Yeah, I'm gonna make some excuses here, so gird yourself. I feel bad for Sanctuary fans, which is why I added another novella to the schedule for this year, to make amends for the horrible delay on Crusader. It's a staggering project, this book, and I feel like I repeat that line over and over again every time someone emails me or posts on my Facebook page asking about it, maybe to make myself feel better about moving it from Fall 2012 to basically Spring 2013 (which means I'm trying to get it out by end of March. That's as specific as I'm going to get.) or maybe because it really is a huge project, the size of the 4th Game of Thrones book, A Feast For Crows (which it took George R.R. Martin FIVE YEARS to release after the 3rd book in the series - 9 months between Champion and Crusader suddenly isn't looking so bad, is it?). I haven't exactly been idle during the time since June, when I released Champion. I've written four other books and I'm over halfway done with this one, but I'm still a relatively new writer and taking on such a big project (twice the size of my previous biggest) produced its share of challenges and narrative issues that I had to learn to cope with. It's forcing me to become a better writer (I hope, oh heavens, I hope better and not worse) but it also means it's slower going and more stressful. I can deal, but it takes some effort and strains me from time to time.
But seriously, I do feel guilty. Then I look at George R.R. Martin's schedule of releasing a book every five years and I don't feel quite so bad. Or Patrick Rothfuss, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Kingkiller Chronicles (which I intend to read, when the third book gets closer to publication, he said with only a trace of irony) and it was 4 years between his first and second release. No sign of the third book yet. I know I'm not a New York Times bestseller, but I'm also running a full time writing career, not as wealthy as those two gentlemen, and thus subscribe to the ancient authorial philosophy of, "That which payeth the bills doth come first in ye olde lineup." I think that's a quote from Shakespeare.
Which is why, when I lined up my extremely ambitious publication schedule for this year, I should have added this small caveat: if my schedule gets blown to hell because I can't keep up, Sanctuary, Book 5 will be the first thing to get pushed to 2014. Not because I hate it, or the fans, but because it's another 300,000 word (800 pages, if you want to look at it that way) doorstopper that will take me about 4x as long to complete as my shorter urban fantasy works. It's not a judgment, but think about it this way - I cannot charge 4 times as much for a Sanctuary book just because it takes me 4x longer to write than my other books (which also sell 10x more copies than Sanctuary books, sorry). I mean, I could charge that much, but I wouldn't because that would be MEAN, and I'm not intentionally cruel. Just accidentally cruel (or possibly fan-negligent, if such a thing exists) it would seem.
So, anyway, if you can't sort out the important points in the midst of that jumble, here are the takeaways:
1. Sanctuary books (main volume, 4, 5, etc) will take at least 4 times longer to write (because they're 4x longer) than the Girl in the Box books, and will likely continue to sell 1 copy for every 10 Girl in the Box books that move. I'll push the Sanctuary Series again after Crusader and Thy Father's Shadow are out, see if I can get them to sell better, but until then, it is what it is.
2. I really do feel bad, Sanctuary fans. I was a rookie author when I envisioned this story, and I didn't realize how big the books were getting from Crusader on. If I could somehow shrink the size of the stories, I might consider doing that, but splitting them into Crusader, Part 1 and Crusader, Part 2 doesn't seem like a valid strategy to me for reasons that will be obvious once you get your hands on the book. So, even if I have to slow down the releases, you will still get the full story, the one that was plotted and always intended, the one that spans eight full volumes (and I might add in a novella between each main volume just to move the story a little, give you insight into other characters that aren't prominent in the main story, and whet your appetite between the big releases).
3. I'm not abandoning the series. I'm still committed to finishing it, but
with the size of the books it's going to have to be at a practical pace. I'm going to try really hard to get book 5 out this year, but I also hope that Sanctuary fans will understand that I'm not writing Defender, Avenger or Champion here. Those were shorter books. Even Champion is less than 400 pages. When I put two books in the schedule for this year, I did it knowing that what I'm talking about it essentially tripling the size of the Sanctuary series in 2013 by releasing Volume 4, Thy Father's Shadow (basically Volume 4.5) and Volume 5. That's...really ambitious. Even if I fail to get Volume 5 out, I'm still doubling the size of the series that it's print. That's good, isn't it?
And yes, if I do pull this off, you'll get more Sanctuary this year than Girl in the Box fans will get of Sienna. Happy? It makes no financial sense for me, and has my accountant in something of an uproar, but I'll deal with her complaints myself (because I'm married to her) and Sienna fans will still see the completion of the Girl in the Box series by mid-2014 at latest. Sanctuary fans...it'll be longer for you, but hopefully the payoffs will make it worthwhile.
Last night I dreamed about suspending the passage of time, so I could write more. In my dream, I wrote forty hours per day, and everyone was happy because I was churning out books every month, completing series and starting new ones. Alas, it's just a dream. If I can turn out ten books this year (I have my doubts because editing takes a while) I'll be doing pretty good. Actually, turning out the first five on my schedule would be doing pretty good, eight or more makes me an effing Houdini of the written word provided they're all well-received by fans. But I'm trying. I only have so many hours per day, and so many projects and things that need to be written, rewritten and finished out. I still intend to take the first steps to get at least the Girl in the Box series in audiobooks this year, though I'm not sure when it will happen (and I won't be narrating it, for what should be obvious reasons).
I've got a lot on my plate, and I'll deal with it, make it happen as I can, but I hope everyone understands that I'm trying really hard to balance everything, to try and be fair to everyone in this equation. I'm writing as many Girl in the Box books as fast as I can to please Sienna's fans, I'm writing the big Sanctuary books to complete the story to please Cyrus's fans, and I'm gonna introduce another book series later in the year to try and broaden my own career (i.e. please me and hopefully some of you).
I'm very appreciative of those of you who have offered kind words of encouragement. I'm even grateful to those of you who have offered...other, perhaps more uh...threat-laden...words of encouragement (I know you're kidding - most of you, anyway. Please don't tell me if you're not.). But at some point, you have to look at that publication schedule and realize...that is about 1.2 million words I'd publish this year. 3,200 book pages of writing. I think I can. I'm trying. Be patient. This is not me trying to do something small, like finish one itsy-bitsy book, and begging for more time. I'm really trying here, to do it all, to keep everyone happy and me sane (or a close approximation thereof; there is some debate whether I was ever sane). If I slip, I promise you I'll err on the side of crushing my own sanity first, but once I'm fresh out of that, the book delays start. Please bear with me. I will get it all done, and as much as possible in 2013. It's a balancing act, though, and lucky for me it's one that doesn't involve me falling to my death (I don't think; see above re: jokey threats). Still, it is a balance, trying not to piss everyone off at once, and I think it might help we just keep things in perspective.
That didn't help, did it? Damn. I'm sorry...