Years ago when my job was on an assembly line building medical products there was a phrase that was implemented into our work - quality verses quantity. We had meetings discussing how important quality was and if the quality was there, the numbers would follow. Shortly after the entire plant had been taught the new vision, Deming, I was trained in statistics. I would keep track of scrap and product going out the door, and the reasons for the scrapped units. I would then deliver the reports to ten different departments throughout the company.
Since then I have always taken to heart the belief in quality. The same goes for my writing. With so many authors to compete against on a daily basis, you need to stand above the crowd.
Now we all know what sells books is when you've published many, but if the books aren't great reads, that will bite you in the end. Taking your time to do it right is the key, even if it takes you two years to get one book out. But believe me as time goes on, you'll get better at your writing and will be able to take a book from start to finish at a much faster pace.
I know you're saying, but I know authors who have 40 books under their belt, is that what I need to accomplish? The answer is no. It depends, first of all, the genre you write in, and second, the size of books you plan to write.
There are plenty of authors who write novellas and can pump them out, but that's because the books are much shorter. If you write your stories with less than 40,000 words, then it is much easier to finish the book. You usually find this with romance.
Then there are the commercial type books. Those are the ones with hardly any description, 2 page chapters, and and leave you feeling as though you just ran a race instead of reading a book. Personally I hate seeing the big name authors succumb to this type of writing. I think their publishers took it seriously when hearing people's attention span is limited now a days. I don't think that's what the studies really meant.
People still like long novels filled with emotional characters and great descriptions that bring them into the scene. Look at some of the most popular books out there, The Game of Thrones series, and Outlander. Those are long books. I believe what readers truly want is clean, tight novels, not a lot of info dump and drawn out stuff that doesn't pertain to the story. In other words, they're not looking for a "telling" story like the commercial books of today. They're still looking for a great read that takes them to knew worlds with characters they love.
So remember the next time you're tempted to add a lot of back story or info dump, ask yourself is this moving the story along? Am I boring the reader? Are my characters emotions shown on the page? Does my descriptions bring the reader into the scene?
As writers we tend to overwrite, so don't fall in love with a line, or a scene. Know when you have to cut and do it. Keep your reader engaged, and don't worry, eventually you will be able to publish more books and gain more sales in the long run.
One other thing is make sure your book is ready. Sometimes we have to do revisions more than we wanted to. Having strong critique partners is major, along with beta readers, but you also need to know your book. Using an outline is important, not only to make sure you have no plot holes, but to be able to see your entire book out in front of you will help you to check for flow, tightness and balance.
You can never stop learning in this craft, that's one of the things that make it so great. As long as you realize you're not perfect and corrective criticism is part of the game, you'll do fine.
What types of issues have held you back with sales? Leave me a comment and join in on the conversation. I would love to know your thoughts!