Published authors face a new set of pressures, 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? With this in mind I created the SNOB (Second Novel Omnipresent Blues). Today's guest for the SNOB is Rosalyn Eves, author of the well-received fantasy BLOOD ROSE REBELLION.
Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?
In my case, the second book is a continuation of the first, since Blood Rose Rebellion sold as a trilogy. But that brings with it its own set of challenges! It took me a while to figure out why book two was so hard to write—essentially, book 2 in a trilogy is the mucky middle. The WHOLE book is the middle. The challenge for me was to figure out a way to give the book its own arc, with some kind of resolution, while still leaving things open-ended enough for book three.
It was nice to come back to a familiar world, at least—most of the character development and world-building work happened with the first book.
At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?
I’m still trying to figure this out! Mostly my priorities are driven by deadlines. When I have edits due on book two, it takes priority. As soon as my edits are in, I shift my focus to catching up on the promotional stuff I need to do (like writing this post!). The harder thing right now is to find time to draft book three—editing book two and promoting are absorbing a lot of time.
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 first book I definitely wrote for myself, but the second book was in many ways harder to write because of all the different possible audiences. I’d been warned that writing a book under contract was hard, but I still wasn’t prepared for how difficult it was. For the first little while, every time I sat down to draft, a voice in my head asked: is this worth the money your publisher wants to pay you for it? And of course, being a first draft, it never was.
I’m also writing with readers in mind: what kinds of things have readers responded positively to in the first book? How can I include more of the same while also telling a different story? But I have to be careful how much I do this—I tend to want to make everyone happy, and it’s impossible for any one story to do that. Sometimes even good reviews can mess with my head, as when a reader says they hope to see more of something in the next book, and then I start asking myself: do I have enough of that element? Should there be more? I have to balance the needs of my audience against the needs of the story—what choices serve the story best?
Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?
As I said above, I’m still trying to figure the balance out. Interacting with readers and doing book promotion are still pretty new to me, and it’s tempting sometimes to sink all my time into those, especially when the writing is hard and I’m looking to procrastinate. (And interacting with readers is much more fun than slogging through a draft.) I think for me it’s important to set boundaries on myself and my time—to say I have x amount of time for promoting today and stick to that, or none of the writing gets done.
What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?
I think I’ve been writing smarter. I hit a snag about 75K into book two that I could not resolve. Instead of just plowing through and thinking, “I’ll fix this in revisions,” I took some time away from the story and replotted it. I think having a more structure as I wrote meant that I didn’t waste as much time following plot bunnies—and it gave me more time for revising before submitting to my editor, who was impressed with how polished it was for a first draft—until I told her it wasn’t actually a first draft.
One thing that I’m finding a lot of authors struggle with in the second book is having to turn in a fairly rough draft. When the editor buys the first book, it’s been polished and revised multiple times. But with books under contract, particularly second books in a series, there often isn’t the time for that kind of revision and polish. It’s hard to get over the gap between what the first book looked like when the editor saw it and what the second book looks like. I know editors are used to it, but a big part of me cringed when I hit send on my draft (but I also didn’t want to waste time polishing it if my editor hated it and wanted me to rewrite it—which has happened to several authors I know).