Saralyn Richard is the author of the Detective Parrott series and two thrillers. You can find out more about her on her website, www.saralynrichard.com, or by clicking here, read her last post here, and buy her books here.
Now that I have six published books to my name, I’ve noticed a few things about the way things roll in the publishing industry. First, the public’s appetite for new books is hearty. Everyone rushes to pre-order an upcoming novel from a favorite author, sight unseen. Readers want to be the first to read, discuss, and review new books, comparable to movie-goers who will stand in long lines in order to see a popular movie on opening night.
Do authors, agents, publishers, publicists, and booksellers appreciate this clamoring for new books? Of course! Early sales and reviews are important in giving a book its legs, and the more concentrated the sales are at the beginning, the better chance the book has at best sellerdom, however that may be measured.
The downside arises in cases where the initial rush isn’t sustainable, and, after a few weeks or months, the sales begin to fall off. Then, the delighted early readers begin putting on the pressure for the next book to come out.
Do authors, agents, publishers, publicists, and booksellers appreciate this reader loyalty? Absolutely! There is nothing more gratifying than a satisfied reader who comes back for more. That reader will provide the word of mouth that helps grow an audience for the author’s books—a treasure that money can’t buy.
The downside arises when the demand for more books exceeds the ability of the author to write and the publisher to put out another quality manuscript fast enough. I’ve had to smile on several occasions when I’ve spent a year or two working on a novel, and come launch day a precious reader purchases and reads the book in twenty-four hours’ time, and sends me a comment, “Ready for the next one!”
Even as I was writing this blogpost, someone texted me, “When is your next book coming out?” She was disappointed when I said, “By the end of the year.” I hate disappointing readers (and agents and publishers and publicists, and booksellers), but I also don’t want to be pressured into writing fast over writing well.
Brooding over this problem, I researched several well-know mystery authors to see how many books each one puts out in a year. Agatha Christie published two to three books per year. Rex Stout, one. David Baldacci, two. Sara Paretsky publishes one book every two years, and Michael Connelly has published thirty-eight books in thirty years.
I’m sure you know who the most prolific mystery writer in the world is—James Patterson. He’s written more than two hundred books with more than a hundred-fourteen making it to the New York Times bestseller list, and sixty-seven of them reaching the number one spot. Patterson has the distinction of having written more books than anyone else, ever. His books have sold more than two-hundred-thirty million copies, and counting.
I’m not here to judge any other writer’s quantity vs. quality of writing, or any devoted reader’s responses to new books. What I do want to do is make sure each of my books is the best I can make it before it reaches the bookshelves. As an author and as a reader, I can’t ask for anything more.
How about you? Are you a new book junkie? Do you finish a book and immediately want more?