|Sign on the right? It warns of speed bumps.|
Other people: You’re what!?! But, but ... you’re already published.
Me: Absolutely true.
People: When did you veer off?
Me: I didn’t. The path just veers on its own.
People: So what—
Here’s what they don’t tell you. Just because you’ve had success with one book or two or four hundred (well, maybe four hundred), it doesn’t always give you an automatic YES for your next attempt. Sure, it makes it easier. You probably have an agent in your corner, an editor and publisher who’d love nothing more than to make you a successful staple on their list, and some semblance of a fan base around your existing work. The truth is, though, unless the next book you write checks most, if not all the indicators for a strong seller, the powers-that-be cannot, in good business practice, give you another YES. Even if they like you a whole, whole lot.
And so I approach each new book—from first word through the end, through revision after revision—as if I need to win over my entire publishing world again.
It turns out I’m still riddled with the same uncertainties that plagued me from the start:
Have I chosen the right book to write?
Will anyone want to read this?
Have I written from the best point of view?
Is there enough conflict?
Does it make sense?
Is it even interesting?
...and the list goes on and on.
It’s these questions that keep me on my game. The last thing I want is to cruise on autopilot, have that next book shot down, then sweep up the pieces with “I told you so; you didn’t work it hard enough” running through my mind.
Now that I’ve just handed in a draft of a very new and fresh (for me, at least) book to my agent, I’m sitting with the same doubts I’ve always had. Except one.
No matter if I get a YES or a NO, I have confidence in my growing strength as a writer. If this story doesn’t stick, I’ll adjust, shift, veer—do everything necessary—and the next one will. Probably.