Posted On November 6, 2017 by Print This Post

When to Say When (AKA: Walking Away From a Popular Series) by Julie Ann Walker

Please welcome New York Times and USA Today Best-Selling Author JULIE ANN WALKER  – this is her debut post at Romance University!

You have a bestselling series! Readers are clamoring for more!

 

Those two sentences are every working writer’s dream. The problem with dreams? They’re not always so great in reality.

 

Hi, I’m Julie Ann Walker and I’ve stopped writing my Black Knights Inc. series.

I didn’t stop because of reader fatigue. If I’m to believe the sales numbers, the readership continues to grow. It wasn’t because I ran out of stories to write in the series. Since my ideas come from “reading between the headlines” there is never a lack of fodder at which to aim my writing cannons. It’s not because I don’t love the world or the characters. I do. I love them. They’re like family, comfortable and crazy-making and I’m so blessed to have them in my life. So why, you ask, would I ever walk away?

 

There’s a famous quote by Charles Bukowski that comes to mind. “Find something you love… then let it kill you.” While that’s a little dramatic for my situation, the truth is that a part of me was dying. The part of me that jumped out of bed every morning, champing at the bit to get to my PC and frantically, joyously write the day’s words. The part of me that daydreamed about characters and storylines and rich, wonderful snippets of dialogue. The part of me that liked being a writer.

 

It’s not that I’d lost my muse. It’s that my muse was an indifferent companion who sullenly hiked up her big girl panties and got the job done without any real sense of joie de vivre or accomplishment. My muse was tired. My muse was bored.

 

I worried this would manifest itself in my writing. I envisioned the slow, painful death of the series I’d worked so hard to create. Imagined reviews turning bad. Feared the readership would drop off and fans would look elsewhere for their romantic suspense fix. So I did something that terrified me.

 

I tied up all the loose ends. I stopped introducing new characters and storylines. I wrote THE END.

 

Here’s what’s happening now…

 

1) I live in fear of my readership not following me to the next thing.

2) I’m scared I’ve thrown away the income the Black Knights Inc. series generated. (Hey, I like eating and paying my electric bills as much as the next gal.)

3) I’ve answered countless emails from fans crying foul.

4) My brain is brimming with new characters and storylines.

5) I jump out of bed each morning and scurry to my PC to write the day’s words.

6) My muse is bright and bubbly, spinning in circles and shooting finger-guns in the air.

7) Readers are inundating my social media asking, “What’s next?”

8) I like being a writer again. It’s the best job in the world!

 

It remains to be seen whether anything I write now or in the future will be as popular as my Black Knights Inc. series. And, honestly, there may come a day when I’m ready to return to that world. (Although I slammed all the doors shut, in the epilogue of the final book I opened a small window giving readers a glimpse of what could — maybe, possibly, conceivably — be more BKI titles. I mean, honestly, I’m not completely crazy.) But I take comfort in two things. One, I stopped while I was ahead, before the series and/or characters turned stale. Two, I didn’t do what felt right for my agent or my publishing house; I did what felt right for me.

One of the unique aspects of being writers is that we are required to be two things at once, creative creatures and businesswomen/men. If we’re lucky, most of the time those two halves live in perfect harmony, holding hands and singing Kumbayah around the campfire. But occasionally, maybe inevitably, at some point in our careers those two parts of ourselves become diametrically opposed. Our business side screams something in one ear while our creative side sing-songs the polar opposite in the other.

 

I’m not here to tell you to always listen to your creative side. Nor would I espouse always agreeing with your business side. I think the right decision depends on the situation and the individual author’s circumstances. But one thing I will say… life is short. If you have an opportunity (and are financially able) to do something that makes you happy, makes you feel free and hopeful and full of zest for a new day, then close your eyes, fist your hands, and take the leap!

 

Who knows where you’ll land, but isn’t the freefall fun?

***

Have you ever been in a situation where the smart money led you in one direction while your muse pulled you in another? What did you end up doing?

 

***

Bio:

Julie Ann Walker has saved the world. Or… at least the characters in her books have. In real life Julie prefers vino over villains, baked goods over bullets, and massages over missions, so she gets her international intrigue fix by writing romantic suspense novels that have been described as “alpha, edgy, and downright hot.” A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Julie enjoys riding her bicycle along Chicago’s lake shore, fishing with her father, and going to baseball games with her husband, a self-confessed diehard Cubs fan.

To learn more about Julie, visit her at www.julieannwalker.com. Or follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/julieannwalkerauthor and/or Instagram: @julieannwalker_author.

Welcome to Black Knights Inc!

HOT PURSUIT

What appears to be a tricked-out motorcycle shop on the North Side of Chicago is actually headquarters for the world’s most elite covert operatives. Deadly, dangerous, and determined, they’ll steal your breath and your heart.

Fighting for his life is pretty much standard operating procedure for Christian Watson, former SAS Officer. Doing it with bossy, beautiful BKI office manager Emily Scott in tow is another matter entirely. Hold on tight. You’re in for a wild ride!

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10 Responses to “When to Say When (AKA: Walking Away From a Popular Series) by Julie Ann Walker”

  1. I am in the process of doing that right now. I was working on a book that my business side–as well as my writing coach–said was the next best thing. But my muse first sulked, then balked, then stomped her foot and said “No more. Not right now.”

    After a vivid dream about an entirely different story led to a 2 a.m. synopsis, I’m writing that book now, participating in NaNoWriMo. My muse, like yours, is doing a happy dance, and fist-bumps me every time I sit down at the keyboard.

    Sometimes we crazy creatives just have to do what we have to do…thanks for sharing this!

    Posted by Claire Gem | November 6, 2017, 7:55 am
  2. Thanks so much for this great post!

    I don’t know if it’s harder on the author or the reader when a series ends. In one sense, it’s nice to have closure. But it’s VERY hard to say good-bye to old friends.

    I was in shock when Suzanne Brockmann decided to put her Troubleshooters series on hiatus. She didn’t say it was absolutely “the end,” just that she was going to take a break and pursue other ideas. I’ve really enjoyed the YA series she wrote with her daughter. I imagine it’s been calling her name for quite awhile. I admit I was VERY happy when she brought the Troubleshooters back, though.

    The worst, in my perspective, is when a publisher cuts the cord and leaves devoted readers with loose ends and no chance to say good-bye. I assume that’s what happened with Tara Janzen’s Steel Street series – I still miss those books!

    While mystery author Carolyn Hart is best known for her Death on Demand books, I’ve always loved her Henrie O. books. When I had the opportunity to meet Carolyn a few years ago, I asked if she’d be writing any Henrie books in the near future. Sadly, she said the demand for her most popular series made it unlikely she’d have time to return to the Henrie books.

    I’m so glad you have found your muse again, and that you’re enjoying your writing. I’m excited to read whatever comes next (any hints for us?), but I always feel sad when a series ends. Since I started watching my grandkids, my reading time has dwindled so I still have at least one of your books in my waiting-to-be-read pile. Sometimes reading fast can be a curse!

    Best of luck with your new endeavors, and thanks for joining us today!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 6, 2017, 10:00 am
  3. As a debut author, I have a long way to go before seeing a series end, but I can understand how you feel. I have ideas for stories I want to write but don’t fit the mold of the category I’m writing for so they’ll have to wait.

    I’m a huge fan of your BK series but am also eagerly awaiting your new series. Best of luck with it!!

    Posted by Carrie Nichols | November 6, 2017, 12:26 pm
  4. Evening Julie Ann!

    I agree with Becky – I hate when they just pull the plug on a series! That’s not fair to us readers!

    I have 2 book series I’ve been reading for quite a few years…..the In Death series and the Stephanie Plum series. I know they’ll have to eventually end, but it will be like losing a close friend.

    =)

    I’m glad you’re enjoying your writing again though – that makes it all worth it!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Peters | November 6, 2017, 9:06 pm
  5. Thank you!

    Posted by Julie Ann Walker | November 7, 2017, 8:23 am
  6. I was wondering are rust and aces story going to be the last book does angel find someone

    Posted by Anghelicha Taylor | November 21, 2017, 7:41 pm
  7. I have a series that stands at 9 books and counting. There are plans for 3 more with one plotted out and in process. I’ve tied up the biggest character arc and I’m working through a couple of the minor ones. Readers ask every time I release a book in the series for me to continue it but I’m running out of places I can go with it without introducing new main characters. I have so many ideas for other stuff I want to do but I too fear losing my core readers who might not cross over.

    Posted by Anne Hagan | December 15, 2017, 6:30 am

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