The Second Time Around

One of the pieces of advice I’ve heard most frequently from authors who have published multiple books is “Enjoy this time—you only debut once!”


You’re official! Now please rewrite this piece-of-dreck manuscript.*
(*Not an exact quote.)

For about a year after I sold my first book, I kind of got where they were coming from…but there was definitely another part of me that thought “Yeah, right. Because it’s sooo enjoyable is it to be a clueless noob about absolutely every single step of the publishing process!”

I regularly felt like I was flailing around in those months. I had no idea when to expect my contract, my editorial letter, my advance check. The conferences that more experienced authors referred to with casual ease sounded like alphabet soup to me. And let’s not even mention the looming challenge of how to promote a book when you have no fan base yet and zero name recognition.

But today, four months before my debut, I think I finally understand what those old hand authors were talking about. It just took selling a second book for me to get it.

Now, I’m absolutely ecstatic that All Four Stars will have a sequel. And this time around, I definitely feel more at-ease about the whole editorial process, since I’ve already been through it once. For instance, after I turned the manuscript for book two in to my editor, I found that I wasn’t constantly refreshing my inbox like I did after turning in book one; I was actually able to appreciate and enjoy the enforced time away from that story while I waited for her edits.

But I also have to admit that the things that felt like big milestones for me with my first book just haven’t been as thrilling this second time around.

I took copious pictures of myself signing my first book contract, and my first check. I may have squealed a little with delight when I received my first editorial letter, if only because every page had that official-looking Penguin logo. But that wasn’t really because other authors had told me to “enjoy it”—it was because these were pieces of hard evidence that my long-held dream of becoming a published novelist was really coming true.

The second time around, though, I just signed my contract quickly, wanting to get it back in the mail so my payment could get processed. When that payment came, I deposited the check with no fanfare. And as happy as I was to get my editorial letter for book two a few weeks ago, this time I didn’t squeal over how official it looked. I’d already done this once, so I knew how much work was ahead of me—and that I really needed to get right down to it.

So, I guess I’m on the brink of becoming one of those authors who warbles the song of experience, warning the whippersnappers that they’d better enjoy every little moment of their debut process, or else. “Never again will paperwork feel so exciting to you!” I’ll preach.

But you know what? I’m okay with becoming that person. Where I used to feel clueless and anxious, I now feel confident and…well, not exactly mellow, but at least a little more chill than I used to be. Publishing may not feel like a thrill a minute anymore, but overall, I think that the trade-off will be worth it.

Tara DairmanTara Dairman is a novelist, playwright, and recovering world traveler. All Four Starsher debut middle-grade novel about an 11-year-old who secretly becomes a New York restaurant critic, will be published on July 10, 2014 by Putnam/Penguin.

Find her online at, and on Twitter at @TaraDairman.


Filed under Advice, Book Promotion, Celebrations, Editor, Helpful or Otherwise, Satisfaction, Writing and Life

21 responses to “The Second Time Around

  1. Here’s to confident and something approaching mellow. And to many, many wonderful books to come.


  2. You’re right, everything has been more relaxed with my second book, although I have to admit I still get a little anxious waiting for those first reviews to come in. I’m loving the B. B. King video as I type!


  3. I loved this post, Tara! And I’m also glad that ALL FOUR STARS will have a sequel!! 🙂


  4. It’s kind of not unlike having a newborn and the many people who will tell you to enjoy it and that it goes by so quickly. You can heed the advice and do your best to enjoy the moment, but you need the benefit of experience and nostalgia to really get it. Great post, Tara!


  5. annbedichek

    I personally am in favor of a good career-long steady cross-country ski, rather than a 2-min thrilling downhill that’s over in a flash.

    Here’s the the long-term!
    (It’s a more full body workout!)


  6. Lindsey Lane

    You are indeed sounding very wise, Tara. Thank you for leading the way.


  7. kevanjatt

    This is so incredibly relevant to me,Tara. I wrote my editor late last night in a panic about my second book because it is just not coming along like I want it to. It may have been the margaritas. I feel better today. Anyway, I’m not far enough along to feel cavalier about the process. I (think) I look forward to that point.


  8. Personally, while I don’t always appreciate “advice” on raising my kids, I definitely love hearing about what’s (hopefully) ahead of me on the path to publication someday. So glad you are settling into a comfortable place. As long as you never get jaded… 🙂


  9. Parker Peevyhouse

    “And once the edit letter came for my third book, I knew to be ready with margaritas all around.” –Future Tara


  10. Great and relevant advice for me, Tara! I’m still in the giddy excited mode! My editor called Thursday with a question and I’ve played the voice-mail multiple times through my car’s audio system. You know…just driving along listening to Maria! LOL! I’ve heard it said to enjoy the debut because there won’t be another nearly as exciting so that is what I’m doing! I have to admit that I still feel clueless about soooo many things and I am more than thrilled to be connected with all you EMUs debuters who are helping me settle in.


  11. I hear you, Tara. But I also have to admit, the whole time I was reading this, my brain was just like, YAY MOAR GLADYS IS COMING! 🙂


  12. Pingback: The Second Time Around the Second Time Around | EMU's Debuts

  13. Tara, I can relate! I’m in the “book two” part of this process too, and it *is* mellower! “For instance, after I turned the manuscript for book two in to my editor, I found that I wasn’t constantly refreshing my inbox like I did after turning in book one.” It’s so true; I don’t haunt my inbox anymore. Great post!


  14. Pingback: Updates, and chance to win an ARC of ALL FOUR STARS! | tara dairman

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