acquiring book catalogs.
Amazon is also picking up individual authors, like myself, often buying their whole backlist, and now has six imprints. This is how Amazon will eventually dominate the market, by owning a massive inventory of published titles and pricing them competitively.
And on another somewhat unrelated topic, I’ve also been reading about authors who are writing three to six books a year. Joe Konrath says he can “comfortably write four books a year” and Brett Battles blogged recently on Murderati about writing six last year and being well on his way to writing five this year. Alexandra Sokoloff posted recently about writing three or four books a year, and Zoe Winters just blogged about trying to write a book in a week. She cranked out 30,000 words in three days.
I admire their output, but I don’t know how they do it! I’m diligent and hard-working, but if I can produce two stories a year for several years in a row, I’ll be very pleased. But I do know why most of them do it. Pressure! Brett talked about feeling compelled to make a living as an indie author after his traditional publishing contracts dried up, and Zoe blogged about feeling a constant pressure to be more productive and get more books out there before she “disappeared.” The New York Times addressed this issue recently too.
I've felt that pressure for the last five years. But I’m trying to let go of it and live a more balanced life. Which is one of the biggest reasons I signed with Amazon—for the stability and marketing support that will take some of the pressure off me. Now I just have to learn to shut off that little voice in my head that says, “If they can write three or four books a year, so can you, slacker!”
Writers: What is your output and do you feel pressured to write more?
Readers: What are your expectations from your favorite writers? Can you tell the difference between books that take months or years instead of weeks to write?