Authors Answer 25 – One Hit Wonder or Prolific Author?

Harper Lee had a huge hit, To Kill a Mockingbird. It was the only book she published (thought recently, she announced a new book). But it was massively popular. Then there are other authors who seem to write a couple books a year. Many write without much recognition, but they keep going. This week’s question comes to us from the rather prolific commenter stomperdad.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 25: Would you rather write one book that’s hugely popular or many books with little recognition?

Linda G. Hill

Oooh, difficult question. Although I’d love to have a book that’s hugely popular, I love the writing part of making novels. So I think I’ll have to go with the latter.

…ask me again after I’ve published something. 😛

Caren Rich

Seriously, I just want to be published.  Writing a popular book would be amazing.  I don’t think it’s necessarily better than having a string of well-written books, that people have actually read. There is an allure to cult classics that bestsellers do not have.

D. T. Nova

It’s difficult for me to compare those as conflicting outcomes. I know that if a book I wrote became hugely popular it would just make me want to write more books even more, and it might even make it easier to be unconcerned with recognition in the future.

Amy Morris-Jones

I think I’d rather just write and not worry about popularity or publication—not great for a writer, right? I’d rather write a lot, so I’d pick the second option where I could build a small but (hopefully) loyal fan base over time. Those hugely popular books get far too much public scrutiny for my taste.

Jean Davis

I would rather write many books than one that hits it big. The pressure to top that huge success would make it hard to let the creativity flow enough to let the next books come into being and make it through the editing process.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I’d prefer to write several books with little recognition.  What would I do with my time after the first bestseller makes it big?  I’m not going to stop writing after that.  I’m also not sure if I’d ever feel comfortable with a Harper Lee level of fame.

H. Anthe Davis

I’m in the process of writing many books with little recognition, so I guess this is what I signed on for!  Yay me!

In all honesty though, I don’t care about popularity.  I just want to get these stories out of my head.

Paul B. Spence

Oh, bloody hell. I’ve already written many books with little recognition… But how could you only write one book?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Tough one. I definitely would love for one of my books to become hugely popular, but if that meant no one would ever read anything else I ever wrote? It seems like quite the trade-off. Also, realistically speaking, it’s much more likely for a writer to build a little bit of recognition with each concurrent book than to become an overnight sensation based on just one book.

I think, probably, maybe, I’d go with the many books, because even if that one book was hugely popular, I think it would kill me if I just kept writing and writing and never got any recognition for any of my other work.

S. R. Carrillo

Popularity is really not all that important to me. I’d definitely rather write several of the little-recognized books. Seems I’m headed in that direction, anyway, and I’m all too okay with it. ;] Actually, I think I’d panic if I ever wrote a hugely popular book. I’m only ever truly writing for myself in the first place – publishing is merely a way of inviting others on this crazy ride with me, y’know?

Jay Dee Archer

I think it’s safe to say that most, if not all, of us would answer the same way: we’d rather have many books with little recognition. We spend a lot of time writing, not for the recognition, but because we have stories we want to tell.  It is extremely rare  to have that big hit, and I think we all understand that. I would rather have plenty of books out than one big hit. Besides, I’d continue writing even if I had just one big hit. I couldn’t stop.

With that said, recognition does build over time the more one writes. Each book gains some fans, which in turn results in more sales for all books. They may never be big sellers, but people are reading them. That’s all I want.

How about you?

If you had this choice, would you rather have a single bestseller or a bunch of books that gain little recognition? Leave your answers in the comments below.

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20 thoughts on “Authors Answer 25 – One Hit Wonder or Prolific Author?”

  1. Oh absolutely the big hit!!! Then I could spend the rest of my life just writing, just to write for myself, not worrying about query letters, and literary agents and all that other stuff. But I know books with little recognition is the most reality-based option.

  2. I agree with SD Gates: one big one – and let it be the trilogy I’m about to start publishing. Book 1 of Pride’s Children is finished, and I’m doing things like cover and description and formatting.

    I’m a very slow writer – It has taken me 15 years from first idea to being almost ready to publish – and I don’t know how many more of these I will be able to do.

    But I’m not sure it will do as well as I’d like until the whole story is out; I have to keep going as soon as it’s available on Amazon – because the writing is the part I like, and I haven’t done any (except for working on the book description and a short pitch) since a week before Easter. I have to focus my energy on one thing at a time, and right now it’s learning enough graphic design so I can do a good cover (or find someone to take my ideas and finish it).

    Excellent question!

  3. Writing a blockbuster novel doesn’t interest me…too much pressure! My goal is writing good novels that make me proud and entertain my readers. Being published occasionally wouldn’t hurt, however:)

  4. If I did write a novel that was a ridiculously huge success (possibly because someone wanted to turn it into a movie), I’d still write more, because I have more stories than can fit in one book. (I didn’t decide to become a writer because I want wealth and power — what would I DO with it?) If someone told me that I wasn’t ALLOWED to write any more fiction (them and whose army of inter-dimensional ninjas?), I’d just hand everything over to my clone-sibling (who is already writing his own stories), and have him put his name on the cover instead (which is what will happen anyway).

    1. I know I wouldn’t stop writing. But you did bring up something interesting. What if that big hit became a movie? I’d think that would be surreal.

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