Monday, July 27, 2009

When to start the next book.

So here is the question for Monday morning?

When do you start your next book. No, I am not talking about the sequel to that first book you are writing, but simply the next book that needs to be written?

For many authors, they don't do anything until the first book is completely finished. Now, when I say they don't do anything, I really do mean it. They don't have a concept, they don't have a premise, they don't have a character. Nada, nothing. And, frankly, I have to say, this is a method I would strongly discourage.

The problem with doing the "one book at a time" method, is that when #1 is done, you find yourself in a lag time before diving into #2. Sure, you might be thinking about things, but getting warmed up enough to really get writing is going to hurt. You have to find a way to be ready to get typing on that next project on the day after you wrap up that first project.

How do you do it? It's actually really easy. Keep a list going of future projects. When you are sitting in the car (and someone else is driving) jot down some ideas. If you have a great scene, write it. If you stumble across a great article about something that happened in history that you think would make a great story, print it and make some notes. This way, when an editor or agent asks you about other projects, you have a list already.

This method is very important for those of you wishing to write for a category line. The editors here really want to build your readership in that category (not genre here for those of you who are non-romance writers). They want your readers to always know what to expect when one of your books come out. It is for this reason that I require people who submit to me for a category line to provide (along with their regular submission package) 3-5 additional 1 paragraph blurbs of future projects in that category. It is amazing how, when I ask for that, many of these writers are unable to produce the blurbs. They simply haven't thought about it.

Your homework today? Think about those future projects. By the time you go to bed, you should have enough projects to last you 1 year.



  1. I have a notebook in which I keep lists of future stories, even as I'm writing one. I jot down names of interest, settings, plot points.

    I also have three other stories all in different processes of being written.

    A.D.D writer here. LOL. I jump back and forth between the WiPs if I get stuck on one or the other. Keeps me writing. Keeps me in the habit of writing, even if I'm stuck on the WiP.

  2. Clearly, this is a sound suggestion.

    I find it difficult, though, because while I am writing a book I am totally engaged with it. It's a bit like being in love - and your advice is like saying to a teenager, 'It's a good idea to line up the next boyfriend while you're still going out with this one...'

    I know from experience it takes me about three weeks to switch from the old book and feel the tug of the new one. Till then, I don't want to know.

  3. Lexi,
    I understand what you are saying. I am not saying to write several books at one time, but to be ready to jump into the next one immediately. 3 weeks of getting engaged into the next book can easily be 1/3 of a new book finished.

  4. I like Stephen King's take on this. He works on his WIP in the morning and then 'goes on dates' with new story ideas in the afternoon.

    I have a folder of 'fun writing'. There are more ideas there than I feel I can possibly do justice to in this lifetime.


  5. Toni, that's interesting about Stephen King.

    Handy if you can, so to speak, keep the wife happy while simultaneously enjoying assignations with the mistress...though not much good if you're a literary serial monogamist.

  6. Quite, Lexi.

    But it does seem to work for Mr King!

    I can see Scott's point too, you (somehow) need to move fluidly from one project to the next.

    Your adoring fan-base will not tolerate a respectable 'mourning period' for the poor departed hero of the last WIP - even if you desperately need one.