In the End, a Beginning

My writing career has been a bit of a rollercoaster. Ups and downs, plenty of screaming, plenty of excitement, and more than one dark tunnel that didn’t seem to have an end, but they always do. Between the early joy of signing with the genre’s best agent (in my opinion, of course) to the equally early failures of my debut, my follow up, and my ill-advised standalone, all the way through quitting my job, relaunching with Knight Watch, and the anticipation of finally getting Wraithbound on shelves after nearly a decade of development and work… yeah, it’s been a ride. And for every up, there’s been a down.

Well, we’re to another one of those downs, and it’s a big one. It is with profound regret that I have to announce that there won’t be a second Wraithbound book… for now at least. I’ve spent the last two years promising that the series would continue, assuring wary fantasy fans that I would deliver, that I wasn’t Rothfuss or Martin, that I write two books a year and at least one of those would be in the Spiritbinder Saga, that I had a plan for five books and the discipline to deliver on that. And all of those things are still true. I have an outline. I’ve already finished a different book this year, and was ready to turn to Wraithbound 2. But that’s not going to happen.

The fact is, book one didn’t sell. I’m not going to get into the reasons, beyond saying that it’s terribly difficult to launch a new series in trad publishing these days. Fans are gun shy of new series. They’ll complain about Rothfuss and Martin, then go back and read their Rothfuss and Martin. It’s a self-fulfilling paranoia. On top of that, the original release of Wraithbound didn’t get into many stores. Between B&N’s new stocking policies and the distribution of Simon and Schuster, it’s tough out there.

I had some hope when the mass market came out. It *did* get into a sizable percentage of stores, and has been selling at an okay clip. But it’s too little, too late. At LibertyCon last week I sat down with my editor and we faced the reality of the numbers. We both agreed there was no way to move forward with the series. It would have been a bad decision for me and for the publisher. And none of us can afford to make bad decisions anymore.

Another result of this conversation is that Knight Watch is also over. Book one bumbles along, but books two and three have been anemic, for largely the same reasons. No shelf space, no sales.

So what now? First off, it’s not the end of my trad career. My editor made it clear that Baen still wants me as a writer, just not those properties. We discussed some possibilities, and I have a couple ideas on what I’m going to work on. Talks are in progress. There might be some collaboration, or I might do a wholly new thing. We’ll see.

As for Wraithbound, I’m determined to make good on my promises. It’s the best book I’ve written to date, and I’m not going to abandon it just because the trad machine has failed for it. I will write book two and self-publish it, as well as the rest of the series. Just not immediately. I have this book I just finished, I have the developmental stuff for Baen, I have the Pale Sword novellas to complete… all of which take time.

I’ll be moving more into hybrid/indie publishing. I need more control over my career, more investment in my writing, and better margins on my time. I’ll certainly keep you posted. And please don’t blame Baen, or any of their staff. This was my decision as much as theirs. I’ve been happy with them, and look forward to working together with Toni, Dave, and the rest of the team in the near future.

Finally… I’m sorry. I’m sorry that there’s going to be a gap. I’m sorry that my fans have to be disappointed, once again, in the termination of a series. I’m sorry that it didn’t go better.

Thank you all for your time and your loyalty. It’s not easy being a writer. It’s a lonely business. It’s easy to feel like I’m typing into the darkness. Knowing that you’re all out there, reading and enjoying these heart-works, these fantasies that spring from my brain, is encouraging. I hope you’ll continue to read in the future, and will find as much enjoyment in that reading as I do in the writing.


Tim Akers

4 Responses to “In the End, a Beginning”

  1. Christopher

    This is a bummer for sure. I preordered the Wraithbound mass market edition and thoroughly enjoyed it. Good luck I wish you the best

    • Tim Akers

      Thanks, man. There’s certainly more coming. Just not as quickly as I’d hoped.

  2. Michael

    What about Knight Watch? Are you going to self-publish the rest so we have an actual ending? How many were planned?

    I honestly think going digital is the way to go these days if publishers now have to fight for shelf space in book stores that are gradually showing less and less books. Self-publishing also seems like a viable alternative, especially for authors who already carry a name. Maybe do a kickstarter.

    • Tim Akers

      Knight Watch was written serially, and doesn’t have a particular ending in my mind. Each book is self contained. Theoretically, the series could go on forever, with the characters developing, dropping out, joined by new members, etc. As far as future books are concerned… I won’t say no. But the sales rates for books two and three hardly justify a sequel. It’s an unfortunate side effect of this being my job, rather than my hobby.

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