Top writers feel heat from publishers' presses - The Boston Globe
Many top-selling writers, such as John Grisham and Mary Higgins Clark, have turned out at least one book annually for years. Now some writers are beginning to grumble about the pressure, and some are refusing to comply.
Not that writers are being explicitly harassed, but costly advance marketing plans are increasingly tied into the expectation that the most profitable authors will have a new book out at roughly the same time each year. In today's intensely competitive marketplace, readers will turn to another author if a writer fails to come through at the usual time, which could cost a publisher big bucks.
Many writers below the top tier are also being urged to pick up the pace. In some cases, publishers have made a book-per-year promise an explicit condition of taking on a new author.
"It's no problem, as long as you don't have a life," said Patricia Cornwell, the Massachusetts-based author of the enormously successful Kay Scarpetta crime thrillers. "The Scarpetta [manuscript] that's due out Oct. 7 is due in a few weeks, because they have to reserve the storefront real estate and pay for it. If I don't get the book turned in on time, they'll be freaking out. If I miss my deadline, I miss the entire year. Sometimes there's an overwhelming feeling of panic. It's like a rock 'n' roll concert, and what if I don't show up?"