by Matt Lynn
The end of the year is fast approaching, and I've just realised that I won't have finished a book this year. Not quite anyway. I'm on page 470 of 'Shadow Force', and I reckon it will be about 600 pages on Microsoft Word (double-spaced), so unless I skip Christmas completely it won't be done before the 31st. And that's just the first draft. There are still revisions to be made. And facts to be checked.
That doesn't matter greatly in itself. The book isn't due to be handed in until March, so there is plenty of time.
But one of the things I've discovered from visiting bookshops in support of 'Death Force' this year is that writers need to crack out a book a year to establish themselves in the market. Several booksellers have mentioned that a writer gets going, then a year goes by without a book appearing, and they lose momentum. Indeed, one of the reasons I think Headline liked the idea of taking me on as an author is because they knew from the ghost-writing I'd done that I could be relied upon to deliver a book once every twelve months.
I can see why it's important. Readers need to be seeing you regularly in the shops before they will sample you. Publishers need to feel they will have a supply of fresh product to make it worth promoting you. But I can't help feeling it will get harder as I go on. When you start, you just have the manuscript to worry about. As you progress, however, there is more and more promotional work to take care off. And whilst that's important as well, at a certain point it is going to make the book a year cycle harder to keep up with.
So I guess my New Year's Resolation will be to make sure I start work early on the next book in the series - so that I get it finished by the end of 2010.