Yet the process the second time around, while similar, feels a bit different. I know many authors compare launching a book to having a child, and I think the metaphor is apt. (Indeed, there was a wonderful blog, Book Pregnant, devoted to this concept, so I won't dwell on it here).
I have a better idea about what is ahead of me, and yet I don't know with certainty what to expect. I know that some of the people who read my blog are first time authors or aspiring writers, so I thought I'd just share some of my observations.
- There is less fanfare with book two. Last year, my debut novel, A Murder at Rosamund's Gate, was a realization of a dream ten years in the making. So, personally I celebrated it more with friends and family. And as an unknown author, my publisher and I had to work really hard to publicize it. We'll still work hard with From the Charred Remains, but perhaps at a slightly less break-neck pace. I'll still make sure I crack open a bottle of wine of course, since my motto is always to celebrate early and often.
- The magic bubble around me has disappeared into the ether. I wrote my first novel in the happy--even if confusing--haze of being an unpublished, unknown writer. (Well, I had written academic stuff of course, but I don't think I had too many cross-over readers!) I finished the final edits of From the Charred Remains from a place of awareness. Awareness that not everyone had loved my first book. Awareness that sometimes reviewers are not always kind. Awareness of mistakes--the mortifying kind that kept me awake at night. The bubble that had once protected me from criticism is no longer there. Yet, at the same time I was able to take some of that reader feedback while I wrote the next two books in the series in a way I couldn't do with my first book.
- Not knowing what to expect is a virtue. In the past year, I've been invited (or brazenly invited myself) to speak about my book in a wide variety of settings. Sometimes I've spoken to audiences that numbered in the hundreds, while other times I could count the participants on one hand. I've been to signings where the audience came to see me specifically, and I've also been to many more where I'm the sad sap sitting next to the more famous author with a line out the door. I was at a book club where mine was the first book they had ever discussed, so we spent most of the night talking about children, and another where mine was the group's 140th book, and they asked very tough questions indeed. (I left wishing I had studied my book before I came!) What I've found, however, is that the best thing to do is go in to every signing and event with a positive attitude and a sense of humor. Not knowing what to expect makes it a lot more fun!
- What will people think of my book?
- What kinds of mistakes did I make?
- Will I forget what I'm supposed to be talking about? (Last year, I had a lot of dreams that I would start talking about something work-related, instead of book-related, during my book talks).
- Will I forget what happened in From the Charred Remains? (I'll have just turned in book 3 to my editor, so I'm sure I'll be all confused. My psychologist husband calls my memory problem "proactive interference.")
- And of course, how will I sign my book? (This is actually a fun one to think about. Unlike last year, I won't figure it out when I'm staring in fear at the first book in front of me.)
But the biggest and most important thing that I'm still very conscious....This thrill won't last forever, so I'm going to enjoy it while I can!