How (Not) to Talk to a Writer #10

I’ve been reposting items from my old-webpage, and this is one that was originally posted 11/16/13–a few months before the publication of my first novel. It’s rather sadly prophetic, because I, too, ended up in this boat when my publisher decided not to continue a series (more on that at the bottom)

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(Here’s the original post.)

Why haven’t you written _________________ yet?

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Now, I understand this urge, but it would be better to say something like I really loved __________. I would love to read a sequel to it. That first way of asking it makes it seem like the author answers to you….which is not how the world runs.

First of all, authors are generally writing as fast as they can. Some of us are fast, some are slow.

And sometimes we just don’t get to write that sequel at all. Authors often have little control over what’s published (unless they’re self-publishing). An author’s contract is never written as ‘just write whatever book you want.’ (OK, Steven King probably gets this contract, but the vast majority of writers don’t.)

Most authors who are in a contract situation write what the publisher says they’ll buy. (Or what they hope the publisher will buy, which is where I am.) If the publisher tells me “We’ve decided not to buy Book 3”, then I’ll immediately stop working on it and move to something I CAN sell.

Because sometimes publishers give up on series before an author is done.

I know a lot of authors to whom this has happened. I’ve been the reader on the other end of that equation, too. Would I have liked to see Ansen Dibell’s fouth and fifth books of the Kantmorie saga*? Another book in Martha Well’s Ile-Rien? The fifth Bracebridge Mystery from Margaret Miles?

Yes, I want all those books.

But for one reason or another, someone higher up in the food chain made the decision that those books wouldn’t sell well enough, and thus they aren’t out there.

It usually isn’t the author’s choice.

Sometimes it is. Sometimes the author is just done with that setting or group of characters. Sometimes we think we’ve explored all we can there. That happens, too.

But the decision about what to write next is always complicated. We simply can’t write everything….we’re only human.

_______________
*Books 4 and 5 exist only in French and Dutch, since her US publisher dropped them.

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(As a final note, if you want to know why I haven’t written the sequel to Dreaming Death yet, it’s because of the above reason…the publisher decided not to carry forward.  I will be publishing it myself next year, though….if I can afford to do so. So far, self-publishing has not been profitable, but I’m hoping to turn that around!)

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