Wednesday, June 25, 2008
A Book a Year
How about this article from Library Journal:
Is publish or perish as true for best-selling authors as it is for academics? In a Seattle Times article, best-seller machines like John Grisham and Patricia Cornwell claim they are pressured by their publishers (Doubleday and Putnam, respectively) to release a book each year or suffer loss of sales to a public with “an out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Releasing a book each year is “no problem, as long as you don’t have a life,” Cornwell told the Times. “If I don’t get the book turned in on time, they’ll be freaking out,” said Cornwell, whose next Kay Scarpetta novel is due to publish in October. “If I miss my deadline, I miss the entire year. Sometimes there’s an overwhelming feeling of panic. It’s like a rock ‘n’ roll concert, and what if I don’t show up?” Publishers assert that a new book a year is necessary to piggyback on the paperback release of the previous year’s work, which helps build anticipation for the new title.
While Cornwell and Grisham are complying with their publishers’ need for an annual manuscript, others are resisting. Thriller writer Brad Meltzer (Grand Central), who has rejected the book-a-year plan, asserts that “there’s pressure to treat authors like Coca-Cola. Every time you get a bunch of writers together, this is all they complain about. The trend is, ‘How many books can you put out?’” Dennis Lehane (HarperCollins) also refuses to be held to a schedule because earlier in his career when he did produce the 1999 book Prayers for Rain in a year he said he realized “the week it was published what would have made it a really good book. The anger of that realization haunted me. I said I would never go back on that hamster wheel.” [See In the Bookroom blog for additional thoughts on this story.]
My take: True, we all write at different paces, but one book a year for a full-time writer? Doesn't sound like a lot to complain about to me. What say you?