Cory Doctorow not only gives away his books for free, creating a wildly successful writing career for himself. He is also apparently a very fast multi-tasker.
Seth Godin recently sat next to Doctorow at a conference and posts today about a unique skill which Cory exemplified: by using his "ability to make snap judgments", he skillfully sped through "data overload", processing and completing tasks accurately and quickly.
Why is this so remarkable? You have to read Seth's post to find out.
Looking at this from a writer's standpoint, it is more often the QUANTITY (not the quality) in the early stages that matter most. Doing more earlier on can often mean an easier time later.
For example, we need to get that first draft completed before moving onto rewrites and a polished, cohesive work. I've written under many a deadline, and copy has to "shine" yesterday; one way I get there is to write a ton of words non-stop, then go back and edit thoroughly, and rewrite one last time. The key approach, whether it's a novel draft or a marketing newsletter, is to speed up the process.
Do it quickly and get it done. (How to do this systematically is a post for another time.)
I never thought of it this way before, but I'm seeing this more clearly now:
If you are moving this fast, quantity almost guarantees quality. Or at least success.
Additional information: I wrote a post called "Give away your books for FREE! (Huh?)" on Cory Doctorow's fascinating article in Forbes magazine in their section about the future of book publishing. There's an interesting comment thread about this type of self-promotion.