I’ve discovered that submitting a second book to your publisher can be even more nerve-wracking than sending the first. The first time you approach a publisher, you’re kind of expecting rejection. You’ve steeled yourself for it, often through long and hard experience. But the second time, a whole new set of worries suddenly appears.

Do I have to prove myself all over again? What if they’ve forgotten me? And what if – gulp – there’s only one book in me?

I found my heart pounding when I pressed the send button. I knew that I liked my story. I thought it was good. But what if I was the only one? Had I become overly confident with my first success, and have I been fooling myself??

Here are some things to remind yourself of when you reach that fateful stage of your writing career, and your finger hovers over the send button:

  • If I did it once, I can do it again
  • I’m a better, more experienced writer now
  • Each book I write will be better than the one before.

But what if you don’t hear back for ages? How soon can you start pursuing it? You don’t want to be too pushy, but neither do you want to let an opportunity pass by. Go back to the contract for your first book and have a look at it.

Did the publisher ask for first option on your next book? If so, is a time frame specified? For instance, the contract may say the publisher has six weeks to notify you whether or not it intends to accept the work. If the time period has elapsed and you haven’t heard anything, it’s appropriate to send a polite query asking whether they’ve had a chance to consider it yet.

If they decide not to go ahead, don’t waste any more time. Send it elsewhere! At least you’ll have some solid publishing credentials under your belt. But if they want it, breathe a deep sigh of relief, prepare yourself for some rewrites, and hope that number three comes more easily.

Photo credit: sbpoet / Foter / CC BY-NC

6 thoughts on “Second-book angst: can you follow up on your first success?

  1. I can so relate to your article, Stella. thanks for posting it.

    1. Stella says:

      You’re doing so well, I didn’t think you’d feel like that too! Nice to know I’m not alone 🙂

  2. I relate to your thoughts and feelings, too, Stella. They can also apply to writers who decide to go solo and publish their own material. With my second book – ready since last fall – I keep returning to it, anxious to find a typo or worried that a sentence is unclear and worse, that the story isn’t good at all. So yes, the second time is harder as our expectations have grown. I suppose this is good, although it makes us nervous. I’m sure your second novel is wonderful and that the editor will say YES!

    1. Stella says:

      Thanks, Evelyne, for your reassurance! This is unrelated, but I’ve been thinking of you. We’re going to spend New Year in Paris!! I’ve never been before and I can’t wait 🙂

  3. If it’s any consolation, second-time feature film directors can suffer similar pressures in terms of delivering their next project. (Not that I, myself, am at that level yet.)
    Steven Fernandez.

    1. Stella says:

      I guess that pressure applies to all sorts of people in all sorts of roles. I don’t really have any reason to complain!

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