This is a factionalizing question.
It’s an emotion-ladened one, too.
Traditional publishing will tell you that one book a year is the expected rate.
Many authors cringe at writing any faster than that.
Romance publishers like to up the pace a bit — two to three novels a year is the norm. Four a year is even better.
As we’ve come to learn, though, traditional publishing is only peripherally related to indie publishing. We barely produce the same products, anymore.
The conventional wisdom in the indie publishing world is that four books a year, minimum, is necessary to sustain your revenue. One every season will help you avoid the 90-day cliff at Amazon, which is still a thing despite the latest algorithm changes.
Ideally, if you want to avoid the 30 day cliff, then you’re looking at a book a month.
That is, if you can produce that quickly.
And that’s where conventional wisdom folds its hand.
There are factors personal to you and your work methods and natural pacing that will dictate how often you should publish:
- How fast you can write and produce books. Every four weeks is a doddle for me. That pace makes most authors feel weak. What’s your comfortable pace?
- Your fastest pace should not be your standard pace. Life rolls and stress will drop that back a book or two. Allow for outliers. They’ll happen.
- Spread your releases out evenly. If you know from experience you can write two books quickly, then the next will always take double the time (regardless of length), it will pay to stagger your releases so there are even gaps between release dates.
- The genre you’re writing in makes a difference. Romance readers love prolific authors. Fantasy and mainstream Thriller readers are more patience. What’s your genre’s expectations?
- Do you want to include seasonal lulls in your publication schedule? Some authors avoid the Christmas period so they don’t have to compete with all the other marketing. Others wade into the summer reading season.
- Are you trying to get ahead of your production schedule? I did this last year, squeezing myself down to three weeks per book to get a week ahead per release, for that magical six weeks off. This year, I’m back to catching up again, to extend my production period from 12 weeks back to 26. Factors like this can affect your rate of release (although I will adjust anything else before adjusting release dates — which I consider a Hail Mary option). If you spread your releases out by an extra week or two for a year, you’ll build in sick & play time, for the long term.
Unfortunately, figuring out what is a good pace of releases for you is highly personal and takes time and experimentation.
It also helps if you’re tracking your word counts and work logs consistently.
Ultimately, the ideal publishing pace for you will be:
- one that lets you publish like clockwork, whether it’s every 28 days, 28 weeks, or once a year, and
- the pace is one you can easily maintain over the long term.
This idea personal pace will keep readers happy, as they get to know your release pace and can look forward to the next book.