Welcome to the SNOB (Second Novel Ominipresent Blues). Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie. How to deal?
She’s a former staff writer for the Miami Herald and Associated Press, and wrote from Latin America for Time, Business Week, New York Times, Financial Times, Times of London, Houston Chronicle and other news outlets.
Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the second?
I had the odd situation of having two novels published at the same time by two different publishers. What happened is that the first novel, Skin of Tattoos, was on submission for a long time with an agent. During that time, I finished Girl on the Brink and started sending it out. When I got Skin of Tattoos back from the agent, I revised it and then continued to send it out on my own to small publishers who didn’t require an agent. By that time I got an offer, I had also found a publisher for Girl on the Brink, and as it happens they were released in the same month. So basically, I promoted both books at once. That did save some time and money.
At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your second?
Promoting the first one(s) did take up a lot of time. There’s a natural cycle of about three months of interest after the release of a book then interest basically drops off. So you do have to take full advantage of that window. It is gratifying though, to see your hard work come to fruition after years of slogging away so it was worth it. But I did start a new project right away, the problem was I didn’t know what I really wanted to write so I putzed around with several different ideas and books.
Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the second one for? Them, or yourself?
I have to write for myself and just hope that readers will like what I write. Otherwise, I feel it’s not going to be as authentic. Luckily, now I have a list of concrete projects to go to so hopefully, I won’t waste as much time after the next novel floundering around as to what to write. I will say, though, that my writing has gotten a lot stronger with the constant practice.
Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?
Definitely. I’m a morning writer so that’s when I write. Marketing and promotional stuff I save for the afternoon, when I’m written out. And of course, I also write to make a living. I edit, write corporate public relations stuff and so on. So I also have to factor that in.
What did you do differently the second time around, with the perspective of a published author?
Start a newsletter to reach fans, network by joining writers’ groups and associations, attend writers conferences, generally follow any marketing opportunity. I’ve also learned to be more confident about myself and promoting myself.