One of the most asked questions I get about my books is, “When will the next one be out?” Fair question. I totally get it, and I do my best to answer as honestly as I can. Here’s the thing, though.
Sometimes, I’m wrong.
When We Were Crowned is a perfect example of this. I’m SO far behind schedule on it (and I’m sorry!) but I’ve realized that this is my Cursed Book. While working on it, just about everything that can go wrong has. From my father having surgery, my dog destroying a box of dinnerware, a sick horse, and more. The first time I had to set it aside was because I spent 5 days in the hospital for a kidney stone. That was a year ago.
I promise that none of it is intentional, and some of it isn’t really a big deal (while other parts have really sucked). I’m still going to finish this book. Right now, I’m down to an “if it’s the last thing I do” mentality. Not another word will be written or published on anything else until WWWC is live for my adoring fans who have waited so long.
I can’t help but see posts by readers on social media complaining about slow releases. Now, for the most part, my fans are wonderfully understanding. So long as I keep them in the loop, they’re willing to forgive me. That doesn’t mean everyone is. Seeing a booklover whine and complain about slow releases by their “formerly favorite authors” (who are rarely named, and probably not me) is just a little irritating.
It wasn’t that long ago that traditional publishing houses ruled the book market. Back in 2012 (just six years ago, my friends) ebooks were barely making a dent. A decade ago, self-publishing of any kind was a death sentence to an author’s career. The Trade Markets ruled our literature gateways, and we liked it.
Authors produced ONE book every year at most. Yeah, I know, there are a few rare exceptions to this, but 99% of authors weren’t popular enough to warrant the funds necessary to get a book out.
Stop and read that again. Big money corporations couldn’t justify spending that much money to produce a book! And now we expect housewives and retirees to do it better and faster?
I’m not saying it isn’t possible. Oh, I think the determination of independent authors has made it clear that we can do just about anything. I am shocked that people were just fine with 12 months of waiting before the indie revolution, but now that the person WRITING the book also has to contract out an editor, cover designer, formatter, marketing, personal publicity, social media management, track all necessary updates (including back matter in previously released works), plan release schedules, do promotions tours, and still cook, clean, and spend time with their families… we now expect it to happen FASTER? Trade Publishers have entire teams dedicated to each of those tasks.
Hell, George RR Martin still hasn’t finished the last book in A Song of Ice and Fire! No one seems that upset by it, either. It’s been YEARS.
But the little guy busting his/her ass to make a few bucks is expected to do it better and do it faster? That kinda makes me angry. Not for myself, mind you. I’ve been so lucky with my fan base. My readers are some of the best, and those who dislike me seem to do little more than send hate mail and vanish. Those who enjoy my writing cheer me on even when I screw it up royally. (See When We Were Crowned’s lack of release for one such example!)
*ahem* But back to my point. I’m a crotchety old bitch. If you don’t like my books, I really don’t care. I’m not exactly mainstream, I pump out novels that are two to three times the size of what is typical in my genre – much to my readers’ delight – and I have enough dedicated fans to keep me going regardless of what the masses think.
Nope, I’m annoyed for that debut author who just bared her soul to the world after spending ten years working to get a few scraps of free time to write a book. I’m annoyed for that USA Today bestselling author who took a chance to branch out, but her underperforming series needs to be put on the back burner so she can keep up with her main genre. I’m annoyed for the author who took a chance, did well enough to get noticed, but still has to work full time, manage her family, and finish her degree. I’m mostly annoyed that all of this reader entitlement that I see isn’t coming from Millennials, but from people old enough to have been bibliophiles before the days of kindle.
Trust me, as authors, we don’t really want you all up in our daily lives. We certainly don’t want to come across as anything but competent. When a book is delayed, there’s probably a very good reason for it – even if that’s nothing more nefarious than not knowing how to end the story, or having anxiety over being good enough. Writing is hard. It takes time, concentration, and dedication. If you’re honestly a fan of the author, ask them if they have any idea when the next book in your most adored series will be out, and if they say it’s delayed or set aside, realize that even we indies have to prioritize what sells most so we can pay the bills.
Writing is not a career that will every make us rich. If we’re lucky, we might get to be comfortably middle class. All authors have to make hard calls, and we honestly feel bad about it. We simply can’t be all things to all people, and if you’re one of those in the minority, suck it up and move on. There are over eight million books available on Kindle alone. I’m sure there’s more out there on other platforms. It’s not like any of us are hurting to find something to read, even if we really REALLY wanted that one series to get finished.
Basically, what I’m saying is that it’s fine to critique our work. It’s great to give constructive criticism. It’s even better to spread the word about novels you’ve loved. Acting like a self-entitled douche who believes that because you want something, an author should produce it for you? Just stop already. We’re trying. Bitching about it isn’t going to make us go any faster. Sometimes, life just happens – even to an author.