Book Two: A Race to the Finish Line?

The Applause Box at Signals.com makes it easy to get the acclaim I need

Like J. wrote in Owning It, I, too, have been obsessing about the next book. But for different reasons. I never know if I love a work-in-progress because I revise everything to death and lose all sense of perspective, anyway. I wish I could just Be-in-the-Moment and adore my own book to death. But alas, it seems difficult. The closest I get are the chills on my arm that happen sometimes when I’m writing, or when I read back a scene I wrote the day before and feel the words rush up from my heart: “Ooh, you’re good!” Hmm, come to think of it, maybe this is a form of love after all. How lucky are we writers that we even get these moments where we have a physical reaction to our own creativity? But still, it doesn’t happen often enough–given that writing is a solitary pursuit and so we don’t get the benefit of daily positive feedback from colleagues or good annual reviews to let us know we’re doing well–which is why I’m following the recommendation of another writer friend and buying myself an Applause Box. If I can’t do it for myself, might as well buy one that’s battery-operated. (OMG, did I just say that?)

For me, my second-book-fears originate from something I heard from an agent at the SCBWI Summer Conference in L.A. She says it’s not easy getting a second book published if the first book doesn’t have stellar sales records. So this leaves me thinking that it’s best to get the second book out there before the first one is released. It’s not that I’m worried about not making back my advance, it’s just that I don’t really have a clue how it will do, and if it’s true that publishers will one day decide the fate of my future books based on some mysterious, 32-page sales report, well, then, that’s a pretty freaky thought.

Basically, this puts a lot of internal pressure on me to get this book done. The past three years have been about revising my existing stuff, then revising some more. Not about creating new works. So here I am, working hard to finish something new before LEAGUE OF STRAYS comes out next fall. My goal is to have Book Number Two completed by the holidays (which holiday, though, I’ll never tell!) Also, I miss being out on submission. Right now, Agent Joan isn’t selling anything of mine, and I am desperate to give her something shiny and sparkly to work on. A writer is supposed to write, not just revise and write blogs, right?

My goal: to write in the moment, which means NOW.

I also know that once my book is out there, I’m going to be spending more time on getting the word out, and hopefully doing fun things like teaching or speaking at book fairs. This means that my window for creation is now. What I really need to do is take a chapter out of the Buddhist manual and Be-in-the-Moment-and-Write. Remember, it took me a decade to get this one written, revised a gazillion times, and sold. I feel like I don’t have the luxury of endless time anymore.

So therefore, I am signing off to work on my next book. I hope to love it one day, but just to get something done would be nice, too.

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10 Comments

Filed under Editing and Revising, Happiness, rejection and success, Satisfaction, Writing and Life

10 responses to “Book Two: A Race to the Finish Line?

  1. Try to keep in mind that publishers aren’t just putting out books; they’re also investing in authors.

    I had to laugh at your decision not to tell anyone WHICH holiday you’d finish by.

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  2. L.B. Schulman

    Hi Kristin,
    Thanks for your comment. Interesting thought. So would a publisher invest in the author again if the author didn’t do as well as hoped with the first book? And do all publishers invest in authors? It makes me feel better to think this way.

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  3. I’ve heard more than one editor say, “We don’t publish books. We publish authors.” While a publisher might not go with a second book in a series if the first book didn’t do well enough–this HAS happened to me. Sniff–I think that they’d be willing to take another swing or two with the same author as long as reviews are solid. Sorry if that gave you something different to worry about. But all we can do is write well and accept guidance from people we trust like Erin and Joan.

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  4. J. Anderson Coats

    I’ll be done by the holidays all right. I just won’t say which YEAR. And I’m writing way ahead of my research as it is. #sigh

    But Kristin has given me hope – write well and be worthy of investment.

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  5. Thanks for sharing this. It makes me feel better about the painfully sluggish progress (a euphemism!) on my WIP. My editor has two PB NF mss, and I keep fretting that she’s waiting to decide whether to make an offer less on sales of my debut book as on what I’m like to work with.

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  6. “[T]he luxury of endless time…” That’s funny. Since I am still unpublished, that “endless time” feels more like a burden than a luxury. But I know that once (if) I do get published, a whole new set of pressures, such as these that you and J are describing, will kick in.

    Thank you for sharing these insights with such honesty. It helps those of us behind you on the path see with open eyes.

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    • I know what you mean, mfantaliswrites…before my novel sold, it sure felt more like frustration than luxury! I actually like working on a deadline, and before something sells, there is no “official” deadline. To remedy that, my critique group has a deadline of sorts, in that someone is always up to sub once every 4 weeks. There were many, many times when I was only writing new pages so I wouldn’t have to wait another month to get their feedback. We also have our own version of NaNoWriMo where we report our word counts to each other every day in November. I found that setting these kinds of deadlines often made the difference between finishing a project and not. Good luck to you!

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  7. Just have to tell you that the… battery-operated (OMG, did I just stay that) line gave me a good laugh today. I’m in the “revising for three years mode” and I’m so glad I’m not the only one. When I read that, I felt so vindicated! I’m not the only one. Thank you!

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  8. Lynda Mullaly Hunt

    I, too, am working on book two, during which time I have had all of these thoughts and feelings. I, too, have heard many times over that publishers would rather invest in authors than books. Makes sense doesn’t it? (Not that I’m biased or anything.) Now, back to work!!!

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