In the past few months I learned a very important lesson about the best way to revise your novel.
It’s a waste of time and energy. Not only don’t readers mind too much, they’ll still buy your books.
Grammar errors, spelling errors, sentences tangled like the earbud cords in your pocket: Not a problem.
Put it out. Rake in the bucks.
I had heard stories like this when I was doing research for my first book, “Writers Gone Wild.” One of my favorites concerned Harold Robbins, who made millions from warehouse-sized novels stuffed with hard-driven lusty businessmen and luscious amoral women. He titillated readers with scenes like in “The Carpetbaggers,” where a prostitute entertains a big Hollywood movie producer by shaving his body, giving him a long massage, a joint to relax him, and then has sex in a bathtub full of champagne, hot stuff for a book published in 1961!
Robbins lived high on his wealth. He bought houses in L.A. and Acapulco. He sailed the Mediterranean in his yacht. He threw sex parties and did drugs. He grew disenchanted, then hateful, of churning out potboilers, and would start writing only when he had spent his advance. By this time, he was writing a first draft only, leaving his editor to do the hard work of revision, if any were done.
Publisher Michael Korda recounts in his memoirs the time when he, as a young editor, met Robbins about a problem his found in his latest manuscript. Robbins had written half the book and shelved it when more money came in. By the time he returned to it, he had remembered the story but forgotten which character did what. Instead of reading the manuscript, he carried on writing.
. . . .
First up is Michael Anderle, who has published at least five books since January — yes, that’s five months ago — and is well on his way to earning $50K within the year.
Anderle’s procedure, which he described in detail on The Author Biz podcast, is simple. Borrowing from the software industry the principal of “minimally viable product,” he wrote his first book, “Death Becomes Her,” in a few days and published it. In nine days, he wrote the 67,000-word sequel and published that. Writing and publishing his third book took 13 days. He worked without an editor, or even a second reader, because he didn’t know if the book would sell. As he said on the podcast: “I didn’t want to spend $500 on a book that didn’t sell.”
What’s surprising is that he receives 4- and 5-star reviews from readers saying the books are wretchedly written, but the story made them want to keep reading.
. . . .
The books are wretchedly written, but fast-moving. The wretched prose, the mixed syntax, the bad grammar, and the typos would barely raise a sneer from the MFA-educated crowd. They’re used to a publishing industry that already embraces James Patterson and Dan Brown’s barely literate level of storytelling. The bar was already low; it’s just being slid through the wood chipper and scattered over the culture like salt at Carthage.