After much soul-searching, and some ear-whispering from both the angel on my right shoulder and the Cradle fan on my left, I've come up with something of a compromise!
But it's going to require some explaining.
First of all, what makes Elder Empire such a big deal to write is how long each pair takes to create. Six months is an optimistic estimate, assuming that everything goes well (which, for Dawn, things did not go well. I had to start it over, which led to me excluding certain Easter eggs that I had promised would be included). And 6-9 months with no releases means my momentum, and by extension any word-of-mouth recommendations, grind to a halt.
Which means that during such a time the business isn't growing much, I'm not gaining many readers, and (incidentally) I'm not making money.
At the same time, they are "difficult" to plan, in much the same way that it is "difficult" to juggle a plate in each hand while riding a bear. I'm writing two books, which you would reasonably expect to take twice as much effort, but in fact it's more than that.
The Elder Empire books encompass four storylines over three timelines that all intersect and interact with one another. And with the other books in the series. I have to know where each character is, was, and will be at all times for everyone, or I risk digging plot holes big enough to squeeze a Great Elder through.
Which means that the hardest part of those books, and the step that often takes the longest, is the planning stage.
For many authors, that's normal. They might spend two months planning for every month of writing. Not for me. I'm more of a "Why would I need an airplane when I have the seat of my pants?" kind of guy. I always have an idea of where my stories are headed and what I want to do with them, and I'm always headed toward those milestones, but I'm also always open to changing my mind and veering into unexplored territory.
Such variations in schedule led to the birth of Kai. And the talking dolls. And the mask. And Bliss. And Kelarac. And Cradle's entire existence.
(To clarify, most of the major plot twists in the Cradle series I had planned from the very beginning--including ones that haven't come about yet--but I never would have written Unsouled in the first place if not for my nigh-suicidal eagerness to plunge off the predicted course).
I expect to spend the first period of time--let's call it a month or two--of the Of Kings and Killers writing cycle doing nothing but planning and re-planning. As I considered that reality and contemplated my calendar, I realized something: there's no reason I couldn't be writing another book while I'm doing that. I won't be putting out word count on OKAK, I'll just be plotting and fact-checking, so I can still hammer out words on something else.
This brings me to the title of this post, and the aforementioned compromise.
I'm going to alternate.
I started planning Blackflame yesterday morning, after which I will begin to write the first draft. While I'm doing that, I'll start plotting OKAK. When I'm editing Blackflame, I'll start writing OKAK's draft. Then I'll release Blackflame.
So the plan is Blackflame in 3-4 months, Of Kings and Killers in the middle of next year. And maybe if the simultaneous writing thing works out, I might get Cradle #4 out of it as well. As sort of a surprise.
As usual, though, let me give the required caveat: all release date information is subject to the cruel and fickle whims of fate. No release date information is final until I say it is (which usually means the final announcement comes only a week or two before release, as longtime followers will both loathe and remember).
Let me know how much you hate me to my core/want to kiss my beautiful face in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading! I know I'm always changing things around, but I'm figuring this out one step at a time. I'm just trying to keep getting better, and to keep writing books.
Thanks for sticking with me.
P.S. For a little bit of context, yesterday and the day before were my highest sales days ever. And this month, October, is going to be my best-selling month so far. That's not just from Cradle--although it is mostly Cradle--because my Traveler's Gate sales started climbing almost out of nowhere as well, and even Elder Empire has picked up.
It's almost as though, when people enjoy Cradle, they go back and read my other books afterwards.
10/18/2016 08:21:12 pm
Awesome. Unleash your Sanderson.
10/19/2016 12:39:56 am
This was exactly what I was thinking. Well said.
10/18/2016 08:21:46 pm
I like the Eldee series - a lot - but I'm willing to wait if that works out better to your schedule. Looking forward to Blackflame in the meantime.
10/18/2016 08:22:43 pm
*Elder*... bloody smartphones...
10/18/2016 08:35:45 pm
Just keep doing what you're doing, Will. You've become a day 1 purchase, pause whatever else I'm reading, entertaining as hell writer. Your books are just plain fun.
Yeah, the free promotions have been huge. I had no idea they would work as well as they did.
10/18/2016 09:01:29 pm
Really long like 200K words? Or REALLY long like 400K words?
Either one would be a stretch for me, but I imagined something around 300K.
10/18/2016 10:06:34 pm
Do you think you would be able to work on a longer novel in the background, while continuing to write and release shorter books at the same time? I think some authors find alternating work on two stories to enhance productivity, since if they get stuck or bored with one, they can switch to the other one and be more productive.
10/18/2016 08:43:02 pm
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN ABOUT TRAVELER'S GATE, WILL??? You're killing us my friend!
10/19/2016 03:14:20 pm
....This means no Traveler's Blade until at least 2018, doesn't it...?
10/18/2016 08:54:27 pm
Awesome! Glad you succumbed to our reasoning! This seems like a nice compromise. It sounds to me like Brandon Sanderson does something similar, so seems like writing two stories at the same time might be too much, but writing one while doing some planning or editing of another might actually be a good break at times. Should be a good experiment either way.
10/18/2016 08:59:01 pm
...and does this mean that you're also currently writing the short stories while plotting Blackflame, since you said in the other post you were trying to this week? Seems like an early experiment to see how writing and plotting simultaneously works...
Well, Brandon Sanderson is a relentless cyborg. Little-known fact. So I'm not sure I'll ever be able to keep up with him, as my typing fingers are nothing more than weak human flesh.
10/19/2016 09:55:17 pm
I really don't see the enjoyment of refreshing beverages in that daily schedule.
10/19/2016 05:43:38 am
Will, I love your work (really enjoyed Unsouled!) and will pre-order your new books from Amazon as soon as they're listed ... whenever that happens!
10/19/2016 07:58:56 am
Dude. You rock. I am up for some compromise. Especially if that means Blackflame sooner.
10/19/2016 08:05:58 am
10/19/2016 03:37:09 pm
Yeah the only author who has made me regret getting pulled into a series before it is done is Rothfuss. And that's more because I am now afraid that he will die before he writes the last book. Authors who die before they write the last book are mean. (I personally loathe Robert Jordan for sticking Brandon Sanderson with the ultimately impossible task of finishing WoT without editting anything he'd already done)
10/28/2016 10:51:11 pm
Just point out this website to your friend. I can understand the hesitancy of picking up a new series/author. Usually I won't do it if they don't have a blog/website that is updated on a fairly regular basis. I definitely won't buy a book from an author that I can't find any info on at all, but if I can clearly see that the author is active and posts updates then I figure there's a pretty good chance they'll continue writing.
10/19/2016 09:00:46 am
YES!!! I think this is a great compromise. Potentially toss in a Valin or Simon short story now and then, and I think you have the makings of a output machine here. Write one book, draft and plan a second, short stories every month!!
10/20/2016 12:29:20 am
You better not be hawking off my missing swords, Mr. Author. I still have some pull with the more colorful denizens of my territory and they would be MOST displeased.
10/19/2016 09:37:14 am
I'm... actually OK with this. Far more than I thought I would be. in fact, I'm kind of excited about how ingenious this compromise is. I was really pulling for EE, but honestly I read everything you write so as long as you're writing something I'm happy.
10/19/2016 12:02:13 pm
Oh man! oh man! oh man! I had resigned myself to not getting blackflame for 8-10 months and now it's coming so much sooner. I still have the habit of checking the blog four times a day for updates from when I was waiting for soulsmith. maybe I should cut back a little.....
10/22/2016 09:26:11 pm
Must not..... Hit.... Double digits..... Everyday...
10/19/2016 03:11:52 pm
No kisses for you! *soup nazi voice*
10/19/2016 06:16:59 pm
10/19/2016 07:18:14 pm
Oh yeah, Im definitely more of a Cradle fan than EE(though i prefer travelers gate) since in my opinion they have more re-read value. Ive read Cradle and TG like 4 times, but only once for EE. Any clues on what the short stories are going to be about?
Once EE is completed, I think it will have quite a bit of re-read value. The books are recursive, when completed; the flashback storylines will end in Book 3 where the present-day story began in Book 1.
10/19/2016 08:21:11 pm
I see a couple mentions of Sanderson in the comments and thats something i both like and hate. I have enjoyed many of Sandersons books but the fact that i am STILL waiting for the next Stormlight book(and will be for awhile) drives me crazy.
10/20/2016 05:46:07 pm
I just thought of more justification for this plan. Write Blackflame for NaNoWriMo
Since June 2013, it's been about 40 months. I've put out 9 books and some short stories in that time, totaling approximately one million words (slightly under, but a million is a good round number).
10/22/2016 09:30:38 pm
I tried to write a book for NaNoWriMo before.... It was terrible.... Like absolutely awful. It definitely made me enjoy reading other people's work more.
10/20/2016 06:45:05 pm
So does this plan just include one of the OKAK books or both? From the blurb it seems your plan just includes Of Kings and Killers...what's the plan for Of Killers and Kings?
Sorry, I phrased that in a confusing way. Let me clarify:
10/21/2016 06:52:12 pm
Not really related, but something that's been bugging me for the last couple weeks. I don't like the idea of London's body not getting another upgrade when his second core goes Iron. I have reasons too.
10/22/2016 12:08:56 am
I think the problem you are missing is that the Iron body isnt just an "upgrade" its a comete reforging of the body. If hypothetically his second core could cause a second Iron body it would reforge the body and overwrite the old one.
I agree with Gage completely, with this addendum:
10/31/2016 04:44:50 pm
Wait, it is possible to "collect Iron bodies"? Could you provide more... detail?
10/28/2016 10:39:45 pm
Even though his iron upgrade wasn't really a choice it seemed to me that he still did a pretty ultra version of the upgrade. His Iron body was the typical one the Sandvipers did, but if you'll recall, when it presented the Iron body ceremony being done to a Sandviper member it was just a tiny amount of the venom being introduced to the individuals body. I can't remember if it was 3 or 4 sandvipers that injected all of their venom into Lindon, but I gathered it wasn't the typical Sandviper Iron transition that's for sure. I'm pretty sure Lindon got a super hardcore Iron body from that.
10/31/2016 04:39:11 pm
Not to mention that he was using a parasite ring to double the effort (and gain)... to the effect of like using up 8-10 sandvipers versus just 4-5 because of the double exertion/reward as he was trying to "forge" his new insane iron body.
10/31/2016 04:41:52 pm
Another thought about having Dual Cores at Low-Gold level: possibility of having 2 attached compatible Remnants instead of just 1? Would love to read thoughts/comments on this one, too.
11/3/2016 06:27:54 pm
I forgot about him using the parasite ring. I'm sure we'll definitely see some different effects from his overpowering iron transition, since we didn't really get much time with him in his new body.
10/21/2016 10:31:10 pm
On a random subject, I am kinda surprised by the title of the next Cradle book: Blackflame. I'm used to your books titles following similar patterns, so I was expecting a 'Soul' title like 'Soulbound' or something like that (signifying the Lowgold bond). But, it's not really a gripe. Still gonna read the hell out f it.
You know, this was one of the reasons why I settled on "Blackflame."
10/23/2016 07:50:42 am
...I accept this reasoning. :) Also, the hypothetical Skysworn gives me a lot to think about.
5/5/2017 06:45:04 am
Is there any chance you have estimated release dates for Skysworn and Underlord? (i.e. Summer 2017 :) ). I keep track of the ongoing series I am reading and like to list them in order of estimated release dates so I know when to start looking. I tore through Blackflame in two days so now, lucky me, gets to play the waiting game.
10/21/2016 10:41:48 pm
Mr. Will Wight,
5/5/2017 06:41:21 am
Has this already been released and I missed it somewhere?
10/22/2016 02:46:47 pm
I read untitled first and then when I was waiting for soulsmith I read travelers gate and then I started the elder empire series then soulsmih came out and I read it and then I finished shera's side of elder empire.
10/22/2016 02:47:55 pm
10/22/2016 10:21:09 pm
I should probably go to sleep, but I just finished soulsmith, and I was so excited to get the next book in the cradle series that when I saw this post. My heart nearly broke in half. I really haved loved both cradle books so much, and thank you for that. I hope that you will write blackflame book with a suprising amount of speed and endurence. I can't wait for the next book, Godspeed to you my good sir.
10/23/2016 12:23:12 pm
Do whatever works best for you man. I know anything you put out is gonna be awesome. I've enjoyed everything you've written immensely. I came across House of Blades in the Kindle unlimited store when it was first released. I judged the book by its cover and thought, "that looks pretty bad ass." It was, and I've been hooked ever since. I can read your books for free on unlimited, but I buy them because I love them. Keep doing what you do, it's working.
10/23/2016 11:33:48 pm
So when are we getting those short stories? I can't wait!!!
10/24/2016 12:06:05 am
Anyone else noticed how the date of this post changes between the 18th and the 19th?
10/24/2016 10:13:13 am
It's healthy for authors to have multiple projects going at once. You get stuck just work on something else. That being said I wouldn't necessarily use Sanderson as a role model.
10/24/2016 02:17:45 pm
10/26/2016 07:38:53 pm
So when can we expect those short stories?
Hi just wanted to leave you a note Will just to let you know I have just found out about you and I have devoured your first two books of Cradle!!!! Wow I'm in love with your story line and writing wish I could hurry you up with Blackflame but then it gives me a chance to read all your other books.
11/26/2016 11:21:44 am
These authors are like Will in what way?
10/28/2016 01:44:29 am
So I absolutely adore the Elder empire series but i can see how they must be a nightmare to plot. I'm also loving the Cradle series and i want another one of those too.
10/30/2016 07:25:37 pm
Brent is still getting hammered in his reviews for Blood Mirror (admittedly not due to his recap though) but it is so much cooler to re-read earlier books. But I don't think you will have that problem of you keep writing books every 3-4 month ( you are a beast btw).
10/31/2016 02:05:29 pm
Brilliant. Thanks. It's makes a big difference, especially for something with as much plot as Elder. I think it should be standard in all series mind.
Luke (to Alex)
10/31/2016 05:02:40 pm
Yeah, Lindon might get punished for trying to min/max ALL of his possibilities since some things (such as an Iron body) seem to be nigh unchangeable AFTER he locks down the forging of it. Especially since his Iron body is already insane.
10/28/2016 07:12:59 am
I am not angry Will not at all just disappointed. You keep dangling OKAK in front of us but always drag it just a little farther forever farther and farther from us. So at this point I have no more ability to be angry at you and am therefore just disappointed that you continue to drag it forever onward just out of reach. I bid you a good day and good luck on writing blackflame.
10/28/2016 07:30:03 am
I get the decision (of course I want Blackflame so it is easier for me to be happy). If someone told me I could spend 3 months working and make $30k or spend 6 months and make $15k, it would sort of be a no brainer. Of course it is complicated by the fact that you can piss off your fan base if you start and don't finish a series. I know I hate it. Still, hard to argue with more money and more visibility to new readers, which in turn makes you more money.
11/1/2016 06:22:01 pm
Will for simplicity why not combine the 3 rd book for OKAK fans and bring both lines to temporary conclusion. Planning and writing two final books for OKAK line will take forever. Heck that's almost like killing 2 books with one author.
10/28/2016 08:34:50 am
Will as someone who is a big fan of yours and someone who reads probably a book a week, I completely understand. I personally have liked the Travelers Gate and Cradle books more that Elder Empire. The Cradle books really remind me of a Zelda game and i think that's really cool. I am liking them more than Travelers Gate actually. Wishing you continued success and ever expanding readership.
10/28/2016 08:49:23 pm
Haha, I don't know any any place to discuss Cradle, and I like to to discuss the worlds of series I read, and I saw some cradle discussion going on here.
10/29/2016 01:37:01 am
I wish there was a good spot to discuss is more too. Maybe its time for a cradle subreddit?
10/31/2016 05:05:35 pm
Then again, Eithan doesn't exactly strike me as the type to hand an advancement to Jade on a silver platter... Lindon is more likely to end up having to get/produce it himself instead of being provided with it for free. At most, it would be like any transaction, instead of just a patronage. Once again, due to Eithan's personality/"a flower grows better in the wild, not when it is cultivated" point of view.
10/29/2016 03:18:08 am
Is it really juggling if you only have 1 plate in each hand?? Isn't that just holding?
10/29/2016 05:35:08 pm
Who else thinks Lindon is going to split his cores at least one more time. I see him with at least three cores, two he will use for differing paths, The third he will keep pure. He will learn a technique in each path that will enable him to convert pure madra quickly onto path madra, thereby not watering down his path madra, allowing him to use his third core as a battery backup for his other at least two cores. And I say at least one more time, because why would he stop?
10/31/2016 06:32:10 pm
I have to say I have all your books and re-read them in my book binging cycles. Awesome work.
10/31/2016 04:54:50 pm
Curious, I also see that as a very strong possibility. I just wonder if it would be as easy to do as at first. For one thing, Lindon would have to change his cycling technique (again) just to split his core(s). I like the idea you presented there, with a suggestion to it. Based on how the Spear works on madra stealing/absorbing, I am not sure if it is possible to have 2 completely differing paths that would end up canceling each other. For instance, having a water and a fire path (at least too close together) would likely cause some... complications. Unless there is a way to combine fundamentally conflicting paths.
Alex ( to Luke)
11/1/2016 06:44:41 pm
This idea of splitting cores brings even more possibilities in Jafe stage when an artist (usually) absorbs remnant and utilizes its powers in tandem with no body. It is a distinct possibility that one remnant is maximum ( but what was that blood red remnant wrapped as a belt?) Also the development of Sylvan is intriguing: it needs pure madra for development.What if Lindon inadvertently bonded Sylvan to him/his pure core. This adds one more twist at Jade stage as this outside Remnant-like creature can grow to become a powerful and somewhat independent from Lindon character ( day Lindon is injured/unconscious and Sylvan can cycle Lindons madra to allow healing. )
10/30/2016 04:37:47 am
The cradle universe is an amazing creation and diverges nicely from standard boiler plate fantasy molds! I am reading everything else you've written just kill time until the cradle book comes out! Keep it up and Happy Halloween.
10/31/2016 10:22:11 am
i was looking for a good book just to pass the time till a book i was waiting for came out and found your book unsouled. once i started reading it i fall in love with it. as i was reading it, the book i was waiting for came out. but now i just cant stop reading your books. i just finished Cradle Book 1&2 and i will buy the third as soon as it comes out. in the mean time i just got house of blades and i am sure i will buy most if not all of your books. keep up the good work you have made a fan for life out of me thank you.
11/5/2016 07:03:27 pm
I went though all your stuff in October (just finished the Traveler's Gate short stories). Just like you'd guess, saw Cradle 2 on Amazon, read Cradle 1 and 2, then the rest. Just joined your mailing list. Great writing, keep it up.
11/26/2016 11:31:02 am
I'm delighted to hear this. I think it's good you're being flexible and trying to avoid a drought. The Elder empire series and the Cradle series are both incredible. I'm so excited for Blackflame!!
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Hey, what about those short stories you claim to have already written?
Apparently they're kept here!