Harper Lee Has a Backlist of One

Whenever I begin to worry too much about goals, and success, and output, and all that, I remind myself: Harper Lee.

Harper Lee wrote a novel.

It was her first novel.

She was past thirty years old when To Kill A Mockingbird was published in 1960. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. In 1999, it was voted “Best Novel of the Century” in a Library Journal poll.

She began another novel, but never finished it.

She published some essays, but never published any more fiction at all.

Yet I defy anyone to say Harper Lee is not a writer.

Tune in tomorrow for a guest post from Andrea Barra, PhD candidate in Sociology: “Romance, Academia, and Me.” She’s researching and writing about romance and the romance community.

Related post: The Desire to Publish.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. Her blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and occasional author interviews.
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3 Responses to Harper Lee Has a Backlist of One

  1. Louisa Edwards says:

    Good point! That question of who's a writer and who isn't gets so contentious and difficult.

  2. Jeannie Lin says:

    I always loved To Kill a Mockingbird and I asked this question of my sister once when we were discussing her — would you rather publish one standout, timeless book like TKAM that will be read and talked about forever or publish one pulp novel a year that no one in 20 years will remember? I said hands down, one a year.

    I think Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell both tried to write additional books that never made it to the shelves. Goes to show you how hard the process of writing/publishing can be.

  3. Victoria Janssen says:

    It makes me wonder if early success caused such fear–"my next book won't be as good"–that it paralyzed their writing.

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