I Have A New Book Out. I’m Sorry.
I’ve just released my fifth book this year, Nine Toes In The Grave. Much of this unusually prolific year is cheating since Nine Toes is a novella so it’s fairly short. Two of the novels, The Backlist and Over Their Heads were cowritten so I only had to write half a book. My novel Rumrunners was written four years ago and rescued from the slush pile. And The Year I Died Seven Times was serialized last year but compiled into an omnibus this year.
But I did still write them all and I should feel proud, but mostly what I’ve felt is apologetic. I don’t want to plaster people every two months with a new round of, “Buy my book!” interactions. I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to dominate the conversation or take attention away from anyone else who is rightly proud of their book.
Well, screw that. I need to learn to embrace being a prolific author. I enjoy writing, so I do a lot of it. The idea that someone would publish my work is a privilege many authors are still seeking. I work hard at it. I support other authors as best I can. I host reading events for people to get their work out there. I tell people about books I love and try to spread the word. I need to just get over it. Right?
Lurking underneath is the fear that being prolific has the appearance of tossing out any old thing whether it’s fully baked or not. This accusation has been leveled at every prolific author from Stephen King on down. Although I will mention that one of our least prolific authors, Harper Lee, has many in agreement she should have stuck to only the one book so it cuts both ways.
Keeping up the quality is the prolific author’s duty and responsibility to the readers. I don’t take it lightly. That’s why my writing is littered with unfinished projects and ideas I decided I was not the best author to tackle. As much as it seems I write, there is more the world will never see because it doesn’t meet my standards. Luckily for my time management I can usually tell before I’m too far along so a project with get euthanized midway through.
Already this year I’ve written two novels and a novella. I’m midway through a novel I had to set aside to work on projects I’m committed to and I’m nearly done with another project. I know I’ll have at least five more books out between now and 2017. And I’m done apologizing for it.
Maintaining a pipeline of new work is what an author must do. Publishing takes time and authors need to be thinking ahead. I’ve seen writers get to the end on a project and then sit back and wait for the contracts to come rolling in. They rarely do, or at least not right away. We need to keep typing. Keep working.
You wrote something? Great. Now go write some more. That old trope: a writer writes.
I’m never short of ideas. They need to get out. I could probably stop now and not write down any new ideas or outlines for three years and not be short of things to write out of my notebooks.
For the writers I really love they can never produce enough. Joe Lansdale is insanely prolific and I’m grateful. My hope is to start building an audience and become a reliable source of a good read. If I’m ever down after reading three or four books in a row that didn’t click with me, I have my go-to authors that I always keep one in the pocket for just such an occasion. Lansdale, Jim Thompson, virtually anything on the Hard Case Crime roster.
For the writers I love who aren’t as prolific, I always find myself wanting more. So I choose to be on the prolific side of the fence. Give them a lot to choose from. Let readers bank a few in reserve for when they need a reliable read.
So I’m sorry I’m not sorry any more. You don’t want this new book? There will be another coming soon. Don’t like the tone of one, try another. I have a western coming out later this year, maybe give that a shot. There’s always my weirdo cannibals and strippers novella.
For now, I really do think people will like Nine Toes In The Grave as a straight-up noir. It’s an everyman tale about a guy who can’t catch a break. A guy who has to decide whether to roll over or stand up. I tried to play with familiar noir tale story points and then twist them. A revisionist noir, if you will.
I hope you like it. And I hope you read fast because I’ve got a lot more to share with you.