Today I have a guest post with author Michael Peck, who has written his first novel The Commons: Book 1: The Journeyman which can be found on Goodreads, on Amazon, and on Barnes&Noble. Look for my review of the book later on this year.
Let Us Now Praise Slow Writing
One of my favorite fables has always been the story of the tortoise and the hare. There are various interpretations of that tale and different takes on the lesson it teaches, but I choose the one that validates the way I live my life: the slow guy wins.
Of course, I have no desire to “beat” those who are faster than I am. It’s not a competition. I just need to know that I’ll do fine at my own pace and that there are different approaches to the finish line.
But that’s not the message you hear these days from the self-publishing thought leaders. One book a year is way too pokey, they say. You should be doing at least three annually. I’ve even read columns from those who insist it must be one a month. And that’s on top of the monthly (at minimum) email newsletter you need to churn out and the regular social media work you need to be doing.
Now, I’m not arguing with them. Many of the people calling for high volume and speedy output are doing fabulously well—much better, in fact, than me, my one book and my relatively meager sales. Given their success, who can say they’re not right? But I can say that they’re not right for me.
I know full well that I won’t be a major success after one book, and if I only turn out a novel every couple of years, it’s going to take me a long time to succeed, assuming I ever do at all. And I’m all right with that. I believe long-haul success is possible if you take your time and write books that resonate with readers.
The one big mistake I think the go-go-go crowd are making is that they’re not giving readers enough credit for falling in love with stories and characters. And they certainly don’t seem to realize that the most passionate reader has a very long memory.
I’ve read that if you don’t hit your email list with a newsletter every month, they’ll forget who you are. But is that your experience as a reader? When I was in junior high, I wandered into a second-hand bookstore—I was always haunting bookstores—and picked up a ragged copy of Marvin Kaye and Parke Godwin’s The Masters of Solitude. I’d never heard of it. I’d never heard of Kaye or Godwin. Yet very quickly, it joined the ranks of books such as Stephen King’s The Stand for me—books that occupied my waking hours and drove me nuts during the school day because I couldn’t wait to get home to read more and find out what was going to happen next.
Years went by. I forgot the names of the authors and probably only thought about that book a handful of times. But when I once again wandered into a bookstore and happened upon a beat-up copy of Wintermind, the Solitude sequel I hadn’t even known existed, I snapped it up. The store’s owner was puzzled at my excitement. But I couldn’t wait to step into that world again—a world created by two guys whose names I didn’t remember until seeing them on the cover.
Recently, I experienced the same thing with a literary zombie book called The Reapers Are the Angels. I stumbled upon it on a LitReactor list of the 10 books every zombie fan must read. I’m not necessarily a zombie fan who has to read every entry in the genre. And I’d never heard of this one, though it topped the list. But it was the most enjoyable read I’d had in some time. And ebook fan though I am, when the sequel was only available in print from the UK, I happily bought it on paper and paid a premium price for it. Because I loved the story and wanted more.
My point in all this? I write slow. It took me two and a half years to go from no words to a finished novel. If ever I’m able to do it full-time, I don’t imagine I’ll be able to do more than one a year. And I’m guessing that will eventually be OK. Or it won’t. But that’s what I’m doing. If others can turn out several novels a year that engage an audience—and many can—God bless ‘em. But that’s not me.
At my pokey pace, I’ve turned out one novel that’s thus far received a pleasantly positive reception. I’m hoping the next one and the one after that will, too.
I can do this. I just can’t do it fast. But I think it’ll work out fine—in time.
See you at the finish line. Just don’t wait up.