shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass

4.11.2005

the dangers of writing too much (!)

Justine's posted some thoughts on waiting for the next book in trilogies and why it takes so long for them to come out. In so doing, she calls attention to (her husband) Scott Westerfeld's insane writing pace:

Typically publishers reckon that only libraries, obsessive fans (such as me—I won't bore you with the list of writers I must have in hardcover) and rich people buy hardcovers. Most people wait for the paperback. Some say the main job of the hardcover is to be an advertisement for the paperback (though if none sold at all there wouldn't be any paperback).

I've been watching this process with Scott's first Midnighters book, The Secret Hour. The hardcover came out a year ago, now the paperback is out and selling even faster than the hardcover (which did just fine). At the same time he has a paperback original, Uglies, out. Together the two paperbacks are generating a lot more Scott Westerfeld attention, a steady flow of fan mail, and are driving sales of the newly-released hardcover Midnighters 2: Touching Darkness. Most excellent.

Ideally a publisher wants an author to write a book a year, so that once a year the author has a new (hardcover) book out at the same time as their previous book appears in paperback. That way the sales of paperbacks and hardcovers feed on one another in an endless cycle and the author is never forgotten. That's the theory anyway.

Scott has gone even further: he'll have four new books out this year: Midnighters 2: Touching Darkness and his vampire novel, Peeps (I reckon its his best YA so far), in hardcover, and Uglies and its sequel Pretties in paperback. On top of that there's the paperbacks of last year's Midnighters 1 and So Yesterday. Next year he'll have three new books: Midnighters 3 Blue Noon (hardcover), Specials, the final book in the Uglies trilogy (paperback) and an as yet unnamed (and unwritten) hardcover followup to So Yesterday and Peeps. Then of course there'll be the Midnighters 2 and Peeps paperbacks. Too much Scott Westerfeld is barely enough.

By which time Scott will have suffered a nervous collapse. Frankly, I don't recommend writing at the pace he's been maintaining for the last few years.* But it sure makes for some excellent cross promotion. You liked the Midnighters books? Why not try Peeps? You liked Uglies why not try So Yesterday? And so on . . .


Justine's musing was prompted by the reader reaction she's getting from fine people everywhere reading her first novel Magic or Madness (have you, yet?). And I can tell you that the sequel is well worth the wait. Now, I'M impatient for book three -- which is even more frustrating. Write fast. All of you, write fast. (But especially Justine.)

Make sure you peek at the back flap. Excellent author photo. Well done, missy.

5 Comments:

  • At 3:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Yes, I have just finished Magic or Madness and I DO NOT WANT TO WAIT for the next one, grrr!

    Lisa

     
  • At 8:22 PM , Blogger Chris McLaren said...

    I just picked up Uglies tonight, when I was actually at the store to get Poppy;s two non-horror novles (more sales via Gwenda reference) and now I'll have to decide whether or not put it in front of M&M in the 'to be read' queue.

    I'll be ready for another teen/YA by the end of the week... Have you read both G? If so, which should I put first?

    C.

     
  • At 8:46 PM , Blogger gwenda said...

    Magic or Madness! (Because both Justine and Scott would want me to say that.) (Right, guys?)

     
  • At 9:16 PM , Blogger Justine Larbalestier said...

    Don't ask me to decide! Eeek!

    It depends what kind of a book you're in the mood for. Dystopian sf or contemporary fantasy?

    Is Margo Lanagan's Black Juice on your list? I'd recommend that one first. It's fabulous! (Not that Uglies isn't, mind.)

     
  • At 10:20 PM , Blogger Chris McLaren said...

    Well, since I'm apparently going to the store for Glen Duncan tomorrow, I might as well get Black Juice while I'm there.

     

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