Author, Actor, Playwright, Excellent Parallel Parker

Rules of the Lake and Ashes to Water are now available for Kindle and Nook!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When Is Your Next Book Coming Out?

One of the kindest things you can do for an author is tell her you enjoyed her book. Why don't you do that right now? Lots of authors have websites or author pages, so contact information is pretty easy to find. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Congratulations. That was a very nice thing you just did. Several of my friends have checked in lately, to tell me they enjoyed Ashes to Water. This is wonderfully validating, motivating, and makes my day. I love my friends. Even when their next question is “When’s the next one coming out?” They mean well, but for me, this question is is guilt-inducing, buzz-killing, and makes me want to check into writers rehab.

I recognize the compliment, don’t get me wrong.  And it’s flattering as hell. Someone is actually saying to me, “Hey, if you write another one of these, I’ll read it!” That’s the best thing a writer could hope for: a loyal following. I understand the question, too, because mystery readers are getting used to their favorite writers delivering serial installments as predictably as a Virginia drought.  James Lee Burke publishes a new novel every July, and each year, I anxiously await it. These are not "thin" novels. Lee’s characters are complicated, his storylines involved.  The man is 74 and writing like one of the demons in Dave Robicheaux’s tangled past. It's downright impressive.

It took me eleven years to write Ashes to Water. Its prequel, Rules of the Lake, came out in 1999. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing. I’ve published five books for actors in the meantime, and they count. But this one book a year thing? I don’t know how Burke and his ilk do it. 

Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell wrote one book. One BIG book. I'm pretty sure they got that question all the time: "When is the next one coming out?" Harper Lee is so tired of talking about TKAMockingbird, she won't even discuss it, anymore.  Margaret Mitchell said she wasn't going to write another book, because "look how much trouble the first one caused." So it begs the question: what motivates the one-book-a-year people?

It must be the advance. I have no idea what James Lee Burke gets, or what Lee and Mitchell were offered, but I’m pretty sure a $40,000 dollar advance would keep me glued to my chair. But unless Ashes to Water wins the Edgar, I’m probably not going to find a publisher willing to pay me a lot of money to write another book.

So here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m going to raise my own advance. And that’s where YOU come in!

Send your dimes and nickels via PayPal to the Keep Annie Bartlett Alive Fund. If I receive $40,000 by midnight Sunday, I’ll submit the next installment to my agent in 6 months.

If I don’t  receive $40,000 by midnight Sunday, I’ll…I’ll…

I’ll write another one anyway. 


Thanks for asking.


  1. Good luck w/your fund-raising ;-) I understand the pressure - I often wonder if I can write a sequel that can live up to my first novel. I suppose time will tell. I like to think that every day I have more of a foundation than the last, so in theory anyway, I should be fine. And a book a year? That's insane. How does he squeeze in time to live?

  2. Margaret Mitchell looks like Agnes Moorhead. I just realized that. Thanks.