Will Your First Book Be Published?

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

4 Reasons to Write Several Books Before Seeking Publication

There is a cliché in publishing that by the time a writer finally gets published, she already has a whole stack of novels completed and hidden in a drawer, never to see the light of day. No writer gets their first book published, right?

There are exceptions, but this is often true, especially with fiction. Many successfully published authors will have written two or more books before they get their first contract offer. Here’s why:

1. Practice. It takes most people a few tries to write a viable and saleable book, especially a novel. Like it or not, this is true for the overwhelming majority of writers.

2. Repeatabilty. If you haven’t finished more than one full-length book, you don’t have a good feel for whether or not you can do it over and over again.

3. Timing. If you haven’t written multiple books, you’re not able to accurately predict how much time it takes you to write one, and therefore signing a multi-book contract is problematic. How do you know if you’ll be able to meet your deadlines?

4. Confidence. If you’ve finished multiple books, then you’ll go into your first publishing contract with more confidence. You’ll know you’re a writer. You’ll be less bothered by that nagging worry that maybe that one book you wrote was a fluke.

I’ve seen too many cases of writers going into multi-book contracts unprepared, and find themselves unable to finish multiple books in the amount of time the publisher has allotted. This can harm your career, but not only that, it’s painful! You can avoid it by being adequately prepared, and there’s only one way to do that: write, write, write.

How many complete books have you written (publishable or not)? If you’re published, how many books had you written before signing that first contract?



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92 Responses

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  1. My first (nonfiction) book was published. It’s the second (fiction) book that is the problem.

  2. Kimberly says:

    This is tricky for those of us writing non-fiction, as we don’t generally finish a book before writing the proposal and pitching it. How do we know if we can finish one? What do you recommend for non-fiction writers? I wrote 1/3 of a book and a full proposal, but I’d hate to keep writing proposals if they’re going to sit in a drawer! Better to write the work itself:)

  3. Have to agree with the previous commenters–there’s a difference between non-fiction and fiction here. My first book, a non-fiction one, was published (although I sweated blood over it for two years first). But as for fiction–four books, forty rejections, four years before the first contract.
    An editor friend of mine says the first novel is like the first waffle or pancake, the one you often throw away. Then again, there’s Gayle Roper, whose first novel was published–but she’s an exception.
    Thanks for some excellent advice.

    • Love that from your editor friend, Richard. Great analogy! Usually our first few pancakes on the griddle are thin, crispy, and difficult to swallow. It’s the next batch and the next that are fluffy and golden. Thanks! (Now I think I need to go fix breakfast….)

  4. Ugochi says:

    Hmm… This is very interesting. I recently saw the movie, “The Words,” and since then, I’ve had this feeling that no matter how good a first time writer’s work is, they will be punished by the industry. I do believe however that there are exceptions to the rule. Not everyone has to try for years to get published. It does happen instantly for some and I don’t mean luck.

    Some have unique situations – take Stephenie Meyer for instance. Some could argue whether she writes up to par or not but to truth is – she has a market.

    I would be careful not to put everyone in a box due to old traditions. Yes, we have the norms but we also have the rare occurrences. We need to be able to discern which is which lest we miss out.

    As for me, I won’t be ashamed to tell the publisher that this is my first novel (not my first writing experience- but novel). I just thank God that I’m not in a hurry and that I have a life apart from this because I’m not one to twist anyone’s arm to get what I desire. I’ll let God finish what He started.

    As for the publisher’s contracts for more writing, I don’t think this is a problem. I am already at 80% complete for part 2 and 3 of my trilogy. I would allow for the occasional blanks in writing I may receive in between. I refuse to continue writing until part one is published because I have to focus on the rest of my life. lol

    I told my hubby last night that I believe it was meant for me not to know all this about the industry because it was easier for me to just have this childlike belief that I could submit exclusively to an agent and get a positive response. Even though your blogs give me a healthy dose of reality, I still find myself believing that all is well. I have peace. He who started this will be faithful to complete it. I remind myself that I am just the vessel.

    • Larry says:

      I do agree that it seems the industry has a bias against debut novelists. Whether or not the excuse of not knowing if the author will be able to establish an audience is a valid one, I don’t think it can be argued that there isn’t a bias.

      • Wendy Lawton says:

        Larry, I disagree with you. I think our industry loves brilliant debut novelists. It’s easier to sell a debut novel than to sell a 2nd or 4th novel from an author with just so-so sales.

        Everyone is hoping to discover the next wunderkind.

      • Larry says:

        I dunno….just because there are differing biases, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any biases.

        It’s like saying, “Publishers aren’t biased against Sci-Fi novels, look at all the “Hunger Games” imitators.”

        And the mid-list author problem seems to me to pretty much be the same problem: a lack of faith on the part of publishers on the unknown, on the ability of the writer to be able to connect to the market with their product.

        Of course, the defense of that is that the publishing industry prefers writers to stick within their genre and not try anything new…..kind of a self-defeating philosophy:

        “We don’t like new things, so no, you may not try a new genre. We’re just going to view you through the perspective of what clearly hasn’t been working. Because what’s the alternative? Letting you try something new to write? Try to connect to a new market? That’s crazy talk. We don’t like new things.”

    • Having peace is what it’s about!

  5. Melissa says:

    I’d written 5 novels in 3-4 years, sold #2 after going back and rewriting. Never pitched #1, I abandoned it in the middle of revising. Never pitched the others either, I hadn’t finished polishing yet. Hope to sell them later, but I’ve got to write the new ones in my contract first!

    But everything you brought up is spot on. I know how long it takes me to write, I know a little better on how I write best as I’ve tweaked my process with each one, and I am sure I can fulfill my deadlines barring unforeseen circumstances. 🙂 If I’d sold #2 when I pitched it 3 years ago, I’d be nowhere near as confident I could do this than I am.

  6. My first fiction novel is sitting in a drawer. One of these days I’ll get around to editing it, maybe. Turns out, writing isn’t that hard. It’s making the plot make even a little sense after the fact that I really hate.

  7. Jeanne T says:

    I’ve heard this before, and it makes sense. Write a few books first. I’ve written one book and preparing to begin my second. I have a question. With a first book, is it good to go through the entire process–rough draft to query and proposal, or just chalk the first book (or two, or three) to practicing the writing craft and stop the process early on?

    • I don’t think there’s a hard and fast answer to that. It’s probably worth it to go through critique and revisions. It is all a learning process!

      • Steve says:

        I’ve drafted two novels and am about 35% through a third. Of my first two, I am somewhere between revision #15-20 and entering a “critique partner” phase, seeking feedback from willing readers and offering to do the same for their work in return. Following any additional revisions stemming from this, I make the decision to query an agent. I feel I have realistic expectations, but am confident in my work as well. Ultimately I believe it’s in God’s hands.

  8. Those reasons would have been difficult to accept two years ago when I started novel number one, Rachelle, but now, with three finished novels, I can see that you’re spot on. I still like the ideas of my first two novels, but they, especially the first, would need significant re-write. Maybe someday.

  9. Chantilla teh Nun says:

    Very true. My second fiction took me about a third of the time to complete as compared to my first fiction. But for those of us who have a few unpublished novels, there is an internal debate going on. If an aspiring author can’t sell, for example, any of her complete four novels then maybe it isn’t wise to start a fifth novel. Most authors have the same style of writing, and if you can’t sell your complete novels there is a big question mark if you should start a new novel with the same style of writing, because it is likely to have the same fate.

  10. Michelle Ule says:

    At my first Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference, author Davis Bunn told us he wrote seven novels before the first one was published. I used that as my marker, I wasn’t going to worry about not being published until I’d written seven novels.

    I think after six I got a publishing contract for a novella and have gone on to a total of three novellas and one novel in two years.

    I think your points are well taken, Rachelle. I’ve got two major novels in the planning and writing stages right now. I know I can write an 85K word novel in a summer break, and that gives me confidence when I write a proposal.

    My novel published in February (Bridging Two Hearts), was only 50K words long but because of past experience, I felt sure I could write it in the three months I was given from contract to deadline.

    If I hadn’t had all that experience–maybe 10K hours of writing time over my life :-)–it would have been a much more daunting task.

    Besides, don’t they say all writers have one basic story in them? If you don’t one or two down, how do you know you’ll have more?

    I’m not worried about running out of ideas at all! 🙂

  11. Michelle Ule says:

    The thing is, writing isn’t easy. To be a good writer takes as much energy, intellect and skill as any other challenging job.

    There’s always a huge learning curve when you start any task.

    Gayle Roper may have published the first novel she wrote, but she was an English teacher and probably had been writing articles for years. She’s still a fantastic grammarian.

    But Gayle didn’t just sit down one day in front of a keyboard and write an entire novel page one to the end without a lot of writing experience beforehand.

    I’ve known too many people who spend all their time on that first novel–but really, it’s the training novel and some of us need more than one to get up to speed for the truly great storytelling we have in us.

    • “To be a good writer takes as much energy, intellect and skill as any other challenging job.”

      Amen, sister! Thanks for the encouragement today, Michelle.

    • Gayle Roper says:

      Actually, Michelle, I did just sit down and write that first novel. I’d had a short story published, but that was it. However it’s not a bragging rights thing. The publishig world was VERY different back when I wrote that novel 43 years ago, and today it would be considered a very poor practice novel. I didn’t know what I was doing then, but I know I wouldn’t get that book published today. The bar has risen in our industry, something for which I am very thankful. (So has my writing ability, something for which I’m also thankful.)

  12. I wrote one full-length manuscript and tried working on a second one in a totally different genre, before switching to my current market, which is children’s.

    The first novel sits in a drawer, but the second one is what became my first published children’s picture book. It was meant to be Christian fiction for adults, but God had his own ideas and led me to a person who got me thinking about the younger years of my main character’s life instead. With two children’s picture books published and another under contract, I’m happy with the way things worked out.

  13. I wrote and revised (several times) my first book and pitched it at a conference. I told myself that interest garnered at the conference would determine if I should move on to the next book. I moved on. I’m revising my second book and it is soooo much stronger. Between my first and second, I’ve read several craft books and attended several writing retreats and conferences. The difference is startling. I never really knew how weak the first book was structurally until I learned so much and wrote the second one. The entire process just felt different…and I’m praying the result is different too.

  14. My first book will never, ever, ever, ever be published. I’ve made sure. Oy.

    As a teen I wrote five books. As an adult I’ve written three and am working on the third right now. Practice, combined with education, does make perfect.

  15. Sarah Sundin says:

    I have two complete novels hidden in a drawer. No, they will never be published, nor should they be. I thought they were fabulous when I wrote them. I was convinced they were publishable.

    They weren’t. But the time spent writing them was invaluable! I learned I could complete a novel (no small thing!). Because I wanted these stories published, I started attending a writers’ group and writers’ conferences, and I learned about the craft and the industry. Then I rewrote both books. Slashed one of them in HALF! Rewrote them again, and again. In the process, I learned about the editing process, the critiquing process, how to undo all my work and listen to criticism in a balanced way.

    My third complete novel was published, but it wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t written the first two.

    • “I thought they were fabulous when I wrote them. I was convinced they were publishable.” I love that you wrote that! This is what makes it hard to be an agent, when authors submit their early works. They may be completely convinced they’ve just handed over a masterpiece, so it really hurts them to hear otherwise. Thankfully, I think most writers are like you – over time, they see their own improvement and realize maybe those first efforts weren’t all that amazing.

    • Michelle Ule says:

      I’ve rewritten my first one twice, updating it with things I’ve learned and also cut it by a third–120K to 85K, where it is more marketable.

      My agent now tells me the characters aren’t quite right for the market, so I’ll either wait for the market to change or . . . something else. But like you, the book I thought was wonderful, alas, was not.

      However, I loved your first published book, Sarah, when I read the early draft so you obviously benefited from those hidden volumes! 🙂

  16. Larry says:

    Number four wasn’t an issue with how I approached my writing. I already knew I was a writer, and a pretty decent one. Having a few screenplays completed before I started my novel (and a few novellas), which is why I feel diversity in what we as writers create is important to understanding our strengths and flaws.

    Overall though, I agree. Novel writing is a strange beast, and we are fools to ever think we have it tamed.

  17. No hate for this please, but I did publish the first novel I attempted.(ROOMS). It became a best seller and won a number of awards.

    HOWEVER … I’d been a professional copy writer for ten years which taught me a great deal about writing tight and writing in an engaging, unique way. And it took me six years to finish the manuscript.

    Plus I watched Finding Forester at least seven times.

    • I hear ya, Jim. I’ve actually done a blog post before about “my favorite FIRST novels,” including such classics as “To Kill a Mockingbird.” So it’s not that it never happens. We just can’t always count on it.

    • Jan Thompson says:

      Good points. IMO it’s the practice of writing that enables a writer to write well. Now if the writer uses her first novel for practice, then it’s probably unpublishable. I’m revising my first novel, but it’s not the first thing I’ve written. It’s the first full-length 100K pile of words I’ve written, but I’ve written other stuff before that novel — non-fiction, novella, short-stories, other practice novels, etc.

      As I alluded to in my comments below, I hope that first time novelists are not throwing out their “first” novels on the assumption that it’s automatically garbage, because if the writer has had prior writing experiences, then a lot of life went into that “first” novel. It might be better than the writer thought.

      It’s almost like a first car. It might be a lemon, but it might also be a nice old muscle car that just needs a bit of overhaul. The key is to be able to tell the difference….

  18. Jan Thompson says:

    Good points, all four! I think even after a writer is published, it’s good to review those points so she won’t lose her writing edge, especially #1.

    Of course, it doesn’t mean that the first novel is always garbage and is unpublishable, but IMHO it means that the writer needs more practice before she can submit a publishable manuscript she won’t be embarrassed to show an agent.

    I have stacks or “practice” mss including short stories, novellas, non-fiction pieces, devotionals, etc., that might never see the light of day. I’ve been writing for a long time, and every time I write something I consider it “practice.”

    Practice makes permanent, and I think it was Jody Hedlund who said that we writers need to keep exercising those writing muscles or they won’t work too well. So I write all the time, even if it’s just one paragraph or whatever. I keep a journal and blog, and these are also considered practice.

    If I may, I would like to suggest a #5: Study. In between writing and practicing and completing unpublishable mss, I think that the pre-published writer has a grand opportunity to study the craft of writing and apply them to their practice mss, improve grammar and usage, read more books, read good books, etc. All these take time. I think all these need to be done before the first book is published. Unfortunately for me, I think I study too much and too long that I rather enjoy being unpublished LOL.

  19. Jenny Leo says:

    The first attempt at my debut novel might as well be a different book, because the story, setting, and cast of characters have changed so much over innumerable rewrites. Still, I think of that first attempt as an early version of my novel, rather than an entirely different novel.

  20. My third book was a charm–still a small press without an agent, though. I am hoping to get an agent on the NEXT book…

  21. I was able to publish AT WHAT COST, my first novel, with a small traditional publisher. While finding an agent and going through the editing process, I was also able to finish bk, 2 and 3 and am working on bk 4. Now, to get those on the road to publication. 🙂

  22. I’m on the third draft of my first novel, and it’s still not good enough even for me. I wouldn’t dream of throwing it away (too many years of research and passion), but I could set it aside to write more and then come back and revise it.

    I have a nonfiction background, so it’s taking years to teach myself how to write fiction.

  23. Andrea Di Salvo says:

    While it’s frustrating to think about completing an entire novel that may never see the light of day, these points make a lot of sense. I’ve completed two full-length fiction works. They looked good to me at the time, but I let them simmer in a drawer. Later, I realized they were nowhere near publication-ready. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet completed anything that is ready for publication. Balancing the need for practice with my own impatience can be challenging. On another note, though, I do think the ideas in those first two were good at their hearts, and I’d love to scrap the old manuscripts and start from scratch some day!

  24. Novel #1 is hidden away. After attending Mount Hermon the last two years and reading a stack of craft books, I shudder to think of how many changes I would have to make on that first attempt.
    Novel #2 is dangling over the cliff and about to plunge into the query process.Only a few more scenes to edit.
    Rachelle, how common is it for a debut author to receive a two or three book contract with a publisher?

  25. My first novel was recently met with a great deal of interest by a reputable agent. She mentioned that it would require some standard editing, which I absolutely expected. At the end of our conversation, she said abruptly, “I keep coming back to this being your first novel…” The previous hour-long conversation fizzled from there. She convinced herself with unforeseen momentum that I should shelve #1 and move on to 2.

    It seemed she believed that if she liked the first, she would surely like the second (unwritten!) novel even more. THAT was somehow more frustrating than it would have been to hear that my first attempt simply wasn’t good enough.

    Maybe she was being overly generous and kind and perhaps it simply was not where it needed to be, but I was frustrated by the overarching belief that the first novel is a throw-away.

    Thanks for providing some clarity on a topic that has been a bit of a head-scratcher for me. The comments were helpful, too!

  26. Hi love your site. Lots of interesting post. I just indie published 3 childrens books. I have so many more I want to get out but I do believe the more I write the more I learn. I was actually contacted by an agent from Korea for a publishing company not sure about that one..

  27. Sarah Thomas says:

    There’s an unfinished, first novel that will never see the light of day. When I wrote and finished the second novel I KNEW this was IT. Then I got enough positive feedback to think, at least, it MIGHT be it. So I took the advice to keep writing to heart and it was the third book that found an agent and publisher (coming out Summer 2014). But here’s the really wonderful thing, after I finished book three I kept going and wrote book four while pitching and waiting. Now I have THREE complete manuscripts that I think are at least good enough to be polished and edited into submission. Which just happens to fit my THREE-book contract. (And Jenni, I’m a debut author.)

    By far the best advice I’ve ever gotten is to keep writing the next book and then the next and then . . .

  28. Dana McNeely says:

    I’ve finished one Biblical fiction and have ideas for several more. I edited the novel several times and pitched it to a couple of agents. I got rejections AND wonderful suggestions, which I’ve used to rewrite the entire manuscript.

    Like Sarah Sundin, I thought my manuscript was pretty great when I first pitched it, but the suggestions made so much sense. I researched how to fix the problems they pointed out and went to work.

    After I complete this rewrite, I’ll try sending my first novel out again, but I’ll also start a second novel.

  29. Josh Kelley says:

    It is worth noting what the exceptions to the rule have in common: They already had a lot of experience prior to writing their first book.

    That is my situation. I have just been offered a contract by Harvest House for my first book “Radically Normal.” However, I have been a pastor for 14 years and my sermons alone represent 600,000 words worth of practice!

  30. Maybe I’m clueless, no argument there, but I do think book one will be published. Why? Because a few of the pubbed authors who’ve read parts of it have given me some rather encouraging feedback. Whether it is chosen as the first in the trilogy is up to God. (Reverend Pollyanna, at your service.)But it certainly has been an educational experience.
    Learning craft as I went proved to be a taxing experience, but it also paved the way for book two to a little easier on the nerves. I have been blessed with a few truly lovely mentors who have gone out of their way to guide me along.
    I have one complete historical fiction novel, one rough contemporary drafted, and am 2/3’s into the first draft of a second hist/fic companion to book one. Book three is entirely plotted in my head. (glad something is in there) I also have the prequel to the contemporary entirely plotted, researched and ready to be born, once books 1-3 are done. Another contemporary stand alone is also plotted and ready to go. The research is mostly done for that, as well.
    Need I go on?
    Oh! And a stand alone set in the 1650’s in what is now New Mexico is also plotted. I my head. Crowding out the grocery lists.
    I can’t remember phone numbers, but I can tell you when peaches and apricots were introduced to the Southwest.
    Seriously. I need help. 😉

  31. Christina says:

    I find all the answers interesting. I signed a contract for my third completed book. Signed a contract for my fourth completed and just finished a proposal for my fifth, yet to be completed, which scares me. I am tempted to write the entire book before sending it to my editor for review because I want to make sure I can meet any deadlines I may have.

  32. Keli Gwyn says:

    I wrote five stories and rewrote one of them twice before I received my offer of representation. Even then, my knowledgeable and insightful agent let me know that while the beginning of my thrice-written story worked, the final three-quarters didn’t. I deleted 75,000 words, plotted a whole new ending, and spent six months writing it. My CPs read the story and pointed out my sagging muddle, er, middle. I spent another month fixing the problem, sent the revised version of the story to my agent, and she sold it. These days I don’t think of myself as a writer; I prefer to say I’m a re-writer. 🙂

  33. I’ve written five books but have seldom queried. Each time I finish something I send it out once or twice and get busy writing something new. With each successive ms I realize my previous work is less than my best. Despite some revising, I shelve them in favour of continuing with my current w.i.p. Clearly, I prefer writing/revising to querying/submitting. LOL.

  34. Great post, and great comments up there. I’ve written seven complete manuscripts, and I had written four before getting my first published. My first novel will need to be completely rewritten if I ever want it to go beyond that proverbial desk drawer.

  35. Published Author ISO Credited Screenwriter
    Logline: A young, athletic mother-to-be copes with the physical and emotional struggles of pregnancy while her husband traces their buried,genealogical past.

    Seeking collaboration, industry-standard formatting, perseverance. Financial arrangement will depend on our creative arrangement, your credentials and back-end participation. Seek to finish in six weeks. Friends of Barbra Streisand to the front.

    …of course, the novel is available for representation before the screenplay is written.

    please refer interested agents and screenwriters.

  36. Walt M says:

    My first completed manuscript was a humorous, nonfiction work on marriage. It went nowhere and will likely never see a readership. My second completed manuscript was my first work of fiction. It generated contest finals and a lot of publisher interest but no sales (at least not yet). I recently completed a first draft on a new fiction manuscript and am revising it. It already has one partial request from a publisher. Two more drafts sit half-finished and I plan to finish one of them this year. Eventually, it will happen.

  37. Amy DeLuca says:

    My problem is– and I guess it’s a nice one to have– my first book (after many revisions) has placed in several writing contests, won the Maggie, and is a Golden Heart finalist. I’m almost finished with my second, but with so much positive feedback, I find it hard to drop the idea of pursuing publication for the first one. However, as you point out, I still have a lot to learn! I guess the good things that have happened with my first book have been the encouragement I needed to keep going on this path toward being a published writer. Even if it’s never published, it’s still been a blessing.

  38. I’ve finished NINE novels (and one nonfiction)! With three basically abandoned novels and one in progress and two planned.

    The first five were unsaleable. I didn’t even try. The sixth got interest from agents but had basic issues that the feedback on full manuscripts caused me to decide to rewrite. The seventh turned out to be a hard sell to agents because of its murky market. The eighth was my rewrite of the sixth; it’s represented by an agent and is on submission now. The ninth has since been completed and I guess I’ll just put it in the queue. And my nonfiction is doing the looking-for-an-agent thing. I definitely needed the “practice novels.” They taught me everything.

  39. Sherry Kyle says:

    My debut novel, Delivered with Love, is my first novel, but I had been taking writing classes and going to conferences for five/six years before it hit store shelves. My second published novel, The Heart Stone, is actually my fourth novel. I’m so thankful that I’ve had more time to hone the craft between books. I’ve already heard from readers that they can tell the difference in my writing. I’m glad to hear I’m improving. I still love my first novel, but know I’ll cringe one day when someone mentions it. LOL! Great topic, Rachelle.

  40. I will admit to writing two. One makes me proud, and the other, well, the coffee table was wobbly anyway. 🙂

  41. Shelbie Mae says:

    Do you ever find that someone has written more than one book but then they go back and polish-up the first one for publishing? I started my first book in high-school. Then I dropped it. Then I started to write kind of the same book with but with more of my writing experiences (college). Then I dropped it. Now I am picking it up again after taking a class through THE CHRISTIAN WRITERS GUILD. I plan on working through this book with them for the next few classes. Do you think it ever has a chance?

  42. I spent four years writing my first novel, only to now have the ms available for free on my website.

    But my second novel, my current WIP, is so much stronger it almost makes the first one laughable! I’ve learned so much.

    And hopefully one day, I can go back and revise #1 and make it pretty enough for publication.

    But not yet. 🙂

  43. I’ve written six novels. None of them made it out of the query stage. They range from Fantasy to a Detective novel. I now consider myself a reader and am done querying. It’s not that I don’t feel called to write, but that I don’t feel called to formerly publish. Anyone can read my stuff by asking.

  44. Kimberly Rae says:

    I would be horrified if my first novel got published! =) I actually found it in my garage a few years back and looked through it to see if I could polish it up. Nope. It went into the trash, to make nobody found it and read it later! You’re definitely right that, after writing several books, you have more of an idea of your rhythm and timing and how well you can keep deadlines and such. I like being ahead of the game, so am really happy that, as I sign a contract for a Book One, I’m already working on Book Three. Wouldn’t do to be running late!
    Thanks for this great post. So many of us writers are impatient to get out there, and this is a great reminder that good things take time.

  45. Lori Benton says:

    I started the first novel I hoped would be published in 1991. It didn’t sell, despite very encouraging rejections. Neither did any novel I wrote before I got cancer in 1999. For a few years after that I didn’t write much, but once the fog lifted in 2004, the first novel I wrote after that landed me an agent… but it hasn’t yet sold. I wrote two more books, and those did sell in 2011. The first debuts in August.

  46. Rita Foreman says:

    Got a couple fat novels in a drawer – my sin back then was rewriting. Now I’m working on the third novel and I especially enjoy writing it exactly as I want to tell it – it’s not the best writing, not yet. I have found that a decent draft makes for powerful revision.

    About the two novels that I’ve written – some of it’s good, and all of it’s workable without rewriting the plot. Best of all, those two first novels are perfect for sequels. Granted, the sequels come before the one I’m writing now, they’re still perfect, and I’ll be writing backwards.

    I’m glad those two books were written, I still like the stories, in-fact, I’m excited by them. Having written them has made me a much more patient writer, preferring to dole out tidbits before the big crunch.

    With this third book, I am so willing to go the long haul: the draft, the revision, the professional editing, and ultimately putting it out there via an agent. When I’m finally there, I can’t wait to resurrect novel number 2 (which is my favorite) to tweak and revise and have it follow the one I’m working on now. I will have to work on timing, though. Amid life, it took me 8 months to develop, create an outline and research for the current novel – I loved every minute of it though.

  47. donnie and doodle says:

    . . . donnie wrote over 100 short stories in the last 4 years (writing full time) to learn the craft of writing.

    He has just now finished his first novel titled: “The Adventures of a Boy and His Creature”.

    donnie took a month off to throw tennis balls for me at the beach and now he writing the second in the series – while he seeks representation for his upper-middle-grade novel for boys.

  48. Ugochi says:

    It takes a special skill to author several books. Some may be called to do this for the long haul and do it well, time and time again – effortlessly. Some others may be called for a one time glorious hit, but choose to continue and wonder why the magic stopped. I think it’s very important to know where we stand and be honest with ourselves so we can support others in their call as we find our next assignment. Inasmuch as I admire authors who have done this over and over again, I honestly can’t see myself doing this again. It’s draining and the editing process is grueling. Therefore striking when it’s hot for me will have to be the first time around. As my mentor C.S. Lewis says, it’s important to know when a story stops telling itself.

  49. Your msg is encouraging. Although, publishing date of my first book set for August-fingers crossed! May just be a fluke…

  50. David Todd says:

    How many complete books have you written (publishable or not)?

    7: 2 non-fiction, 4 novels, 1 poetry

    If you’re published, how many books had you written before signing that first contract?


  51. Sydney Avey says:

    Some of the best advice I’ve received was to start my second book immediately. I was prepared to accept that my first book was a learning experience when I got that coveted “We love your book and would like to offer you a book contract” from an independent publishing house. Now I have the opportunity to go through the traditional publishing process and the momentum to finish my second book and bring it to market within a reasonable period of time to establish myself as an author. Still looking for the right agent to help guide me. The Sheep Walker is coming out next year from Chalfont House.

    Loving your blog!

  52. Peter DeHaan says:

    Now I don’t feel so bad that my first book will never be published. (It’s a long story.)

  53. Denise Hisey says:

    I’m on my 3rd book and even I can see my improvement! Great advice and a good reminder to be patient and keep working hard.

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