Loree Lough

With nearly three million books sold, best-selling author Loree Lough’s titles have earned 4- and 5-star reviews and dozens of awards. Reviewers and readers alike call her “a gifted writer whose stories touch hearts and change lives.” Her 9/11 novel From Ashes to Honor (#1 in First Responders series, Abingdon) hits bookshelves to coordinate with the 10th anniversary of the tragedy. Loree lives near Baltimore and loves spending time at her teeny tiny cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where she loves to show off her talent for correctly identifying critter tracks. Visit Loree at http://wwwloreelough.com.

Loree's Lough Down

Keep the Wolf from the Door

(Photo courtesy the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania)

A few months ago, while attending an international publishing convention at a New York conference center, I overheard an ugly rumor: Publishers are using authors’ productivity and prolificacy against them. “Can’t commit to a multibook contract with a writer who isn’t loyal,” said one voice. “Heck, our company policy is that we won’t commit to a one-book deal if the author is writing for other houses.”

Despite my best attempts to identify the speakers, that slim opening between the stall door and its wall support just wasn’t big enough. I decided against shouting, “Hey, wait up . . . let’s talk about this!” And it didn’t make sense to holler, “That’s beyond unreasonable . . . it’s unfair, too!” (What if one or both turned out to be one of my editors?)

I stewed about it for days. It messed with my concentration so badly that I nearly missed my Amtrak stop. When I got back to Baltimore, I called my agent. “Say it ain’t so,” I grumped.

“Wish I could,” was his sympathetic reply, “but, unfortunately, it’s true.”

He listened in his patient, professional way as I whimpered and whined about my how I’d put in my time—decades of it—studying market trends. Growing a strong reader following. Building solid, mutually respectful working relationships with the editors who depend on me to deliver what they ask for, in full and on time. Putting my best efforts into helping all of my publishers promote each book to ensure the best possible sales statistics.

Therein, as Shakespeare might say, was the rub: I’d said publishers. Plural.

Okay. So I get it: The industry is a vastly different place today than it was when my first novel was released in 1994. In those days, authors who could write three, four, even five salable books a year were celebrated. Why? Because their productivity allowed publishers to enjoy the beautiful ka-ching of money coming in . . . and gave them fewer reasons to grimace as dollars went out: Each book was, in and of itself, free marketing and promotions for the rest, regardless of which house put it on the shelves. Everyone—readers, authors, distributors, bookstores, libraries, and, yes, even publishers—benefited.

Producing three, four, even five books a year was not symptomatic of wide-spread Fiction Addiction (at least, not entirely). We who accomplished those yearly goals did so because we felt that we had to. Corporate mergers, dwindling

staffs, and ever-rising production costs meant smaller print runs, declining advance payments, lower royalty percentages, fewer contracts issued annually. The only way to keep the wolf from the door, then, was to write for three, four, even five different houses.

“And now you’re telling me that my nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic, my years-long drive and determination to improve as a writer and develop my career will ensure rejection rather than contracts?”

In a word, “Yup.”

Is it fair? In another word, nope. But them’s the breaks, friends.

So if we hope to survive in this wolf-eat-author world, we’d better learn to adapt. Fast. And we’d better find innovative ways to pique editors’ interests so that we can write three, four, even five books for one or two publishers, instead of three, four, or five, and do it in such a way that we continue to entertain the readers who helped us build our hard-won careers, book by book.

If we can’t? Then I guess we’d better all start praying that our spouses’ paychecks will be significant enough to feed that hungry wolf . . .

. . . and pay the shrink we’ll no doubt need to hire to help us cope with Fiction Addiction withdrawal.


An Accidental Family