Give me a new book…NOW!

We hear it all the time at the library.

“I wish this author would write faster. I can’t wait until the next book is released!”

While it’s true that it takes time for a book to be published, there is a new demand for books to come out sooner. It’s a combination of the society we live in, with it’s on-demand everything, and competition from the self-publishing world. Is this a good thing?  Let’s explore the options.

Authors probably write faster than you imagine. While it takes anywhere from 8 months to a year or more for some books to be released, the author has long since written the story. Much of the time in between takes place in editing and production. There are book covers to be designed, editing to be done, publicity decisions to be made, and so much more. In the past the wait has been exciting–a lead up to a new book in a series, or a stand-alone by a popular author. Both could send people scrambling to the stores the moment the book hit the shelves. But much has changed.

Even if you still buy the traditional hardcover book, the instant world we live in allows for someone to download an eBook version in a matter of seconds (or minutes), the moment the clock hits midnight. It’s exciting to have so much available to us at our fingertips. We’ve come to expect it. So, waiting a year or more for a book to be released is an eternity!

And now there are more authors following the non-traditional self-publishing route, allowing them to take charge of their careers and listen to their audience. If people are begging for a new book, even if an author has just released one only a few months before, authors are able to fill in the spaces with downloadable novellas, short stories or even full-length novels to keep their readers interested and buying. It’s making the traditional publishing houses a little nervous.

While people are starting to make their choices known, the publishing world is responding. Several houses are starting to experiment with shorter release dates.  Yes, this probably puts a lot of pressure on their authors, and most likely does a real number on their catalog organization, but it’s making some authors–and LOTS of readers—very happy.

The New York Times just released an article about series publishing, citing FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by E.L. James as starting the trend for fast-turnover publishing. While these were self-published, James didn’t waste any time between books, allowing her followers to scoop up the books without much downtime. It followed the binging trend that we see most often in Netflix viewers who are used to the concept. And now publishing houses like Dutton are giving it a whirl.  They just released the first of a trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer called  ANNIHILATION, and will release the second book in the series in May, and the third in September.  It’s a trial run, sure to please fans who want to know what happens. But some are worried it will saturate the market too quickly, and won’t build the same kind of fan base.

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One also wonders what it is doing to the authors. Are they having to work double time to not only write, but promote an entire series? Will the finished product be as good as it might be if it is rushed? Will it actually make some authors more popular because readers know they won’t have to wait long for books, or will they tire of an author who is constantly chugging out collections?

Only time will tell, of course, but it’s an interesting idea that needs to be explored.  If you like to read a series from beginning to end without waiting, this idea could be for you.  Maybe this is a trend all publishing houses will soon follow and we won’t have much choice. We’d like to know what you think, however.  Would you prefer an entire series to be released in short order, or do you worry about quality over speed? Leave us a comment to tell us how you feel.

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