guessing release dates

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Right now, I try to let people know when my books are out according to my best guess. I’ve discovered that giving very vague answers like “sometime in 2012” makes people antsy, so I’ve decided to give you a more firm date, even though that date could be wrong.

For traditionally published works, there’s a lot of lag time built into the system—lags that are used to sell books to bookstores, to print them, to schedule time on the printer, and so forth. These things have a huge impact on how well the book might do, but they don’t change the quality of the book. Most authors turn in a book, do edits, look over proofs and so forth and then have months and months before the book comes out&mdash.

This also means that the author has a built-in buffer, too. If she runs into problems, or needs to rewrite large sections of the book, they can start pushing some of those dates up. It’s possible to crash a book through production. All of this means that the reason why traditional publishers can predict a release date is that they build in about six months of lag time.

When I’m self-publishing, I don’t lag. When the book is finished and edited and proofed, I put it up—usually, the same day that I make the final changes. The fact that I’m self-publishing means that I can get books to you much more quickly once they’re finished.

But this also means that until I get to the end, I can’t say exactly when it’s going to be done. If I finish one round of edits and I feel like the book needs me to go through it yet another time, I’m going to do that. If I have a plot point that doesn’t feel quite right, I am going to fix it. I think it is totally awesome that people are waiting for the next book—but I know you all deserve the best book I can deliver.

I have a pretty good idea how fast I write, but I can’t always guarantee how fast I fix problems. Sometimes problems are easy, and I can fix them in a matter of minutes. Sometimes, I have to spend hours wandering around in a circle and moaning and wailing, while my dog follows behind me looking at me quizzically. Sometimes I run into a problem that requires me to rewrite large chunks of the book, and when that happens, it delays things substantially. I hate when that happens, and I’m sorry if it delays the book. But looking on the bright side, if I were traditionally published, you’d have to wait at least six months beyond when I finish. As a general rule, I’ve found that I tend to be too optimistic—on the order of months too optimistic.

I choose the date on my website so that if everything goes smoothly, I’ll deliver the book a little early…and if things get rough, I might be a little late.

Thanks so much for your patience and for caring about when my books are out!

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