WRITING ON THE ETHER: Faster, Authors, Faster!

Porter Anderson, PorterAnderson.com, Writingon the Ether, Ether for Authors, London on the Ether, Jane Friedman, Ed Nawotka, Philip Jones, Publishing Perspectives, The Bookseller, books, ebooks, author, agent, Amazon, publishing, The FutureBook

Table of Contents

  1. An Exploratory Ether
  2. How Many Questions Do We Have Here?
  3. So How Are You Holding Up?

An Exploratory Ether

Get your stuff and come with me. Today, I want your input on something.

Entrepreneurial authors are being driven to write more books and write them faster. Is this good? 

That premise and question seem obvious to me. But when I went looking for what I thought I’d seen, I discovered that it’s all around us—but rarely right in front of us.

I tweeted this colleague and that blogger, asking, “Can you help me find such-and-such piece you had on this?” and “Don’t you recall seeing a post about this?” and “Can you remember where you read somebody writing this?”


Of course, in tweeting them, I revealed myself to be a big fat narcissist. Did you see this story at Science Daily this week? You’re So Vain: Study Links Social Media Use and Narcissism.

Facebook is a mirror and Twitter is a megaphone, according to a new University of Michigan study exploring how social media reflect and amplify the culture’s growing levels of narcissism.

Pay this no mind. With the kind of winters they have in Ann Arbor, these people barely know a narcissist from a snowman or -woman’s elbow. I’m going to send back my MA in protest to that ice castle of a university, just as soon as I put down this megaphone.  

Where were we? Ah. The pressure to write faster, write more. So here I was messaging my fellow narcissists and snowpeople, asking about the mounting pressure on authors to speed up. What came back to me tends to support my point about the dodgy way with which this idea is working its way through the community. It’s the mosquito in the shower. You catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of your eye. But you can’t stare at it head-on. You’ve got soap to think about. And yet, write more books and write them faster is buzzing around your ears.


Porter Anderson, PorterAnderson.com, Writingon the Ether, Ether for Authors, London on the Ether, Jane Friedman, Ed Nawotka, Philip Jones, Publishing Perspectives, The Bookseller, books, ebooks, author, agent, Amazon, publishing, The FutureBook

Roz Morris

Here is Roz Morris in May 2012, in Writing fast, writing slow – and why one book a year suits hardly anyone:

I’ve been blogging about slow writing quite a lot. But slow isn’t the only way to write decent books. There are a lot of authors who turn in perhaps two or more a year (I once did four). If you’re writing in a well defined genre, your craft is well established and you know what you’re going to do with the ideas, it’s perfectly possible to whip your novel out in six months or faster. Especially if you’re writing a series.

Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to LifeMorris was just here at JaneFriedman.com yesterday with an excerpt from her new instructional book, Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life. Friedman presented an excerpt, How to Identify and Remove Trivial Detail From Your StoriesNot that Ether readers would ever have a trivial detail in a story. In her earlier 2012 article, Morris had gone on to pick up something that’s now revving that buzzy concept around us. While the traditional, stately progress of an author in Old Publishing might have been something on the order of a book a year, our digital disruption (an energy of distribution, remember) has brought us binge entertainment. Which, for authors, Morris writes, means:

Readers don’t want to wait. They are used to gobbling their entertainment in the grip of a craze – they want all of Lost, right now. And these kinds of writers get more leverage the more titles they can offer. Publishers may be losing something if they can’t feed those fans right now. I know plenty of writers who find themselves hamstrung by this and turn to indie publishing in order to satisfy their fans and make the most of their productivity. 

Porter Anderson, PorterAnderson.com, Writingon the Ether, Ether for Authors, London on the Ether, Jane Friedman, Ed Nawotka, Philip Jones, Publishing Perspectives, The Bookseller, books, ebooks, author, agent, Amazon, publishingI’ve heard this recently from best-selling entrepreneurial authors including CJ Lyons and Hugh Howey of the Amazon Roundtable covered in this Ether installment. In an era of direct author-reader communication, the impatience of valued readers is in authors’ faces. Granted, having a big readership demanding more of your work isn’t the worst problem an author could have. But it can create a lot of market pressure on a creative routine. Outside self-publishing, much of the industry! the industry! isn’t yet accustomed to moving fast enough, such authors say, to satisfy an avid, well-cultivated community of fans.

Porter Anderson, PorterAnderson.com, Writingon the Ether, Ether for Authors, London on the Ether, Jane Friedman, Ed Nawotka, Philip Jones, Publishing Perspectives, The Bookseller, books, ebooks, author, agent, Amazon, publishing, The FutureBook

Elizabeth Spann Craig

Handling popular series, however, comes with a lot of questions. Elizabeth Spann Craig, cozy mystery series ace, has written Good Points and Downsides to Rapid Series Releasing and Studying Algorithms. Craig, whose mysteries are read in both traditionally published and self-published series, starts with some advantages of a “rapid release.” Think of the Netflix House of Cards all-episodes-at-once release as the model.  Advantages, she lists:

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HughHowey.com features these Progress Meters on which Howey can display for readers how far along he is on various books-to-come.


(1) “New life for old series.” (2) “Writers can integrate a more natural storyline.” [Meaning that if readers don’t have to wait, then a cliffhanger may not be necessary at the end of each installment.] (3) “In some ways, books are better-suited to marathon consumption than television is…because of the manner in which books are shared with friends.” [Binge-viewing of TV series doesn’t do much for last-night’s-episode chatter at the water fountain, Craig is saying. But binge-reading can be done by book clubs or other groups simultaneously.] 

Some disadvantages to rapid-release, Craig writes, include:

(1) What if your quickly-released series is a dud?…What if you write four or five books, release them in rapid fire or even simultaneously, and the books don’t resonate with readers?


(2) Quality control. If you turn off readers with one book, they’re unlikely to buy the next in the series.


(3) Stress and working with tough self-imposed deadlines. The need for real discipline…tough enough when we get them from a publisher. We have to really have some discipline and focus when we’re meeting our own deadlines and trying to write a string of books…whether we’re releasing them in rapid succession or not.


(4) How calculating and how completely bottom-line-focused can we be and retain a creative edge (and enjoyment in our process and writing)?…at what point are we sacrificing our own need for creative originality if we’re studying algorithms/data/sales, and writing/producing for a demanding consumer market?      

Back to Table of Contents


How Many Questions Do We Have Here?

We have more than one mosquito in the shower.

(1) Write fast to build inventory, whether in series or not.


(2) Write fast for fast-release, usually in series (as Craig is evaluating).


(3) Write fast because your best sales angle is having ever more books available.        

Porter Anderson, PorterAnderson.com, Writingon the Ether, Ether for Authors, London on the Ether, Jane Friedman, Ed Nawotka, Philip Jones, Publishing Perspectives, The Bookseller, books, ebooks, author, agent, Amazon, publishing, The FutureBook

James Scott Bell

One of the best proponents of that third point is James Scott Bell. And sure enough, when I made my tour-de-Twitter, looking for some of the back-issue blog postings I’d seen on the matter, he turned out to have an excellent catalog of helpful guidance on various points of writing fast and writing a lot: Cool Papa Writing: “Whether you’re an outliner, a seat-of-the-pantser, or anything in between, when you’re getting those first pages down, burn rubber.” Type Hard, Type Fast: “Fast does not mean hack work (it can, of course, but not necessarily). I’m not discussing the editing process, either. Concentrated effort is what I’m talking about.” How To Write a Novel in a Month  (for NaNoWriMo 2012): “Make the very first day the most productive day of your writing life.” How To Work on More than One Book at a Time: “This is especially important in the new era of self-publishing. The winning indie formula is quality production over time. Upward direction is a function of producing new work, the best you can do, in various forms (short stories, novellas, novels, non-fiction). So work on more than one project at a time.” How to Make Money Self-Publishing Fiction: “Figure out what you can comfortably write per week, given your particular circumstances. It doesn’t matter the number, just find it. Then up that by 10% and divide into six days.” Porter Anderson, PorterAnderson.com, Writingon the Ether, Ether for Authors, London on the Ether, Jane Friedman, Ed Nawotka, Philip Jones, Publishing Perspectives, The Bookseller, books, ebooks, author, agent, Amazon, publishing, The FutureBook Bell’s latest instructional book has the brief title Fiction Attack! Insider Secrets for Writing and Selling Your Novels & Stories — For Self-Published and Traditional Authors. And when I check his author page at Amazon, I’m seeing 40 hits. This guy’s bench is deep. It’s so deep, and Bell is such a chipper soul—a real favorite of mine among colleagues—that I think it may not be in his character to dwell as much as some others might on the potentially darker sides of high-and-fast production. Bell never advocates quantity over quality. But he also knows a lot more about keeping the plates spinning than most of us. Back to Table of Contents


So How Are You Holding Up?

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Sean Platt

Recently Jane Friedman reminded me of The Self-Publishing Podcast that’s been riffing along for more than a year now (close to 60 shows, congratulations, guys). It features a trio of cheerfully unguarded speakers, good company for an hour.   They always have that 4 p.m. sound, when everybody’s too tired to mind what he says or how he says it. Punchy and informative.

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David Wright

There’s Sean Platt and his serial co-writer of “dark, character-driven, edge-of-your-seat serialized thrillers with WTF cliffhanger endings” David Wright. They’re joined by author Johnny B. Truant. The trio of Platt, Wright, and Truant hosted a typically free-wheeling breeze-shooting edition of the show last month about work process and strategies.

Porter Anderson, PorterAnderson.com, Writingon the Ether, Ether for Authors, London on the Ether, Jane Friedman, Ed Nawotka, Philip Jones, Publishing Perspectives, The Bookseller, books, ebooks, author, agent, Amazon, publishing, The FutureBook

CJ Lyons

Posted on May 9, this edition is No. SPP 054, titled Exploding Your Growth with Bestselling Author CJ Lyons. (She’s everywhere, is she not? Let that be a lesson to us.) At around 26 minutes in, these four good folks start talking about the speed at which they’re producing. I’m going to merge a few comments here for you for brevity:

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Johnny B. Truant

(Lyons) Lately, with my New York City deadlines [for one of her traditional publishers], I’ve been given about three to four months to write a full-length thriller, which is about 90,000 to 100,000 words…I like to do what Stephen King calls a “fermenting draft”…stick it in a drawer for a good month or two and you come back to it as a reader with fresh eyes…but that takes so long and I just don’t have time anymore with my deadlines…(Truant) I would have loved to do that for Unicorn Western. I felt like I read it to close to it…(Platt) I totally agree. I think all of us would love to slow down enough to be able to ferment all of our stuff.

This podcast edition also has Platt’s interesting explanation of how he and Wright came to find their fast-turn work focused on “dark horror” and their plan to create a different “channel”—”because,” says Platt, “it would be better to be known as a storyteller than as a dark horror author.” It’s an interesting look at the kind of enforced niche experience that high-volume serialists can experience, never mind the pace.

  In asking for your input on our topic today about the impact of mounting pressure for speed and output on authors, I want to return to a post I’ve mentioned before. It’s one of the most plaintive and probably predictive comments along these lines I’ve found so far.

Porter Anderson, PorterAnderson.com, Writingon the Ether, Ether for Authors, London on the Ether, Jane Friedman, Ed Nawotka, Philip Jones, Publishing Perspectives, The Bookseller, books, ebooks, author, agent, Amazon, publishing, The FutureBook

Barbara O’Neal

Award-winning author Barbara O’Neal is one of my colleague-contributors at Writer Unboxed, and in her Boundaries and Burnout post in April, she wrote, in part:

I’m astonished by the schedule some of us are setting up for ourselves—doubling the word counts every day, adding to the number of books published each year. I get it—I am doing the same thing—but in the back of my brain, I keep hearing the foghorn warning of — Burnout. Working writers are under a lot of pressure these days to produce, keep producing, produce more—and also keep up with their blogs(s), Tweet, post to Facebook, maintain a mailing list and newsletter, and show up at any writer’s conference that asks, because you can’t miss a single sale. It’s exhausting to even write it all down. It’s exhausting for the girls in the basement, or the muses, who cannot be whipped into producing and producing and producing without some consequences.


Porter Anderson, PorterAnderson.com, Writingon the Ether, Ether for Authors, London on the Ether, Jane Friedman, Ed Nawotka, Philip Jones, Publishing Perspectives, The Bookseller, books, ebooks, author, agent, Amazon, publishing, The FutureBook

Nathan Bransford

And what finally brought me to this whole issue this week was author Nathan Bransford’s short post on Monday, When It Feels Like You’re Never Doing Enough. In my usual way (snowy narcisissm to the Michiganders), I tweeted just his first line:

I very rarely go to bed feeling like I’ve done enough in a day.

I’m still getting retweets of that line with a “yup” or “yes” or “me, too” attached. I get them from folks I don’t know. Sometimes I get them from folks I do know, including our good colleague and author Chris Guillebeau. Yes, Guillebeau, known for making it all work, is feeling this. That’s significant. To quote the old bomb squad T-shirt, if you see this guy running? Try to keep up.

So as I hand off to you, I want to give Bransford a little length here. Cameo Tweeting abatement time. (“Clear!”)

Slow down and really read this. Watch him parse the emotional and spiritual exhaustion many are battling in this new shakeout, the struggle for hyper-performance both in creativity and productivity:

I feel guilty after a weekend where I didn’t get enough done. It frustrates me how long it takes to write a novel. (Or, ahem, a guide to writing a novel. Almost done, swear!).

It never feels like there are enough hours in the day, or days in the weeks, or weeks in the months, or months in the year. Time slips away, and with it a chance to accomplish something or edge closer to your dream.

Social media only adds to the pressure. People are completing novels and making New York Times bestseller lists and curing cancer while juggling on a unicycle and it all looks so effortless and who needs sleep anyway??

…When you try to do too much, you risk your enjoyment of what you’re doing. Burn yourself out trying to write your novel and you may never finish.

Look, the business exigencies are simply there: more books, more sales. None of us can argue with that. But sprung from the restraints of Old Publishing’s bovine pace, is the mad dash into burnout all we have to offer entrepreneurial authors?

Lyons, Howey, their #Indie6 colleagues and cohorts—I love what these guys are teaching us as their careers catch fire and throw off new light for everybody else. But these may be personalities particularly suited to multi-channeled creativity and luge-track speeds in Michigan.

Meanwhile, in the homes of the brave, Bransford’s post may be the mosquito finally at the center of the target. Put down the soap for a minute and help us suss out a practical response here.

Remember the early XM Radio slogan? “Everything. All The Time.” Are we really going to be able to sustain this?

Back to Table of Contents



Main image: iStockphoto – GrafficX

Posted in Writing on the Ether.

Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

View posts by Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) is a journalist and consultant in publishing. He's The Bookseller's (London) Associate Editor in charge of The FutureBook. He's a featured writer with Thought Catalog (New York), which carries his reports, commentary, and frequent Music for Writers interviews with composers and musicians. And he's a regular contributor of "Provocations in Publishing" with Writer Unboxed. Through his consultancy, Porter Anderson Media, Porter covers, programs, and speaks at publishing conferences and other events in Europe and the US, and works with various players in publishing, such as Library Journal's SELF-e, Frankfurt Book Fair's Business Club, and authors. You can follow his editorial output at Porter Anderson Media, and via this RSS link.

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[…] Porter Anderson at JaneFriedman.com asks for Ether reader input about the rising demands for author speed and productivity in writing books today.  […]


My granddaughter was born as I wrote a book and *poof* she turned six (going on sixteen). I barely remember her as a baby. I missed that. I’m not going to miss anymore of her childhood or the last bit of time with my mother. I continue to work hard but at a slower, more reasonable pace. And my guilt no longer stalks when I miss a day of work. It buzzes in my ear when I miss too much time with my loved

Porter Anderson

@Darrelyn Saloom:disqus Hey, Darrelyn, Man, do I hear you. I haven’t had the experience of missing a lot of a child’s youth but I’ve actually lost touch with friends and coworkers, with other activities in life that I used to love, with issues and events that mean a lot to me. So I hear you and I really respect what you’re saying. Of course, we have to keep in mind that any profession can do this to us — or, to be more accurate (I hate these truths, lol) we can LET any profession do this to us. But I… Read more »


Hey Porter! How interesting to revisit that post I wrote about fast production. One of the things I didn’t mention – or even consider – was the pressure of all the other tasks, as pointed out by Elizabeth and Barbara. The year that I wrote those four novels, they were ghosted for a traditional publisher. My obligation ended when the manuscript was complete. In all other ways I was an author in waiting; looking for an agent while I wrote the stories of other people. Blogging, platforming etc wasn’t for the likes of me. I just got my head down… Read more »

Porter Anderson

@byrozmorris:disqus Hey, Roz! Such a great comment, and thanks for your blast-from-the-past contribution to the Ether today, too. I’m in something of the same boat as you. In your and CJ’s comment coming up below, I’m being reminded that I probably should have made a bit of a disclaimer saying, “Don’t get me wrong, we’d rather see these authors have a chance to get out there with their work than not.” You’re right, the Internet is the wonder that has founded all these possibilities, even it it helped breeding the super-bug “genus mosquitus burnoutus,” as Jim Bell is calling it,… Read more »


Porter, excellent points, as always, but I think you need to look at the reverse…it’s not about how much we CAN write, but how much we WANT to write. I recently posted at NoRulesJustWRITE (shameless plug and link: http://www.norulesjustwrite.com/the-power-of-off/) about how much I’ve written this year and a lot of it is due to the fact that I’m learning to say no and turn off things that aren’t in line with what I want to do. I turn off most social media, I’ve re-arranged what little I do do to make it simpler. I’ve also turned down more speaking/teaching engagements… Read more »

Porter Anderson

@cjlyons21:disqus Yo, CJ! Are we on the same bus, or what?? lol Love running into you everywhere I go, what a testament you are to getting out there and really building a presence. I want to say how much I appreciate the candor and the clarity with which you’re willing to share your experience with other authors, too, this is so good. We all have our distinctive understandings of the business and the art and some authors, as I’m sure you know, feel far less comfortable discussing their strategies and processes — all of which is just fine. But it’s… Read more »


LOL! Thanks for the kind words, Porter! I wasn’t trying to boast about my productivity, more to point out how much you can get done when you’re simply relaxing and having fun with all this–yes, we still need to do the boring stuff, like learning the biz, copy edits, and my new challenge, learning metadata–but it’s a joy and a privilege to be able to make a living doing the best job in the universe and that’s something people seem to forget at times. Love the article Jane linked to about George Martin–we can’t control our readers’ responses to our… Read more »

AJ Sikes

Spot. On. Any system based on growth (*cough capitalism cough*) is doomed to fail. Carrying capacity is a check on that system, and it will always have its say. In the wild, there’s just so many deer that can be sustained in any given area. Predators, food sources, mates…they’ve all got limits and enforce limits on the population. Writers these days must feel like deer in the headlights with all this faster, FASTER, MAKE MORE WORDS NOW NOW NOW! talk. I know I’ve felt that pressure before. I’ve done my best to resist it. There are only so many hours… Read more »

James Scott Bell

I think you mean Samuel Johnson: http://www.bartleby.com/100/249.82.html The truth is, all writers want income from their writing (except the Starbucks poets). And in any enterprise that pays, it is the enterprising who tend to get paid. The art of living means learning to assess the costs and benefits of enterprise, and live according to your values. There’s a great line in “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” where the founder of the big biz (who has lost his family) talks to the employee, who wants to keep his. He says there are “two kinds of men,” the ones like… Read more »

AJ Sikes

James, thanks for the correction. I was muddled by memory of this Op-Ed from Christy Wampole: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/26/the-essayification-of-everything/

Porter Anderson

@f8089fc9074b34812a8c6b0347bb80ba:disqus Hey, thanks much, And yep, you’re right in line with what CJ is saying to us in her comment above yours – the real point is choice and reminding authors that they can and must make choices. It’s a little like the old George Bernard Shaw line from the Revolutionist’s Handbook at the end of Man and Superman: “Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get.” If we can get the eyes open and help authors see some of these pitfalls before they decide that the only thing to do… Read more »

James Scott Bell

Thanks for the kind words, Porter, and a great overview of the the issue. The “burnout mosquito” has certainly been a species that has evolved in quantum leaps since the personal computer, email, internet, and social media became its feeding ground. Now, with self-publishing, it has another yummy bit of flesh in which to stick its snout. It’s not a NEW issue, as one can go back to the days of Mad Men and “the man in the gray flannel suit” to find the genus mosquitus burnoutus in its infancy. We need to pay as much attention to that buzzing… Read more »

Porter Anderson

@jamesscottbell:disqus Sir James, You’ve outdone yourself with “the genus mosquitus burnoutus.” I reached for the Raid at the very sight of the phrase. Also loving the breeding ground element of social media — we are ankle deep in summertime standing water here, which is even worse than the shower, lol. You and Don Draper are right, of course, that it’s not a new problem. In fact, my not-at-all-original theory is that our species tends to fill up its time in any era to such a point that there has probably always been somebody ready to claim burnout, no matter how… Read more »


To “be consistent” has weighed on me throughout the day because it is my weakness. Since Game of Thrones has been mentioned, I’ll have fun and say that it hit me like an arrow to the back as I escaped on my horse. And I have horses on which to escape. But your comment, JSB, made me realize I can still take care of my mother, spend time with my family, and allot a time of day (or night) to write. And I can even notify everyone that I will be working during that time. So that is my goal.… Read more »

Porter Anderson

As long as the pimento sandwiches are ready. THEN write. 🙂


: )

Jane Friedman

Just a link to share for anyone who missed it in 2011 (before this phenomenon that Porter well describes became so widespread): The New Yorker profiled George R.R. Martin, who might be the No. 1 author under pressure from his fans to write faster. It was an incredible piece by Laura Miller. Full article available for free:


Porter Anderson

This is great, Jane, thanks for the link. Last night, I was just perusing some of the screaming pieces out there asking “Will he finish in time??” I have to say that while I appreciate the fans’ love of the work, it really borders on something pitchfork-ish at times, as if these folks think their entertainment is all that counts.

Here’s one, for example, from Flavorpill, “10 Things George R.R. Martin Is Doing Instead of Writing the Next ‘Game of Thrones’ Book.” http://flavorwire.com/394460/10-things-george-r-r-martin-is-doing-instead-of-writing-the-next-game-of-thrones-book



Yes, thank you, Jane. Love that a line producer told Martin, “You can have horses or you can have Stonehenge. But you can’t have horses and Stonehenge.” Martin proved you can have both. And did you notice the New Yorker cartoon in the article? Love!

Mary Sutton

As the mother of two, I was feeling rushed even before I really got serious about this writing thing, so this is nothing new. =) I have a lot of projects and a lot of things I want to do. I set aside my lunch hour every day to write (still doing the day-job thing). I can comfortably get 1,000 words in that hour, so using Bell’s approach, I aim for 1,500. Most days I come down somewhere in the middle. I’ve settled into a good, comfortable pace of projects. Trying to work two (or more) at a time is… Read more »

Porter Anderson

@marysutton:disqus Hey, Mary, And yes, I still recall being the little guy back in my boyhood (in the 18th Century) demanding the judo lessons and piano and theater classes and gymnastics and Scouts, lol. Some things really don’t change. Sounds to me like you have a good system that’s working for you in terms of what you’re getting out of it, that’s perfect. The key, as your routine demonstrates is making it work for you so you feel like you’re getting and doing what you need. The biggest problems occur when the “dream is deferred,” to use the old Langston… Read more »


In order to keep up, I’ve gone to polyphasic sleeping, which I love. It gives me 3 gorgeously quiet extra hours from 11p-2 am every single day.

Dickens always had 3 serial fictions going at one time. But for me, four, and sometimes five, books a year takes time. Luckily, I type fast and have a superb keyboard/computer. 🙂 I’d write more but I have a chapter in my serial due.


Hey, Claudia,

Thanks for dropping in — I’ve tried polyphasic sleeping, too, not always with the success I wanted, not really getting past biphasic. I do love deep-night for working, it’s always been my favorite since I was posted to overnight work for CNN International (covering the European and Middle East mornings). Good for you for using this technique!

Bests with the serial and thanks again for the comment, great to have you!


On Twitter: @Porter_Anderson

Jean Gill

Great blog. I had a review saying ‘It doesn’t look like there’s a sequel’ when the 2nd book in a series had only been published for a month! I take 2 years to write historical novels that need a lot of research. I’ve been mulling over some of the same issues, especially relating to whether a series is actually what readers want or whether we’re turning into serial killers – feel free to comment. http://jeangill.blogspot.fr/2013/06/serial-killers.html

Porter Anderson

@jeangill:disqus Hi, Jean, And thanks very much for reading and commenting. Not unlike literary fiction — which normally, not always but usually, takes longer to produce than some genre work — historical work and much heavily researched nonfiction are in a particularly difficult spot when everything on all sides seems to be speeding up. At this point, I think many of us are concerned for how authors finance their work in these slower, research-related forms of work — if advances are so much less a part of the scenario, then the longer a work takes to produce, the more heavily… Read more »


Self-publishing has given the unpubbed (me included!) the tools to produce the same essential product as any of the indie6, or even a traditionally-published megastar author. But that sets up dangerous expectations. Every one of those success stories put in the time and effort, probably under circumstances where they didn’t really have the time, just as none of us have the time. That’s the lesson we should learn. The real crux of the “get it done, get it out there, write the next one” argument is that a store has a much easier time selling anything if it has lots… Read more »

Porter Anderson

@robertjweisberg:disqus Right, Rob, Thanks much for the input. I guess what I wonder is how much effect is the gradual change in things like those passes for commas having on popular perception, expectation, and interest? The love of the most populist and distribute-able content — an inherent element of digital’s energy — generally appears to support entertainment over art. Eventually, I think even the core task could change — or, put more carefully, I don’t think we can be sure the core task won’t change someday. Eventually standards do shift, interests do modulate, even storytelling does adjust. I’m happy with… Read more »


we have the same pressure in science: produce more data, publish more papers, get more grants. Every mosquito-sized discovery is now often blown into an elephant breakthrough. Science suffers as a result. Likewise, suffers literature. The new Ulysses won’t be written in 3 months. Thank God I’m not financially dependent on my writing, my first book took me 6 years to write (I’m still editing it). I enjoy writing 🙂

Porter Anderson

@GrigoryRyzhakov:disqus Hey, Grisha, Thanks for jumping in. Yes, indeed, the pressures we’re understanding better now as weighing on authors are found in other professions, and frequently in those fields that also are being impacted by the digital dynamic. As I keep reminding folks, what we really mean when we say “digital” is not tech but distribution. Digital works via distribution, just like an aspirin works via the bloodstream. Digital, in and of itself, doesn’t cause anything to be different. But by opening up direct-access, cheaper, easier, no-gatekeepers-needed forms of distribution so widely, the expectations (of publish or perish, for example)… Read more »

Lelaina Landis

Let other authors write fast. I’m taking it Old School — slow and methodical, ending (hopefully) with a book that is well thought out and as flawless as I can make it. That’s one reason why I decided to make my series somewhat flexible insofar that there are no loose ends hanging. I’m also extremely wary of chasing a trend, and I think that “write fast” authors seem to do this. I don’t want to pound out a series honing in on the genre trope du jour. (Where’s steampunk these days?) But the main reason is that I only have… Read more »

Porter Anderson

@lelainalandis:disqus Hey, Lelaina, Great comment, and I love this line (about authors whose work takes a year or more to be ready): “Their work resonates with me long after the last page is turned, like memories of a fantastic vacation.” If anything, the discussion of this issue reminds us of how incredibly diverse our various ideas of literature and books are today. There was a time, in Old Publishing, when “book” was understood to mean the hardback you got at a bookstore, a year or years almost always passing before the next one arrived from that author — again as… Read more »

[…] Journalist and publishing industry expert Porter Anderson with observations on authors writing faster. […]


I was going to suggest we all need a reality check, but how does one define reality in the current publishing environment? Perhaps that’s the wrong idea. So many of us are like that little rat in the maze, frantic and panicky, never reaching what we believe is our destination. I was panicky yesterday because I hadn’t blogged in a week and my mind was a blank. So I came back to this post and found my muse, so to speak (I would hesitate to categorize you as a muse, Porter). 😉 I took the opportunity to take a deep… Read more »

Porter Anderson

@Victoria_Noe:disqus Wow, what great perspective that is, too, Viki. I have the same “pull up short” moment every now and then with the whole digital dynamic. Here we are dashing around, as we’re saying in this post and discussion, pretty much screaming “faster!” at ourselves and each other. And then I think, wait a minute. If we figure that Gutenberg’s press was up and running around 1450 or so, then that basic mode of production (movable type) and the industries it led to and the Old Publishing world it finally spawned (say, a hundred years ago), all told, have been… Read more »

[…] Faster, Authors, Faster!  by @Porter_Anderson via @JaneFriedman – Raises some great questions on whether speed and quantity of work pushed out is a good thing … or not so much. […]

Jack W Perry

Thanks for the shout-out…

[…] By Porter Ander­son | @Porter_Anderson Writ­ing on the Ether: Faster, Authors, Faster!  […]


I’m still working on my first novel, and I’ve already had at least one friend wonder why I’m not producing faster. I see it as being this simple: I’d much rather people complain that I write too slow than that I write too fast. With the former, they want more. With the latter, maybe not.

Porter Anderson

@MichaelPeck:disqus Hey, Michael. Yeah, I was just writing to a commenter at Writer Unboxed from yesterday ( http://writerunboxed.com/2013/06/22/a-major-publisher-jumps-the-shark/ ) that the business, itself, is going to get better for authors every day. As the digital dynamic reshapes and tests and forms new facilities and challenges, “the industry! the industry!” will become better suited to what entrepreneurial authors need and it will work a lot harder for those authors. At the moment, the formative stages of a new era in publishing mean many, many hurdles for writers, as you know. And to rush out right now, especially if you’re new to… Read more »


Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Porter—good advice and much appreciated.

Porter Anderson

Not at all, Michael, a pleasure to have such intelligent response to these issues, thank you.

[…] Writing on the Ether: Faster, Authors, Faster! by Porter Anderson […]

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[…] WRITING ON THE ETHER | Faster, Authors, Faster! | JANEFRIEDMAN.COM […]

[…] was on about this problem back in June, in Writing on the Ether: Faster, Authors, Faster! And here I am about it again because NaNoWriMo amplifies this bid for publishing speed, of […]

[…] a write, as a creator, you get to decide that for yourself. Porter Anderson recently explored the pressure being put on writers to write more and write faster. Well work checking […]

[…] WRITING ON THE ETHER | Faster, Authors, Faster! | JANEFRIEDMAN.COM […]