Do you dare risk a sabbatical?

by Tess Gerritsen

For the past six months, I've been doing something that conventional publishing wisdom says could cause my career to crash.  I've avoided any and all work on my next book.  Which is not to say that I've stopped writing entirely.  I've contributed a chapter for a serial novel.  I've also written a piece for International Thriller Writers' upcoming anthology.  I've been blogging, both here and on my own site.  I also went on a very long book tour.  But as for working on my next novel, the work that actually pays the bills? 

I haven't produced a single word. 

What this means is that next year, I won't have a new hardcover on the stands.  There'll be the paperback release of THE KEEPSAKE, but without a new hardcover, there'll be no book tour and none of the promotional hullaballoo that comes with having a new title on the stands.  If you ask most publishing professionals, this gap in my annual release schedule is a Very Bad Thing for an author's career.  They'll tell you: "If you go away for more than a year, readers will forget you exist.  They'll move on to another author, and you'll never get them back.  You must not let a year go by without a new book.  Better yet, write two books — no, four books — a year!  And while you're at it, make them all masterpieces!"

I've tried to follow that advice.  Over the past twenty-one years, I've produced twenty-one books (counting my romances.)  I'm not fast enough to turn out more than a book a year, but with the exception of the year 2000, I've managed to stick to an annual release schedule.  And yes, I've watched my readership build and my "real estate" grow in bookstores, as my titles took up more and more shelf space.

But as the years went by, my promotional travel took more and more weeks away from my writing.  I wasn't just touring in the U.S.; I was promoting my titles abroad as well.  I love touring, but meeting my deadlines became a stomach-churning ordeal.  I began turning in my manuscripts closer and closer to their on-sale dates, which meant that the books had to be "crashed" into publication, leaving little time for reviews or advance word of mouth.  My biggest pleasure is travel, but even when I managed to carve out a few weeks for a vacation trip, I'd spend it fretting over my next deadline.  My whole existence, from the moment I woke up till the moment I dropped to sleep, was dominated by the publishing cycle.

Then my dad died.  And my mom, living alone in California, started going blind.  As I scrambled to finish writing THE KEEPSAKE, I was fielding ever-more-urgent calls from her to take care of things! 

That's when I called a halt to the madness.  I needed to step off the publishing treadmill — not just for my family, but also for my own well-being.  I turned in my manuscript, cleared off my desk, and let my agent know that I wanted to take a sabbatical.  I didn't want to even talk about a new contract.  I could take the time off, couldn't I?  I could write a book at my leisure, and sell it only after it was completed, couldn't I?  It would mean no more contracted deadlines, just the old pleasure of storytelling at my own pace.  Maybe the next book would take eighteen months.  Maybe it'd take a leisurely two or even three years.  With all that extra time, I could write a bigger, fatter novel.  University professors are allowed sabbaticals every seven years, and here I'd gone for twenty-one years without one.  Why not insist on time off?  How bad could it be for my career?

That, it turns out, is an unanswerable question.  No doubt there are writers who dropped out of the publishing cycle for a few years who never came back.  But there's also Sue Grafton, who took a year off from her mystery series, and came roaring back onto the bestseller lists when she resumed writing.  There's Diana Gabaldon, whose sprawling stories take more than a year to write, and whose readership only seems to grow with each new installment.  Ken Follett turns out books every few years.  So did Michael Crichton.  I have my own example to point to.  After my book GRAVITY came out in 1999, it took another two years before my next book, THE SURGEON, was released.  And my sales for THE SURGEON far exceeded my sales for GRAVITY.  Clearly, taking a year off does not always mean your sales will suffer.

It may also be the best thing an exhausted writer can do for her career.  It gives her the chance to rest and get back her writing mojo.  It gives her the time to pursue the interests and passions she's put off for far too long.  It allows her to refill the creative well with all the quirky facts and anecdotes that will end up enriching future stories.

After six months of not writing, I'm already feeling the benefits of that time away.  I didn't spend it lolling around the house.  I used it to do what needed to be done.  I packed up my mom's belongings and moved her out of her California home, to Maine.  I've found a place for her in a retirement home three miles away from me.  I've gotten her financial affairs in order, connected her with numerous medical specialists, and driven her to countless medical appointments.  In short, I've "taken care of things," and both she and I are now sleeping easier at night.

I've also indulged in the interests that I put off for far too long.  I started learning how to read hieroglyphs, and took the trip to Egypt that I'd been dreaming about.  I caught up on my back issues of Biblical Archaeology and National Geographic.  I walked three miles in the state park every day.

I bought four new pairs of shoes.

Now the old creative juices are flowing again, and the next Rizzoli and Isles story is already materializing in my head.  In preparation, I've placed a box of new pens and a stack of blank paper on my desk.  I'm actually looking forward to writing this book, and I'm ready to jump back into the publishing cycle.

The wonderful part is this: my publisher understands.  After I finished THE KEEPSAKE, I didn't even want to talk about renewing my contract.  I wasn't trying to be coy; I was just too exhausted to think about future deadlines.  Once it became clear to them that what I really wanted was nothing more than a six-month break, we could start talking about a deal.

I've just signed a new three-book contract.  The first manuscript isn't due until December '09.

A six-month sabbatical was exactly what I needed at this point in my life.  Will a year without a new release hurt my sales?  I don't know.  But speaking as a reader, I don't see why it should.  When I find an author I love, I'm patient enough to wait two or three years for her next book.  A wait of more than five years, though, may well cool my ardor.  That's enough of a delay to make me forget what made her last book, and her characters, so compelling.  I believe that a five-year gap is indeed a career killer.

But two years?  I don't think so, especially if the next book is well worth the wait.  You'll lose far more readers if you keep turning out book after book, right on schedule, in a series that grows ever more stale and mediocre.

I'm curious to hear what other readers think.  How many years are you willing to wait for an author's next book?  At what point do you lose interest in a continuing character?

And for the writers: how close are you to exhaustion?  How would your publisher — and your agent — react if you wanted to take a sabbatical?

43 thoughts on “Do you dare risk a sabbatical?

  1. Joyce Tremel

    Tess, I think you did the right thing. It was the perfect time in your career to take a breather, and more importantly, you took care of your mother’s needs at the same time.

    You won’t lose any readers.

  2. J.D. Rhoades

    You’ve absolutely got to look after your family first. Not doing so would deaden an important part of what makes Tess Tess. It would make you less you, and therefore less of a writer.

  3. Abe

    Hi Tess,

    What are you worried about? We know who you are and what you’re capable of doing. Take the time off. Your faithful will understand, and we will always be here awaiting your next book WHENEVER it comes out.One question, though. With all that you have going on, when did you have time to buy 4 new pairs of shoes? Love ya!Abe

  4. Kaye Barley

    Speaking for myself – I’d rather wait a couple of years for quality work than see mediocre work churned out if its done only to meet an annual deadline. If the writer is comfortable and able to write a book a year, and do it well, fine – I love that. But. If it becomes, like it did for you, a burden, then its going to show. Readers are going to recognize that the quality is suffering. I’ve forgiven that in a book or two by favorite writers, but when I’ve seen it happen too often, I’ve walked away from buying that author’s books and will get them from the library. If the quality continues to be less than what it once was, they’ll lose my library check-out also.

    On the other end of that are a couple of writers I’ll wait forever for. Michael Malone’s last Justin & Cuddy novel was released in 2001. Have I walked away from him? Far from it – still waiting, and know it’ll be a great book.


    I just heard that Pat Conroy’s next book, SOUTH OF BROAD, will be coming out in August, 2009. I am over the moon excited about this. His last release was BEACH MUSIC in 1995.

    I think, Tess, you were brave and smart to do what you did and I admire you for doing it. I am not a fan of putting work before family, the losses are tremendous on many levels.

  5. Catherine

    Tess, I think you have raised many good points regarding work,family,and life balance. I think that apart from readers feeling any empathy towards family needs, I can imagine some readers being able to see past short term gratification of a book a year, or more… to sustaining longer enjoyment of continuing books to let an author re-energise.

    Depending on a readers life experiences they may still crave a book a year.

    You can’t please everyone all the time. In my experience it is crazy making, and increases the chances of burnout to try.

    I know I read a lot. I buy books, sometimes hard cover, sometimes paperback, sometimes heavily discounted, I borrow a lot from the library, I request books for purchase from the library. I try to keep up with what is coming out from my favourite authors, but if I miss one I get a pleasant surprise when I come across their new book.Sometimes books come out in the US or UK and I have to wait 6 months or more for them to be released in Australia. For instance, ‘The Killer Year:Stories to die for’, has just made the front display stands at my local Borders store. I might get a little twitchy if I had to wait three years for a favourite author, but I also hope that I could think beyond myself for a moment to consider that there may be a very good reason I’ve had to wait.

  6. Stephen D. Rogers

    Gerritsen … Gerritsen … Gerritsen. Was that that cop in Hawaii Five-O? 🙂

    1. People don’t forget their favorite writers.

    2. There’s nothing more buzz-worthy than a “comeback.”

    3. Tired writers write tired books. THAT’s what hurts a career.

    If you thought you were making the right choice, you MADE the right choice.

  7. James T. Simpson


    Thank you for all the hard work and thought that you put into your books. It shows. I’ve noticed some of my favorite authors who write multiple books a year, their stories seem rushed and lack the passion of their earlier books that took more time. I recently finished reading The Bone Garden, great book. I’ve been talking it up to everyone I know. My old copy of Vanish is now making its way through the doctor’s office. Enjoy your sabbatical.

  8. NS Foster

    When it comes to my most favorite authors, I’m willing to wait years. Guy Gavriel Kay (most of my reading is fantasy) is not exactly the most prolific man to set pen to paper, but when his novels come out they set me on fire. On the other hand, over-production actually makes me a little nervous for the author. Kelley Armstrong seems to be churning out book after book and part of me wonders *how* she keeps doing it and if the work isn’t suffering. I haven’t kept up with her different series (serieses?) closely enough to know.

    That said, if comparatively small-time authors like GGK can keep readers yearning and remembering, I highly doubt your name, Tess, is going any where 🙂

    PS – I hope they’re really fantastic shoes 😀

  9. joylene

    Instead of taking a sabbatical from writing, I’d like to take one from marketing. I’ve only just begun my book tour & already I want to quit. Is it because it’s my first? I’ve 5 other mss, so I could donate all my time to touring. But given the chance, I can throw out several “good” reasons: winter roads, lack of funds, depression, fear, anxiety.

    Readers don’t think in terms like publishers do. They’ll see your book on the shelf & grab it up. Most generally read 3/4 a month anyway. There will be plenty of room for yours.

  10. barbra annino

    I think sometimes writers forget that without LIVING there would be nothing to write about. That trip to Egypt will spawn a story, no doubt. Taking care of your family reminds you of real issues people face, lending characters more depth in the next work. Sometimes I go to a bar just to watch and interact with people. Living your life, feeding your soul, spending time with people you love translates into a better writer in the long run. You haven’t taken time off really. You just refilled your glass.

  11. Susan Helene Gottfried

    As a reader, I’d rather have longer lag times between books (especially when it means better books). Some series are being churned out so fast these days — and I don’t mean to hint about a degredation of quality because of the fast timeline — that I can’t keep up. I feel overwhelmed and … I stop trying. Books pile up or, even worse, don’t get bought in that precious 90-day window.

    I’d rather wait and be excited to see an author’s book on the shelves than to feel that stomach-sinking doom when I realize that I’ve fallen farther behind. Again.

  12. L.C. McCabe


    I recently finished reading The Firea sequel to the incredible debut novel The Eight by Katherine Neville that was published twenty years ago.

    To me, it was well worth the wait.

    It’s not like I didn’t read anything else in the interim.

    I would rather wait to read a follow up novel that surprises me with incredible plot twists and nuanced characterizations than spend my time reading something flat and predictable that came out “in a timely manner.”

    Jo Rowling admitted to wanting to break her arm due to the pressure in writing her fourth book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. There was a plot hole she had to fix and had a deadline looming, she was rushed to complete it. She thought that if she broke her arm that the publisher would allow her to extend the deadline.

    After that harrowing experience, she changed her contracts to submitting the manuscripts when they were done and not on a date certain schedule.

    Originally she was supposed to complete her seven book series in seven years. It didn’t happen that way and well, I don’t think the franchise suffered at all for the delays in publication.

    Work at a pace that is healthy for you. The end result is what ends up on the page.

    Having gotten to know you from your blog (and the pleasure of meeting you in person), I would feel better knowing that you are striving to have a healthy work/life balance rather than allow an arbitrary deadline cause you to suffer from insomnia or another mini-mental breakdown.

    Remember what the old man who restored Woody the Cowboy in Toy Story 2 said, “Ya can’t rush art.”

  13. Louise Ure

    Tess, I like Stephen’s response. He’s right.

    As a writer, I abhor our genre’s desire for a book a year.

    As a reader, I’m always pleased to see a favorite name come back years later. It’s like dining with a chef whose food you love but you haven’t been able to enjoy for a while.

  14. Jake Nantz

    Ms. Gerritsen,I think you did what’s best for your family, and that’s always going to be most important. You’ve made the comment before that you already could retire without ever writing another, so it isn’t the money. What I love about that is that you’re writing to tell stories to people who love good stories. Fans.

    That shows that your priorities are smack dab in the right order, and I salute you for it…family, then writing, and somewhere down the road is sales. Admit it, the real reason you worry over sales figures is that you want the people you create those stories for to like them. Not because of the dough.

    As far as how long? I think a lot depends on the product. I look at it like music. I loved Guns N Roses, and it’s been forever. I still plan to buy the album (even without Izzy and Duff and Slash), sure. But if I think the music stinks, or it just doesn’t have that GNR sound? Never again.

    Just my $.02

  15. Rae

    For me, it’s definitely a case of absence making the heart grow fonder. A new book from a writer who hasn’t published anything for awhile is always a great treat – and in the meantime, I’ve either reread some of their earlier works, or have discovered new fabulous writers to enjoy. So, it’s all good.

    And the only time I’ve ever lost interest in a continuing character is when the writing’s gone downhill – which I’m sure won’t be a problem for you, now that you’ve had a chance to recharge your batteries.

  16. JT Ellison

    I think a break once every 21 ears is well-deserved. Many congratulations on the new deal!

    I’m one of the authors on an accelerated schedule of two books a year. It’s difficult, yes. I’ve had to forsake a lot of the fun stuff – the conferences, the travel, to curtail my time away from home to make sure I give my work it’s due. I take a month off between books to read, research and recharge, then jump back in. But I’m cranky when I’m not creating. And the minute I think my quality is going to suffer because I need to meet a deadline, I AM breaking my arm. The content is what’s important, I think, not the schedule.

  17. Allison Brennan

    I own every Tess Gerritsen book and I don’t care if I have to wait for the next one. THE KEEPSAKE was brilliant and exactly why I love your stories.

    I think there is a difference in levels of who can and can’t take more than a year off. As an author still building an audience, I don’t feel like I have the luxury to take time off. And I also know me, and if I had more time to write, I’d waste it. I would love to travel more, but with several young kids our trips are 1) camping/renting a cabin in Tahoe or 2) Disneyland. When they get older (or leave the house!) I hope to be at a place in my career where I can write one book a year and spend several weeks traveling.

    There’s also another big difference being a major hardcover author and being a mass market author: I don’t get tours. I don’t have to spend weeks, or months, on the road signing and speaking. I don’t even have to do a book signing if I don’t want to. While I enjoy public speaking, I’d much rather write, so this is a good thing for me. I have enough friends who tour that I know it’s a huge stress for them and impacts their muse.

    Lisa Gardner, one of my favorite authors, writes one book a year to 18 months. There was one year she didn’t have a book out (I can’t remember which) and she’s still at the top of her game.

    My agent told me awhile back when I wanted a break to just let her know and she’d make it happen. Knowing I have that support means everything.

  18. Jordan Summers

    I think so much depends on where you’re at in your career and what genre you write in. You’re at a stage where it shouldn’t hurt you to take a year off between books. You’ve built your audience. They know what to expect.

    A beginning author doesn’t have that option these days, particularly if they write romance. I’ve had readers write to tell me they were upset because they have to wait six months for the next book in the series. I understand where they’re coming from. They’re used to getting back to back releases. I think the thriller readership is a little more forgiving because they’re used to having to wait a couple years between books.

    I think the key to taking time off is having a built in readership before you leave. If you have that, then most will be there when you come back.

  19. Dana King

    Considering my “pre-published” state, I’ll have to answer this as a reader.

    Sure, I’d like my favorites to crank them out annually, but it’s not like I don’t have anything else to read in the interim. I read everything Dennis Lehane writes, and it was a few years between SHUTTER ISLAND and THE GIVEN DAY. So I read other things until it came out. Re-read some Lehane, if I really wanted a fix.

    If readers stop reading writers who don’t meet the readers’ production expectations, how can dead authors get any readers at all? Avid readers re-read.

    There is a well-known, bestselling author hwose books I used to await rabidly. He accommodated me by cranking them out two or three a year, and I stopped reading them because they were all the same, and lacked the qualities that made me a fan in the first place.

  20. Pam Claughton

    I think it’s a good thing. If I like a writer, I like a writer, it’s that simple. Whether their next book comes out in six months or six years, I’ll still buy it.

    Dennis Lehane is notoriously slow. His latest, ANY GIVEN DAY just came out recently, five years after SHUTTER ISLAND. And this book is getting rave reviews as his best work yet.

    I fell in love with Sarah Dunn after reading The Big Love, back in 2004. I’ve been eager for her next book and keep an eye out for any word of it. I haven’t forgotten her, if anything, I’m that much more focused on getting it when it comes out sometime next year.

    As an added benefit, maybe your backlist sales will go up as readers eager for your next book, go back to read earlier ones they may have missed.

  21. Frank Zubek

    You have every right to ask for time off.As long as the contract is all caught up and fulfilled.

    I see it this way (using an average television series as an example, if I may)I like to watch MONK on the USA channel

    MONK is a bit different from the ‘norm because they only film 14 to 16 episodes a year. Not only that, they take time off in the middle of shooting and have half a season in July and the other half in January

    So, in my opinion, the quality of every single show is much better than if the series were forced to do what the network “big Three” do every year….24 episodes without fail.Bang them out no matter whatFill the timeslot

    But you see…over time, that drains the writers creativity. Because starting with the third, fourth, maybe fifth season…the writers will start throwing badly written shows into the machine just to make the schedule. And then the powers that be will (naturally) cancel the show and they will of course, have the computer printouts and ratings to back up their decision

    But thats only because theres so many storylines you can tell

    Now sure, there ARE some series who chug along year after year without “jumping the shark” but they are rare.

    The same thing stands for books.Sure, James Patterson cranks out three to four books a year (at times, with some help) but does that really mean that each of those books is worth the money and time the faithful fans spend on it?

    Seriously consider that if your a Patterson fan. I know I’ve skipped a few of them. I still like the guy but it sure seems to me he has a cookie cutter type style anymore, though I still follow every CROSS book that comes out–but again—just how many international deadly killers can CROSS face each time out before the “This killer is Cross’ deadliest case to date!” blurb starts to wear on the side of believability?

    I think authors should be allowed some time if they ask– since logic dictates that their work will be so much better (as will sales) when they return.

    But then, thats just my humble opinion.

  22. wendy roberts

    I’m so glad to hear you’ve taken time to refill your well. Sometimes the only way to see your life clearly is to get off that treadmill.

    Oh and congrats on the new 3-book contract! I believe you will be stronger and your sales will be greater for taking this time!

  23. pam claughton

    Forgot to add, regarding that Dennis Lehane book, that Amazon is very good about notifying people who have bought previous books by an author when that author has a new work coming out. I got a note that the Dennis Lehane book was out…and instead of buying it on Amazon (sorry Amazon), I got in the car and drove to Borders to get it THAT DAY, and when I didn’t see it displayed, asked a salesperson who led me to a pile of them tucked under a display as they were still setting them up, and as he handed me a copy, another customer came looking for one as well.

    Once an author becomes an auto-buy for me, it usually means I will make every effort to get that book the instant it’s available. I suspect many of your readers will do the same…and a year off could make them that much more hungry for it!

  24. tess

    Jordan raises a very good point. Taking a sabbatical is far more risky if you’re early in your career, and haven’t yet established a loyal readership. At that early stage, you just have to forge ahead, sometimes through exhaustion.

  25. billie

    As a reader, I’ll wait for as long as it takes.

    As a writer (and Dana, I love your “pre-published” category!) and someone who has a very active and satisfying life away from my desk, I think it’s madness to become a slave to the next book. Live and explore and take care of things that are more important. When the next one seizes you, the time you spent away living will filter in and make it all the more worth the wait.

    All this is easy for me to say given I’m not under contract and I don’t have a writing career “at stake.” But I believe it’s true and I hope I remember it in the future when it’s a more personal issue.

  26. billie

    As a reader, I’ll wait for as long as it takes.

    As a writer (and Dana, I love your “pre-published” category!) and someone who has a very active and satisfying life away from my desk, I think it’s madness to become a slave to the next book. Live and explore and take care of things that are more important. When the next one seizes you, the time you spent away living will filter in and make it all the more worth the wait.

    All this is easy for me to say given I’m not under contract and I don’t have a writing career “at stake.” But I believe it’s true and I hope I remember it in the future when it’s a more personal issue.

  27. Dru

    You did the right thing in taking the time off to take care of things.

    As a reader, I have no problem waiting a year or two for my favorite author’s next book to come out.

    Congrats on your new 3-book contract.

  28. spyscribbler

    They care less than my pocketbook does, LOL. I was so tired, I sort of took October off, but I didn’t “catch up” on everything I wanted to get done.

    The hardest part for me is the reading bit. Yeah, I read a lot, but still. I feel like I need to take an entire year and just gobble up books again. I remember, when I was young, I read 2-3 books a night. I’m lucky if I get to read a book a week, lately. Since I got a Kindle, I’ve been reading much more, but I struggle to maintain that live-a-life/reading/writing balance.

  29. Rob Gregory Browne

    I’m waiting to see what happens with a large gap. My debut book came out two years ago this coming February and was released in paperback earlier this year.

    Because of a change of schedules and such, my second book was pushed to February of 2009, with the third coming on its heels in June. So next year will be a busy year for me. Hopefully it’ll make up for the two year gap between 1 & 2 (here in the U.S., at least. The UK schedule has been yearly).

  30. Alexandra Sokoloff

    I would always wait for you, Tess, and that’s no lie. So glad you’re taking the time you need.

    Myself – if I’d understood how this business works before I sold, I would have written ten novels before I ever took the first one out. Well, five, at least.

    But that’s 20/20 hindsight!

    I don’t think I can afford to take a break so early in it – instead am killing myself to get another book out this year. But life always trumps everything, and the best-laid plans…

  31. Tina Dixon

    I think you and everyone should take time off. It does make your work better and usually worth waiting for. As a bookseller, I have sold your books for years. I recently picked up Mephisto and am hooked. I now need to go back and start with The Surgeon and read all that follows. Then I will read your earlier works. Lastly, I will read The Keepsake. Thanks for taking a break. I need to catch up! I have already hand sold two copies of this book. When I read the rest, I’ll be able to sell them as well. Happy sabbatical!

  32. Lee Kelley

    Tess, there are always readers out there who are willing to wait. It’s nice to know that you have your priorities straight (personal opinion) and that the creative juices will once again flow. And everyone is right, forcing too many books out in a year can often create stale stories and what better way to ruin a career? Keep on keeping on and we will keep reading.

  33. Liz

    I’m sure you’ve done the right thing, Tess. I’ve read books from fav authors who produce the annual books — because they have to — and after a while they do get stale.

    But whoever said that maybe it’s the PR that’s the problem has a point, too. Too many authors are having to spend precious writing time doing the marketing job. We all have to blog, promote, tour, talk and still get the book in on time. Sooner or later, something has to give.

    I’m glad you’ve taken the time to take care of the important stuff, recharge the batteries. We know the next hb will be the better for it.

  34. Teresa

    Tess,I believe I saw you yesterday at our local toy store here in Maine and not wanting to be a star-crazed reader asking for your autograph, I calmly took it in that TESS GERRITSON WAS IN THE SAME STORE!!!My 11-year old upon my return home helped me check out your picture on the backs of all your books we have to see if it truly was you. Okay, so I am not 100% POSITIVE that it was you, but whether it was or not, it got me on this site checking your blog and getting up to speed on what was going on in your life. Personally, one year, two years, or however long it takes to write your next best seller, I most certainly will be in line to get it.In the meantime I need to head to The O&T to get Keepsake, which I was just reminded by seeing you (or not) would be a great X-mas gift for a few friends and family.Thanks for sharing your talents with all of us!!

  35. Naomi


    You’re a household name! You’ll be fine. More than fine.

    FYI–I’ll be having lunch with our mutual friend, Kathie F.Y., next week in Fresno!

  36. Dave Chaudoir

    The whole “book a year” thing is a bit convoluted anyway… with all the great writers working today it’s difficult for readers to keep up with their favorites as it is. I contend, in concert with many other on here, that readers will always return to authors they like.

    Series books do seem to lend themselves to annual installments, and that is a payoff for the reader in one sense, especially when the writing is always very good (like you, Susan Wittig Albert, James Lee Burke, and some others). I like my new China Bayles mystery every spring.

    But sometimes series go way sour (and not to name names, but James Patterson should take about four years off–he’s a talented writer whose work has suffered from industrial production).

    That said, I am very happy to wait a year or two for a book from my favorite author. One of my very favorites, Donald Harington, publishes a new novel every several years or so, no particular schedule. His writing is always tip-top, wonderfully playful and inventive, and maybe it just takes him that long to turn the prose. That’s great! As long as he agrees to keep writing, and to live forever (or at least as long as I do).

    Your blogs are great and so are your books. Keep writing, at whatever pace is best for you. And us? We’ll keep reading. I promise.

  37. Lisa Alber

    Thank you for an honest portrayal of the other side publishing success: burnout. As a writer, I can only hope for your dilemma! (And hope that I, too, would make the right choice as you did.)

    As a reader, I don’t know how many times I’ve given up on a series author because the stories went downhill. Now, I suspect this is because of the pressure to meet those yearly deadlines.

    It takes longer than a few years for me to forget authors I like. I say kudos to you!

  38. Lisa Alber

    Thank you for an honest portrayal of the other side publishing success: burnout. As a writer, I can only hope for your dilemma! (And hope that I, too, would make the right choice as you did.)

    As a reader, I don’t know how many times I’ve given up on a series author because the stories went downhill. Now, I suspect this is because of the pressure to meet those yearly deadlines.

    It takes longer than a few years for me to forget authors I like. I say kudos to you!

  39. Sue

    The six months was well earned, Ms. Gerritsen, and I can safely say there will be no loss of readership.

    Like Lisa Alber in the above comment, I have personally quit reading a number of authors who were adhering to that brutal schedule of a book a year, but whose writing quality had gotten to the point you could tell it was written solely to meet a deadline. But I won’t name names. 🙂

    And for me, I’m anxiously awaiting your next novel, whether it’s published sometime in 2010 or not until 2012.


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