I'm speaking hypothetically here--I hope to stay in the crime-writing biz at least long enough to see my series through to its logical end two or three more books down the road. But for me it is a business, and my interest in doing it is weighed against questions of money and time. If I take time away from my day-job to write another book, will I lose money on the deal? Do I really want to lock myself into another two book deal at my age, when there are other things I want to write? What kind of advance would I need to make writing another one worth my while? What would I do if said advance wasn't forthcoming?

What about you-all? Are you in it for the long-haul, no matter what? Or could you walk away if the industry wasn't giving you what you needed to keep going? Is there a third option--waiting on the sidelines with your next project, maybe, until the recession lifts and the industry emerges, smaller but (one hopes) smarter? Conversely, should we take what we can get now, while the getting's good--because two or five or ten years down the road everyone will be giving electronic books away for free? Another future of the industry question, I guess--but I'm asking specifically as it relates to you and your current/next project.

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Funny you should raise this point tonight, as I have just finished typing a severance letter for my agent. She doesn't want to show my book to small publishers, and all the large New York houses have passed. I'm going to stick it out for at least one more book, and maybe a couple of years worth of submissions on my own, but I'm prepared to have my evenings and weekends free to do other things I enjoy if this doesn't work out. My passion in life was music. That didn't work out, and I got over it. I'll get over this, too, if I have to.
If you're going to do another book, maybe it's best to keep your agent, no? How would she feel if you submitted the first one to small pubs on your own?

But yeah--the thought has recently crossed my mind that it might be nice to spend a summer not locked in my office working ten hour days against a crazy deadline for a few thousand bucks. If they'll pay me, I'll do it. If not, not.
I thought about that, but she's only interested in the big houses, and I'm more convinced every day I need to get my foot in the door somewhere. I have five completed manuscripts, three of which I've been sitting on while she worked the first book of a series, and one she didn't think had any market, so she didn't want to represent it. As I told a friend, she's waiting for a home run, and I think it's time just to get on base and see what happens. At the risk of sounding all New Age about it, it had reached a point where our visions just didn't coincide.
I have a similar problem, but I see from a recent e-mail that my agent is still peddling the book. The situation you describe can be heart-wrenching and worrisome. Good luck!
I'm in it for the long haul. But there are no other books that I'd rather be writing, there's nothing else I'd rather be working on.

If you're talking about writing other books, then I'd say yes, leave the crime fiction behind and write the books you want. Don't write crime novels because you think you can make enough money doing it to give yourself the time to write what you really want. The chances of that happening are as slim as making enough money writing the books you really want to.

Although I'm not making much money from my books now, I like to think that if I can keep producing when I have 10-15 published and they're all in paperback and people are willing to pay a little for e-books (it could happen) that I'll do all right.

At the same time, I started work as a writer on a new cop show this week called The Bridge (which starts airing on CBS on July 9th at 10:00, if that's not too much self-promotion) and I admit I have mixed feelings over TV writing paying so much more than novels. Of course, even though the show will air in the US it's a Canadian production and we don't get residuals, so there's still a chance over the rest of my life I could make more money from the novels, it does seem unlikely.

I think it really comes down to what do you really want to write. If there's something else you want to write you may later regret not doing it. You should have as few regrets in life as possible.
Congratulations on the TV gig, John--that sounds great. And yeah--in theory having 10-15 novels in print all earning royalties for you would be the way to go; assuming they all come out in paper at some point and they all stay in print over a period of 15-20 years, which is pretty optimistic given the current environment (I've been having this same conversation with my agent, who is no dummy).

It's not that there's other stuff I'd rather write--that's putting words in my mouth, a little, though I know that's not your intention. There's other stuff I'd be just as happy writing; other stuff that might do just as well (or better) commercially; other stuff that would be rewarding in other ways. I have a lot of fun with the mysteries--I love my characters, and I'm always happy to go back to P'town to do a little tax-deductible (ahem) research--but it wouldn't break my heart to do something else for awhile, either.
Yes, it certainly wasn't my intention to put words in your mouth, I guess I misunderstood when you said, "... when there are other things I want to write."

I first tried to write a novel in the 80's and the few agents who looked at it all told me the same thing - it wasn't literary enough to be a hardcover and it wasn't hardboiled enough to go straight to paperback. So, of course, I tried to take their advice and go one way or the other but I couldn't do it. So, either I got better over the years or the bar on what's literary got lowered (which is actually what I think happened as "gritty" crime fiction started to sell better). But the point is, for me, I write the only books I want to, the only ones I can.

I enjoyed High Season quite a bit, it really captured the feel of Provincetown (I've never been, but it certainly felt genuine) and I liked Frank Coffin and the rest of the characters. It's that sort of combination between a closed mystery in a small town and a character study. There are a lot of directions you could take Frank Coffin (I'm looking forward to the next one, soon isn't it).

A Canadian writer named JD Carpenter did something I thought was quite interesting last year. He has three or four mystery novels out about a cop named Sullivan. In the books Sullivan sometimes stops in at the same bar and talks to a few of the regulars. So, JD's most recent novel is a non-crime, literary novel about one of the bar regulars. I don't think there was any contractual reason to use the character, I think the writer just did something he wanted.
Thanks John; I appreciate the kind words. The new one comes out in late April, yes. It does for straight sex in P'town what the first one did for the real estate biz.

I've got about 120 pages of a memoir in the proverbial drawer--my agent likes it so far, and I'd like to write the rest before I start forgetting things. I'd like to write another book of poems before I croak. I've got a collection of short stories (literary) in my head, if I could just find the time to write them. I've also been kicking around an idea for a literary novel. I've got a couple of screenplays in my head, too--one crime, one comedy. And as I say, I'd like to do two or three more of the P'town books: lots of fun to write, as long as I'm not too much under the gun. Maybe it's my ADD; I'm always thinking about the next project, and the next, even as I'm figuring out how to write the one at hand.
Congratulations!
that's fantastic about the TV writing gig!
John,
I don't watch a whole lot of TV but I'll definitely check out "The Bridge" this summer. Congratulations:)
I'm just trying to get a foot in the door. Of course, a seven-figure advance would be nice.

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