• “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. Please Diana, feed the beast that is your readers another exerpt, or better yet 3! Love your books and the world you have created. I am looking forward to revisiting it when the new one comes out.

  2. I have read the entire series twice through by now, and not sure I could manage a third time to wait out the newest book. I had stumbled across the third book in a store, loved it, and had to start at the beginning, so actually read book 3 three times! I think I may take up a Lord John novel in the mean time. Diana, thank you so much for you truly unique, and addictive, works. Seriously, as others have said, anything worthwhile is worth waiting for.
    Waiting on the edge of our seats for the next installment! By all means, do enjoy another glass of wine, you’ve certainly earned it!

  3. I love waiting for the next Diana Gabaldon book… When I even catch a whiff of a rumour that the next book is in progress I start the whole series all over again…

    I can’t think of a better excuse to reaquainted with Jamie and Claire than the anticipation of a new book… and what better way to get requainted than to start back at the beginning.

    With each read I pick up different nuances about the characters and new details come to light that I have somehow managed to miss in the past – These books are a pure delight to read. I have now finished reading Outlander for the 8th time and each time I amazed at the scope of work that is involved in writing a novel – a work of fiction is just that – work!!! It requires tedious and copious amounts of research and I for one appreciate the effort that goes into each book to ensure accuracy and continuity…

    I have only had one complaint ever… the books are soooo heavy (because I can’t wait for them to come out in paperback… I must have them hardcover as soon as they hit the shelves) that they are difficult to read in bed :) But I just recently solved that problem as well… While I own all 7 books in hardcover – I know also own them all digitally… My Kobo is so much lighter to hold!

    So thank you Diana… for your dedication, committment and tenacity, ensuring that every read is exceptional and amazing!!!!

  4. This sort of bears, I think.

    I have a subscription to Audible.com; $15 a month and for that, I get one audiobook and a discount on others. I’d heard so much about the audio versions of your books — and how wonderful Davina Porter was — that I figured, what the hey. So, I got Outlander and started listening. (She really is that damn good, but that’s a bit of a digression from the real point.)

    Kind of caught me off guard when I heard the phrase at one point, when Jenny comments about Ian being “my heart’s own blood.” I’ve forgotten exactly where, now. Somewhere near the end of Part 3. I thought to myself, “aaaaah, that’s probably where it came from.”

    Am I way off the mark on that?

  5. Hi,
    I Just wanted to echo, underscore that I am not patient and do look forward to MOBY as soon as I can snatch it off the shelf ( or pre-order of course)!!!

    I really, really can’t wait!!! Ha, Ha…which is testimony to the excellence of the books and the writer.

    Thanks for keeping us updated. I will send some good Scottish energy and some of their “saints” that you can finish it asap for all of us!

  6. I just finished reading An Echo in the Bone. This is the most enjoyable series I have ever read. I thank you for your time and talent invested in this series. I have never had any other books elicit the emotions I have experienced while reading this series.
    I verra much look forward to the release in 2013…THANK YOU!!!

  7. I love your books and am rereading them again. I stumbled on the audio version of Voyager (very abbreviated) and just had to find the print copy to find out what they had left out. I then proceeded to read the whole series and then found the Lord John books which I gave to my brother (he is gay). I cannot get him to read the original series but he loves the Lord John books. I do not yet have a copy of the “Scottish Prisoner” and have not seen it at my library. I am on a fixed income and have limited space so I do most of my reading from the library although I am trying to save up to get a Kindle so I can put my favorite books in it’s memory. Your books will definitely be in the memory.

    I love your research. I am a history buff (I used to be a member of the SCA) and get very upset at poor research. I figure if I know it is wrong, the author has been very lazy and not even tried to do it right. I am in awe of the effort you have put into these books. Keep up the good work.

  8. Just checking in for the latest update, re: timing of MOBY. I am gratified to hear that it will be sometime this year. I would hope it was more in line with the summer, laying-on-the-beach reading season rather than the fall, get-it-for-Christmas reading season. The idea that ANYONE would allow this book to be purchased for them, and then allow it to lay IDLE in a box under a tree is unthinkable. I can’t imagine a family member of mine that would do that to me and it would NOT result in a stressfree holiday season.

    Perhaps if the publishers, artists, editors, et al could work in parallel rather than in series for at least SOME of the steps, a summer release might be possible . . . . . . please . . . .

    • Dear Paula–

      Um…you might want to go back and read this post a little more carefully. [g] I _said_, “Even IF I finish it by December 30, you WON’T GET IT on December 31.” That’s an if, not a when. I HOPE I can finish the manuscript by the end of the year, but I know better than to guarantee any such thing. And as to the notion of the book being out this summer….if I may quote John Lennon, ‘It is to larf.” [d&r]


  9. Hi Diana, I am willing to wait but I do hope you are concentrating. I am one of your (ahem) older readers and I hope to finish all the books you want to write .. I love them all. Lord John is not my favourite, however, but Claire and Jamie are my “go to ” books whenever I feel stressed , anxious , tired or all three or just want to visit them for pleasure. I do hope the short stories get put in one book .. I am beginning to like Lord John better after having read The Scottish Prisoner.. I think he is getting less stuffy for an 18th C gentleman. Or maybe I just understand him better.. Write away.. Blessings, Julie

  10. I don’t know if I can wait that long!!! My husband and I are both so addicted to this series. Thank you so much Diana for writing it. We feel like we’re part of the Fraser family.

  11. diana,

    To wait till next year will be excrutiating–BUT well worth the wait. I am hoping the story will continue through the to the end ( :( ) of their lives–in the FAR FAR FAR distant future. Jamie and Claire are very much apart of everyday here–as I read and re-read them often. I did enjoy The scottish Prisoner, just not as much as the Outlander series.

    I am having touble getting to the excerpts on facebook; I don’t get there very often because of my work schedule (I’m soap maker at our local SMALL factory.

    Keep up the terrific writing and I shall be here to the end–whenever it happens—–long time off :).


  12. Sixteen years ago I was spending a beach weekend with my (at the time) boyfriend. I dashed into a local bookstore grabbed what appeared to be a Scottish historical fiction novel and plopped down on a beach chair to read the paperback version of Outlander. When I realized Outlander had a time travel premise I thought I had made a bad decision. Seven books, three children and sixteen years later I know that my decision that fateful summer day was the right one. As will many, I will wait patiently for Book 8, as I am not anxious for such a wonderful series to come to an end. And the boyfriend? Now my husband. We got engaged that weekend over a romantic dinner that we were very late for – not for reasons you may think, but because I simply could not put down a book I had picked up on a whim on a hot summer day.

  13. Good luck with finishing the books. I am enjoying the little snippets you post up via facebook and it keeps me wanting more, whether it is MOHB, Virgins or the scottish prisoner.
    I am trying to keep myself occupied with other novels in the interim and occassionally I will just go back and re-read the other books in the series and I will always pick up some small detail that I missed the first time.

    I appreciate you keeping us all updated with your progress at least we all know there are many things to look forward to and not just one novel.
    Keep up the good work.

    P.S any idea where I may find myself a loyal Scot? haha He doesn’t have to be a clone of Jamie but you have made be set the bar extremely high there! :-)

  14. I have so enjoyed reading all the notes, responses, etc. Like everyone else, I am anxiously awaiting the next volume about Claire and Jamie. I am curently reading ‘The Scottish Prisoner’, just began it today . I sincerely hope I am still around when the’Written In my Heart’s Blood’ is available. These books are my very favorites.

    Sue A.

  15. Diana, I’m new to your website. (Though, why, is beyond me since I’ve been withy our devoted fan since Outlander was first released.) I understand there will be no movie. Is that because such a huge saga would just be too hard to condense? What about a TV miniseries??

    • Dear Mona–

      Where do you understand _that_ from? (I’m constantly boggled by all the assertions–in every direction–regarding movies/miniseries,etc.–NONE of them a) coming from me, or b) having the slightest reality, so far as I can tell.) Just wondering.


  16. Dear Diana,

    All great things (i.e. ALL of your books!) are worth waiting for!!!

    PLEASE do not let M.O.B.Y. be the last book of this series!!!

    Thank you for your wonderful books!!!

  17. I have a good edition to your Methadone list. Have you read the Saxon Chronicles by Barnard Cornwell? They are written in England during King Alfred’s time and involve the wars between the inhabitants of England and the Danish invaders of the time. If you have squeamish stomach, the description of battles may be difficult but the story is entertaining and the hero is often amusing. Just thought I throw this set of books out there for consideration while we wait for the “real thing”. Thanks.

    • ive read the Bernard Cornwall books and you’re right they are worth a read whilst waiting for the next book. I read them at teh same time i discovered Cross Stitch x

  18. I absolutely adore all of your books!! The Outlander series being my favorite. But I do love Lord John. I own all your books including the graphic novel. I have read the series multiple times. My poor Outlander book is falling apart:)! Guess I will have to buy it in hard back. I am a nurse and am constantly amazed at your medical accuracy,fabulous job. I recommend this series to everyone. I have got several of my coworkers hooked.I am thrilled that this may not be the last book. Glad to hear that M.O.B.Y is going to be a rather substanial book:)The bigger the better! Thank you for creating such beautiful characters and phenomonal stories. I recommend that everyone of your fans give a copy of Outlander to a friend. Your books are such a gift to the literary world!

  19. I have just finished Echo in the Bone and stupidly thought this was the last in the series. I immediately hopped on your website. Phew! So so glad the next one follows and I will wait (patiently) for number 8. Your books are amazing and I am so happy my friend recommended them. Thanks so much for what you give us!

    • Dear Sharon–

      How could you possibly read the end of ECHO and think it was the last book?!? [g] Still, congratulations for coming to the website to see!


  20. Diana
    My mother & I love everything you write and we both agree that the Outlander series is the best we have ever read. My mother, however is 81 and asks that you do your best to get the books out before she leaves this world. Smile.


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