Question of the day: I know you have a new book out next year, which, I think (correct me if I'm wrong), puts you on the one-book-a-year schedule that we often hear is so important. It feels like a hard pace to keep up with though. How important do you think the book-a-year pace is?
Interesting question because it's something that I've been evaluating and mulling over these past few months. You're sort of right: due to publishing changes and conflicts and a variety of factors, I've actually been on about a book-every-year-and-a-half schedule, but it's a schedule that I am very seriously considering opting out of.
For a few reasons - and I want to say, VERY CLEARLY, that this are my reasons alone. A lot of my friends and writers whom I respect are indeed on the book-a-year schedule, and seriously, it works for them. For me, however, after four books, I'm opting to shift to a book-every-two-years. Why?
1) I am not interested in writing the same book over and over again. I need some time and space away from my previous book to really start fresh. I also feel (and again, this is for ME ONLY) that the only way that I can become a better writer is to take some time and absorb life. It's my utmost goal to improve upon each book, and honestly, I simply cannot do this if I dive into one thing after the next. I want to have the time to breathe, to become, well, wiser about life and my experience and those experiences around me. I then try to put those observations back into my work, and if I don't take the time to do that, I have nothing new to add to my words or characters.
2) I'm tired. There, I said it.
3) I know that publishers love book-a-year authors. They do. And again, seriously, I APPLAUD anyone who can keep up that pace. I mean that with all sincerity. But I'm unconvinced that this pace really helps your brand. Editors will disagree with me, and they may very well be right. But I also wonder if there isn't some reader fatigue, even with the most strident of fans. I feel like people can't keep up and another year rolls around and they're like, "She has another book out already? I haven't even found the time to read her last one." And then they don't buy it and your sales may wane, and then your publisher wonders if what they paid you is worth it, and then they re-evaluate your next advance. (This is obviously the worst-case scenario, but it happens more often than you'd think.) I guess the point is that this hurry-up-and-rush mentality may NOT really be what readers need. (Again, I'm sure that plenty of people disagree with me!)
4) I'm interested in trying new things. Maybe this is the Gemini in me, but after a while, my eyes tend to sort of glaze over on any one project. So right now, I'm testing the waters of screenwriting, which feels new and exciting (if not daunting and tiring), and lights a spark in me the way that a novel may not. Which isn't to say that I don't have an idea for a book, and that when the time is right (probably in a few months), I won't get back into it. Only that if you eat the same thing for dinner for a few years and then discover that you really like something else too, you may want to indulge in that something else for a while.
5) I may be wrong about all of the above. Some of my favorite authors, like Elin Hilderbrand, write a book a year, and she totally kicks ass. (As do many of others.) I just think that you have to do what feels right for you, and writing a book for the sake of sticking on your publisher's (or your) schedule isn't smart: I think your fatigue will show in your writing, and thus to your readers, and then, you've shot yourself in the foot.
What do you guys think? How important is this schedule for you as writers AND as readers?