Teaser Tuesday: Author Lag

I’ve written here before about the curious phenomenon I call “author lag”. It’s like jet lag, but with books.

Given the length of the publishing cycle, I’m always at least a full book ahead of what you see on shelves. By the time a book comes out, the next one is usually complete, copyedited, and all lined up to go (and if it’s not, I get very twitchy). Usually, by the time I go on tour for a book, I’ve finished the next one and am already working on the one after that, which means I have to think long and hard to remember which books and characters I’m meant to be discussing at any given time.

That, at least, was the norm back when I was writing one book a year. Recently, with the advent of e-books and the resulting pressures on authors to produce more books more quickly, the phenomenon of author lag has been exacerbated. Right now, I’m not one, not two, but four books ahead. There are three complete manuscripts in various stages in the publication process: The Ashford Affair (due out 4/9/13), The Passion of the Purple Plumeria (8/6/13), and the Victorian Book (slated for spring 2014), with a fourth in process (Pink XI, due to be released in summer 2014).

If all goes to plan, by September, Pink XI will be safely in my editor’s hands and I’ll be working on a book due out in 2015. (More on that one later; there’s author lag and there’s author lag. Talking four books ahead is bad enough. Talking five books ahead makes even my head spin.)

Once upon a time, before the internet, author lag was only an issue during author tour. Now, with my posting daily in real time about what I’m working on, you get the full disconnect between publication time and author time.

Do you find it interesting or irritating when I post about books that won’t be out for another year and a half?


  1. Christine on March 12, 2013 at 11:32 am

    I think it’s always interesting to know what you’re working on – and it builds great suspense until it comes out!

    I’m not a huge fan of the churning out of books that authors are now forced to endure. I’d much rather a good, well-researched, well- written book once a year rather than rushed books every few months. It’s not fair to the authors or the readers, but it’s too bad that the bottom line is often what’s considered the most important.

    Thanks for all the hard work you do – your books are great and the thought and effort that goes into them in obvious.

  2. Lauren on March 12, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Thanks, Christine! I really can’t complain too much– back when the norm was one book a year, I was chafing at not being able to write more. The ideal would be for every author to be able to write at his or her own pace. I do miss those glorious epics that took people five or six years to write….

  3. Jessica S. on March 12, 2013 at 11:52 am

    I have to think the same way, in my research. The stuff that’s been submitted and sent back for revision or re-thinking before re-submission to that or another journal is data collected two years ago, while I’m collecting more data and planning studies for this fall and next fall and beyond that. If I didn’t, I would look very bad at review time. So I, for one, understand your situation.

    As a reader, I like to have things to look forward to, and of course your books are my favorite literary treats 🙂

  4. Dara on March 12, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I love getting sneak peaks at what is to come. It builds suspense and gets me much more excited for upcoming books!

  5. Shannon M. Howell on March 12, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Can I vote for both?

    It’s kinda irritating to have to wait FOREVER for a book that I’ve been wanting to read. However, it’s nice to know that, even if I can’t find ANYTHING interesting to read I will eventually have a book I’ve been looking forward to for some time.


  6. Julie H on March 12, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I agree with everything Christine said.

    While I’m thankful to have more books from my favorite authors every year, I’d hate for any of them to run out of steam and lose their passion for writing because of all the pressure to keep up with demand. There’s got to be a balance in there somewhere.

    I definitely don’t mind hearing about your future projects! Besides, it’s interesting getting a glimpse into the world of publishing and the way an author works.

  7. Céline on March 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    I can understand how confusing it can be for authors to have to deal with many books at the same time… And what about those author who write under two pen names, like Beatriz Williams… I can’t imagine!

    Having many books a year from an author that I love is probably the best treat that I can imagine, as a reader, so you’ll never hear a complaint coming from me about the number of books… and being curious, I love to know what you are about, how it’s going, your false starts and your discoveries, in real time… so no, I don’t find it irritating at all when you tell us about your WIPs, even if I have to wait forever to read the book! I even crave for those bits of information!
    But I really do hope that you’re not suffering from the pressure of writing that many books! I’d rather wait a whole year for a book of you than have you break down from pure exhaustion and stop writing altogether…

  8. amy on March 12, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I enjoying hearing about the stories in the works. It is exciting to know what is on the horizon. I think it is amazing that you have 4-5 books in the works. I do not know how you do it!! Such an amazing talent. I agree – i would hate for you to get burnt out with the pressures of writing today.

  9. Patti Petkosek on March 12, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    I’m always excited to hear about your upcoming books. As other commenters have noted, it’s amazing how you can be so many books ahead of publication dates!

  10. Am7 on March 12, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Wait I thought pink XI was Jane’s book. What happened?
    I don’t find it annoying but I do get ennui if I hear too much about it before it debuts.By the time its out I feel like I know enough about it already. But that’s just me. In general I enjoy your blog and website. I like to know where things are headed.

  11. Lauren on March 12, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Am7, originally it was. Right now, Jane’s book, aka The Grand Finale, is scheduled for Pink XII.

    Here’s the story: https://laurenwillig.com/news/2013/01/29/teaser-tuesday-pink-xi/

  12. Lauren R. on March 12, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Definitely interesting! I love knowing that I have so much to look forward to. There are so many great books in the world and nowhere near enough time to read all of them, so I definitely don’t mind the wait. I fell in love with your books the moment I saw The Seduction of the Crimson Rose on the bookshelves. When I discovered it was a series I collected all the previously published works starting with Pink Carnation. (Boy, was it worth it! I consider it one of those moments of love at first sight for all the right reasons.) Sometimes you just know you’re going to love something. And it actually opened up a whole new world of genres and authors for me.

    It’s also fantastic to me that you keep your readers in mind and stay connected to them/us. That engagement along with your actual works keeps me looking forward to the next book. If there are four or more books yet to come, all the better!

  13. Jeffrey on March 12, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    In my situation, there’s just too much out there for me to read anyway so your output is about right for me. I like your little teasers on upcoming books because it creates anticipation in your fan base as well as incrementally growing your readership. I’m still astonished at your output, considering how much time you devote to your readers. That does NOT go unappreciated or unnoticed. You are tooooo good to us, Lauren!

  14. HJ on March 12, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    I just wish it didn’t take so long for books to move through the process of being released after the author has finished them. I remember the post you did on this topic, but I wasn’t convinced! ]

    But taking it as a given, I’m glad that you’re now able to write at the pace which suits you especially since it means that we readers get more of your books. And while it is frustrating to wait once we’ve heard snippets about them, it is also very interesting to read about the things which pop up while you’re writing. If you were trying to limit yourself to things about the book due to be published next, either you’d have to keep tearing yourself out the world you’re writing about now (v bad) or you would have to store up blog posts for a year (adding to the confusion and work). I’d much rather you just unburden yourself in a manner which is interesting to us, and reflects what’s on your mind right then.

  15. Jessica C on March 13, 2013 at 4:47 am

    I always love hearing about what you are working on Lauren! It whets my appetite, and I love how generous you are to your readers, bring us into your writing process and always listening to what the fans have to say.

    That said, I feel sorry for writers who feel pressured to pump out books to meet crazy deadlines. I’m happy to wait a bit longer for a book if I know that the author has had the time they need to make their story perfect, rather than have it rushed out to meet the deadline. Although I do wish some authors *cough*GeorgeRRMartin*cough* didn’t need to take 5 or 6 years to get their story perfect…

  16. Kristen A. on March 13, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Interesting. I have a spreadsheet for upcoming books (although for series, I only put the next book in the spreadsheet because I’ll have to read that before I read any that follow, anyway) to keep track of what’s coming out when, if it’s going to be paperback or if that’s just the hardcover release and I’ll have to wait longer for paperback, etc. Waiting doesn’t bother me. I’m a GRRM fan so it’s more or less a fact of life.

  17. Lynne on March 14, 2013 at 2:06 am

    Okay, Lauren, between what you’ve just shared with us and Daylight Savings Time, I think I have serious “book lag”. But seriously, I just discovered you recently and am reading as fast as I can. I love your series and am up to “Mistletoe”. I find your grasp of history excellent and your ability to write witty dialog just right. Don’t write too fast…a person can lose their creativity that way. Having said that, it’s clear that you have plenty of plot ideas so keep up the good work. And thanks for sharing your great stories with us all.

  18. Georgia on March 14, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    It is good to hear about your current work, even if it will be a while before we can get our hands on it. I just hear about your personal good news on facebook. Congrats!

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