My debut novel is about to be released. That doesn’t mean that all the work is done and I can now put my feet up and relax. No, I have to actually try and sell said novel. The majority of people outside of my family and friends have not heard of my book, or of me, so I have my work cut out for me. I will write up a post in the future about promoting as well as a more in-depth post on the mechanics of self-publishing once the book is out there and I actually have some experience in that field.
Until then, I wanted to write about starting the next novel. Ever since I finished Dark is the Sea, and probably even before, I had ideas swirling round my mind for another novel. Over the past week, a deluge of ideas have come to me and I have a real sense of some of the main characters, the setting, as well as some plot points. I’m really excited about writing again, especially something different. For me, this is the best bit; researching and coming up with ideas, getting the bare bones down on paper. And if I never make it as a writer? I’ll still always write, because its intrinsic to who I am.
So here is a short checklist if you have finished a novel and are ready to start another:
Your first book might fail; I’m trying to be realistic here. As much as I dream that my first novel will be a huge success, I know that first-time writers rarely hit the big time, hell, most writers don’t. Keep your feet on the ground but do dare to dream.
Don’t let failure put you off; so you’re first attempt at writing got you nowhere, or perhaps, like me, you don’t know the outcome yet. You don’t need to wait around. Get writing again. You probably don’t need prompting on this one if you are passionate about writing. Some writers fail first time around, but their second, or third, or fourth book does better. And if your first book does ok, then readers will want another book to read sharpish.
The second novel won’t necessarily be easier; you might be rubbing your hands together thinking you’ve got this down, but writing doesn’t always get easier. I’ve read about plenty of seasoned writers who still panic at the dreaded blank page or the hard slog of writing the middle. However, know you did it once, and you can do it again!
What did you learn first time around? Ok, so it won’t be easier, but you must have learnt some valuable lessons along the way. I certainly learnt that I need to organise my notes more, make a more structured outline and to definitely use a professional copywriter/proofreader to sort out the typos and give feedback before I send the manuscript off to the typesetter.
Give yourself a deadline and a daily schedule; of course, everyone is different and you have probably learn what works for you and what doesn’t. For me, a set deadline really helps me stay on track and gives me the momentum to finish. Otherwise I’d still be tinkering away on novel numero uno and it would not even be finished yet. As for a daily routine, well I find I just work better with some kind of structure to my day. It helps to keep my worst enemy – procrastination – in check!
Don’t forget about the first novel; you need to dedicate a lot of time to selling the first book. Don’t let the exciting pull of a new novel distract you.
Keep writing and you’ll keep improving; the more you work at something, the better you’ll get. Ok, so your first novel might get negative reviews. Take the genuine constructive criticism and learn from it. Make your sentences punchier, make the plot tighter, the characters more three-dimensional and so forth.