Quality vs. Quantity

You've probably been invited to one of those webinars or seminars claiming they can help you write your book. 

Bold claims such as:

Write your book in one weekend!

How to write a book in 3 days!

Write it! Sell it! Profit from it!

I attended a writer's conference earlier this year that at least two or three of the sessions held a similar message. The most audacious was many times over "published author" who laughed as he said, "I've learned how to write a book in about 24 hours, throw it up as an e-book and I can make a killing as I sell it. It's not about the quality but just getting it out there. Don't worry about quality."

My disclaimer in the "quote" above is that it is not verbatim because I quit taking notes from this author once I saw his heart and understood his message. This is not the writer I want to become. It is not the type material I want to write, read or help other writers publish.

Over the course of the next two days some of the speaker's in that seminar were of the same mindset. Somehow they had rationalized their new methods and done the unthinkable in my mind as they prostituted their gift to write quality products to instead produce a quick grab money-making machine with books full of half-baked ideas and unsubstantiated claims and messages. And they had been brought in to a professional writing seminar. Disappointing.

I wondered how many newbies were in the audience listening to their drivel, their minds and future getting shaped by these "mentors."

Their sole goal was to grab the unsuspecting new writers, who in their desire to become better, were seeking out mentors. They were hoping for solid mentors...and willing to pay for that assistance to help take them to the next level. I cringe as I consider the new wave of books coming out of these "mentoring" sessions where quantity versus quality reigns supreme.

There is no substitute for quality. None. NONE.

Writing takes time. Developing our thoughts and then reviewing them to make sure that they are accurate and accurately represent our message take time. It requires the due diligence of research and more research to determine accuracy and authenticity.

Obviously there are writing projects where we devote less time-a blog for example isn't going to get the same painstaking thought as a book. But especially if you are going to invest the time to write and publish---even self-publish-a book, then please don't vomit it out on the reader. If your ideas are good enough to publish, then please do it well.

I'm sure there are practical insights that can be gleaned from those seminars claiming they can help you write a book in three days.

But let me save you the money. I can give much of it to you in a sentence.

Keep your seat in the seat.

Then clear your desk, close the door and focus. At least 30 minutes a day, every day. Without a doubt your message has been percolating within you for months even years. It's simply your task to sit down and give it the due diligence of time to let it flow out.

Want to get it done sooner? Easy. Devote eight to ten hours a day. There is no short-cut in writing well. It just takes time, so give it the time it takes. In the end it is a reflection of you.

Don't know how to get started? Here are a few foundational tips:

1. Whether fiction or non-fiction take the time to map out your book before you start.

For many that begins with a table of contents which becomes at least a starting place of the key points you want to make. It will morph during the course of your writing as it takes shape, but it becomes your road map to help you stay on track AND remind you of important elements you don't want to forget to insert. 

2. Create a Character Sheet.  If this is fiction be sure as you write that you keep track of your characters on a Character Sheet. Write down their name, the physical attributes you have given them, the personality you have given them, the relationships and connections, etc.

3. Create an annotated outline.

This next step is a must for fiction writers, but helpful for even non-fiction writers. This is a short 2-5 sentence summary of each chapter so that a publisher or endorser can quickly scan and see the thought development of your manuscript quickly. This is so much easier to do as you write and finish the book when it is fresh in your mind rather than weeks to months later when a publisher or endorser is asking for it.

4. Don't edit as you go. Simply write and let it flow.

A manuscript can be reworked to the extent that there is no life left. There is also the danger that if you edit as you go that you will keep reworking chapter one and two to "perfection" and never move on to the remaining chapters. Ideally, just sit down and get what is inside you out. Then go back over it on days where the creativity may not be flowing as well to work on new sections. Those are the days you can rework some older sections.

Whether it takes you a few months, a year or five years to write your book, what you have in the end, when you take the time to produce quality, will be a message that reflects who you are so that it can bless others, not just pad your pocket.

So as you sit down at your keyboard consider quality versus quantity. It's your legacy. What will you leave?

Karen Hardin - Literary Agent and Marketing Guru
PriorityPR Group & Literary Agency