While there is no shortage of fresh new voices in romance, and no shortage of genre mainstays, delivering the goods, year after year, there are still those authors who were with us a while, and left us wanting more. This post is for them. Also you. How so? Read on.
Dear Author Who Hasn’t Had a Book Out For A while,
Hi. Reader here. I love your books. I wish there could be more.
No pressure, though. I know life happens. Depending on who is reading this letter and when, I am fully aware that you may no longer be with us, as in the no longer living way. I am very sorry for that, not only for your readers, but your friends and family, who knew you in ways most of us never will. When I look at it that way, that someone is missing their spouse, parent, sibling, friend, etc, well, wishing I had a new book is kind of small potatoes, in the greater scheme of things.
On a related note, it’s entirely possible that you’re not producing new work because life took a crazy turn. Grief, illness, injury, a change in living situation, including but not limited to marital status (I can’t even imagine trying to write romance while going through a divorce, for example, or when your own personal hero or heroine has passed, and your job involves crafting happily ever afters) or economic or natural disasters, or, well, any number of things that can sideline pretty much anybody, in any line of work.
Maybe you’re tired. Maybe the market changed. Maybe your editor or agent left to raise a family, go back to school, join a different firm, become a professional balloon racer, fell in love with horror or nonfiction or picture books or graphic novels, or, well, you get the picture. I hope. There’s really no need to cover every possible reason a once thriving venture suddenly becomes…not.
Maybe you’re the one who fell in love with a different genre. That happens. That’s a good thing. More stories are always a good thing. In some cases, though, that new genre you love? Yeah, me, not so much. I’m happy for you, of course, that you get to embark on a bright shiny new journey, and for the readers who never would have touched your previous genre, but are all about this new one. Hey, maybe some of them will fall so in love with your new work, that they can’t get enough, and what the heck, why not try that romance stuff? Maybe that’s the way they get hooked. It happens. Maybe I’ll even wander over into that other part of the bookstore, and thumb through your new release in that other genre. Maybe I’ll even buy it and take it home. Maybe I’ll read it and love it, even though it’s not usually my thing, because, hey,it’s still you. You can take the writer out of romance, but not the romance out of the writer. Is that the way it works? Possibly. Can’t prove it isn’t. Fair warning, I may look for Easter eggs, that tip of the hat to your romance readers, who may have followed you over, but it’s also possible that it’s just not the same, and I will put the book back no the shelf, return to my favorites, and remember what a lovely time we’ve had.
Sometimes, nobody can really say what happened. Maybe it’s not one individual thing. As we’ve said, life happens. How many of us readers have picked up a book that we really, re4ally wanted to read, put it down, forgot where we put it. Huh. Where’d it go? Not a clue. Guess we’ll read something else. Time goes by. Then, I don’t know, we move, or get a new couch or something, and what do you know, there’s that book. It was behind the couch the whole time. It may not be the same pristine paperback it once was when we really, truly thought we’d be right back to it. Maybe the pages are yellowed, or stuck together, or one of the pets did something on it and now it’s growing a fuzzy green coat where chapter five used to be, and reading it -that particular copy of it, at any rate- is no longer an option, no matter how much we wish it were. That sucks. It happens to writers, too.
Maybe you didn’t know, when you got up for that cup of coffee, or to answer the door, walk the dog, change you socks, that it was the last time you’d be able or willing to spend time in that particular story world. I’m sorry you had to go through that. I really am. If you ever want to, or are able to, come back, that would be super awesome cool. I would happily read it, but seriously, no pressure. I’d far rather you be happy or healthy, or as happy or healthy as you can be. There is totally a light left on for you. The door is open, and you will always have a place at my table.
When I say I wish I could have another book of yours, I’m not saying that my entertainment is more important than your life. That wouldn’t make any sense. What I am saying is, thanks. The next book isn’t guaranteed to any of us, reader or writer (or both.) I’m saying that, in the book or books you have been able to share with us, you did it right. You’re good at what you do. Present tense. Those characters you created, they’re real and alive, in us, and their happily ever after really is that. We share your stories, those bits of ideas you sweated over wondering if anybody but you would ever care about these imaginary friends of yours, with our friends and siblings, coworkers and kids. We talk them up to strangers in bookstores, and on internet message boards. We squeal with delight at finding a vintage copy in like-new condition, and we read our own copies until they fall apart in our hands. If we see them reissued in e-book format or print on demand, well that’s like Book Christmas. No pressure, but, you know, if you want to. Just saying.
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. If you could write a letter to a favorite writer, living or dead, who is no longer writing, or no longer writing romance, who would that be? What would that letter say? Pull up a chair in the comment section and tell us all about it. There’s room for everybody at this table.