Back in the days when I was querying a single book, it was easy to become consumed by the process of writing letters, emailing agents, and receiving subsequent rejections. Requests for partial manuscripts created the ultimate high, while “sorry, this isn’t the project for us,” sent my spirits spiraling into the abyss. While researching agents and reading tips on how to craft the perfect query letter, I stumbled upon a bit of advice to help authors survive the querying process. Actually, I saw this advice in more than one place and I’m going to share it with you:
Write another book.
Pretty simple, really. While querying The Claiming Words, I was writing the second and third books in the series, so I figured I was doing a pretty good job of following that advice. When the querying process got tough, I could distract myself by immersing myself in my fantasy world. Once I’d racked up twenty rejection letters, my other works-in-progress weren’t doing a very good job of distracting me, because what’s the point of writing an entire series of books if you can’t get anyone to publish the first one? (Back then, I thought the only path to publication was the agent/traditional publisher route. I didn’t even consider self-publishing. I was innocent and foolish back in the early days. )
I still think “Write another book” is good advice for the querying writer; however, I think it’s important to write a totally, completely different book. Don’t get too caught up in one series. Even if you land that agent or publisher, those other books in the series could take years to see publication—if ever. Write your series—but write other stuff too.
“Write another book” is great advice for any author, whether published or unpublished. Not only can writing another book distract you from the querying process for a book you’re currently pitching, it can distract you when sales aren’t so great for a book you’ve already published. Writing hones your skills—the only way to become a better writer is to write. Writing (and publishing) another book builds your resume. It’s easier to gain a following when you have more than one book under your belt.
Here’s how writing another book helped me. I wrote The Fifth Circle for two reasons: because I’d been writing books in the same series for so long, I wanted to see if I had what it took to write an unrelated book AND because it was a good distraction from the endless rounds of writing/editing/querying of The Claiming Words. When one book (or in my case, series) didn’t work out, I had something to fall back on. I have other books too, finished and unfinished. I can always write more.
A real writer writes. It’s as simple as that. I’ve seen writers who finish their first book and become so caught up in querying/self-publishing/marketing, they never seem to find the time to write another. If all your time is spent promoting one book and you don’t have time to write, you’re not a writer anymore—you’re a salesperson. Cut back on marketing and get back to what you love. Write another book. Rediscover your favorite characters or create new ones to fall in love with. Just write.