For people who read books but don’t write or publish them, it seems like a long stretch of time elapses between books in a series. Part of that is because of the work that must be done after a writer types, “The End.” Part of the time stretch has to do with the publishing history of the series. I’m now what’s known as a hybrid author—I work with traditional publishing companies, and I also self-publish my books.
Ten years ago, I didn’t know any of this business side of publishing, so I marvel at what I’ve learned, largely because other people were kind and taught me. The mystery writers comprise an amazing community of generous people.
My new art center series from Level Best Books will begin in June 2022 with Death in a Pale Hue. The next two books in the series will be out June 2023 and June 2024. A single year will separate that series because of the contract. Thanks to my agent, Dawn Dowdle, I signed a three-book contract, so the machinery is set up for three books, one year apart.
This doesn’t explain the lapse in time between the third and fourth Endurance Mysteries. The third, Death Takes No Bribes, came out in 2017, four years ago. The fourth book, The Witch’s Child, will be out this October.
My Endurance series has had a crazy history, unexpected longevity, and different book covers for all the books. The first two books—Three May Keep a Secret and Marry in Haste—were published by a traditional publisher, Five Star Publishing. After they closed their mystery line, I had an “orphaned” series. I finished what I thought would be a trilogy and novella with Death Takes No Bribes and The Locket: From the Casebook of TJ Sweeney. I published those myself.
I asked the publisher that the rights be reverted to me for the first two books, so I now owned the right to publish them myself. Then I hired a cover artist and formatter to design all three books and the novella. I wanted the covers to look similar, and I wasn’t interested in learning to format my own books. I’m not young. Writing time makes more sense.
End of story. I now owned my own trilogy, plus a novella about my detective, and life was good. But it didn’t end there.
Harlequin Worldwide Mystery republished the first three novels in mass market paperbacks. Once the fourth is published, I will send it to Harlequin. They may or may not choose to publish it in the smaller edition, but they do love my characters, so I’ll cross my fingers. It is possible that a future deal might involve audiobooks of this series. Time will tell.
When I wrote the third book, Death Takes No Bribes, I figured it was the end of the series. I even thanked my readers for sticking with me. I told everyone it was the end.
Leaving the town of Endurance behind, I wrote A Death at Tippitt Pond. Encircle Publications produced it in e-book and paperback, and they recently produced it as an audiobook. Then I wrote Death in a Pale Hue, acquiring an agent and a publisher for that series. But still, somewhere in my head, those characters and that little town persisted. I had some time before editing my first art center book this December. What should I do? That’s when Grace, TJ, Lettie, Del, and Jeff crept into my head. They were waiting for the right moment. Besides, readers keep asking me questions about what happened to them.
And so, The Witch’s Child, popped into my mind, and it will come out mid-October, just in time for Halloween. I thank those of you who have encouraged me through 80,000 words, and I hope you’ll like this new story about the small town of Endurance. I must admit I added some nostalgic tips of the hat to the earlier novels. My grandchildren are still trying to stump me with words to put in my book, but I have prevailed, despite some hilarious contributions on their part, like “Niagara Falls.”
I love the new cover by Karen Phillips of Phillips Covers, and it matches the earlier covers she did for the series. She’s also designed a wonderful logo because I “do business as” Prairie Lights Publishing when I publish my own books. The spine of the new book and the copyright page will carry my new logo.
Now that The Witch’s Child is written, I must edit the chapters, look for plot holes, and layer in some red herrings—by August first. I’ll give a copy to three friends who read it suspiciously, checking for mistakes. At the same time, it goes off to my editor for at least four weeks of back-and-forth editing. The cover is designed but it will need copy for the back, and I’ll buy ISBN numbers. Then, it goes to my formatter, Tarra Thomas, who will format both versions. Finally, after checking the advanced reader copy, I will upload to multiple sites. All of this happens after I type “The End.” Typing those two words takes a great deal of pressure off my shoulders, but, as you can see, lots of work is down the road.