My Hands are Tied

Hands tied.jpgI love my email.  First of all, most of it is positive.  Overwhelmingly.  Going to the computer every day to write a novel takes either a certain amount of ego or a complete absence of good sense.  Often a positive email gives me the necessary ego boost to start work.  Sometimes it blunts what good sense is left after a long writing career, and helps me forget that worldwide, those words open me to a certain amount of public regard or disregard.  This, of course, is something writers can’t think about, or we’ll never turn on our computers.

Through the years I’ve learned to roll with most punches.  I follow the immortal words of that great philosopher Ricky Nelson who pointed out that “You see, you can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”  And I do.

When I can.

Judging from my email and conversations at booksignings, readers are often surprised at all the ways writers “can’t” please themselves.  In other words, all the many aspects of our careers that we have little or no control over.  So for fun, let me dispense with a few of those today.

First, the next novel. . .

I’ve received literally thousands of requests for another novel in the Shenandoah Album series.  And yes, I’d intended to write six.  After Sister’s Choice, book five, my publisher decided it was time to move away from the series and asked for something different.  We discussed this at length. In the end I accepted their decision with the understanding that we’re leaving the door open for another Shenandoah Album novel down the road (that would be Route 11 through the Valley) a piece.

Were my hands tied?  Maybe the ropes weren’t cutting off my circulation, but I had the good sense to know my publisher often sees trends I can’t, and more important, that keeping them happy is sensible indeed.  I gave in gracefully–although we’d have to ask my editor if she saw my response that way.

By the way. . . If you’d like to see another book in that series, you have your chance to influence that decision.  Buy Sister’s Choice in paperback in June.  Tell your friends to do the same.  And buy it the first week it comes out.  That’s what publishers listen to.

And in the meantime, fall in love with Happiness Key while you’re waiting for Summer Winds, that sixth Shenandoah Album novel.  I sure did.

Second, the cover. . .

No, I don’t design my covers.  I am not an artist.  If you want stick figures or royalty-free photos from, which illustrate so many of my blogs including this one, then I can give you that.  But my publisher has an entire art department qualified to design and execute covers. 

Do I have a say?  Absolutely.  In fact Sister’s Choice and Happiness Key are exactly what I asked for, only much better because someone with talent took my “ummm. . maybe we could have the sisters in an apple orchard” comment and created a wonderful cover.

Do I like everything they do?  No.  Do they like my responses?  No.  Are my hands tied at the end?  Very. 

Third, the title. . .

Having just come from a title battle, I can say this.  A number of people are involved in title decisions.  Unfortunately I’m one of those authors who works her titles into her story in a thousand different ways, and even if that’s only visible to me, being asked to change a title midstream is like being asked to type with fewer fingers. 

Do I have a say?  No question.  Do I have the final say.  Nope, but thank goodness I’m always involved in the compromise.  In the aforementioned battle, my title was not changed, after all.  I kiss the feet of all the people at Mira who understood they were dealing with a titleopath and gave in so generously.

And finally, the movie version. . .

I have exactly squat input into what happens to my novels when they’re made into movies, as two have been recently in Germany, or abridged for audio, as some of mine were earlier, or the foreign translations, or the graphic novels. I am not consulted.  Period.

When are my hands not tied?  On the first draft of my novel, after I’ve been given the go-ahead and my synopsis has been accepted.  From that point on, anything can happen.  Luckily I work with dedicated, intelligent people who want my books to succeed as much as I do.  Things may not always go my way, but sometimes the way they go is better.

But don’t tell my publisher I said so, okay?  


  1. Ellen Dye on May 4, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Oh Emilie, you said it all. And also you’ve made me feel better, especially regarding titles. For my last book I had a working title which my editor hated. I came up with thirty-two titles before she found one she liked. I really wanted to scream….
    And I’ll be doing my part to holler loudest for another Shenandoah Album novel—I’ve adored each one 🙂 Happiness Key is also on the top of my planner list!
    Thanks for such a wonderful posting.

  2. Emilie Richards on May 4, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Oh, I feel your pain. I hope the one you finally agreed on was one you could really live with. May Happiness Key meet your expectations. Now that was a title we all liked right away. Sometimes that happens, too.

  3. Debbie Haupt on May 7, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Wow, see as a reader I don’t know these things so with your permission I’ll go to some of my other blogs and my very favorite B& book clubs and let every one know to buy Sister’s Choice in paperback when it comes out because darn it I want #6. I love Shenandoah Album Novels. Not that I don’t love every thing you do, because I do.
    Thank you for everything you put up with to get us the goods!!
    You Rock!!

  4. Emilie Richards on May 8, 2009 at 7:02 am

    Debbie, I’m so glad you love the SA novels, and a little PR to others who do sure can’t hurt.
    I always appreciate your enthusiasm and support.

  5. Shel F. on May 9, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Emilie, I had no idea. I’m a reader, NOT a writer. It does seem as if your hands are tied when it comes to some decisions. I’ll try to remember this the next time I get frustrated because an author I adore doesn’t have books in ebook format yet, or only has them at Amazon, which I can’t access. (I have an EZ Reader, which is not a Kindle). I see that it’s probably not the author’s fault, but the publisher’s, instead.

  6. Emilie Richards on May 9, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Oh, good. Because there really is so much we can’t affect, and ebooks are a good example. I just bought a Sony e-Reader, and I am surprised how much I enjoy it. Thanks for checking in.

  7. Jerrie Rutledge on May 10, 2009 at 11:16 am

    PLEASE,PLEASE do write the sixth book in the Shenedoah Album series!!!!!! The books are some of the best I`ve ever read. I,highly, recommended them to my daughter who has just published her first book. Hope to hear SOON that the book is in the works. Thanks–Jerrie

  8. Jamie on May 25, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Please keep writing the Shenandoah Album series!!! Those books are my mother’s favorites, and she always asks me to log in and see if there is a new release scheduled yet. Somehow I feel the publisher only has the bottom line in mind when they suggested ending the SA series. Please remember your faithful readers and keep these WONDERFUL books flowing!!!! Thank you!!! Jamie (and my mom on the phone)

  9. Emilie Richards on May 25, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    I very much hope to write another. I love the series, too. And I hope all my loyal readers will also enjoy this new set of characters and take them into their hearts, as well. Thanks for your lovely response.

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