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.
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?