Tuesday, November 2, 2010

You’ve Published Your First Book ... What Next?

By Carrie Oakley

You’ve published your first book ... what next? This is a question I’m sure many (if not all) writers have faced at some point or the other in their career.

The quest and drive to publish their first book consume most of their time and energy during the start of their career. They feel on top of the world when they know it is going to see the light of day and when it’s out and in stores, the exhilaration is like nothing else.

However, the rollercoaster does have to come down after touching the highs, so it’s back to earth with a bang once your first book is behind you. Now it’s time to take stock and plan what to do next.

If your book is doing well and selling like hotcakes, you’re definitely going to find the motivation to keep going ... maybe even write a sequel or a spin-off to ride on this one’s popularity. The adulation you gain is an addiction, and you cannot seem to get enough of it. So you settle down immediately to write the next book, and motivation is never an issue. However, you do need to exercise caution and not get carried away.

Many authors fall by the wayside because their subsequent books are almost carbon copies of their first bestseller – they try to follow the same formula and end up becoming a one-book wonder whose popularity tapered down subsequently. It’s ok to stick to what works best for you, but at the same time, pay attention to changing tastes and perceptions.

If your first book is doing well but not going great guns, you’re less inclined to start your next one. You want to write one that’s better, but there are just enough doubts to hold you back. Or, in the worst case scenario, if your book is doing abysmally, then you’ve probably just about lost the will to ever write again. You know you want to be a writer, but self doubts plague your mind and you wonder if any publisher will ever back you again.

In such situations, it’s best to step back from the situation and pretend you’ve never published your first book. Start on a fresh slate, and give room only for your creativity. Push out the doubts from your mind and focus on the task ahead. The only time you need to think of your prior venture is to examine the mistakes you’ve made and steer clear of them. Where did you go wrong? Was the book targeted at one audience yet marketed to another? Was the timing of the release wrong? Or was the subject of your book outdated and not in vogue with current tastes and trends?

There’s another pitfall you need to be aware of – when you’ve established yourself as a successful author with a few books under your belt, you may find it hard to sustain yourself as a writer. The longer you write and the more you publish, the harder sustainability becomes. How do you continue to find inspiration for new storylines that reflect your style, yet are not stale and repetitive?

The only way to ensure this is to take time off when you feel a lull in creativity and put your nose to the grindstone when your creative juices flow.

Writing is not a 9 to 5 job that is routine and repetitive; it is an art form that must be expressed when creativity strikes.

About the author

This guest post is contributed by Carrie Oakley, who writes on the topic of online colleges. Carrie welcomes your comments at her email id: carrie.oakley1983(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

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1 comment:

beekay said...

I think the last two comments are valid. My first book was originally a one-off, but has developed into a series. But with book four just published, I don't believe that the series will continue past six books in total. That's when repetition really sets in.
Cheers,
Brian