Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Reader Question #2

#2 (from Julie) - I have to admit I don't know anything about the writing business but I don't understand at all how you got told this was the last one. I mean doesn't the writer keep writing if she/he has more stories to tell? Because your Garnet character definitely has a whole lot more living to do in my opinion! This Honeymoon book did not wrap her story up at all... thank Goddess!

You make an excellent point, Julie. The writer often does keep writing when there's more story to tell. I had three more books planned for Garnet (at least!), and would have very, VERY happily kept telling her story. I do think Garnet has a lot more opportunity for growth (as my mother might say), and plenty of adventures yet to be had.

But, at the end of the day, publishing and book writing is a business like any other. My Garnet books are very successful, but the sales of the subsequent books did that thing that many series do -- they slowly dropped as the series continued. The second sold less well than one, three sold less than two... and so on... and by the time we get to five, the publisher is wondering if we need to think of something fresh and new.

So how I got told that this book was the last went like this -- first of all, you should know, if you don't, that authors are usually about a year ahead of bookstores. So I handed in my final Garnet book about this time LAST year. The publisher needs lead time for all sorts of reasons -- revisions, copy-editing, publicity, distribution, not to mention the actual production and design of a book and its cover. After I finished that book, I wrote up proposals for my editor for the next books. My agent submitted them. They're sort of like "audition pieces" and publishers make the decision about buying more based on what they see and what they know you can produce (or sometimes a sample chapter you provide.) My editor liked what she saw, I'm sure, but then she has to sell the idea to her bosses (those people I call "the publisher") and the marketing department (the folks who decide if the books are profitable.)

For the subsequent Garnet books, something fell apart in that proposal process. Either the editor wasn't interested or she couldn't sell the idea to the bean-counters of the publisher because of those diminishing returns, like I noted above. So, my editor gave my agent the bad news and my agent passed it on to me.

Thus, before I even started the next book, I knew the series was ending. Luckily, as I said, this process happened fast enough that I was able to re-write the acknowledgment page of HONEYMOON to let the readers know this was the last book, and do my best during revision to try to make the book feel a bit more like the end (as you noted, that was much less successful than I might have liked because I didn't know this was the last book GOING IN... only GOING OUT.)

I'm sure this is confusing because some writers know exactly how many books they're planning from the beginning, and so you see labels like Book 1 of 3, etc. I'd always conceived the Garnet Lacey series as unending from the get go, so I hadn't pre-planned any kind of finale. I think if I had known, I might have gone all cliche and ended with the wedding, honestly.


Donna said...

I think that the problem with the Garnet series is that the books cost $15.00 dollars. If you come out with the series in a regular paperback, they would sell real good. The problem is not your books, it is the economy. A lot of people have lost their jobs and cannot afford that amount for a book. Find another publicist and put them out in paperback and they would sell real good. I just found this series a couple of months ago. I have already read all them and was looking forward to the next book when I found this out. Hopefully, one day there will be more Garnet books.

Anonymous said...

I too just discovered the Garnet series and am disappointed to have it end so abruptly. The cost is somewhat prohibative due to the economy but I bought the series with my Kindle app. Maybe you would consider doing the remainder if the series as an electronic only version?? I just finished reading all five books and miss Garnet already!!!