Optimal Publishing Schedule
I'm back from conference and finally recovered. It was exhausting, but as always very fun. Playing catch up the week after, however, is not. LOL. Candice Hern has some great pictures posted on the FCD's website (page down) and blog so check 'em out.
I had some great meetings with my editor and agents and it got me to thinking about "what's next" and publishing schedules. It wasn't so long ago that one book a year by an author was the norm. Now, I'd say most authors shoot for two. Some authors (like Susan Elizabeth Phillips for example) have less than a book a year (SEP's last book was published in Feb. 2007 her next one is slated for Feb. 2009). SEP could publish a book every five years and I would still be lining up to buy it. Most of us, however, don't garner that kind of loyalty. I'd say most authors think we have to get books out to the readers frequently enough so that we are "fresh" in the mind.
My first trilogy was published in back-to-back months which is a fantastic way to launch a debut author. It can also give an established author a big push. A fellow Ballantine author Nicole Jordon who has an extensive backlist had a back-to-back trilogy recently that did extremely well. I believe the third book hit #5 on the NY Times list. Why do readers love this publication schedule? Anecdotally, I think it's because people love to not have to wait for the next books in a trilogy. As an avid reader myself I can attest to this love of virtually immediate gratification--if I've enjoyed the first book in the series I don't have to wait months or years for the next two.
Because the first go around went so well, my second trilogy will also be published in back-to-back months starting at the end of January with Highland Warrior. The trade off, of course, is that since I need to write not just one book but THREE books, my new readers will have to wait about 15 months between Highlander Unchained (my last MacLeod book) and Highland Warrior. It might sound like a long time, but believe me to get three books ready for publication it's very fast.
It takes me about six months to write a book--five if I don't have other distractions. This is a speed at which I'm comfortable. I could do it faster--and some books are--but I need to make sure I have enough time to fully develop the story.
I'm in the final stages of writing book #3 (Highland Scoundrel) right now and starting to think about what comes next. I'm not just thinking about story ideas, but also pondering timing. Of course, none of this is really in my control, but I thought it would be fun to see what readers think about publication frequency in a very non-scientific poll. I'd also love to hear your thoughts... so feel free to comment.