I don’t think a fifth book in The Ever Afters series will happen.
I’m really sorry to disappoint everyone who loves this series and wants more, especially those people who have written me to ask for another The Ever Afters book or a series that is a direct sequel to this one. (Thank you guys for writing, by the way; even if I can’t give you the news you want to hear, it makes me so SO happy to hear that readers have loved the books this much.)
Still, I had to be honest: a fifth book and/or a direct sequel series probably won’t happen, and I want to share some of my reasons.
The publisher isn’t interested in a fifth book.
You may already have heard this part of the story, but in 2010, Simon and Schuster and I signed a contract for only two books—the novels that would eventually be called Of Giants and Ice and Of Witches and Wind. This is pretty normal for a debut author.
Later, in January 2013, my editor, Julia Maguire, took the rest of the series to the Acquisitions meeting (a.k.a. the people who make the publishing decisions), roughly six months after Of Giants and Ice came out. They said yes, but it wasn’t as enthusiastic a yes as we’d hoped. To be one hundred percent honest, the acquisitions board only wanted ONE book, which would have made the series a trilogy. Julia had to talk them into letting me publish two books instead (in exchange, I accepted a smaller advance).
Now, after more than two years have passed, the acquisitions board is not going to want to expand the series with a fifth book. They won’t even be interested in a series that is a direct sequel to The Ever Afters.
They make that decision based on numbers—how much they think they can earn on each book and how many copies of each book in the series has sold . They’re pretty strict about this, and I’m afraid that, despite how loyal readers are to the books (a fact I am extremely grateful for), the series is not a big seller. In other words, The Ever Afters doesn’t have the numbers to convince the publishing company to invest in more books.
You may be thinking that making such a cold-blooded decision is pretty unfair of Simon and Schuster, but I wish you wouldn’t. Publishing companies NEED to make decisions like this, so they can keep their business healthy. If their business is healthy, they’ll be able to keep doing what they’re doing—putting TONs of new awesome books on the shelves, not just ones written by me.
(You may also be wondering what you can do to help The Ever Afters reach the numbers that they would need to make more books possible. Please don’t worry about this either—you can’t do more than share your enthusiasm for the series, and you guys already go above and beyond in that arena.)
Besides, even if the publishing company did want more books in this series, I’m not sure I would want to write them.
The story is complete as I originally envisioned it.
It’s true: my original plan WAS for five books. (I’m guessing that this is where excitement over a fifth book has come from.) It was actually Julia’s idea to combine the plots of what I thought should be Book 4 and Book 5, and I’m really glad she did. Otherwise, Book 4 would have ended with Of Enemies and Endings’s Chapter 13—what a cruel cliffhanger that would be! Book 5 would have only been the last 141 pages of OEAE—definitely NOT the epic finale we wanted
So, it’s not like the story is missing any material. When the idea for the series first came to me, WAY back in July 2009, I imagined the final showdown exactly as it happens in OEAE (see Chapter 22). It ended the way I planned for it to end. I didn’t leave anything out. There’s nothing left to cover.
I want to protect the quality of the story, especially the character arcs.
Now you may be thinking that I could make something up for a fifth book: maybe the Snow Queen comes back, or maybe Searcaster breaks free, or maybe that thing with Iron Hans gets started. Making stuff up is what writers do, and what ifs are relatively easy to imagine. I could extend the plot, for sure.
But I don’t write my books for plot. I write them for the characters. I had a plan in mind for Rory, Chase, and Lena that paced their character growth throughout the series; I’m actually incredibly happy with the resulting relationships, because I stuck to that plan.
Another book didn’t figure into their designed character arcs, and right now, I don’t see how I can extend the plot of the stories AND continue character development in an organic way.
I could try, it’s true, but I think that this is how bad sequels get written: Writers are tempted; writers try to keep it going, and then the result is only so-so.
I hate sequels like that. I hate feeling like a writer just created more drama for characters I loved to make a new book/movie (and usually more money)—rather than telling a story that feels necessary and true. I feel like a sequel for the sake of a sequel would be a betrayal of the original series, its characters, and all the readers who enjoyed the books so much. I want to protect The Ever Afters from that.
That’s the most important reason for not doing a fifth book.
Does this mean we’ll never see Rory, Chase, and Lena again????
I certainly hope not! I love these characters, and it would make me so sad never to write them again!! I may not write a fifth book or a series that shows the same cast in high school, but it’s way more likely that they’ll make cameos in books I write in the future.
(That’ll be a while though. I don’t have any books or series in the works right now. More on that in September. :-D)
I’m so sorry for giving you guys bad news, but I really hope explaining myself helps!!!