Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here, reflecting on milestones, those markers in our lives, writing or otherwise, that are for some reason memorable and worth noting. I hit one of the professional biggies on June 25 of this year with the publication of Clause & Effect. It’s the second book in the “Deadly Edits” series and the fourteenth of my novels Kensington Books has published—twentieth if you count the paperback reprints of the first six Face Down novels. It’s my thirty-third published mystery novel if I include the two written for ages 8-12 and don’t count the novels categorized as romantic suspense. Most significant, though, is that it is my sixtieth traditionally published book.

My first published book (1984), now updated and expanded into my Tudor Women website

When people remark on this, I tend to downplay the accomplishment. After all, there are plenty of writers out there with well over a hundred books to their credit. Then, too, there’s the fact that my writing career dates back to 1976. My first book, a work of nonfiction, was published in 1984. If you divide the thirty-five years since by those sixty books, my accomplishment doesn’t seem nearly as impressive. I get points for longevity, and for stubbornly sticking with this career even when nothing was selling, but so do many other writers.

first mystery (for ages 8-12)

That said, I’m going to indulge myself on this occasion and do a bit of bragging, because I am proud of the fact that every one of those sixty books was published by a traditional publisher. I have nothing against writers who decide to publish their own work, especially those who have a prior track record with traditionally published books, but I can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment that my writing has managed to convince numerous professional editors and, more important, their marketing departments, to take a chance on me over the years.

first historical mystery

An aside here, for readers who may be wondering what the distinction is. A book that is traditionally published is one that was sold by the author to a publisher. The publisher pays the author for the right to publish the book in print format and may or may not also acquire “rights” to other formats such as e-book, audiobook, and large print. The key here is that the publisher pays the author. This usually involves an advance against royalties. It definitely involves the author receiving royalties—a percentage of the price of the published book. The publisher provides editing, cover art, marketing, and other services as part of the deal. The author provides the manuscript. Indie books are published by the author at the author’s expense and the author does for herself everything normally done by a traditional publisher. If she’s smart, she hires professionals to handle the editing, the cover art, and so on. She receives all the income from the published book, but does a lot more work and spends a lot more money to get to that point. It’s not easy to have a book accepted by a traditional publisher, but once it is, it’s a lot less work for the writer. All the profits flow in, not out, with the exception of the expense of any self-promotion the author chooses to do.

first mystery written as Kaitlyn Dunnett

Call it sheer laziness, but I’ve always preferred the traditional route. So far it’s been working for me. Two more cozy mysteries are already written and scheduled for publication with Kensington. My current “Deadly Edits” contract calls for me to write one more, to be turned in next year. I also have other projects in the works.

The next milestone, sixty-five traditionally published books, is within the realm of possibility. I doubt I’ll hit a hundred, but you never know. There was a time when I thought I’d be doing well if I had a total of ten books published during my writing career.

If anyone is interested, there is a complete list of my books, including the young adult novel I self-published some years ago as an e-book original, at

With the June 2019 publication of Clause & Effect, Kathy Lynn Emerson/Kaitlyn Dunnett will have had sixty books traditionally published. She won the Agatha Award and was an Anthony and Macavity finalist for best mystery nonfiction of 2008 for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries and was an Agatha Award finalist in 2015 in the best mystery short story category. She was the Malice Domestic Guest of Honor in 2014. Currently she writes the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the “Deadly Edits” series as Kaitlyn. As Kathy, her most recent book is a collection of short stories, Different Times, Different Crimes. Her websites are and and she maintains a website about women who lived in England between 1485 and 1603 at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women.


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4 Responses to Milestones

  1. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations on this Milestone. What a great and rewarding accomplishment.

  2. Vida Antolin-Jenkins says:

    Bravo!!! Really impressive! And oh, so very readable!! Thank you for your productivity and tenacity.

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