Writing More Than One Book

You labor over your first book, maybe for years. You seek help from other writers and editors, finely tuning your book to hopeful perfection. The important day comes—it’s accepted for publication and it starts selling well. The buzz is out—you are a great new author with something important to say. Your publisher says, “Quick, we need a follow-on!”

You sit down to write your second book, but now you are under a time crunch and intense scrutiny. Will it surpass the first? Hey, no pressure here—riiight! This is why too many first time authors do somewhat poorly the second time around. They’ve rushed to get something out and their fan base or platform rushes to judgment.

It Can Happen to Self-Publishers As Well

A similar thing can happen to self-publishers. You work hard to produce your first book and then begin marketing it. You know you need to have a good follow-on to take advantage of the swell of the first one’s popularity. Unfortunately, you have also discovered the dirty little secret that producing the first book was not the hard part; it’s the marketing of it that takes so much of your time and resources. Having been down this road before on both sides of the coin with my nonfiction work back in the 80s/90s, I knew what to expect with my reentry into publishing with my fiction. This is why I carefully took several years to develop a series of four (soon to be five) mysteries before I launched the first. Once you hop on this merry-go-round of publishing/marketing, there won’t be as much time to write, unless you hire someone else to do all the marketing for you, which is expensive, since it is a full time endeavor.

Different Ball Game

To add to the challenge of creating additional works is the complexity of today’s publishing and bookselling business. There are so many more ways to produce a book in several different formats: POD, traditional offset print, ebooks in 6-9 different formats, audio books in CD and downloadable versions, DVDs, and all the attendant marketing that goes with them. It really requires much more attention.

So, What to Do?

Look for expert distributors and producers for some of your versions. Let them provide marketing paths they’ve established, which you don’t have the wherewithal to do—it’s worth their fees. My first mystery, Quad Delta, is published as an ebook with Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/8850  Think outside the box. I’ve made application to Lightning Source to print and distribute POD versions of my books. I’m still waiting for that application process to complete, so I’m ordering my first 50 copies from a good local source, insuring I have enough on hand for my official release. Once LS comes through, I’ll order 100 copies from them for the follow through. If the book sales are promising, I may go to traditional offset printing down the road. While all this is going on, my second mystery, Firebug, is already published at Smashwords as an ebook at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/9114 , and I’m waiting a couple of months before I release it in print form. Now you can get a feeling for why I waited until I had four in the can before I launched into self-publishing again. It also shapes my marketing from selling just one title to selling a series of titles, which encourages whatever fan base I develop that other Bob Spear fixes are on the way. That helps the viral buzz.


Writers need to be aware of these dynamics and plan on coping with the complexities instead of blithely ignoring the realities of writing multiple books and then walking into a meat grinder of time pressures and public expectations. The bottom line is to always seek to be pro-active. Nobody likes SURPRISES!

This is a cross-posting from Bob Spear‘s Book Trends blog.