There’s some grumbling out there in the writerverse about this article, in which some bestselling novelists bitch and moan about their publisher’s hope that they’ll bang out a book year. Publishers want a book year because it works really well with the publishing cycle: An author’s new hardcover book will come out just as his or her previous book goes into mass market paperback, thus pumping up the sales of both and getting readers into the virtuous cycle of hoping for (and expecting) another book at the same time in the next year. The problem is that writing a book a year is kind of a drag; heck, it seems like work. This attitude is naturally annoying to those writers who would strangle fluffy kittens if it meant they could publish a book a year, or alternately to those who are publishing more than a novel a year, many of whom are wondering if these authors would like a pillow for their widdle heads.
My thought about it: Well, if it works for them, why not? There is a stratum of writers whose readers will be happy to read them whenever they do get around to publishing, rather than needing to be prompted by an annual cycle. Whether these novelists are the same novelists who are currently complaining about the imposition of an annual schedule is another matter entirely. But they certainly do exist. Many of them exist because in earlier portions of their publishing careers they did publish on an annual schedule, i.e., they gave their readers something to rely on. So there’s a little irony there. But the irony doesn’t mean these authors are wrong about no longer needing to publish annually if they choose not to.
Personally I sort of go in the opposite direction at the moment. In 2009 I have only one new novel slated: The High Castle, which is looking to come out in the May – June timeframe. Having only one new book out for the whole calendar year makes me twitchy. Now if I think about it logically, this is silly: the trade paperback of Agent is out in November, and for most readers it qualifies as a new book, and then I’ll have another novel out in early 2010; i.e., seven months or so later. Be that as it may: a whole calendar year with just one novel in it. If I didn’t also currently have a novella slated for the year, I’d be even more twitchy. I like having work out there on a frequent basis. Also there’s the matter that while my sales are pretty good, if I published less than a novel a year I’d definitely feel it in the pocketbook.
So I don’t expect you’ll see less than a novel a year from me for some time now — presuming, that is, that someone out there keeps wanting to publish me that frequently. Right now they do. Lucky me. And, hopefully, lucky you.