Hello, ladies and gentlemen! I come before you this afternoon to address the most common question I am asked every day:
"When, sir, will you release City of Light unto us?" (It's usually phrased exactly like that)
The short answer is I don't know.
The useful answer is "PROBABLY between March 30th and April 10th," because on April 10th I'll be leaving for PAX East in Boston, Massachusetts.
And now that I've gotten those more helpful responses out of the way, hit the jump for a longer answer:
First of all, thanks for taking the time to ask me a question! I know people are impatient because they enjoyed the first few books, and that humbles me and encourages me to keep writing. Your enthusiasm is encouraging, and it's the fuel that keeps me going! But please, allow me to tell you why my answers have been wishy-washy, uncertain, or just plain wrong.
I'm not releasing it to you now because it's not finished, not because I'm picky. If you've read my first two books, and I assume you have, you know that I don't obsess over perfection in my work. I'm not Patrick Rothfuss or George R.R. Martin, who make sure every word is selected with great care before they release a book. I'm just trying to give you the best story I can as quickly as I can.
If I released the book to you now, you wouldn't like it. You would even be angry at me.
But I do promise you that I will publish City of Light at the first moment I can. That may mean that you don't have much advance warning (though I'll keep you as up-to-date as I can), but that's one of the consequences of working the way I do.
Which brings me to my next point: please, those of you who yearn for City of Light, let me explain why I can't give you an accurate release date ahead of time.
It's because I, unlike traditionally published authors, release my books as soon as they're complete.
Someone with a publishing company, like Brandon Sanderson or practically any other author you've heard of, has to give their book to a publishing company who takes, say, six months to turn the finished manuscript into something they can ship to bookstores. They know exactly how long that process takes, so whenever the author finishes the manuscript, they can say "Hey, readers! The book will be available to you in six months!" And that's a nice long, comfortable time for people to prepare, and pre-order, and salivate over the book.
I also know how long it takes me to put my book up for sale: about six hours.
So, for someone with a publishing company, giving you an accurate release date as quickly as possible looks like this: "Book 3 will be out on October 27th, because that's six months away! Mark your calendars!"
For me, it looks like this: "Book 3 will be out tomorrow morning! Mark your calendars!"
It's not quite the same.
In an effort to sate your unquenchable desire for sword-swingin', monster-choppin' action, I've given you some estimates about when the next book is going to come out. Almost invariably, I've been wrong. To a large degree, that's my fault; I've given you my most optimistic guesses, when I should have given you my most pessimistic.
Instead of saying, "Well, I could have this done in three months, as long as nothing whatsoever happens in my life at all..." I should have said, "Let's assume that over the next few months my car breaks down, I fall in love, we grow apart, I fall out of love, she stalks me for three months, we finally confront each other in a climactic duel to the death over a rain-slicked rooftop, and she falls to her death, then when I go to hide the body I find that there is no body...only a blood-scrawled note that reads 'REVENGE.'"
Under those circumstances, writing a book would naturally take longer.
But unpredictability is also the nature of the process. I'm against this in general, so don't tell anybody, but at a certain point in the process of writing CoL, I actually started over. The story was pulling me in too many different directions, and I effectively had to go back to the drawing board.
That didn't exactly set me back to square one--I still had all my notes, and there's a good portion of CoL's plot that has always lived in the back of my head--but it was still a delay. And I should prepare for those delays, because I know that something unexpected always happens.
To recap: I'm in the final stretches of CoL, but I am behind my wildly optimistic schedule. I'm working all day, every day, to get this out as soon as possible. It's technically possible that I could still get it released before the end of March, but let's be more realistic: I have to have it done before April 10th, because that's when I'm leaving for PAX East.
So, for now, let's say that City of Light will be published on April 10th.
Who knows? It might be before that. But if you mark your calendar for April 10th, and it ends up coming out on April 7th, then I'll look like a hero. As opposed to when I fail to release it in March, and then I delay until April 7th, I look like a vagabond.
I mean, I kind of look like a vagabond anyway. But you get the gist.
Also, to make this ridiculously long post even longer, I should point out that I hate delaying books. You might not know that, considering how I pushed The Crimson Vault, The Lightning Wastes, and City of Light all back from their original release dates, but I really do. It pains me deeply. I despise having to do it, and in the future I'll keep my original release dates vague and/or pessimistic, so that I won't let you down.
The only reason I ever push dates back at all is because there's only one thing I hate worse than pushing a book back: giving you a book you won't enjoy.
And that's not something I'm willing to do.
(NOTE: Also, I beg you to take into consideration the fact that when I say "push a book back," I mean 1-3 weeks. Not months or years. Have mercy on me, I'm working as fast as I can!)
Of the Cradle series
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