Today I'd like to have a discussion with my StarDoc readers, and talk about the future of the series.
The hardest part of being a series writer in today's industry is that we never know if we'll get a chance to finish. That's been the case with StarDoc since I sold the first two novels. I planned the series to work as an open-ended story, which helped keep me writing without any guarantees or contract safety nets, but I also hoped I'd be given the opportunity to finish what I'd begun.
On the plus side of things: nine years after signing that first contract, StarDoc is still going strong. All the books remain in print, I just sold two more, and the readership continues to grow every year. Things have never been better for the series.
The thing is, the longer a writer's series goes on, the more likely it will end unfinished. I'm not getting any younger, either. Not that I plan to check out any time soon, but I'd hate to get hit by a truck tomorrow and leave things hanging.
Which brings me to my point. I want to write the final draft of the last StarDoc novel this year. I'll put copies of the manuscript in care of some family and friends so that it's safe, in the event the Fed Ex guy makes me into roadkill or something. But in order to write Cherijo and Reever's finale, I need to decide exactly when to end the series.
Book ten is starting to look good to me as the final novel. That would give me two books to resolve some things and bring the story to a graceful close. I believe I could sell one more novel in the series by 2008, but if I couldn't, I'd have no problem with publishing it as a free e-book. It would be the greatest way to pay you guys back for all you've done to promote the series.
I also think that ten books is a decent run for a SF series. I'd rather not keep writing blind, never knowing when it will get dumped again. I can and probably will write more books set in the StarDoc universe. It's an immense place and I've got plenty more stories there to tell.
StarDoc is the foundation series of my career, though, and I feel very strongly that the readers who have stuck by me on this ride deserve a completed story. This is not about the money; I can make money doing other things. Nor is it something I want decided by Publishing, the agent, the editor, or anyone else but us. We've been through a lot together, and this is our business.
Let me know what you think in comments.