As I slog my way through writing the sequel to Cry of the Sea, I have asked a few writers of series and sequels to visit my blog and write about their experiences. In the spirit of National November Writing Month, my first guest is sharing what she's attempting to accomplish during the month-long writing challenge. She is still waiting for her big publishing break, but she is pretty confident that it is on the horizon. She's written what sounds like an exciting paranormal YA and is shopping it around. While I have a book published and am struggling to figure out how to write a follow-up, she has known from the beginning that her project would be a trilogy. What's amazing and brave to me is that she's begun writing the sequel completely on faith that the first book will sell. I know a lot of writers who want to do series books struggle with the question: should you write the sequel before the first book gets published or hold off and start something new? Here's author Tamara Girardi's take on it.
When I first started writing a YA paranormal about eight years ago, I attended conferences where writers talked about it taking ten years on average to get an agent and sell a book. I thought, “That will not be me!” I also scoffed at the suggestion my first (or fifth) book would not sell but end up “in a drawer.”
The aforementioned YA paranormal novel rests in an old computer, aging peacefully along with a few other projects started but abandoned.
Now, though, my more recent manuscript, a YA fantasy titled DREAMSEER, is on submission with several literary agents, and I’m hopeful I’ll find “the one” who loves it like I do. In the meantime, I’m following other ever-present advice in publishing: write another book.
Against common advice, as part of NaNoWriMo, I’m writing the second book of what will be a DREAMSEER trilogy. In other words, I’m daring to write a sequel to a book that is unagented and unpublished. It might also end up resting peacefully on this computer (when I upgrade to a newer model, of course).
Don’t get me wrong. I have faith.
I have faith that DREAMSEER is strong enough to catch an agent’s eye, an editor’s eye, a reader’s eye, but there are no guarantees in this business, are there? DREAMSEER could be revised to stand alone, but the ending really sets up so much for the second book that it would feel unfinished without a sequel.
In other words, I’m breaking the rules.
Despite my faith, the rules and the averages and the disappointments of the industry weigh on me as I sit down to my NaNoWriMo writing sprints. No page is wasted. My writing this time around is better than last time, but what if I could be writing something different now? Something that will sell? Would that be time better-spent?
The truth is there’s no crystal ball with swirling sand to predict the future of my publishing career (although there is a sandseer with a crystal ball in DREAMSEER and its sequel).
And perhaps that’s one of the true benefits of NaNoWriMo. The expectation is that writers silence internal editors, and in this case, internal disbelievers. In talking with other writers I’ve come to believe we all have moments of doubt. Faith, and the realization that even if we never publish we’d want to write anyway, silence that doubt.
For me, NaNoWriMo silences that doubt. It has to! How else could I write 50,000 words in 30 days?
An English instructor for Harrisburg Area Community College’s Virtual Learning program, Tamara Girardi holds a PhD in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Letters in Creative Writing from the University of St. Andrews. Her YA fantasy DREAMSEER won the 2013 PennWriters Novel Beginnings Contest and is on submission with agents. Tamara is a member of Backspace, Sisters in Crime, and PennWriters. Follow her on Twitter @TamaraGirardi.
D. G. Driver
Author of Young Adult books Cry of the Sea and Passing Notes.