Last week, I heard from a friend of mine. We've kind of had mirror lives--our first novels came out around the same time, we sent our second ones to our publishers around the same time, we got rejected with requests to rewrite and resubmit--you know the drill. My friend, who'd worked very hard to rework her novel and has a much better book now than before, found out after 11 weeks that her publisher declined to publish it. I feel for her, particularly since I'm not as fast as she is doing rewrites, not to mention my crazy summer, and am on the verge of resubmitting my reworked novel. I'm confident my friend will move forward, but her experience has made me take a step back from my own life and think.
What will I do if my publisher declines to publish my second book?
First off, there's a reason I don't have a wireless keyboard (imagine keyboards sailing across the room to hit the far wall). My initial reactions to disappointment are sometimes unpredictable.
I know I'm not a bestselling author. I know having a published novel under your belt does NOT guarantee future publication. I've met really amazing authors with 6 or 7 published novels who still get the dreaded "no, thank you" from their publisher at times.
But, I also know I have certain obligations.
One, to myself. I'm a writer. What I love is to create stories and share them with others. Two, I have a modest fan base--actual living, breathing people who are anxiously awaiting the next installment of this series. I've heard it from them and bookstore owners alike. Granted, they aren't in the thousands, but they exist. And they matter to me. Three, I have an obligation to show my children that just because our dreams aren't easy doesn't mean we can give up. I read a great quote recently: Don't follow your dreams. Chase them!
But none of that changes the basic, economic fact that my publisher may not feel my book is strong enough to warrant their taking a risk on it. In fact, publishing my first book may have taught them I'm not as good a risk as they thought. As a writer, I have a distinct detachment from that side of the coin, and I don't know where they stand. Which is probably for the best.
The question remains: what will I do? I have options. I can try other publishers. I can search for an agent. I can self publish. In fact, in the next couple of months several of my writing friends are self publishing really incredible books. That will mean it will be harder to get my book in stores, but it will also mean I will have the book out to the public sooner than expected.
I really don't believe there's an easy answer here. Each process has its positive and negative sides. Shopping the book around could take the extra time my readers need to forget they're anticipating the next book. I need to evaluate my position, my goals, and see where I stand. What will be best for me, in both the short and long term? The other issue I have is that this is the continuation of a series, and how many publishers would be willing to pick up a series on the second book?
Decision, decisions. But at least I have options. :)