A couple years later, I got a set of book contracts with Roc, and for each one, I had a full twelve months to write each book. This was good because I was still writing lots of short stories in those days. When a book got stuck, I’d do something else for a while, which always shook the book loose.
Then my son was diagnosed with autism and we got a lot of new medical bills. To pay them, I accepted a contract for a Star Trek novel, so for a while I was working on two books at once, and they were due a month apart. I had to learn to write fast.
This turned out to be good practice. For a while, my original fiction went through a dry spell, and I couldn’t sell novels to save my life. Instead, I wrote TV and movie books. Very often, these were done on a tighter deadline–eight months or even six. But that was okay. I didn’t have to create the main characters or the setting or the backstory, which made the writing go faster.
And then my original fiction came back. Roc wanted The Clockwork Empire series. Hooray!
They wanted an original novel every six months. Yeek!
It’s all because of electronic publishing, you know.
Readers are a voracious lot. They snarf down books like caramel popcorn, sometimes two or more a day. And those e-readers are portable bookstores. Instead of going downtown or to the mall once a week or every month, readers now buy books whenever they like. And they do it often. When electronic customers finish reading Book I and like it, they are highly likely to zip straight back to the electronic storefront to download Books II and III. That means those books had better be there. Whips are cracking all over the industry.
This isn’t a complaint–we authors are thrilled at the chance to reach more readers. It does, however, change the authorly landscape a smidge.
Deadlines used to be a leisurely year or even more, and tardiness was considered a minor sin. Now deadlines are much shorter, and tardiness is not tolerated. Customers are waiting for those books! Get those fingers moving!
If you want to write a series today, you have to be prepared for fast deadlines. Authors who can turn a book around in six months are well prepared for today’s market.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to Book IV.
–Steven Harper Piziks
The Doomsday Vault (a Clockwork Empire novel) available at bookstores everywhere.
The Silent Empire collection now available at Book View Cafe!
Full selection available at http://www.bookviewcafe.com/index.php/Browse-by-Author#StevenHarperPiziks