How often have you heard the argument of quality over quantity? Why is quality a question in the first place? Better still, why are the two considered mutually exclusive?
Have you ever seen an assembly line? The people on the line have specialized tasks, which they do over and over. In that repetition comes aptitude. We become more proficient at the tasks we repeat. Were that not true, no one would have ever learn multiplication tables.
But, my dear Red, books are not the same as tab A into slot B…”
Really? Consider the artist. Rather than grammar lessons, the artist studies art technique: how to hold a brush, how to sculpt, how to carve. Are the artist’s first attempts polished and ready for public consumption? Often not. Does the artist stop at the first piece which is accepted and purchased? Again, not.
The same goes for the author. Once the language is fluent, the refinement stage begins. Will the first attempts be polished and ready for public consumption? Often not. Does the author stop at the first piece which is accepted and purchased? Again, not. Or is it a good idea?
The crux of the quality/quantity argument is one cannot produce quality in the midst of quantity. In most cases, the argument holds water because it assumes (should be your warning light) quality must be sacrificed to produce quantity. By a show of hands, was Henry Ford off his rocker? Is everyone who did not raise a hand thinking?
Quality does not have to be sacrificed to produce quantity in terms of books. Time, social interaction, sleep: All prey of the quantity creator. Quality does not have to fall prey to quantity. Considering the number of people who go into the creation of a book, while a book is in the hands of beta/editing, an author can be penning a manuscript before the first one is published. (In case you were wondering how authors put out 5-10 books per year…)
Do people get this thinking? Authors who do not know when a story line is exhausted give the impression rapid-fire novels are going to get worse.
When your series has gotten to the point you are repeating scenarios with different names (not different, fully-developed characters who bring different ethos to situations resulting in different outcomes), you have sacrificed quality for quantity.
When you have left some thin plot, you have sacrificed quality to get to print faster. When your new characters are reincarnations of your old characters, you have sacrificed quality.
Why the rush? The author’s version of peer pressure: Readers, fans (both types) and publishers.
- Have I given this book enough consideration and attention or did I rush through it to get to XX,XXX words so it could go to beta?
- Did I spend quality time developing memorable characters?
- Did I do enough research and does my manuscript prove I know my subject?
- Have I adequately addressed concerns raised in beta?
- Have I had enough time away from my manuscript to see what I may have missed?
The last question is one which needs to be asked regularly. For example, take a moment to go to the first blog post you wrote. Does it look anything like what you write now? Would you accept it today, rewrite it or scrap it? At the time you pressed publish, you thought it was perfect.
Now that you have had some time away from it, you can see what help it could use. Knowing your book is going to have a permanent, no-longer-editable place in the public eye, is there a reason to rush to press without caution?
There is no exclusivity between quality and quantity. It is possible to create many quality products. They all require sacrifice. Before you employ complex time management techniques to layer writing during editing, determine if you need to devote more attention to the manuscript you have in play.
Despite what readers may say, they really would prefer a quality product to many half-hearted attempts. Just as you have to decide if you want to be the “bestselling” author of free books, you have to decide if you want to be the author of a few exemplary books or a shelf full of wannabe books.
Would you prefer your favorite authors put out books of the same quality every time or one every three months? Can you work on a new project before you finish the first?
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