• “The smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting 'Scrooge McDuck' comics.”—Salon.com
  • A time-hopping, continent-spanning salmagundi of genres.”
  • “These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they're too weird to describe to anybody.”
    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

The State of the Wicket – February 2012

The State of the Wicket – February

Now, we’ve been getting a lot of mail, Facebook comments, tweets, and so on, asking about the status of Book Eight, the short stories, etc. So I thought I’d give you a quick run-down of what-all I’ve been doing, where it all is at the moment, a short peek at everything, and—most importantly [g]—when things will be published.

For starters, I’m very pleased to announce that The Scottish Prisoner was released on November 29th, 2011. This release also includes a “teaser” chunk from Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (aka Book Eight, or MOHB (aka “Moby,” which is how I refer to it for convenience. I don’t _think_ it will be white, but it will certainly be a whale of a book [cough]). The teaser includes several scenes about different characters.

Now, I do normally work on multiple projects at once; it keeps me from getting writer’s block, and makes me generally more productive. I also think it’s entertaining to write the occasional short piece (novella or short story) that fills in a missing part of someone’s story and/or provides more depth to the overall tale.

The most recent of these short pieces to be published was “Lord John and the Plague of Zombies,” which was published last October—and which gratified me extremely by recently being nominated for an Edgar Award (for best mystery short story of the year—though it’s not all that short, really…)—in an anthology titled DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS. The anthology is edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois. http://tinyurl.com/Plague-Zombies

I’m presently writing a short story for another anthology (this one titled DANGEROUS WOMEN)—the story is called “Virgins,” and is about Jamie and his not-yet-brother-in-law Ian, as very young mercenaries in France. I don’t have a pub date for this anthology yet, but expect it will be out sometime later this year. I do post occasional brief snippets from “Virgins” (as well as other works-in-progress) on my Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/AuthorDianaGabaldon.

OK– on to Book Eight, which is probably what most people want to know about.

1) WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD is the eighth volume in the main Outlander series. (It’s the sequel to AN ECHO IN THE BONE, where allll the cliffhangers will be picked up. [g])

2) I don’t know yet if WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD is the last book in this series!!

3) I am still writing WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD!!!

A) I hasten to say that most of the mail I get is wonderful, and Much Appreciated! However, I do get a small amount of idiotic email accusing me of having already finished the book, but “hiding” it from the readers, or keeping it off the market “just to be mean” or (of all insane notions) “to drive the price up.” (It ain’t pork bellies, people; the cover price is the same whenever it comes out, and I don’t set it.) I don’t mean to be impolite here, but…geez, guys.

i) Look. Books are

a) written in order to be read, and
b) published in order to make money.

ii) Publishers do not make money from books that are not in bookstores. Ergo….

iii) Publishers want to sell books as soon as the books are ready.

iv) So do authors. What do you think I live on, while I’m supposedly keeping a book off the market to be mean? And why do you think I’d want to be mean to the people who read my books? Sheesh.

4) Right. Now, I hope to finish writing the book around the end of this year.
OK, pay close attention now….

5) The book will not—repeat not—REPEAT NOT!!!—be published on December 31st, even if I finish writing it on December 30th. Why not? Well, because…

A) Books don’t go directly from the author to the bookstore.
B) Books go from the author to the Editor, who

i) reads the manuscript
ii) discusses the manuscript with the author, and
iii) suggests minor revisions that may improve the book

C) The book goes back to the author, who

i) re-reads the manuscript
ii) considers the editor’s comments, and
iii) makes whatever revisions, emendments, or clarifications seem right.

D) The book goes back to the editor, who

i) reads it again
ii) asks any questions that seem necessary, and
iii) sends it to

E) The copy-editor. This is a person whose thankless job is to

i) read the manuscript one…word…at…a…time
ii) find typos or errors in grammar, punctuation, or continuity (one heck of a job, considering the size not only of the individual books, but of the overall series), and
iii) write queries to the author regarding anything questionable, whereupon

F) The book comes back to the author—yes, again—who

i) re-reads the manuscript
ii) answers the copy-editor’s queries, and
iii) alters anything that the copy-editor has changed that the author disagrees with. After which, the author sends it back to

G) The editor—yes, again!—who

i) re-re-reads it
ii) checks that all the copy-editor’s queries have been answered, and sends it to

H) The Typesetter, who sets the manuscript in type, according to the format laid out by

I) The Book-Designer, who

i) decides on the layout of the pages (margins, gutters, headers or footers, page number placement)
ii) chooses a suitable and attractive typeface
iii) decides on the size of the font
iv) chooses or commissions any incidental artwork (endpapers, maps, dingbats—these are the little gizmos that divide chunks of text, but that aren’t chapter or section headings)
v) Designs chapter and Section headings, with artwork, and consults with the

J) Cover Artist, who (reasonably enough) designs or draws or paints or Photo-Shops the cover art, which is then sent to

K) The Printer, who prints the dust-jackets–which include not only the cover art and the author’s photograph and bio, but also “flap copy,” which may be written by either the editor or the author, but is then usually messed about with by

L) The Marketing Department, whose thankless task is to try to figure out how best to sell a book that can’t reasonably be described in terms of any known genre [g], to which end, they

i) try to provide seductive and appealing cover copy to the book
ii) compose advertisements for the book
iii) decide where such advertisements might be most effective (periodicals, newspapers, book-review sections, radio, TV, Facebook, Web)
iv) try to think up novel and entertaining means of promotion, such as having the author appear on Second Life to do a virtual reading, or sending copies of the book to the armed troops in Iraq, or booking the author to appear on Martha Stewart or Emiril Lagasse’s cooking show to demonstrate recipes for unusual foods mentioned in the book.
vi) kill a pigeon in Times Square and examine the entrails in order to determine the most advantageous publishing date for the book.

M) OK. The manuscript itself comes back from the typesetter, is looked at (again) by the editor, and sent back to the author (again! As my husband says, “to a writer, ‘finished’ is a relative concept.”), who anxiously proof-reads the galleys (these are the typeset sheets of the book; they look just like the printed book’s pages, but are not bound), because this is the very last chance to change anything. Meanwhile

N) A number of copies of the galley-proofs are bound—in very cheap plain covers—and sent to

O) The Reviewers. i.e., the bound galleys are sent (by the marketing people, the editor, and/or the author) to the book editors of all major newspapers and periodicals, and to any specialty publication to whom this book might possibly appeal, in hopes of getting preliminary reviews, from which cover quotes can be culled, and/or drumming up name recognition and excitement prior to publication. Frankly, they don’t always bother with this step with my books, because they are in a rush to get them into the bookstores, and it takes several months’ lead-time to get reviews sufficiently prior to publication that they can be quoted on the cover.

P) With luck, the author finds 99.99% of all errors in the galleys (you’re never going to find all of them; the process is asymptotic), and returns the corrected manuscript (for the last time, [pant, puff, gasp, wheeze]) to the editor, who sends it to

(1. The ebook coding happens somewhere in here.)

Q) The Printer, who prints lots of copies (“the print-run” means how many copies) of the “guts” of the book—the actual inside text. These are then shipped to

R) The Bindery, where the guts are bound into their covers, equipped with dust-jackets, and shipped to

S) The Distributors. There are a number of companies—Ingram, and Baker and Taylor, are the largest, but there are a number of smaller ones—whose business is shipping, distributing, and warehousing books. The publisher also ships directly to

T) The Bookstores, but bookstores can only house a limited number of books. Therefore, they draw on distributors’ warehouses to resupply a title that’s selling briskly, because it takes much longer to order directly from the publisher. And at this point, [sigh]…the book finally reaches

U) You, the reader.

And we do hope you like it when you get it—because we sure-God went to a lot of trouble to make it for you. [g]

6) As it happens, Random House (who publishes my books in the US and Canada) prefers to publish my titles in the Fall quarter (between September 1 and December 31). That’s because this is traditionally the biggest sales period in the year, what with the run-up to Christmas, and therefore all the publishers normally release their “big” titles in the Fall. I’m flattered to be among them.

However, if I do finish the manuscript around the end of this year, Random House (and the UK publisher, Orion, and the German publisher, Blanvalet) _may_ decide to release the book earlier in 2013. They probably won’t set a pub date until I deliver the manuscript—which I _HOPE_ (no guarantees, mind you. Stuff Happens) to finish by the end of 2012.

(The other foreign editions—I think we’re now up to 29 countries, including Israel, Croatia, Russia, Greece, and Korea, which is pretty cool—will be out whenever their respective editors and translators finish their production processes, but I’m afraid I can’t predict that at all.)

So—that’s why the English and German-speaking readers will almost certainly get Written in My Own Heart’s Blood _sometime_ in 2013.

When I have a specific publication date, rest assured—I’ll tell you. (Webmaster’s note: WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD has an official publisher release date of June 10, 2014.)

[Amended to add that the photo above is of me sitting down to a well-earned glass of wine at the end of all this...no, really, it's of me at a dinner at Culloden House last summer. Thanks to Judy Lowstuter, who took it!]

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452 Responses »

  1. Diana, clearly your avid readers are starved delusional awaiting your next book- the wait is literally driving us mad! I adore your writing, and hope to someday meet you in person:)

  2. Dear Diana,
    as well as being very instructive, this has been almost as much fun reading as one of your books!
    Not that I can’t wait to get my hands on the eighth! the best thing is to read that you MIGHT write
    another!!! Like everybody else I just love to hear from J+C and all the others!!!

  3. Diana,

    Both my husband and I enjoy the Outlander Series.

    You are one talented, exceptional writer!
    We Thank you!

  4. Diana,

    I read The Scottish Prisoner this week and apart from some minor reservations enjoyed it very much. (Actually, I read it between 11pm on one day and 1pm on another. With 3 hours of sleep somewhere. I think. Whoops.) Lord John has grown to be my most favourite character and I’m always looking forward to his books (and any appearance he might have in the Outlander series, in fact I was absolutely delighted with his growing importance in Echo. I wondered if there are any plans, however vague, for a fourth novel to fill the gap until his appearance at the end of Voyager? I like the short stories and novellas well enough, but I’m more of a novel reader and would welcome another addition to the Lord John series.

    Thank you for these lovely and addicting books!

  5. Thank you for writing these incredible books. In order to quench my thirst for Moby, I’m re-reading 1-7 and finding I enjoy them almost as much as the first time, and I pick up clues I missed. You are an ace when it comes to story-telling!

  6. I LOVE that your books come out usually in Octoberish. It’s my birthday month and to me it’s like getting a personal birthday present from you Diana! I’ve been reading from the beginning and all because of a fateful day my mom sent me to the library to get Outlander and I started reading it on the way home, and couldn’t put it down! I don’t think she ever did get to read it during that first checkout from the library! LOL Thanks for the update!

  7. I find it unbelievable that people would accuse an author of ‘witholding’ her books! That’s sheer stupidity on an enormous scale, thats like a taxi driver starting the engine and refusing to drive anywhere – kinda defeats the point of the job!!! Seriously, you’re generous to even respond to such idiots!!!

    I got into these books when i was at University in the Lakes District, England in a little village called Ambleside which is close to where the Dunsany’s were meant to live. I was very excited when the books themselves went there for a while! You managed to capture the effect of the mist coming down the mountains there very well, it is extremely frightening when it just comes upon you, thankfully i had a good guide. Have you ever been to the Lakes Diana?

    I have got several people to read them and they all have said to me ‘ doesnt sound like my kinda thing’ but then are hooked, one friend’s husband is extremely annoyed with me!! the books dont need classifying, i only have to say Jamie Fraser to someone who has read it, and they know exactly what i mean!!

    keep up the good work (and im liking the notion it might not be the last book!!!)

    kate mc x

  8. Not that I wish to distract you from writing book 8, and with all the Lord John books and short stories to write there just must not be enough hours in the day, but was wondering if there will be a 2nd companion book any time soon? I found the first one excellant and really helpful in sorting all the characters, timelines and many, mant different plotlines. Happy Writing!

    • Oh yes, please, although rather than a companion, what I know I (and I suspect most fans) would really appreciate would be some kind of brief synopsis of the entire series, perhaps on a web page, as well as a glossary of all but the most minor characters with their back story. The long wait between new books in the series means I forgot a vast amount of what has happened before, and unlike all those amazing people who seem to have all the time in the world to reread the entire series each time a new one comes out, I don’t have time to reread books. Hell, I don’t have near enough time to read all the new books that come out all the time by other authors that I’d like to read. My reading list is a mile long. I’ve actually had to resort to keeping my own notes on the series so that when I pick up a new title I’m not completely lost. I have a very poor memory for a lot of the details. So do us all a favor, somebody, and write a web page with the details on all of the books in the series!

      • Dear Mark–

        Actually, [cough] there are synopses of _all_ the books on this very web site. They’re under the “Writing” tab. But yes, there will certainly be a second OUTLANDISH COMPANION (complete with the Cast of Characters listing. I appreciate your wanting this online, but frankly, it’s immense–there are literally hundreds of characters, with thumbnail biographies–and it would be unwieldy as a file. Not saying we might not eventually make it a searchable index, so you could look up a specific character easily–but really, it’s much more easily manipulable on paper). It won’t be out until after WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (since that book will be included in it), but I _am_ working on it (along with everything else [g]).


  9. How soon, in conjunction with the publishing of MOBY will the audio version be released?…..AND….will Davina Porter be narrating this one too? LOVE LOVE LOVE her narration! You couldn’t have chosen a better narrator!

    I’m re-listening as we speak, in prep for MOBY!

    I’m sure you’ve been asked myriads of times….however….what possessed you to write about the highlands? Just curious…


    • Dear Tari–

      The audiobooks come out simultaneously with the print version, unless the deadline is too tight–i.e., the Recorded Books people need to have a final book/manuscript version to read from, so they can’t begin their production until they have that. Ergo, if the manuscript is delivered too close to the publisher’s deadline, the publisher can still get it out on time by “crashing” production (they hate doing this, and it’s expensive, so they try not to, but it _can_ be done)–but in those circumstances, it’s not done in enough time for the audiobook to be reocorded, produced and released simultaneously. They usually manage it at the same time, though–THE SCOTTISH PRISONER audiobook actually appeared in bookstores a couple of days _earlier_ than the print version! [g]

      I certainly hope Davina Porter will be available to do WRITTEN, when the time comes!


  10. Diana,

    Congratualtions on your daughter’s upcoming wedding! (Read about it on your Appearances page.) So while writing MOBY, you will be a MOTB! (Mother Of The Bride, a term frequently used to describe the style of dresses many such ladies wear on that day.) How exciting that she is marrying a Scot from Edinburgh! Did Mom have any influence in that area? Will they be living in Edinburgh or in the US? If I had a chance to live in Edibnugh I’d move there in a flash, it’s the most beautuful city I’ve ever seen!

  11. Diana,

    Just started reading The Scottish Prisoner. WOW!!!! The first sentence should be remembered forever with all the other great novels.

  12. Just read the run-down of this and it made me laugh. But is was also very informative, who knew all this had to happen?! Would you mind telling what the process for the audio book is? I love to read your books but always listen to them as well read by Davina Porter, who is just simply awesome. She is so talented in voices and accents, love her.

  13. Sooooo – bags I be a reviewer then! I’ll write it now if you want, just to hurry things along a bit!

  14. OMG! Who knew it took all that work just to get a book out!
    Diana, go ahead and take your time.
    I was recently introduced to the Outlander series and in just a few months, I whipped through the entire series, including Lord John Grey.
    Everything you’ve written is truly amazing.
    I’ll be patiently waiting to continue my adventures with all the Outlander characters.
    Please make it a whale of a book. The books are never long enough. I keep wanting more and more.

    P.S. This can’t be the last one. We need more, well as least I do. ? Will we hear anymore from Thomas Christie? I like a challenge for Jaime, in regards to his affections for Claire.

  15. OMG! Who knew it took all that work just to get a book out!
    Diana, go ahead and take your time.
    I was recently introduced to the Outlander series and in just a few months, I whipped through the entire series, including Lord John Grey.
    Everything you’ve written is truly amazing.
    I’ll be patiently waiting to continue my adventures with all the Outlander characters.
    Please make it a whale of a book. The books are never long enough. I keep wanting more and more.

    P.S. This can’t be the last one. We need more, well as least I do. ? Will we hear anymore from Thomas Christie? I like a challenge for Jaime, in regards to his affections for Claire (Not that Claire has feelings for Thomas).

  16. Diana,
    You crack me up!! (“kill a pigeon in Times Square and examine the entrails in order to determine the most advantageous publishing date for the book”)

    I also love to listen to the audio books. I get so much more involved
    with the story and delight in the Scottish accent of the narrator.
    If you see me driving along and talking to no one imparticular, I’m responding
    to whatever I’m hearing on the Audio book. Neither Jamie, Claire, Ian or William
    seem to be listening to me though. haha
    Waiting with the usual anticipation,


  17. WOW weee! And all that for around $30 a book – seems like a bargain now!

  18. I have to add my name to this list of followers. I discover your books throug Julie Garwood that also writes about highlinders. I must confess that at the beginning I was afraid to start reading something that keeps going and going. I like to know the ending. But you got me hook. I love to watch TV and since I started reading the Outlander series, I have been recording my shows, but have no idea when I will get to them. The books consume my life. I am on the last one – Echo… and will start with the Lord John series as I finish.

    I just finished readin an Echo in the Bond. I am so in shock that I have been dreaming and analising the book for the past two days. It is going to kill me to having to wait so long to solve all the issues that you left open in this book and to see Claire and Jaime together again.

    I think that you have a great imagination and I love it. I don’t know how you do it, how you can come up with all this small stories surrounding the big one. It is amasing. I love Jamie and Claire, and Roger and Brianna, and every body else. If I have to picture Jamie I have to say that it is Gerard Butler, specially in this older years, and with his reasent picture at the grammys.

    Thanks for your wonderful writing. I can barely wait for the next one

  19. Dear Diana,
    I was watching an episode of House Hunters International recently on HGTV which was about a Scottish family relocating to Australia. The husband had black curly hair, was a history buff w/ a huge library of old books, nicely built, tall, etc. I looked and him and went, “It’s Roger!” Truly, he could play the part. It just kind of blew me away. I have never thought of Scots as being dark haired, and on TV you couldn’t see the color of his eyes, but there he was, in living color! Ah, yes, Outlander invades everything around here.

  20. Let me guess, Diana – you have written articles and done research for major scientific journals! I love your step-by-step explanation of all that goes into getting your next exciting sequel to us – thank you for quieting the Impatient Ones. Do carry on in your own inimitable way, and thank you so much for sharing your talents with us.

    The Scottish Prisoner was an excellent “fix” for those of us hungry for news of our friends. Thank you.



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