by Tamela Hancock Murray
Recently someone posted a question I get asked all the time:
After finishing my current book should I write the sequel or start something new?
This question is usually posed by a new author whose agent is marketing a series. The editors have not had a chance to weigh in with their interest in the series or lack thereof. Meanwhile, the writer is bored and wants something else to write.
What about curve balls?
If the series is contracted and the author already has much of the second book written, there is less to do and less pressure. Sounds like a plan. Well, maybe. Maybe not. While it seems to make sense to get as much done ahead of time as possible, with the contract offer still being pie in the sky, writing the second book may not be productive except as keeping with the discipline of being a writer. And, what if you get a contract offer, only to find the editor wants the second book to focus on a different heroine than you planned? Or what if the first book takes a different direction that will make huge plot impacts on the second book? I’ve seen these scenarios more than once so the idea that you’ll turn in two or three books that will remain almost untouched is unlikely. This is often a reality even for experienced authors.
How far from the first series should I deviate?
I recommend that while your agent is marketing your first series, it’s a good idea to think of another series but within the same brand. For instance, if you are passionate about Regency romance, don’t make a second series a contemporary romance unless there is a very, very good reason to do so. Your agent will advise you of what constitutes a good reason to switch time periods and/or genres. Each career and author is different, and what is appropriate for one author isn’t always a good career move for another. I recommend choosing a genre and time period you really, really love and sticking with it. Of course, you want to choose a genre and time period with great marketing potential. However, since CBA publishes a wide variety of books, finding a niche you enjoy, even if it’s not your absolute first choice, shouldn’t be too difficult. The main goal is to find a time and place where you will enjoy writing thousands of pages — a place you want to visit again and again.
What about nonfiction?
Don’t chase the market. Find a ministry you are passionate about, become an authority, and share your wisdom.
How many genres have you attempted?
Are you waiting for an answer to your series?
What advice would you give a new author who’s finding his or her passion?