Then and Now — Quantity of Books

Mindy KlaskyMindy Klasky
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I’m baaaaach, with more then and now musing.  I renamed this post a few times — “Quantity of Books” won out over “Productivity”, “Books in a Year” and other variations.  You’ll see what I mean as I ramble on…

THEN:  Fifteen years ago, I received The  Call — my agent had sold my first novel to Roc.  “They asked if you had a sequel,” he said.  “I told them you had planned two.”  (A lie — I’d written a stand-alone, and I hadn’t dared to think about more in the series.)  “They want to know when you can turn in the first.”

I thought for a bit, and I said, “It took me three years to write The Glasswrights’ Apprentice, but I learned a lot doing it.  I should be able to produce a sequel in about two years.”

My agent laughed, and he said, “The correct answer is one year.  I’ll have them put one-year-deadlines in your contract.”

Don’t get me wrong — I was thrilled by the *notion* of a three-book contract, but I was astonished by the thought of writing an entire book in a year.  (Ultimately, I was utterly overwhelmed by the *reality* of writing that book — I hadn’t begun to think about editing the first novel and promoting the first novel, all while writing the second.)

But that was the standard, fifteen years ago — publishers wanted to see a book a year from their authors.  In fact, when I tried to figure out how and when to release Season of Sacrifice (a traditional fantasy novel not set in the Glasswrights world, written while my agent was shopping around Apprentice because that’s What One Does), I had many long discussions with my editor and agent about how best to release it.  I was heavily pressured to use a pen-name, because no readers wanted to buy two Mindy Klasky books in a year.  (I refused; I was so exhausted promoting Mindy Klasky, I couldn’t fathom promoting Pen Name, too.)  I was then heavily pressured to release Sacrifice after the last of my Glasswright books, to launch a new series.  (I refused; I was afraid that my writing would have improved so dramatically over five books – Apprentice sold well enough that I was almost immediately offered a new three-book contract — that Sacrifice would suffer greatly by comparison.)

Ultimately, I released Season of Sacrifice in January 2002, between the July releases of the second and third Glasswright books.  Sacrifice had an … unfortunate cover (babe in a leather bikini), and January is a notoriously soft month for traditional bookstores.  Sacrifice remains my weakest selling book.

In conclusion:  Back in the olden days, publishers wanted a book a year.  No more — readers wouldn’t buy an author more frequently; no less — readers would forget an author if too much time went by.

IN BETWEEN:  Publishers began to experiment with other release schedules.  A few saw great success with back-to-back releases — three books in a series released, one a month.  Most authors who tried this strategy, though, suffered.  They nearly killed themselves, turning in 300,000 words, editing same, reviewing copy edits of same, etc.  Even if the author survived burnout, sales often didn’t follow through — bookstores ordered using computer models, and Book One had only sold a relative handful of copies when the computer said the store had to order Book Two; Book Two had sold no copies (because it wasn’t in stores yet), when the stores needed to order Book Three.  Therefore, unless the Quick Release Strategy had full buy in from the large chain store buyers, it tended to doom series, rather than springboard them to success.  Book-a-year continued to prevail.

NOW:  Traditional publishers have shortened their schedules to nine months, in many cases.  They want to feed readers sooner and more frequently, not letting short attention spans wander.

Self-published authors are taking rapid release to greater extremes.  Many advisors for the self-publishing crowd suggest getting books out every three months.  Some of the most successful authors release books even more frequently — one a month, in many cases.  (I’m planning a one-a-month release strategy for my contemporary romances, the Diamond Brides Series, built around a baseball team.  I’ll start on Opening Day 2014 and release one a month for nine months.)

Extremely Rapid Release has a few advantages.  It feeds voracious readers.  It builds buzz as a “stunt”.  It gets all the books in a series out before readers have forgotten the series exists.  And it exploits the not-completely-understood promotion algorithms at Amazon — where new books are given greater precedence over older ones, and “This Month’s Books” are given the greatest internal promotional preference.

Of course, Extremely Rapid Release has some drawbacks.  It’s grueling for authors.  It requires advance planning.  (I’m a fast writer, but there’s no way I can produce half a million publishable words in nine months.  I’m writing the first six Diamond Brides books before the first one hits the market — more, if I can amp up my writing schedule!)

So, there you have it.  Then — a book a year, pretty much carved in stone.  Now — a book a month, if you can get it; two books a year at least.

Thoughts?  Questions?  Agreements and/or disagreements?

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28 comments to Then and Now — Quantity of Books

  • sagablessed

    A book a month? No effin way. Such things are most likely garbage. I hate to be so judgemental, but I cannot see a decent work being written, edited, and revised in that space of time.
    A book a year? Possible. Two a year? If I wanted to have a perpetual maalox moment, stroke from uber-high BP, and other health issues…maybe. :P

    As to the computer generated order thing: isn’t is kind of stupid to say a book has sold 0 copies when it isn’t even on the shelves? Sometimes corporate idiocy is mind boggling.

    I am a slow writer. It took me almost two moths to get my current WIP’s timeline. This does not include writing the bare bones, then fleshing it out, then editing so it is quasi-suitable for a literate audience. My first work took two and a half years to write. I am down to about a year, if I make the editing quick and dirty.

    (Warning, socio-political commentary)
    Per the short attention-span readers. A large part of our problems today could be solved if people would slow down, learn patience, and enjoy the passing of time. Please do not hijack this thread on my comment, but recent events have shortened my fuse on these matters. *Rant done*

  • Saga – I know you post here regularly, and I appreciate your participating in all of our dialogs. But I”m really offended by your prediction that my books are “garbage.” I’ve set myself an aggressive goal, and I’ve streamlined my process (by working with a limited cast of characters, in a specific real-world physical setting), and I selected my genre with an eye toward meeting my deadlines. (For example, I’d never try to publish nine epic fantasy “door-stopper” novels in nine months.) But I resent the blanket statement that my novels cannot conceivably be “decent work”, and I’m surprised to find such derogatory statements from a regular participant at Magical Words.

  • Ken

    I think it also depends on the financial impact of the author at some point. Two examples:

    Jim Butcher cranks out about a book a year and I think that Harry Dresden has made Jim’s publisher enough cabbage for them to be ok with that.

    Patrick Rothfuss: Gets a book done, when it’s done. This one is harder to wrap my head around. I can only figure that Name of the Wind did so well, that Pat, maybe, skipped ahead in line…

    Then there’s George “Every time you ask me about the next book, a Stark dies” R.R. Martin.

    Of course, I imagine that when you get that big, you can stipulate in your contract how often you’ll have to turn in a book.

    Personally, I can see both sides of the issue. The writer in me wants to avoid burnout, while the reader in me is all like “YayMOREBooks!!!”

  • Johnathan Knight

    I was going to make a comment, but Ken pretty much said everything I was going to. So, I agree with Ken.

    I’m a fan of the way Brandon Sanderson did things. He had a backlog of fully completed novels before he was ever published. Doing that allowed him to practice his craft, and when it came time, he had plenty of material available to be published.

    If you get a chance, consider asking Brandon for a copy of one of his early novels: Mistborn Prime. It’s an interesting read. In my opinion, it clearly shows his growth as a writer, and it’s neat to see the way he took that material to create the Mistborn novels that were eventually published.

  • sagablessed

    Mindy,I apologize. I meant no offence. You do have some mad skills. While some can do it, some cannot.
    You are correct: I should not have issued a blanket statement. I did not consider the impact on you or others.
    I apologise and am truly sorry for any offence to anyone.

  • Tor is still on the one book a year schedule for most writers; other publishers are going to the shorter cycle you mention here. One difference, of course, is that author advances are going down or staying static (which means that in real dollars they’re going down). And so while authors could live on one book a year 15 years ago, we can’t anymore. Another difference is that books have trended shorter over the years (though with digital this is starting to change once again). When I broke in 17 years ago, my first five books were all over 200,000 words long, and that was okay. Today all of my books are closer to 100,000 to 110,000, and so I have time to write two books in a year instead of one.

    Let me also say that as writers — either established or aspiring — we have to be tolerant of the approaches of our colleagues. There is too much denigration of work across genre lines: Literary fiction writers look down their noses at genre writers. I still hear authors of SF and Fantasy speak ill of romance. I hear writers in all genres say disparaging things about media work. Writing for a living — no matter what it is is we’re writing — is hard. Really hard. Crazy hard. Those of us who understand how hard it is owe it to our colleagues to be supportive. Mindy is trying something incredibly cool and innovative (not to mention commercially savvy) with her Diamond Brides Series. She is a professional, with a track record of writing terrific books, and as she has explained here, she is writing these books in advance. We all owe her the faith and respect that her previous work has earned. If she is going to publish a book a month, you can be damn sure that those books will be of high quality. Let’s keep the comments civil and our statements of opinion measured and respectful.

  • Speaking as the Queen of the Foot in Mouth Tribe, one who has callouses on her tongue for all the tap dancing on it, I am sure Saga wrote without thinking. Been there, lived to beat myself up about it. Sometimes for weeks. ‘Nuff said.

    As to deadlines, I sold my first book in 1989, it was released in 1990, and the sequel was released in 1992. (Freaking dark ages in the publishing world.) After that it was one book a year until I started transitioning over to fantasy, when they wanted a book every six months. I thought I’d be able to do it, and I did, until my mom was injured and the MIL got sick and then later died. I missed a deadline. Badly. My lovely agent had to re-do my contract and get me longer deadlines and then next book contract specified a book every nine months.

    I have no idea how you do a book a month, Mindy, but I know that others have, and well. Nora Roberts / JD Robb used to do that in her early career, and now, according to Amazon she is/has: number-one New York Times-bestselling author of more than 170 novels… There are more than 300 million copies of her books in print. Her books are all lovely and well done. I admire anyone who can do that. I am not one of them. I’d turn out crap and I’d kill myself doing it. Kudos! And keep us up on the results of the new plan.

  • Saga – Thanks for responding. If it weren’t too ironic, I’d suggest that we all take a bit more *time* to read and think before we type ::wry grin::. And blanket statements are never a good idea. (See what I did there? Get the joke?) Onward and upward…

  • Ken – I’ve long argued that there’s an entire “genre” called “Bestseller”. It doesn’t matter the specific genre — Steven King in horror, John Grisham in mystery/suspense, Nora Roberts in romance, GRRM and Pat Rothfuss in fantasy. The rules in that arena are completely different. Publishers recognize cash cows, and they’ll do everything they can to keep the milk coming! Even if that means stretching deadlines… (Although Scholastic actually had to lay off staff when Rowling was a year late with one of her books — the entire company had hired, based on the predicted income stream!)

    Johnathan – It takes a lot of patience (and a lot of faith!) to build a backlog of novels before publication. It’s scary and can be financially terrifying to invest months/years into creating the stock. But it certainly gives a sense of security once they hit the market! Interesting observation about how Mistborn Prime fits into the overall picture.

    David – Thanks for the supportive words. Very interesting thoughts, about the interplay of book length and pay. The longest novels I’ve written topped around 110K. At one point, Harlequin insisted we cut all 100K books under contract to 80K, due to the cost of paper. (They didn’t ask for a 20% refund in our advances, fortunately!) The Diamond Brides are short — and I find I’m loving the relative simplicity of that length. (It puts a huge emphasis on character, but removes the need for multiple sub-plots. Without sub-plots to bring out foils, there’s more of a need for every conversation and every descriptive phrase to draw a clear line.) As for pay being the same or down, yes, yes, yes. And with some costs (health care, education, etc.) going up more rapidly than the general cost of living, it’s really, really tough.

    Faith – It’s still astonishing to me how quickly family needs can scuttle career plans. I’ve had three family crises in the six years I’ve been writing full-time — one huge (almost two months lost with not a single moment spent on writing or any aspect of publishing) two smaller ones (three weeks, and two weeks). The emotional after-effects linger for months. As for writing speed, I’ve recently read several articles about how we’re entering a new age of “pulp fiction”. I look at some of my favorite mystery writers who came up in the 50′s and 60′s, and they were regularly writing a book a month, sometimes two. (Again, those were shorter, simpler works than has been the norm, and they usually involved series characters.)

  • DBC: I still hear authors of SF and Fantasy speak ill of romance.

    And you know, I never would have thought to get into writing romance, let alone read it, before I met my wife, but now I’m going to be published next year with a sci-fi romance novella, which is pretty cool. I ended up getting into it because my wife told me that a lot of what I was writing was big in the SFR market, so I gave it a shot. Really, there’s some pretty good stuff out there in the romance market, if one can get past the unwillingness to change the cover art. ;)

    On the book a month thing:

    Yeah, I know Saga didn’t mean it as it came across, and I know where he’s coming from there. I’ve read (or at least tried to) some works that seemed as though it was a first draft from NaNo tossed onto Amazon by an exuberant first time writer in the hopes of making oodles of money. (one was so much a D&D campaign I could recognize the saving throws and skill checks, not to mention the head hopping within the same paragraph…). There’s a sea of it out there, honestly. I also know there are some legitimate successes that work their backsides off to make what they’ve put out shine, self-pub or not. Heck, Rachel Aaron is super fast on the word count, faster than I’d ever hope to be and the Eli Monpress books are fun and well done. I have no doubt that yours will be professional, polished, and awesome, and I hope you’ll give us updates as you go. I really want to see how your endeavor pans out because I had a similar plan on writing a space opera sci-fi romance serial of novellas in much the same manner, finish a few and then put them out once a month or so until I’m finished with the next batch. Much like episodes in a TV series.

    I also know that even at my two finger typist speed (when I commit to it), I can pour a first draft out in 10 weeks or less. It was how I got the first drafts of 1 & 2 in my epic fantasy romance trilogy done in only a few months…of course, I worked 8 hours a day almost and I also started to get burnout on the story, which is why I had to take a break and write something unrelated for a bit. My original plan had been to get all three done and edited before trying to shop it around, but I digress (and can always relate to Hartness on digression… ;) ). I can only imagine what someone with actual typing skill could crank out. I live in awe of those who can pull off that many words in a short period of time. I think my best in a day was close to 5k and I was so far in a zone I didn’t even eat until I was done. Talk about shaky and weak-kneed afterward…

    On prolificacy and the market:

    One of the things I’ve read on here a lot, and I agree with David 100%, is that the pay for writers, as well as the max word count and tolerance with output speed, has been dropping for quite some time and if one wants to actually make any kind of living as an author, it almost behooves one to learn to get the words out faster (or self-pub). I’ve been writing for close on 27 years now and only recently (past several years) had both the confidence in my ability and the courage to take the leap. Without feeling any kind of vanity, I feel I’ve done that 10k hours, or million crappy words, or whathaveyou and am where I need to be. I’ve seen the trends, but it wasn’t until I frequented MW that I recognized it and could look back to see how things have changed, and continue to do so, in the field.

    I’ve also noticed that the series seems to be more popular of late and readers don’t want to wait a year or more between books like they used to. This was another reason why I wanted to finish my trilogy first. Even though it’s a risk, it beats forcing my fan base to wait on a sequel that could be delayed by any number of reasons from life taking below the belt shots to waiting in a queue for other more popular titles to be released.

    And I think my long-winded butt should get back to Jasper now. It’s not gonna write itself. ;)

  • My first reaction to writing two books a year was “no way!” My reaction to writing a book a month was to giggle :) However, the truth is I could write much faster than I am now–I’d even say I should be writing much faster than I am now. My job takes a lot of time and energy, but if I really focused on writing, I could do more. So while I’m still not planning to write a book a month or even a book every six months, you’ve inspired me to write faster. I think I can do that.

  • deborahblake

    Wow–what a great discussion!

    One of the things you didn’t mention, Mindy, (but which I happen to know because I am In the Loop, so to speak) is that your Diamond Bride books are much shorter than the average 100K novel. That does make a difference when you talk about how many you will be able to write in a year. I don’t remember the page count, exactly, but I do remember that they are shorter than usual. You might want to add that.

    I’ve been writing two books a year for a number of years now–one nonfiction for Llewellyn and one novel. It’s a squeak, but I can do it. Now that I’ve finally sold a novel and its sequel, I am learning that it is tougher to do that when you’re also juggling extensive revisions (which the novels tend to have, and the NF doesn’t), so while I am aiming to do two novels a year, it is clearly going to push me to my limits.
    (My first drafts tend to take about 3-4 months, plus another month for revisions, not counting time spent waiting on feedback from agent, editor, and first readers.)

    That being said, I have a number of writer friends who are doing anywhere from 4-10 books a year. Some of these are shorter romances, many are self-pubbed or for smaller ePub only publishers–and these are folks with lots of experience. In some cases, they even seem to be pulling it off, although I’m guessing they’ve given up trivial things like eating and sleeping to do it. On the other hand, I’ve seen one or two whose quality has slipped to the point where I find the books unreadable, although clearly others don’t. *shrug* I guess everyone has to make this choice for themselves. I just know that I won’t let my agent promise that I’ll write any more than two books a year. Or maybe three, if someone begs…and, you know, throws money at me.

    I hope you’re wrong about the back-to-back release not working, Mindy, since that’s what Berkley is doing with my first two Baba Yaga books–one is coming out in Sept ’14, and the next in December. I’ve known a few people who have had that particular pattern work out well for them, so I’m just going to cross my fingers. (Which should make the typing particularly challenging.)

  • L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright

    I am always so in awe of people who can write quickly. My writing goes like this: At the beginning of this week, the fourth day of my “Super Writing Push” I had 3 chapters written. I worked REALLY hard this week.

    Now I have two chapters.

    Sigh.

    Now, they are two much, much, much better chapters than they would have been…but, still, it’s a bit disheartening.

  • Hepseba ALHH

    L. Jagi – I’m right there with you. For my current writing speed, being able to consistently draft a chapter a week would be awesome, and my average chapter length is ~3000 words… From where I sit, all of this talk of multiple books a year is purely theoretical. :-D

  • It’s true. A 55K-ish Harlequin Special Edition is shorter even than most current YA novels. But even that, times 9, is a lot. I do like it when Harlequin does it (to sate the reader side of me), but I also get wary. Occasionally when three books come out in a row, for example, I notice that the third book suffers in quality. But this isn’t restricted just to that genre. I’ve heard similar complaints about the Hunger Games. I’m glad to hear you’ve started planning so early on and seem to have it together, Mindy. (These are going to be books my husband pretends he isn’t interested in but he’ll laugh when I tell him humourous baseball tidbits, because he’s a huge Mariners fan.)

    Back to the subject at hand – I wonder if the rapid release format is going to work better now that e-readers and online ordering from Amazon has taken off way more than it was at, say, even 5 years ago. I have two minds about this. Personally, I do have the whole trilogy planned out for the novel I “completed” extensive revisions on this summer. Yet I’ve been holding back on working on the sequels in case, when I get an agent, I have more revisions so thoroughly extensive that it negates all the work I’ve done on the second and third. And my time is already challenged.

    I have worked on multiple stories in a year, but I can’t say for certain how good I would be about putting out more than 1 or 2 in a year. The topic frightens me, TBPH.

    Would it make more sense to (speaking as a plotter) instead have the outlines completed so that the writing can happen more quickly, but with the major plot issues ironed out?

    Or maybe focus on between-seasonbook promotion to keep the interest high, including posting snippets and in-depth details about the world that won’t necessarily make it into the books? Anything that can work as a signal boost and even attract more readers even when it’s not necessarily release day.

    Because frankly, if the onus of promotion and marketing’s falling more to the author these days, and smaller advances necessitate dayjobs, then that takes away from writing time, too.

  • In my mind, one of the all-time writers is Isaac Asimov. Between his non-fiction articles and books and his fiction short stories and books, he had a total of 506 published works in his lifetime. He was also know for not doing revisions, just sending his raw works to the editors.

  • Vyton

    I am in awe. I take years. You folks are great. I second what Erin says.

  • Daniel – Good luck with your SF romance novella! And yes, there are bad fast-written books. There are also bad slow-written books. As for series — I think they’ve always been popular. Traditional publishers love them because they have built in audiences. They’re also predictable — an author who’s delivered books 1,2, and 3 in a series will probably be able to deliver 4, 5, and 6 (absent life chaos…) I’ve never had the nerve to pre-write a series for traditional publication, for fear that it wouldn’t sell, and I’d lose X times the effort that could have been invested in sales-worthy projects. I guess I lack confidence ::wry grin::

    SiSi – ::grin:: re your giggling! One of the reasons I’ve set my goal for myself is because I kept hearing other authors talking about how hard they work. Before I started this killer schedule, I spent a *lot* of time “working” when I was playing at social media and/or reading newspaper articles online, etc. Not *wasting* time, but not using my time productively. Now, I often have conversations with my husband over dinner that begin with him asking, “Did you read [popular website] today?” and my saying no!

    deborahblake – I talk about the length of the books in today’s post, and I’ve mentioned it before — half a million words, spread out over nine books. You raise some great points about fiction and non-fiction. YA and MG are another point on the continuum; editors in those genres frequently expect multiple rounds of edits — more than adult fiction! *My* fingers join yours in being crossed for a successful back-to-back launch! (Although with three months between, you’ll at least have *some* sales registered by the time Book 2 comes out.

    Jagi – We *all* write at different paces! And getting the right words is infinitely more important than getting the right *number* of words.

    Hepseba – Knowing your speed allows you to work with it. When you sell your first novel, and they ask when you can deliver the second, you’ll be able to answer with concrete data to back up your reply!

    Laura – I usually find that middle books suffer more than end books, in plotting and characterization. End books tend to suffer more in the editing department — they wander, and there can be lots of typos. At least, in my experience. As for your husband’s (pretended) interest, mine is reading the already-drafted books for baseball factual errors. It’s been … amusing to hear his comments! As for ebooks affecting rapid-release, I suspect that there are a *lot* more ebooks bought and not read, compared to print books. Without a visual reminder of the to-be-read shelf, people are less concerned about building up backlogs. Therefore, there should be more first-books purchased in rapid-release set-ups… We’ll see! Re pre-writing the series, my advice has always been (and continues to be) if you’re seeking traditional publishing, write the first book, *plan* the rest of the series, and write an unrelated book while you shop around the first. The extent of your planning depends on the method of your writing. Your goal will be to write the first sequel in a year, so you’ll want to plan — outline, make worldbuilding notes, research, whatever — to get you on the edge of the diving board, so you can jump and swim to the side in the year after you sign your contract. Make sense?

    Erin – One of the hallmarks of Asimov’s fiction, for me, is his simple, clean sentence structure. I think that was how he got by with minimal revisions.

    Vyton – To each his/her pace! It’s not a race. Really!

  • mudepoz

    As with all things, everyone has a certain level of desire and drive. I’m first one out of an exam. Always. I figure if I don’t know it, no point to hanging around.
    Books?
    Gah. I’m fighting a disease, and I guess it has to take front and center, so while youse guys are writing 100K novels, I’m thrilled I can crank out a 55K book a year.
    Maybe it’s good I don’t write for adults :)

  • mudepoz

    Mindy, I didn’t realize that MG and YA editors expect more edits. That’s good to know, because a friend of mine was appalled that it took 5 rounds of editing before I was done. AND I KNOW THERE ARE STILL MISTAKES!

  • quillet

    I am in awe at the speed at which other people can write! I’m definitely a slowpoke. One book a year I could do. Two a year? *dry laughter* One a month? *falls off chair in a dead faint*

    Actually, I’d love to hear how you manage to write fast, Mindy. I know Rachel Aaron has done some awesome posts on that subject (on her own blog and one or two other places), but it’d be really cool to see another take on that subject. Maybe another post, another day, no pressure — but I could use all the help I can get!

  • Nathan Elberg

    The discussion here seems to presume that the trend to a faster runaround time for writing new books goes hand in hand with a decline in the length of the books. A recent NY Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/11/business/media/city-on-fire-a-debut-novel-fetches-nearly-2-million.html?hpw&rref=books&_r=1&amp ;) talks about “more evidence that the long novel is experiencing a resurgence…” Will the trend to the quickly written novel reverse along with the the trend towards shorter books?

  • For “the quickly written e-book,” one of the items I am seeing is a break-off of the old magazine practice. A person releases a 3 to 5 e-book series, with a book a month, – but each book 10K to 20K in length. They end up with about a 60 to 80K book overall, but keep up with the immediacy ebook readers are looking for. And the pricing of only 99 cents each. The reader still ends up paying the $5 for a longer work, but feels like they paid less.

  • Mudepoz – We *do* all have inherently different levels of productivity. The current “pulp” system won’t work well for all authors. But we each need to figure out how to maximize our own skills and abilities! (And yes, glad I could “ease your mind” about YA/MG edits — I’ve found editors in those genres to be more engaged across the board!)

    Quillet – I’ll write more about my productivity tools down the road. Remind me, if I forget!

    Nathan – I read that article, too. I think it draws a strong conclusion from a handful of instances — literary novels by debut (or relatively new) authors. Literary novels have often tracked to either end of the length spectrum — CRYING OF LOT 49 (which is almost a novella) to GRAVITY’S RAINBOW (an encyclopedia…) Given the cost of paper and shipping (and editorial time for e-formatting), I think that long books are a blip for a handful of authors, not a trend.

    Erin – I’ve seen that serialization in some places as well. I think it works best with action/adventure stories, where there are natural cliffhangers to urge buyers to get the next installment. From an authorial point of view, $0.99 price tags — even multiple ones — can be tricky, because most retailers pay a 35% royalty on the low price, while they’ll pay 70% on books priced $2.99 or above. Therefore, collecting four 99-cent royalties nets only $1.40 in total payment, while collecting one $3.99 royalty nets 2.79. Multiplied over thousands of books, the royalty difference is huge!

  • Hmm. I wonder if that pressure explains… I remember that I really liked Apprentice, tho the next book not so much (as I vaguely recall, it was okay but didn’t have the same spark).

  • Reziac – ::wince:: I’d like to think that all of my books are the finest I could make them, even if it was stressful getting to their release date. I’m sorry you were disappointed in PROGRESS!

  • L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright

    Thanks for the encouragement, Mindy!

  • One of these days when I reread ‘em, I may think different thoughts :D I still remembered the author’s name next I saw it, tho, which is amazing, for me (names? people have names??!)