Since I began researching self-publishing late last year, I've noticed a lot of people saying that in order to be successful at this, you have to increase your output. Having a healthy backlist means readers can find all the things they want to read of what you've written. And putting another book out not too long after the last gives them a more immediate gratification. All sound thinking, in my opinion.
But invariably, any conversation about increasing the quantity of your work leads someone to bring up damage to the quality of your work. They assert that there is no way anyone could possibly write well when writing fast. They assume anything put out quickly is crap.
Well, I guess that depends on your definition of quickly and your definition of crap.
Agatha Christie wrote about 3 books every two years. Not exactly speedy, but she was working on a typewriter and she wasn't exactly a spring chicken.
Of course, some people think mystery is crap, so they would discount her writing.
Barbara Cartland wrote 722 books and holds the Guinness Book of World Records for most novels written in one year - which was a whopping 23, btw. Nora Roberts has written over 200 books since she started and she's still going strong.
Then again, some people detest romance, so their writing would also be discounted.
Isaac Asimov put out 506 books between 1920 and 1992. Seven books a year. Not too shabby. Especially on a typewriter. Some would say he doesn't count because he wrote SF, but they'd have to shut their mouths because the man wrote across a broad spectrum of genres. Still, he wrote a lot of shorter stuff, and even if he didn't the naysayers would find a way to ignore his vast body of work because it doesn't fit in with their supposition of 'quantity kills quality'.
Now, I'm not saying all fast work is good work. Obviously, it's not. There are writers out there doing shoddy work - and the market pretty much fixes their little red wagons. (Except when it goes gaga over the work... but that's the way the market bounces sometimes.) On the other hand, there are people who are putting out one book every five years and they're writing crap, too.
My point is this: High quantity does not guarantee low quality anymore than low quantity guarantees high quality.
Well, unless you're kind of pretentious.
Anyway, there are plenty of quality writers out there. Okay, maybe not The Great American Novel writers, but good, enjoyable work that doesn't make you want to rip you eyes out because - to paraphrase E.B. White - they've dragged you through "...a series of hazardous or grotesque syntactical situations."
So, like I said up there in the post title, the whole quantity versus quality thing is a false debate in my opinion. The real thing we all should be thinking of is whether we're pleasing our readers. They're the reason we write, after all. And if the readers are happy, then writers should be happy, too. Right?