Today’s TUESDAY TIPS AND TIDBITS asks the writer a very serious question ... Where’s your sequel? Obviously this question does not apply to those writers not writing a series. But then the alternate form of the question still begs an answer ... Where’s your next book? Or ... What else have you written?
This fundamental question in any form is important to the typical author for the simple reason that, as an author, you know your work, your livelihood, is your writing. If you’re not writing, you’re not working. And if you’re not getting your writing published, then you’re not getting the product of your labor into the hands of customers. Without a commodity to sell, you’re not going to make a living, or even earn extra spending money from your chosen career as an author.
Many authors think that all it takes to become a best-selling celebrity is just one book. But one book is just the beginning, because you have to keep your customers (your readers) hungering for the next product. If they like your first book, they’ll certainly be looking for more from you. Knowing this, you can’t sit back with the unrealistic expectation of making a living off the sales of just one book. The truth is, most authors build a reputation one book at a time. Most new authors won’t see steady sales, due to word-of-mouth recommendations and name recognition, until their fourth book. So if you only have one book out there, readers will probably overlook your work until they know you’re serious enough about writing to continue producing worthy, readable work.
Of course there’s always the occasional exception – notably, Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird. But being the exception is like winning the lottery ... it only happens unexpectedly, and the odds are millions to one. Does any author want to leave his writing career to those odds? Of course, who’s to say that writing just one book is not a worthy goal? Maybe as an author, you have just one book in you. But if you’re like most authors, you yearn for more than the satisfaction of saying you’ve written a novel. Savvy authors build a readership through good marketing and people skills. But no author will get anywhere without writing, because writing is what makes a person an author.
Stop and think about that last time you read a book. What made you decide to read that book? The title, the cover art, the story summary? Or even the first few pages sampled to see how the story would go? More often than not, most readers buy and read books based on author name recognition before considering other criteria. When faced with choosing between a first book by an unknown author or the twentieth book by a recognized author, the typical reader will go with the recognized author and save the unknown author’s first book for future consideration, only after other known commodities have already been consumed.
So, if you’ve got only one or two books out there, or have a series with just the first book published, get busy working and write that next book. If you haven’t gotten your first book published yet – what are you waiting for? Do what it takes to finish a worthy, readable book. Then do what it takes to polish it until it’s publishable. Then do what it takes to market it, to let readers know it’s out there and make them want to read it. Name recognition and sales will follow – along with your next book!
Patricia Morrison, Penumbra Publishing