I can still hear the conversation over lunch that day, my friend asking me about publishing and writing novels. At the time, I told him I wouldn’t even try to submit until I had already started a second book. The logic was clear in my mind. With publishers tying writers up in multi-book contracts, why would anyone consider you if they felt like you could only give them one book?
Where did I get that notion? After reading about authors like J.A. Konrath who signed a contract with Hyperion for six Jack Daniels books, it wasn’t hard to make a cognitive leap toward the multi-book deal. Sounds great doesn’t it? Land one, you land five more, and all your dreams come true. A sweet deal.
Last September, as I geared up for NaNoWriMo, I happened upon an interview with Michael Connelly in Writer’s Digest (October 2009), where Connelly talked about throwing everything he could think of into that first Harry Bosch novel. His comments furthered my belief that the best way to land a contract was to plan ahead for book two. So, I intentionally wrote a few little extras into Lost Hearts, knowing that I would flesh them out in a later novel, so sure that once I had an editor hooked for one, I could also hook him/her for a few more.
Then, this week I came across an interesting post on the Bookends, LLC blog. In her post, Jessica Faust explains the reasoning why writing a sequel before the first book is sold is a bad idea. In summary, if the first one doesn’t sell, you could be wasting your time on writing that second or (heaven forbid) third book. A search of the internet revealed that Faust is not alone. Two other blog postings, one by Corey Schwartz and one by Lisa Cooke, also warn against writing the sequel before the first book is sold.
So much for my bright idea.
On the positive side, I don’t think all is lost. The best thing I can do right now is to make notes about my ideas on a second book and then set it all aside as I tackle a different book with different characters. Then, if an editor inquires: “Why yes, I do have plans for a sequel. I’m glad you asked.”
So, for now I will change course and start looking at the prospect of a new novel. I already have two ideas in the hopper, one which I started previously that shows promise and another one which has merit.
In other news:
Almost a year ago, I received an interesting inquiry about one of my short stories. Would I be interested in optioning it out for a movie? You bet. After making the arrangements, and now waiting several months, I decided to inquire about that option. “I received an e-mail,” the producer responded, “and Beyond the Pale did not get chosen.” I thanked her for considering the story anyway, and told her it was an honor to me that it had even been considered.
In this period between novels, I will pick up a couple short stories and dust them off. I would like to send out at least two over the next couple of months. I'm also still working on a short story idea that came to me while writing the novel. Who knows? I might get that out too.
Last weekend, I finished reading Marked Man by William Lashner. The novel follows the curious case of an attorney hired by a mother who wants to see her son before she dies. Just one problem: the son is on the lam for stealing a priceless painting. Initially, the dialogue feels over-the-top, and the story starts out a little slow, but then everything tightens up and builds steam as Lashner pushes down the throttle for a good plot that tugs at your heart. I give it three bullets out of five, with five being a great read (IMO). I should note that I'm not getting paid for any rating or reading, and the score is purely subjective. With Lashner's book now finished, I'm trying out Stephen White for the first time (Dry Ice) and re-reading a good Robert B. Parker book (Night Passage)
Until next time…