Your Book Is Now a Series: When Excitement Becomes Terror and Pressure
by Erin Beaty
I was on a single lane highway in West Virginia, halfway through a 700 mile drive when my agent called to say my publisher wanted a sequel to my debut novel. We’d submitted a synopsis and the first few chapters only the day before – originally we thought to wait for early reviews and sales numbers on the first book, but I’d just been invited on the Fierce Reads Spring Tour, so the time seemed right.
“They liked it, then?” I managed to say around my shaky grin.
“They loved it. They want to know if you can commit to a third book now, too.”
I stared at the truck in front of me. If that semi slams on its brakes, I’m not going to be able to react in time. I eased my foot off the gas. “Ummm…”
“Do you think you can sign on to that?” Valerie said. “They want to market it as a trilogy from the start.”
My answer was something along the lines of “Hell, yeah!” but the rest of the call was a blur, as was the drive. When we stopped for dinner, I ordered a giant chocolate milkshake.
Because margaritas + driving = bad idea
Over the next few days, however, my thoughts evolved from OMGTHISISTHEMOSTAMAZINGTHINGEVER to OHLORDWHATHAVEIDONE.
I had written the first book in a complete vacuum. Not only did I have no idea what I was doing – which was obvious to those who read my first draft – I had no idea how much work it would be or how hard it was to get published. There’s freedom in writing with reckless abandon and blissful ignorance. I never looked at the next step until I was almost ready to advance. (Or, honestly, until I thought I was ready. Everyone queries too early. Everyone.)
Now after spending over two years carving and shaping the story that would become THE TRAITOR’S KISS, after dozens of rejections and painful revisions, the idea of selling two books that hadn’t been written yet – one of which I hadn’t even plotted – was terrifying.
You passed driver’s ed, kid, here’s the keys to your boss’s Ferrari. We’re sure you can handle it.
On the 700 mile return drive a few days later, new questions began bouncing around in my brain.
What if the first book totally flops?
What if I can’t deliver a good enough second book to my publisher? To the readers?
What happens beyond the second book? I’d always envisioned the story as a trilogy, but the third part was pretty vague. What if I can’t think of anything?
Cry me a river, you’re saying. These are problems aspiring authors would kill to have. But, Dear Reader, I promise no matter how much you love writing, doing it on command and under the expectations of others is an entirely different ballgame.
The only thing you can do is what got you into this mess in the first place: write. Put your butt in the seat and make progress. You can’t fix a blank page. You can’t sculpt without putting a lump of clay on the turntable. It sounds like an overly simple solution – the kind that makes you want to punch anyone who says it in the face – but it’s the truth. If you show up, I promise you the Muse will, too. It helps to set an appointment with your WIP ahead of time, though; she’s less likely to be late to the meeting.
Six months, one full draft, and one plot outline later I’m feeling better but still scared. There’s days I love my writing and days I want to throw my laptop into the Chesapeake Bay, but that’s no different from the first time around (except then we lived in Nebraska, and I wanted to run it over with a tractor). One thing I have now, though, is a support team of people cheering me on, fully confident that I can do this. Some days I even believe them.
When I turned in that draft of the second book, my editor said she expected it to be rough, but she knew I was capable of fixing it. There’s a strange comfort in knowing it’s lumpy and needs a lot of love – those revision notes won’t hurt as much when I already know the book kind of sucks, and I’m not that attached to my words.
That’s the theory, anyway. Pass me a margarita as I wait.
Erin Beaty was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, which means she can’t drive a tractor, but she won’t eat veggies that come from a can. She graduated from the US Naval Academy with a degree in rocket science and somehow always ended up writing her study group’s lab reports. After serving in the fleet as a weapons officer and a leadership instructor, she resigned to pursue her side hobby of populating the Church of Rome. It still amazes her when other people want to hear the stories that come out of her head.
She and her husband have five children, two cats, and a vegetable garden and live wherever the navy tells them to go.
Erin Beaty is represented by Valerie Noble. Her young adult fantasy adventure, THE TRAITOR’S KISS, the first in a trilogy called The Traitor’s Circle, will be released May 9th, 2017
The Traitor’s Kiss
An obstinate girl who will not be married.
A soldier desperate to prove himself.
A kingdom on the brink of war.
With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.
As the girls’ military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.
A huge thanks to Erin for sharing her story and advice with us today. Your wit, determination, and humor is definitely appreciated! Also, your voice is incredible in this article alone, so I can’t wait to read your book! =)
As always, a large thank you to everyone who has participated in this feature. Your words of advice never fall on unappreciative ears!
We hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week!