At the first writer's conference I ever attended I went to a chat with a popular genre author who was there to meet the fans and promote their latest release. Toward the end of the session a fan asked how many books the author had published, and the author answered "I don't know." When some of the fans tried throwing out some numbers, the author added, "After so many books you lose track." As a rookie still waiting for her first novel to hit the shelves, I couldn't imagine how you could forget how many books you'd published, but after I left that chat I made a promise to myself never to become that writer.
Now I know a little better what causes writers to develop backlist amnesia, but it never happened to me. I can recite from memory the titles, premises and story synopses for every single one of the books I've written -- it's a great party trick, btw -- and I know what I personally put into them. I remember what inspired them, why I chose to pursue the ideas, the amount of work I put in outlining and refining them, the endless hours at the keyboard writing them, every editor I worked with to bring them through production, and all the good and bad associated with that process.
Every story also represents dozens of paths I took along the journey, and contains little reminders of the hopes and dreams, the disappointments and the discoveries, the failures and the triumphs. And while I'm sure I've forgotten a few things (please don't ever ask me to recite a complete character list for the StarDoc series off the top of my head) another thing I've made sure to remember about my books is it what an immense privilege it has been to be able publish them, and how grateful I am to my readers for all the support you've provided during that journey. Writers, if you're in this gig for the long haul, I hope you never forget those things, either (or how many books you've published.)
In less than two weeks my 50th novel, Her Ladyship's Curse, will be released. If Publishing were like marriage, this would (sort of) be our golden anniversay novel, so I intend to celebrate. I'm taking Her Ladyship on a virtual tour starting on Thursday of this week, but on August 12th I'll back here at PBW and the Disenchanted & Co. blog to party with my people.
I'm curious, too -- have any of you authors out there already published your 50th novel, and if so, did you do anything special to celebrate it? If you're still headed toward that landmark book, how do you think you'll mark the moment? Let us know in comments.