Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Perils of Publishing

On the announcements here and here, I've gotten two questions:
1) Why didn't you tell us about this sooner?
2) Didn't I read somewhere you were working on a Star Wars book?

Here's my answer to the first question: A lot of writers post about their ongoing writing projects. I'm not one of them. Now, I admire those who keep the public informed with word counts, with the state of revisions, with feedback, and with each and every twist and turn on the way to publication. But I dislike raising false hopes, and in particular I hate admitting that a particular project "just didn't work out" or that I can't find a home for the cool work I've been telling you about.

In my long years toiling in shared world fiction, often while working for companies that manage those worlds, I've seen a lot of stuff happen. Ideas that sound good turn sour, or move down unintended passsageways. Good writers have bad patches. Bad writers have worse turnovers. Writing teams at the start of the project are no longer speaking to each other by the end. Computers crash. Deadlines loom and are missed, and sometimes by large margins. Cover art and artists switch. There are sudden changes in direction. Companies discontinue lines that novels are created for. Companies disappear. Plagues of locust. Rains of blood. Cats and dogs, living together.You know the drill.

I have a trunk book for a line that was published but the novel support was killed. I have another one for a publisher that has since vanished. I have had a project I referred to as Schrödinger's Book for the amount of time it spent simultaneously alive and dead. I have had projects in limbo. I have had things disappear into the aether, never to be seen by mortal man again.

For this reason, I am very wary of announcing things way in advance. Too much changes, even after an announcement. We all work on shifting ground, whether we are writing or editing. I usually keep my peace until there is some type of formal announcement, and even then, I hold my breath until I have the physical book in my hand, or the pixels on the screen.

And if it means that I am late to the party talking about, say, that I have an essay in the upcoming Family Games: The 100 Best, at least you'll know you're within guessing distance of holding the book in your hand, which strikes me as being better for both you and me.

And as far as the second question is concerned: Yes. You've heard somewhere that I'm working on a Star Wars novel. And that's where I am leaving it for the moment.

More later,