An author who is just about to publish her third book (and at least so far seems to be turning out utterly fantastic sequels) covered this issue on her blog and said that the editors and agents expect writers to be professionals. Okay, understandable, but a muse is a many splendored thing, but it's hard to pound your round muse into a square hole when it comes to having a flash of brilliant inspiration, or knowing just how to "fix" a scene or element that isn't working, or kick out a product by a specific date. You can't send a memo saying, "Muse, I have a project for you. I want you to write a 100,000 word, utterly brillaint, take-reader's-breath-away story with a can't-put-it-down plot, characters and premise, and I want it to be perfected and ready to go to press by this date." And your muse will laugh and say, "Oh reaaaaally? You want it WHEN?"
On the flip side, agents, editors and publishing houses need you on some sort of a schedule if they are going to be partners in building your career and making you a success. They can't except an answer like, "Hmmm, well, I dunno. Counting muse vacation time, plot development sabbaticals, research vacations and negotiating detours around potential plot roadblocks...I should get back to you in two or three years with a novel that will knock your socks off." Not gonna fly.
So how do you avoid getting in a jam? I think Barbara had the right idea, or maybe just the PERFECT TIMING (sorry, couldn't resist the plug) by completing a score of novels before her first sale. (A situation I think Dawn is also going to be in with her myriad of projects.) Of course, Barbara also writes at warp speed (compared to my impulse power), but it took her years to develop the system that works for her and results in a saleable product in a relatively short time. Even so, now that her stockpile of novels has been pretty much sold out, she'll be in the situation of producing on demand.
Barbara, any thoughts you'd like to share on that?