E-books the New Pulp Fiction?

Dude, do you have any idea how HARD it is to find anything on pulp fiction that isn’t about the movie?  Because I totally want to have an educated, rational discussion with REFERENCES for anybody who doesn’t know what pulp fiction is/was.  I finally stumbled across this description from The Vintage Library:

Pulp Fiction is a term used to describe a huge amount of creative writing available to the American public in the early nineteen-hundreds. Termed “pulp magazines” because of the low quality paper used between the covers, these publications proliferated in the nineteen-thirties and nineteen-forties to the point where they blanketed newsstands in just about every popular fiction genre of the time.

Lee Goldberg made mention of it in a recent guest post over on Newbie’s Guide and this is what started me thinking:

Cheap paper allowed for the printing of mass quantities of paperback books and magazines. As a result, millions of these suckers were produced, feeding the country’s voracious appetite for inexpensive fiction.

Of course, with a demand this big, the editors of these magazines, and the editors for these new paperback lines, needed to find writers to meet their quota.

As a result, quite a few writers who later became big bestsellers got their start in pulps. And guess what? A lot of their early stories weren’t very good.

But the more they wrote, the more they improved. Sure, they sometimes had editors to help them. But unlike today, those writers were learning on the job. They got paid to learn their craft, making a living until they were good enough to go from pulp mags to novels.

Ebooks are that new gold rush.  It’s still a relatively small section of the market (11% by one estimate I read this morning), but it’s burgeoning.  The demand for ebooks is there–particularly reasonably priced ebooks, which traditional publishers don’t seem to grasp.  Indies are there to fill in the gap.  One of the beauties of ebooks is that it eliminates so much of the WAIT.  Once the book is DONE, it’s a few clicks and a day or two away from being LIVE and buyable at all your favorite retailers.  This means that, in theory, indie authors can get new titles out at a rate quite a bit faster than traditionally published authors who are stuck in the cogs of the great monolith that is paper publishing.

Look at Amanda Hocking.  She’s put out, what? 12 titles in the last year and a half?  Dude, seriously, that just boggles my mind.  Even if I had the time to write full time, I don’t think I could possibly put out more than 4 books a year.

Anyway, so Pot and I were talking the other day about how the ebook movement, particularly the indie section of it, is really the new pulp fiction.  In lieu of getting feedback from editors and agents who are molding and refining, we once again have a climate where the author is very much learning on the job, getting better (we hope) with each title.  Certainly there is the hope that all indie authors will make sure to get extra eyes on their book for proofing and clarity before they release it (we are, after all, trying to get rid of the bloody stigma), but there’s a whole lot of getting better with practice.

And here’s where I veer off into the realm of my personal take.  From my own observations of Amazon rankings among my indie compatriots, there is a certain kind of…multiplicative effect of having multiple titles out.  But it isn’t JUST an issue of having multiple titles–it’s RELEASING THEM CLOSE TOGETHER.   See above referenced Amanda Hocking.  And Zoe Winters, whose novellas skyrocketed last summer in ranking when she released the other two in the trilogy that makes up Blood Lust.  Given the long time lag between my releases (9 months), I definitely didn’t get that kind of boost and it’s been more of a slow climb.  Which is fine.  I’m not one of those people who believes that if you don’t get the ranking on first release, you’ll never get it.  As I often say, this is a LONG HAUL GAME.

My question to throw out into the universe is this: Do really prolific authors have more leeway to make mistakes and put out, perhaps, a slightly less polished product as long as their stories are still appealing than do slower authors?  What I’m getting at, I guess, is that if you have those multiple titles and stuff coming out every few months, you really have the opportunity to stay in the reader’s mind/frame of reference.  You’re VISIBLE and that keeps your stories, to some extent, in the reader’s head, even if the story itself was not a prize-winning, uber-edited, life-changing, thematic home run.  If you’re that prolific, then if you wrote a good story, even if it had a few oopsies and room for improvement, the reader thinks, “I want more of that” and, what do you know, there is more.  Right here, right now.

I sort of feel like for those of us who are slower, that we have to take a bit more care and time to do as good a job as possible to create, not only a well-polished, well-edited and well-presented book, but to create one that has SOMETHING that really sticks with the reader long beyond when they read it–be that theme, a fabulous plot twist, a hero or heroine that the reader can REALLY identify with–so that in the much longer lag-time, the reader doesn’t forget about you.  (Note: I am not standing here saying that I’m doing it all right or saying that any of these prolific authors are putting out something that is less than polished or perfect–I haven’t read them all, so I don’t know–I’m just hypothesizing about stuff.)  Maybe I’m way off base, but this is what’s been circling around my brain the last few days.

So weigh in, peeps!  What do you think?

44 thoughts on “E-books the New Pulp Fiction?

  1. LJ

    Hey Kait. I think you have a very good point regarding authors that put books out faster, their name stands out more, but I have always been one to wait for my faves. I’m quite used to waiting a year for the next installment from my favorite authors, and keep coming back for more. To me, it’s not the amount of books they put out, but the quality of the content, regardless of how polished that content is. If its a good story, its a good story.

    • This is absolutely true, and I think that readers have been conditioned by traditional publishing that they DO have to wait at least a year (usually) between releases. I’m just wondering if there will be a shift in climate since ebooks now allow a lot more of this rapid, back to back kind of release.

  2. I’d rather wait for the more polished version of the story, mainly b/c one too many typos, etc. tend to annoy me.

  3. I can’t put out a full length novel every three months, but I can put out a longer short story. That’s what I’m doing with DoS. For 8 months Glimpse was the only title I had out and I wasn’t doing all that great. Then, when I released Glimmer and the first DoS story within weeks of each other, I started doing a lot better. And a little better than that when I released Rebellion. Now I have people wanting to read the next DoS story and the next Zellie novel. They are used to waiting longer for a novel, but having to wait from November to June is better than a year or two with a trad pubbed book. Meanwhile, I have the serial short stories to keep them thinking about me. Waiting from January to April is definitely not a big deal.
    Are the DoS stories as well written as the novels? I think they are, although the difference for me is that they have cliffhanger endings and I don’t have to wrap up most of the plot points like I do in the longer novels.
    Like I’ve said lots of times (on here even!) the DoS stories are my indie experiment and so far they’ve proved to be a good one.

    • I keep saying that I want to learn to write short stories for that reason. I would LOVE to offer SOMETHING to my readers on a more regular basis. Devil’s Eye, of course, was the epic fail of that experiment. 5 months and turned into a bloody novella (albeit one that people are, thankfully, liking). I’m working on a short story for an anthology at the moment that is actually (fingers crossed) going to STAY a short story, hanging out at the 6-7k length I intended. If I could figure out how to do that on a more regular basis…one every couple or three months maybe, that would be a nice way to put stuff out between books.

  4. denise

    As a reader and not a talented writer, I have to say my theory about prolific writers is that this generally occurs when a new writer is presented. I truly believe that they have probably for years been writing their stories and when #1 takes off they are able to clean up the previous works and get them out quickly. I have noticed a trend (not just in the ebook indi world) that even the “best sellers” so to speak started out more prolific and now I find I am waiting a year and often longer to read a new book. I can imagine that it is very difficult to continue to come up with something new and original and can only admire anyone who is able to bring the stories within them to fruition in writing. I believe that if you have a story to tell and are gifted with being able to work hard and do so it does not matter if you get out ten or one book a year – I will still watch for new titles (although somewhat impatiently at times) and hope to have the opportunity to read and enjoy what you have to share. I do not think authors should worry about quantity – just stay true to what you have to say and that is more satisfying than anything else you could accomplish.
    Be well and thank you for your efforts.

    • I think that might be true for some people. I know that going back to look at a lot of my dusty drawer novels, I would never put most of them out. They really scream of my immaturity as a writer, and it would (in my mind) do more harm than good because they aren’t up to the quality of the more recent stuff. But certainly some authors have been able to do this. Joe Konrath has often spoken about how he put out stuff that publishers rejected and has done quite well with them on Kindle.

  5. Well said, and I love the idea that E-books are the new pulp. I think there is a risk of new authors releasing to early and damaging their potential markets, but a long as they have done their editing and proofing, I think it’s a an interesting idea to get paid while you learn.

    • Of course one of the great and wonderful things about ebooks (particularly the ones that indies put out themselves) is that if something is wrong, it’s easy as pie to fix it and reupload. Certainly it’s best to polish as much as possible before initial release, but if somebody comes back and says “hey you’ve got typos here, and left out words here, and there’s this inconsistency over here…” you can totally fix it for anybody that buys it in the future.

  6. I think I have to agree that ebooks are the new pulp fiction and also that the more visible the author (with releases back to back in a short time frame), the quicker or better rate of success in the indie world. Take a look at Brian S. Pratt (http://www.briansprattbooks.com/briansprattshomepage_071.htm) and his success since 2005. That’s when I started, but I’ve focused more on traditional publishing since then. If I’d stayed focused on indie publishing, I can only imagine how much I’d have done by now. Or, if I’d finished what I’d started ages ago (my own publishing company), even before Brian S. Pratt started self-publishing, I’d have beaten everyone to the ebook publishing punch in the first place.

    The key to success in indie publishing is to keep producing and putting your products out there. Brian just kept writing. He has two full fantasy series up.

    • He’s a GREAT example. And from a productivity standpoint, another one that just boggles my mind.

  7. Yes, Kait! This is EXACTLY what I’ve been thinking about lately! And I’ve been saying–I think e-books will enable the return of a lot of short fiction–novellas and such that are too long for magazines and too short for full-length treatment. Plus, we might start seeing the return of some shorter novels in certain genres–my own, for instance. In the era of the Wheel of Time and Sword of Truth novels, epic fantasy turned into these huge, bloated, beastly novels. I think going back to some nice, tidy Ursula LeGuin-length fantasy that’s rich and deep and beautiful will be a welcome change, and I’m hoping to contribute to that.

    I don’t know for sure about the idea of grouping releases close together, but it makes sense. I have a very ambitious publishing calendar for this year, so I’ll let you know later on… 😉 I am fairly prolific, but I do this basically full time. It’s not uncommon for me to write 3-4k words a day, though. I delete a lot of it most of the time, but I always end up with a net increase… But I’m planning to dig out some old stories and novellas and polish them up for release during the first half of the year, and then I’ll work on some longer things the second half of the year (including my next beastly long novel, “Bloodbonded”).

    Regarding pulp fiction… I’ve heard that Harlan Ellison would go into bookstores, have someone give him a prompt, and then sit down at a typewriter and produce a story with everyone watching. Apparently, a lot of these stories were bound together and published. How’s THAT for “unedited”? Speed and lack of professional editing are not necessarily indicative of quality of story… Most readers just want a good story, I think. We writers are the ones who get snippy about editing. 🙂

    Great post. I’m going to retweet. 🙂

    Amy

    • That is absolutely something I love about ebooks–it’s DEFINITELY allowed a resurgence of fiction lengths that have largely been unpopular due to the prohibitive printing costs. Heck my own success has been on novellas that New York probably would never have released because they were too short. And in our busy busy lives, I think there’s definitely a market for shorter fiction that can be read in a sitting or two.

  8. Yeah, based on the quick success with Claimed and Mated, I thought Blood Lust would do okay (But wasn’t sure since it was previously released work… the anthology). But it was sort of lackluster. Then I thought… well when Save My Soul comes out… I’ll get into the top 100. And that hasn’t happened. I have a larger fan base (presumably), but still about the same kind of release day sales. And right now my rankings are around 6k which makes me CRINGE. OMG. Because I KNOW that I KNOW that I KNOW that this book is stronger than Blood Lust. Without sounding like a super lame-o, vain, jerk author… I think it’s funny/snarky, compelling, dramatic, has a great twist at the end.

    And the reader feedback I’ve gotten so far has pretty much reinforced that idea. But… I have to give it TIME to be bought and read and slobbered over and talked about.

    Claimed and Mated because they were both being prepared for Blood Lust were released within a week. When I released everything on B&N at once my rankings went crazy, too. But, I don’t want to write like that .I don’t want to release something every month or every two months. (Fact: Amanda Hocking has never gone more than 2 months without some kind of release.)

    But I’m a perfectionist. I can’t put something out that hasn’t been gone over a hundred times. I’m not saying I’m “perfect”, certainly not, but I just feel like I owe readers work that has REALLY had some time to percolate and be produced the best way possible. For ME that means I can’t release a book every month or two. MAYBE every 4 months with doing this full time and really working my ass off. Though at some point if/when I reach what I consider “critical mass” releases may be a bit slower. I’m not sure. It will depend on if I feel rushed or not. If I’m naturally producing pretty fast I see no reason to slow it down if it starts working for me.

    • The slow climb and waiting sucks, doesn’t it? But you will get there!

      • Yeah, but… figuring out the WHY of why I sold so much when I released Claimed and Mated and the WHY Blood Lust and Save My Soul didn’t just shoot me into the stratosphere, makes it easier to step back and be a little more patient. I’m making good money, I have great fans. Sure I’m not a rockstar yet… but stuff takes time. I mean what happened to the 10-yr-plan? We’re in year 3 now, LOL.

        Dude. I’m having to learn to chill out!

        I also think, though, that figuring out that quick release issue, is part of what has gotten the idea for the Preternaturals Shorts going. So hopefully if that comes to fruition, that will do pretty well and keep fans plugged into the series while I’m workin gon the next book.

        • My main concern is keeping the hardcore fans fed and… hardcore. LOL.

          I understand more casual fans will either wait for short story bundles or not read the shorts at all. And that’s totally cool. But I definitely want to keep the hardcore fans plugged into the work and keep that group growing stronger because it’s those kind of fans that help an author really rise above the noise. Without those fans, it doesn’t happen. IMO.

          And I definitely think casual fans are just as valuable, but in a different way. But you really really want to nurture the serious fans where you can, I think.

  9. Stephen Blackmoore

    Couldn’t agree more.

    This is actually something that’s been talked about for a few years now in regards to online short fiction sites like Plots With Guns (http://plotswithguns.com), Thuglit (http://Thuglit.com), and others being the new Black Masks.

    At the last Bouchercon (mystery writers convention) in San Francisco last year I had this conversation a lot. Ebooks are perfect for short fiction and it’s certainly a wide open field right now. Particularly with so few paying markets available.

    And like the old paperback days of the 50’s and 60’s sure some of it’s crap but The demand is definitely there.

    • Oh good resources, Stephen. I’m glad to know that this has really been going in other genres!

  10. Really interesting article and comments.

    Here in the UK it started with the penny dreadfuls during the Victorian age and were crammed full of lascivious villains, gruesome murders and crimes such as grave-robbing- stories of the Victorian underworld and fodder for not only the barely literate masses, but for the higher echelons who liked to scare themselves stupid and perpetuate an already hysterical wave sweeping the large cities at the time (what with the whitechapel ripper murders and Burke and Hare trials.)

    The success of the penny dreadfuls also conicided with a whole fashion of spiritualism that swept the music halls.

    I believe that the form originated in France (but I’m happy to admit I’m wrong if otherwise proven) with the PHANTOMAS which were even darker and veered on the mildly erotic. It was these cheaply produced publications that really started the concept of mass reading for entertainment and pleasure.

    It is interesting that the new wave of e-book success seems to parallel a similar taste, what with paranormal, crime and erotica topping the charts and driving the market. In a way the advent of the e-book and the anonymity that it brings seems to have reawakened an indulgence in the reading pleasures that were not quite considered appropriate reading for the tube or local bus.

    • Now that is just fascinating! And I love the notion that it’s a lot of the same kinds of things that are really attracting people. Great viewpoint!

  11. I’m working on a 6 month publishing schedule, my goal being to have a new release in my main genre (romantic adventure/suspense) every 6 months. It’s a little ambitious, but I think I can handle that, and considering it’s a far faster schedule than I’d get with most trad. publishers, I don’t think readers will mind waiting that long between releases, even if it is a slow build. My other two genres have different schedules due to the type of work, and what I think fits the genre. I don’t really think all readers are the same – thriller readers seem willing to wait a year between releases, IMO, where erotica readers want fresh material on a very regular basis. So I think genre has a lot to do with things too, personally.

    As for quality…I really have no idea where that fits in. Some books that are basically unreadable for me are selling like hotcakes, where books I find stylistically superior and technically near-perfect don’t sell nearly as well. Price? Exposure? I think we could drive ourselves nuts trying to figure that one out, since quality doesn’t seem to matter nearly as much as I’d like to think.

    • That’s an interesting idea…that genre impacts how long readers are willing/expect to wait for the next release. Something else to chew on.

      Yeah I think that quality tends to matter a lot more to other writers than to many of the average readers. People are not as well educated about things like grammar and good writing anymore (believe me, my classes are absolutely proof of that every semester), so I think our obsession with quality and perfection is something that’s a lot more salient to other writers and members of the publishing industry because there has to be a ruberick and a standard by which to exclude. That’s how the traditional publishing houses have always worked. Which is fine to a point with me because I AM one of those discerning readers who will get ticked if there are a lot of errors, so I expect the quality. I certainly don’t think quality ever HURTS and definitely has the potential to help.

  12. For some reason, I though that Amanda Hocking was releasing some of her back lists. I know she pumps them out fast, but not that fast.

    I really like this post! However, it does make me even more bitter about the day job and how inconvenient it is for my writing career! With my current schedule, it takes me about 3 months to finish the first draft a novel.

    I think that the eBook is great for the reader too, because they don’t have to go to the library or the bookstore to get a new book. They are sitting on their couch, order the book, and read the book. All from the comfort of their home.

    Angeline Kace

    • Welcome to my world Angeline! We have a support group. Meets Tuesdays at 7…there is chocolate…

  13. I think you can edit your book to death and still find things you would have changed after you release it. At some point, you have to say “I’m finished”. Being a perfectionist has its good and bad points. It can make you end up with a cleaner book, but it can also make you stress and fret over it too long. There has to be a happy medium. Sometimes readers would have been perfectly happy with the second or third draft, although you may have released it after your seventh draft. LOL. Each author has to decide how fast they can put out their work and still feel like it’s ready.

    • This varies for me from book to book. Like Forsaken…I was actually happy with it when I released. There is still nothing I wanted to change. Devil’s Eye, because I had less confidence in it, I probably could have worked on until the cows came home. But readers seem to like it. And in that light, I’m less motivated to change anything.

  14. Claire Farrell

    I’ve been saying this for a while re: pulp. Readers like me (who pre-children read a book a day) are in their element now. Doesn’t matter if a few books are crap because it’s not that much time or money wasted.

    We’re all learning. Not just the craft but marketing, finding the right audience, etc. We’re gradually gaining the skills to take more control of what happens to a book once it’s out there.

    As Lauralynn said, you can edit a book forever. Sometimes you just have to put it out there. If it isn’t good enough, someone will tell you and you’ll learn. Plus, you can change it easily. People won’t hold it against you on a large scale – some of the biggest indie sellers have been reuploaded because of complaints but it hasn’t stopped their sales at all.

    I don’t think everyone has to churn out a book a month to succeed BUT a series will always do well, particularly when the sequel is expected out before the buzz dies. It’s not like people won’t wait for another book from a less prolific writer, it just means they’ll read more prolific authors in the meantime too. It’s not just the author who gets a sales increase from their own book release – similar indies also get more visibility, in certain genres that’s very clear. Groups of similar authors all benefit when one releases something. Avid readers are constantly looking for more and everyone benefits.

    • Well that’s just all very well said and thought out and I can’t think of anything to add… Thanks for your comments!

  15. Hi Kait! You couldn’t have picked a more fascinating subject.
    I’m going to risk a different opinion here, but only because I think arguments like Goldberg’s don’t take a large enough view.
    First, I think the Indie movement is just that: a literary movement, just like Romanticism was a movement. As such, it has distinct characteristics. Just like the Romantics were mostly poets, we Indies will be known for our ebooks.
    Which brings me to my second point:
    Ebooks are not exactly novels. Ebooks are an emergent genre, arising from the novel, but remain a wholly distinct type of literature with different rules and conventions. What makes something a good novel doesn’t necessarily make it a good ebook. And vice versa. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first Indie pub superstar is 26, raised in a post-digital era where digital text is more common than not. So I don’t think it’s so much that we’re learning to write “better” on the job. It’s more like we’re figuring out how to write “newer.” In this regard, even the newest writer is on the exact same playing field as the most established veteran. Perhaps the newbie even has an advantage, because she has fewer things to unlearn. Brand new Indies hit the top 100 pretty often. Some, like Amanda, have a formidable backlist. But Victorine Lieske has been sitting in the Top 100 for a while now, and she has one stand-alone ebook. Other than further scholarly research into current trends, my personal plan is to do my best work, pay attention to the pioneers in my field (other Indies), strengthen the Indie movement/community, and stay alert for developments.
    I wrote more about the whole ebook/ Indie movement issue earlier this month: http://vickikeire.blogspot.com/2011/01/so-youre-indie-writer-now-what-part-1.html I had better shut up now. I could (and have) ramble-ranted about this for hours. Thanks for the topic. ☺

    • I love the idea that ebooks are a movement like Romanticism or some of the assorted other isms.

      I don’t think I agree that they’re different from a novel as huge chunks of ebooks ARE novels. And I don’t think that the rules for what makes a good novel from a craft perspective, are any different whether you publish in e or in paper. I think of ebooks as simply a format that happens to lend itself to genres and lengths that, perhaps, don’t (or wouldn’t) do well in the traditional publishing world due to production costs.

      But either way, the tide is DEFINITELY turning in the publishing world and that means, in the long run, more options for readers. Which is never a bad thing.

  16. I’ve heard that Harlan Ellison would go into bookstores, have someone give him a prompt, and then sit down at a typewriter and produce a story with everyone watching. Apparently, a lot of these stories were bound together and published. How’s THAT for “unedited”? Speed and lack of professional editing are not necessarily indicative of quality of story… Most readers just want a good story, I think. We writers are the ones who get snippy about editing. 🙂

    I wish people would stop comparing themselves to other writers.

    Harlan Ellison in particular is an incredibly talented and prolific writer, who’s been writing and selling since forever, not just to NY but to Hollywood. He has sold over 1,000 short stories, novels, articles, scripts, etc. He won the Hugo Award eight times, the Nebula Award three times, the Bram Stoker Award five times, the Edgar Award twice and the Georges Méliès fantasy film award twice plus many many other prestigious awards.

    You’re right: speed and lack of professional editing are not necessarily indicative of quality of story. But most writers just can’t do what Harlan does with bookstore prompts.

    • I’m totally freaked out you know so much about Harlan Ellison!

  17. I have really nothing to contribute to the conversation not being a writer (I’m an audiobook narrator), but a good Google search for Pulp fiction sans the movie is “”pulp fiction” -Tarantino”. That is all. Commence discussion.

    • Jeff, we appreciate your google fu. 😀

  18. You know I’ve read a lot of Harlequins in my day, and I do believe that the quality of writing in a lot (but not all) of the category length fiction I’ve read was less than that of the full-length counterparts. I loved the length of category, getting a full story in 60-75k words and not feeling like I was reading a lot filler to make it 450 pages. I loved the price. Not just because they’re much less expensive new, but they’re one of the cheapest things to buy at the used bookstore because the publishing schedule and popularity is such that they always need room for me. This is important when you have that book-a-day or at least a few a week habit. I loved the publishing schedule, knowing that 2 (then later 4) books would be coming out in my specific area of interest Every Month. When I was a young teen, I had a subscription to for Harlequin novels that I paid for out of my babysitting money. And for me, reading category romance was so much like gambling. Some stinkers, a lot of meh, but every once in a while hitting that jackpot fab story that gives you the reader’s high. And all the while being immersed in fiction, which is its own reward.

    But one of the other things I enjoyed about them was the discovery of new authors, and watching their craft improve. I love glomming an author I’ve just discovered through recent work ,and then getting hold of one of their first works in category and just being wowed by what’s different and what’s still the same. And the fact that they were getting paid for those early category works that weren’t so shiny was one of those things that motivated me as an aspiring author.

    For all those reasons I loved to read Harlequins, I could easily see people embracing inexpensive, accessible, quality indie fiction and paying those writers while they learn on the job.

    I think what’s important for people to understand in this discussion is that no one’s suggesting there isn’t still a minimum standard that has to be met, and that standard is still pretty high. Releasing stuff that’s not ready, because either the work or the writer isn’t there yet, won’t do you any favors and may do you harm. It’s not all or nothing. People will wait for a good thing–carefully crafted novels that take a year to prepare and release, but those people and those books aren’t really what we’re talking about here.

  19. I don’t have a lot to add that others haven’t already said, but as a reader, I don’t mind the wait between books in a series or simply between books by the same author. If I’m that impressed by a story that I’m waiting for more, I won’t forget that story, and actually, my enjoyment of the next one is likely to increase if I have to wait a while. I love having the time to really savor what I’ve just read, discuss with others, let my mind drift into fanfiction mode, possibly re-read, flip back through my favorite bits, etc. If I’m reading one after another after another, two things are likely to happen:

    1) the books won’t leave as lasting an impression because I go through them more quickly and, if it’s a series, then it’s done, and I’m more likely to forget about it than one I have to wait for and therefore spend more time thinking about.

    2) I fall behind, and leave that author/series behind for good simply because they’ve now already released their fifth title, and I’m still on #2, and I have lots of other stuff to read, too, you know? Spacing it out is nice.

    Also, if a little more time is spent between books, and the books that are released are more typographically clean, I’m ALL about that. My estimation of a book immediately decreases if I find typos.

    • I’m kind of the opposite there. I don’t like to wait, so I often prefer trilogies or shorter series with definite ends. The same way I wait for TV to come out on DVD so I can watch the whole thing at once, I often wait until a book series is all out before I start. I love to read 5 books in a row in the same series (or even just by the same author) and if that’s the end of the new stuff and I have to wait a year for the next one, my OMG NEED for the next installment has definitely decreased because I’ve already waited a year, what’s a few more months? It continues to slip farther down my list while new things get my attention.

      • I guess we’re just the opposite in this way. I like waiting for a new movie or a new book, whatever, because it increases my enjoyment of it. Like, with the <i<Harry Potter books, half the fun was in the waiting and in the community that sprang up during those waiting periods. *shrugs*

        Generally, I dislike big series. If I’m with it from the beginning, okay. But if I find out about it and there are already like seven or eight books already out, with more on the way, I’m likely to never read them. It’s just too daunting.

  20. Not only do I not mind being considered “pulp,” I think I’m in pretty good company there! I look at James Patterson as the modern-day king of pulp, because that dude puts out a ton of stuff all the time. Now he may not write all of it, and some of it might be ghost-written (I dunno, and don’t care), but he follows the formula of the genre, churns out stories like there’s no tomorrow, and keeps legions of fans happy. I’m one of them!

    My stuff gets turned out pretty quick – I think I cranked out most of Back in Black (and Blue) my next novel, in three weeks. But I write short novels, 60-70K words, and the stories are pretty straightforward. I enjoy writing them, and so far people enjoy reading them. I’m not selling in Hocking numbers, or even as well as Zoe Winters or Kait Nolan, but sales are picking up, and as I release more titles in my series, I expect that to continue.

    I do think that experience in other genres can be very helpful in reducing the amount of time editing and polishing. I wrote for several years for daily sports reporting websites, where I had to follow a formula, write tight copy, and churn out words quickly and cleanly. This, along with a couple of collections of poetry, have really helped me with the whole “pick the right word, write it down” bit. I find that I don’t want to change much other than overuse of some dialogue terms and typos. But I also have a huge ego and think my stuff is pretty good, so that might be all that is.

    Anyway, loving the discussion, Viva La Pulp!

  21. Thank goodness for smart phones. Had some wait time on my hands earlier, found myself thinking about this topic, and did some light research:
    You were asking @ information @ pulp fiction, with references. “With references” is pretty important to me as well. I found the following through my university’s databases, using Academic Search Premier. (Most public libraries also have online database access.)
    The amount of information on the pulp fiction era was staggering- as you pointed out, without keying the search to exclude Tarantino/cinema, etc., you get thousands of results. Still, keyword “pulp magazines” narrowed to scholarly journals returned 84 very diverse hits. Women’s roles in pulp magazines, pulp’s influence on Faulkner’s A Light in August… and on and on. These books kept popping up as common sources for many articles, and seem pretty useful:
    1. Hard-boiled: Working ClassReaders and Pulp Magazines, by Erin A. Smith, Philadelphia: Temple University Press: 2000.
    2. Danger is My Business : An Illustrated History of the Fabulous Pulp Magazines, by Lee Server, Chronicle Books: 1993
    There are hundreds of articles. Can forward or give more info if anyone’s interested.
    One thing I found interesting in my reading was that that the pulp writers who went on to “make it” (ie Daschiell Hammett) thought of themselves as “artists,” while others thought of themselves as “workmen.”

    Another recent article relating to your point about writers improving on the job:
    “The (ebook) market is likely to shift into two tiers, ‘branded/high-quality’ and ‘cheap/good enough,’ predicts author and lecturer Seth Godin.”- Fowler and Tranchberg. “‘Vanity’ Press Goes Digital.” Wall Street Journal – Eastern Edition 03 June 2010: A1+. -This quotes Karen McQuestion and Joe Konrath. FYI!

  22. Great article! I think you’ve got it right, that we have to leave a lasting impression. But just because people have released books in rapid succession – and been successful with that – doesn’t, I think, mean that you HAVE to do that to be successful. I think the success is more related to the number of titles, meaning if you publish more slowly, it will take longer to get there. Or you may hit on a successful book out of the gates. #alsoluck

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge