Louise Galveston on Second Novel Blues

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 Louise Galveston, who grew up on horseback in the Midwest. The only thing that could pull her out of the saddle was a great book or a game of Star Wars. The lone girl in her neighborhood, she always got to play Princess Leia.

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

In my case it wasn’t, because IN TODD WE TRUST is the sequel to BY THE GRACE OF TODD. There was, however, a lot of looking back to little details and rereading to make sure I nailed the characters’ voices. There are a LOT of characters in these books.

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

My launch for book one overlapped final edits for book two. So I was piggy-backing promotion and editing. And I wasn’t sleeping much. It was tough. But I’m not going to whine. This was what I’d dreamed of and worked toward for years-only it was like having twins instead of just one book baby! Also, constantly having to focus on the sequel helped distract me from the impending launch, which had my nerves in a knot.

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 think I always kind of write for myself (especially since I mostly write humor) and hope that if it entertains me, it will put a smile on readers’ faces as well. But you’ve got to make the editor smile before it can get to them. ☺

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

Time management? Balance? Let me laugh hysterically for a moment. **clears throat** Okay, I’m back. Just pretend you’re the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, and you’re running behind…in everything. Seriously, though, I had to sacrifice sleep. With ten kids at home (eleven total) I’m used to less shut-eye than most people, but during crunch time, I got pretty bleary-eyed. (As in, I could hardly read during my launch party because my eyes were so tired.) Now that I’m not under so much pressure, I try to write for a couple of hours later in the evening or before breakfast. My husband takes over on Saturdays, and I cram as much drafting/editing in as I can. 

There’s also the issue of not having time (due to deadlines) to run things past a crit partner or even my husband (my first reader). Having the security net yanked out from under you like that makes you really rely on your gut. I still try to read a manuscript aloud, but there’s not always somebody around to listen at 1:30 a.m.

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

My second revision notes from my editor were much lighter than in my first book, because the characters’ personalities were well established and I understood what to do as far as details (such as formatting, use of italics, etc.) Also, I had a few good reviews under my belt, and I knew what material connected with kids when I did school visits. So with all of that in my arsenal, I was definitely more confident in my writing. But being published also means that you know for certain some people just aren’t going to get or like your book. And you learn to be okay with it. That knowledge was liberating, and let me write the book as it came to me.

I tried not to allow myself to procrastinate. (One of my worst habits.) If I got stumped on a scene, I’d force myself to muscle through it, even if I knew it was going to be mostly trashed later. I also had to break the habit of editing as I go. The perfectionist in me had to surrender to the deadline. I learned how to fast draft and found I was a lot funnier when I didn’t overthink things but wrote off the cuff.