Friday, August 18, 2006

Questions from the Mailbag

I'm nearly halfway done with revisions on Damsel Under Stress, and I'm having fun. I caught myself a few times forgetting that I'm supposed to be checking against edits as I read because I've gotten into the story and just started reading without looking to see if there's something I'm supposed to be changing. I figure that's a good sign.

I've been getting a fair amount of e-mail from readers, and I try to answer it all personally, but I keep getting behind because I can't seem to get around to it when I'm busy writing. There are some questions that keep coming up, and I figure that if a few people bother to write about them, then there are a lot more people who might have the same question who haven't written. So, on days when I can't think of anything else to write about, I'll do Questions from the Mailbag. This won't replace me actually responding to individual e-mails, but at least it might take care of the questions until I get around to dealing with my e-mail. I'm not picking on any particular question (or questioner) specifically. These are composite questions I've pulled together from a lot of messages. Today I'll hit the two questions I get asked most often (in various forms).

Q: Will there be more books in this series?
Yes. Books three and four have already been bought (and written). Book three, which is now called Damsel Under Stress, is scheduled for release the last week in April 2007. I don't have a release date for book 4 yet. I do plan to do more books in the series (if my publisher will let me), but I'd like to take a little break first to write something else. Right now, I'm thinking that I'll do one more book to wrap up the story arcs I've already established -- kind of like a season finale of a TV series -- and then maybe start a new "season" with some new stories that kick off to deal with the situations established in that book. The TV series model of resolving some story arcs along the way and then dealing with the new situations may be what works best to be able to keep the series going without dragging out any story lines to the point of ridiculousness (one of my pet peeves with some series as a reader).

Q: Why don't you have your books turned into movies/TV shows/cartoons/anime/audiobooks/manga/calendars/comic books/etc.?
Believe it or not, I actually have very little say in the matter, beyond saying yes or no when someone makes an offer. I have a team of subrights agents working under my agent (I have "people"!) to find every possible opportunity. The trick is finding someone who's willing to put up the money to do any of these things. That's not just about putting up the money to pay me for the rights. My share in it all is relatively minimal. The real cost is in producing all these things. The people who make movies, TV, manga, comic books and so forth have to think that there's enough of an audience demand that they'll make money on the enterprise. And, quite frankly, the sales numbers so far on the books don't provide much evidence that there is. Y'all may love these books, and I love you for it, but I got the latest sales figures on Enchanted, Inc. yesterday, and while they're apparently okay for a book of that type, they're definitely not in the "I've got to get me a piece of that action!" realm (let's just say you're all part of a small, elite group for having bought that book). Sales are better on Once Upon Stilettos, but still not anything to make eyeballs pop out. At this point, any non-book stuff that's produced would be more likely to build the audience for the books rather than capitalize on the existing fan base of the books. That's great for me, but it's a big risk for anyone who tries to produce something else, since the existing fan base of the books isn't big enough for anything based on them to earn any money at all.

The rights have been optioned for a television series, and though I haven't seen the contract yet, that option would likely allow either live action or animation, so pretty much everything visual is currently off the table. I doubt I'll have much creative input or control -- probably only as much as they deign to give me. The people optioning the TV rights have said they want to set up a conference call with me, which bodes well, but they generally are allowed to do anything they want to with the basic setting and characters.

As for printed visual stuff, my publisher (Random House) is doing a lot with manga, and I have a feeling if they thought there was a market for it, they'd be pursuing it. Again, the current market size isn't big enough to get anyone excited. Ditto with audiobooks. Those are expensive to produce, and they'd have to tap into a much bigger market to make that profitable.

About all I can say is that if you want to see more stuff spun off from these books, you'd have to spread enough word of mouth to get more people to buy books so that the sales numbers move into "I've got to get me a piece of that action!" territory. (And remember that buying used books, swapping books and lending books doesn't count toward those kinds of numbers.) We're not turning down legitimate offers, but the offers do have to be made in the first place. It's really cool that y'all want all this stuff, though.

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