Your Book As A Business: Brandy Woods Snow

Welcome to the SNOB - Second Novel Ominipresent Blues. Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie. How to deal?

Today’s guest is Brandy Woods Snow, a writer and journalist living in beautiful Upstate, South Carolina. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Writing from Clemson University. Her first novel, Meant To be Broken, a Southern YA contemporary romance, was released from Filles Vertes Publishing on July 2, 2018

Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?

I honestly thought it would be. I liken it to the same feeling I had before going to the hospital to have my second child, when I was hit with a sudden panic. “How will I ever love another child as much as I love my first? It’s not possible.” But as I would find out in that hospital bed, holding my newborn, it’s absolutely possible. Your heart just sort of expands and the love multiplies and you end up enamored all over again. It’s the same with books. 

At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?

Do you ever really quit promoting your debut? LOL! I wish I had this insanely positive and wonderful answer for this, but the truth is, you just sort of squish it all in. I’m learning to become more of a scheduler and a planner, setting specific times to focus on drafting, editing, marketing, and all the other facets that come along with creating and selling books. It’s definitely challenging, but I can say holding yourself to a schedule gives your work more purpose and direction, so, in the end, your efforts are more efficient and fruitful all around.

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Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?

I always write for myself. I’ve never been a “chase the trend” sort of person and don’t intend to start now. I write from my experiences, my emotions, my thoughts, and I try to flesh everything out in a way that feels universal to all my readers. I want them to read my debut, my sophomore novel, and any others to come and think, “Man, she really made me feel that.” I think if you’re authentic to yourself, your readers will feel that connection to you and your work, and isn’t that really what it’s all about?

Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?

Yes! (See Question 2) My motto (new-aged a bit since I write YA) is treat your book like your bae, not your side piece. Pretty much, that means your book is your business, not some fly-by-night hobby. Give it the time and attention it deserves if you want to be successful. Schedules are a good way to ensure you’re putting your efforts where they’re most needed. I live by mine now, especially when balancing writing/editing/promotions with family life.

What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?

There’s definitely been more foresight this go-round, for sure! Writing my debut now seems like a stroll down the “ignorance is bliss” highway. LOL Writing my second was different from the get-go. I plotted instead of pantsed. I had a more extensive network of critique partners and betas on deck. I’m working on promotions 9 months in advance instead of hanging around with that doe-eyed gaze. Now that I’ve seen the sheer amount of work it takes, I’m preparing myself for the long road ahead. But I’ll also tell you, that this time, I have wonderful, beautiful, loving readers who are genuinely excited to see the next book come out, and that in itself is such a humbling experience and a complete treasure. When readers go out of their way to champion you, it means so very much, and the encouragement drives me to ensure I’m giving them the best story possible. 

Balancing Promotion & Creativity with Rory Power

Welcome to the SNOB (Second Novel Ominipresent Blues). Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie.

Today’s guest is Rory Power, who grew up in New England, where she lives and works as a crime fiction editor and story consultant for TV adaptation. She received a Masters in Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia, and thinks fondly of her time there, partially because she learned a lot but mostly because there were a ton of bunnies on campus. Her debut, Wilder Girls, released this week!

Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?

I’ve actually found it to be something of a relief! By this point I’ve read my debut, Wilder Girls, so many times, and it’s refreshing to be diving into something new, where I can make as many mistakes as I like with the knowledge that I’ll fix them later. It is hard, though, to keep myself from comparing this new book to the first. I’ve found myself struggling with where to draw the line between keeping a consistent brand, so to speak, and covering too much of the same ground.

At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?

I try to do these at the same time. They require very different parts of my brain, and for me particularly, it’s good to not let myself get too deeply entrenched in any one project. I can definitely go full tunnel vision if I allow myself to, so it’s nice to have two things to bounce back and forth between. The trick, I think, is making sure that you don’t let one distract too much from the other. I try to set aside some time at the beginning and end of every day to check in on social media, and keep the middle of the day for drafting, revision, and other work on my second book.

Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?

The original kernel of the story is absolutely for me, but I find that some of the ways in which I’ve developed this second book have been more for the reader. Through editing my debut novel I learned that there are some things I don’t personally value all that highly in a story that in fact matter hugely to most readers. For instance, I don’t mind at all when books are ambiguous or not entirely clear, but especially in books with a mystery at the core, a lot of readers like solid answers. So while the original idea, or the question, so to speak, of this book is for me, the answers, and the clarity with which I express them, are for my readers.

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Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?

Absolutely. There are so many things you don’t quite realize will fall onto your plate - emails, so many emails - when you’re starting out, and dealing with them can absolutely sap your creativity. But there are so many ways to make your schedule work for you, whether it’s reserving different days for different tasks or dividing up your time into blocks. I’ve found that changing my location around really helps. I try to draft in one spot and do other work in another, which helps me keep my focus.

What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?

I outlined in much more detail this time. With my debut, I had all the time in the world to rip it apart and put it back together. Nobody was waiting on it. But this second book is on a deadline, and I don’t have the time to make as many mistakes. By outlining, and re-outlining, and outlining again, I’ve cut down on the rounds of revision I’ll have to make later. Or at least, hopefully I have.

Victoria Lee On Moving Forward After Your Debut

Welcome to the SNOB (Second Novel Ominipresent Blues). Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie.

Today's guest for the SNOB is Victoria Lee author of The Fever King. She’s been a state finalist competitive pianist, a hitchhiker, a pizza connoisseur, an EMT, an expat in China and Sweden, and a science doctoral student.

Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?

I’m working on drafting two different books right now: one is a contracted sequel to my debut, The Fever King. The other is an unrelated fantasy novel that I started writing while I was on submission with The Fever King. And for both books, I’d say yes—it’s been really hard to move on from my first book to focus on writing new material, but for very different reasons.

With the sequel, there’s a fear that it won’t be as good as the first book. I wrote The Fever King in just two months, but then I spent over two years revising. I don’t have nearly that much time on my deadline for book 2! I’m worried that whatever readers love about the first book won’t come through in the sequel, and people will end up disappointed. And…on a more recent timescale, that the same might happen with my editor. So there’s a lot of self-imposed pressure on the sequel for it to feel like a good follow-up to the first book, to tie up all the loose threads and feel like the natural and inevitable conclusion to the story.

With the new book, the pressures are very different.

At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?

There’s a big chunk of time between sending off your edits and needing to begin promotion. Usually promotion shouldn’t start in earnest until six months before your publication date—and really, more like three. I tried to use that chunk of time to get a large amount done on The Fever King’s contracted sequel. But…promoting your debut is fun. At least, I think so. I constantly had to distract myself from planning promo and focus instead on actually writing the second book! I also had the pressure of a new grad school semester beginning, and studying for my Ph.D. comprehensive exams, so I was pretty motivated to get as much done on the sequel as possible before I got too sucked into grad school again. It’s still a process, though. One thing I find helpful is scheduling out time during my day for both tasks. I’ll block a few hours for preparing promo materials, then another few hours for writing book 2, and so on.

Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?

As I’m writing the sequel, I’m thinking of my potential readers. And of myself. I have a definite vision of the “ideal reader” in my head—the kind of reader I think will most like my books, who my books will speak to. And that ideal reader is a whole lot like my own younger self. I want to write the book that will satisfy young, creative, slightly-pessimistic yet idealistic queer Jewish teens hoping to see themselves represented in SFF. I want to write a conclusion to this series that will make any reader who fell in love with the first book feel like the second book didn’t let them down. But for myself—I want to spend more time with these characters. And in a lot of ways, I feel like I have to do the characters justice, too. I’ve fallen in love with them. It’s hopeless.

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Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?

Oh, definitely. Not just between promoting your debut and working on a sequel, but planning the book that comes after that. And the one after that. I have way too many ideas I want to write, and it can get frustrating to know I have to wait to get to them. …Especially now that I know how much editing effort is involved in polishing a book for publication.

I was already pretty good at time management; it was a skill I learned in grad school. I just had to apply it to a new domain, too. I’m actually one of those weird people who functions more efficiently when super busy? I like to have as little free time as possible. Free time breeds procrastination, for me. But if I know that this is the only hour today I’ll be able to work on my book, then dammit, I’m gonna get so much done on that book in an hour.

What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?

I outlined more.

I wrote my debut as a “connect-the-dots” writer—I had a few major milestones I needed to hit, but then I just kind of discovery-wrote between them. Now, I have more than just a few milestones planned out. I still discovery write, sort of, but the way it works now is that I’ll religiously plan in detail every next 10,000 words. What comes after those 10k is still undecided until after I reach the next milestone, but I’ve learned that I definitely need to at least plan 10k in advance to avoid rambling on for pages with character introspection that—while fascinating to me—proooobably doesn’t propel the story forward.

I also cut myself a lot more slack in drafting.  I’ve learned this book will likely go through ten drafts and at least two rewrites before it’s published, so, no need to obsess over line-level prose. I’m just trying to get the story down. The nuts and bolts, even—right now my draft pacing is all off. It’s way too fast. But I’ll get the story skeleton on paper, and I can expand it later, once I’ve established what bits of the character arcs and subplots are really integral to the story and need to be fleshed out.