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Goodreads Author Zone > When do you start the next book?

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message 1: by Beth (new)

Beth Camp I'm editing book 2 set in 19th Century Van Diemen's Land, but book 3 is calling me! This next story will be set in Canada, also mid-19th Century and involve the Hudson's Bay Company, a cross-Canada trek, maybe a volcano, and Scots, Hawaiians, and Native Americans. When do you know when you are finally finished with editing and ready to start the next story? I'd love to hear your comments and strategies. Thank you! Beth


message 2: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 717 comments I start the next story at the point when I am so sick of the current one that I can't face it anymore. Even if the first one is not done, at that point I can't tell, so it's sure to benefit from a few months, or even a few years, off.

If the issue is just ideas for the next story, though, I start a new file, jot them down, and get on with story #1. Otherwise, I'd never finish anything.

Good question! I look forward to reading what other people have to say.


message 3: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Hopkins | 25 comments Awkward one, because it depends what you mean by 'start' :)

I keep a file of notes, so if I think of a new story or plot thread, or even come across an interesting related fact, I write it down. Eventually the notes get turned into an outline.

This is all so much easier if you're writing a series. For example, I have two finished books, the third started, the fourth with a detailed outline and six others in various stages from rough outline to rough notes.

I'll probably write the opening for the fourth book while I'm stuck on something in the third story, which is what I did last time. It kills two birds, etc :)

I'm interested in what others do, too :)


message 4: by Victoria_Grossack (last edited Dec 30, 2012 06:33AM) (new)

Victoria_Grossack Grossack (victoriagrossack) | -18 comments I stop working on a manuscript when I can't see a way to make it a lot better. Have I told the story I meant to tell? Did I resolve everything? Is it as good as we (I have a co author) can make it?

We've just sent a really challenging-to-write manuscript to our coterie of test readers; after we get their reactions and assimilate them, we will send it to our agent.

But that does not mean that I have not been working on other items in the interim. Articles, scenes for future books, and so on: if the muse shows up with the flame of inspiration, time to type!


message 5: by Donna (new)

Donna Thorland I feel like I always have other books in progress in my head, even if I don't have them down on paper, so a start point is difficult for me to pin down. And because I write in multiple formats--for film and television as well as books--I have projects that I've started or even finished in another medium--like a TV pilot I plan to rewrite as a novel--that exist in a kind of limbo. Great question!


message 6: by Steven (new)

Steven Malone | 165 comments Great question, Beth.

Was it Fitzgerald that spent 20+years doing 'The Great Gatesby (sic)'. And, I think Burtram Russel worked some few decades on a book that finally proved that 1 does actually equal 1 - something that dismayed his fellow philosophers but he justifies by saying that it had never been done so no one could actually depend on it. Many of us remember 'The History of Philosohy' or 'Why I am Not a Christian' - who remembers the 1200+ page book on the value of the number 1.


I finally make myself abandon a work when I can say its condition stops embarrassing me. Perfection, I am told, is a journey not a destination. And, nothing can ever be perfect - darn it. I still find 'things I wish I'd said' in things I wrote 30 years ago.

Like others have said, I've got many things in various stages of 'being worked on' in the back or front of my mind as I polish things I want to call finished. And like others I get finally sick of picking up some projects. I'm moving on and I'm excited about new stuff.

I remember the 'Beach Boys' in shouting matches with fans for demanding 'Surfing USA' at concerts when they only wanted to play new stuff. but now they make their living playing for nostalgia.


message 7: by Steven (new)

Steven Malone | 165 comments Jonathan wrote: "Awkward one, because it depends what you mean by 'start' :)

I keep a file of notes, so if I think of a new story or plot thread, or even come across an interesting related fact, I write it down. E..."


Yeah, what you said. It does turn on what a person means by 'start'.

I have similar things piled around my work space.

I'd be interested to know when and how you determined you two books were 'finished'.


message 8: by Gary (new)

Gary Inbinder | 174 comments I'm always thinking about the next book. I recently got an agent to represent a new novel, and I'm doing research and roughing out a story-line for a sequel. I have three shelved novels that I might dust off, one of these days. And I'm always working on short stories; some might be good enough for a collection, or expansion into a larger work.


message 9: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (brynhammond) | 298 comments I have to go through a grief stage and a slow disengagement, before I can 'move on'. It isn't pretty, from the outside or the inside.


message 10: by Jonathan (last edited Dec 30, 2012 12:46PM) (new)

Jonathan Hopkins | 25 comments Steven - The first one when I'd edited and edited until I was getting sick of the story. The second was a lot tighter to begin with and I was pretty happy after three edits.

My problem is I'm never completely satisfied with anything I do, but you have to stop somewhere ;)


message 11: by Zoe (last edited Dec 30, 2012 01:10PM) (new)

Zoe Saadia (zoesaadia) Beth wrote: "I'm editing book 2 set in 19th Century Van Diemen's Land, but book 3 is calling me!..."

I would never dare to scare off the Muse ;-)

When the next book is "calling", I'm starting to work on it right away. It usually happens, so it always comes to me working on a few books at the same time - one goes through the final polishing after coming back from the proofreader, the other being edited after the editor and before the proofreader, the third is the one that was 'calling' so its being written :D

(a disclaimer: through this year I worked on the series that happened through the relatively short span of time - 30 years - so I didn't have to do any additional research between the books, otherwise all this simultaneous writing/editing/final-polishing wouldn't work).


message 12: by Steven (last edited Dec 30, 2012 07:01PM) (new)

Steven Malone | 165 comments @Jonathan
It's usually 10 or 12 edits for me - the last 3 or 4 usually work on spelling errors. I'm a rotten speller but good enough to fool a spell checker.

I know exactly how it feels to never be totally satisfied.

@Zoe
Yes, I try very hard to make my Muse feel very much at home myself. I can still rile her up quick enough - mostly at my laziness. She keeps many story ideas rattling around in my head.


message 13: by Beth (new)

Beth Camp Thank you all for commenting. I especially appreciated Jonathan's post, for I've done 8 edits on book 1 and only 3 edits on book 2, and that means maybe 2 or 3 more rounds of edits for book 2.

I do keep notes online but the idea of keeping a folder for book 3 is quite helpful, more flexible (writing on scrap paper), and less of a commitment. But whenever I've tried to write more than one story at a time, I feel like I'm straddling two worlds, and both suffer.

You know that big surge of excitement that comes when the first draft is finished? I'm really ready for the round of edits for book 2. Book 3 will just have to wait. Or be happy with notes in a folder.

May your Muse be happy and your own writing go well in 2013.


message 14: by Diane (new)

Diane Lewis Beth wrote: "I'm editing book 2 set in 19th Century Van Diemen's Land, but book 3 is calling me! This next story will be set in Canada, also mid-19th Century and involve the Hudson's Bay Company, a cross-Canada..."

I do the same, when the next book is "calling" I have to start writing on it right away. I wrote my second book in the middle of working on my first. I faltered how to end the first book, and the second story insisted on being written.


message 15: by Sandra (new)

Sandra O'Briant (sandraramosobriant_) | 52 comments Been asking myself that question since there's a second in The Sandoval Sisters' family saga that's about a quarter finished. Wrote a vampire book that was contracted until the publisher went belly-up; need to decide what to do there.


message 16: by Rosalie (new)

Rosalie Turner | 45 comments Like many of you, there's always another book percolating in the back of my mind. I uisually don't start on a new project until the last one is published, though. And many times (every time??)I've wished I'd edited one more time or even rewritten it. Ive thought it was ready, but once it's on the bookstore shelf, I wonder. Then I get engrossed in my next project and it's ok to move on. All in all, this writing is a hard business! But, like my mentor told me, "a writer is someoneone who can't NOT write" - so I guess I am one. :-)


message 17: by Ian (new)

Ian Stewart (goodreadercomIanStewart) | 118 comments Interesting discussion. As a journalist meeting deadlines I learned there's a point where you have to let go of a piece of writing. I'm less deadline-demanding of myself with fiction but keep in mind that there has to be a cut-off point or you could continue making changes to a book for the rest of your natural life!

As to starting the next book, I like to be working on a new project not long after finishing a work in order to maintain my writing momentum.

But in the case of my recent major exercise - covering a period of more than ten years - I did something unusual for me. As I neared the end of the first draft, I decided I needed a break from the intensity of research and writing and took time off to write a light, action-adventure novella. After completing it, I returned to my "magnum opus" with new enthusiasm.


message 18: by David (new)

David Lafferty (danteexplorer) Tomorrow ;)


message 19: by Monica (new)

Monica | 107 comments I am a slow reader. I'm always renewing library books. I like to make sure I catch everything, so I can only handle one book at a time. :)


Victoria_Grossack Grossack (victoriagrossack) | -18 comments One problem with starting a new project is that first drafts seem so awkward after being in polishing mode.


message 21: by Bryn (last edited Jan 08, 2013 11:23AM) (new)

Bryn Hammond (brynhammond) | 298 comments It is a skip from re-writing -- polishing as you say -- back into create-from-scratch for a new work. And a bit scary I find, because you're not used to a blank page. That struck a chord, since I'm scheduled to start a new book in January -- after two years on re-write. I fear I've forgotten how.


message 22: by Charlene (new)

Charlene Steven wrote: "@Jonathan
It's usually 10 or 12 edits for me - the last 3 or 4 usually work on spelling errors. I'm a rotten speller but good enough to fool a spell checker.

I know exactly how it feels to never b..."


I think I lost track of how many edits I went through. I turned my mss over to beta readers in March/April after I'd already done a couple of edits. Then I revised again before 2 folks from my critique group edited. More revisions followed. I started working on a 2nd book in April while the 1st was in beta hands. It was a wonderful change after spending so many hours on that 1st book.


message 23: by Robert (new)

Robert Clear (robertclear) | 5 comments I'm at the point now where I'm turning my mind to the next novel. I'm working my way through edits of the current book (hopefully to be released in February), and I'm trying to marshal ideas. Eager to hit the ground running if possible!


message 24: by Maggie (new)

Maggie Anton | 219 comments I find it impossible to work on two books at the same time, although I did start the second "Rashi's Daughters" volume while my agent was trying to sell the first. But now that I have a contract with Plume, I finish one book before starting the next. It is a big jump from polishing to creating that new first draft, though.

Maggie Anton


message 25: by Caddy (new)

Caddy Rowland (caddyrowland) | 36 comments I start the next book before publishing the current one. I want to give readers a sample of the next book in a the series, (or when I start a new series, a taste of what that will be about), so a short sample is put at the end. My work tends to be well over 100,000 words so people aren't getting ripped off by getting an extra sample, they already got a long novel.


message 26: by Beth (new)

Beth Camp Caddy wrote: "I start the next book before publishing the current one. I want to give readers a sample of the next book in a the series, (or when I start a new series, a taste of what that will be about), so a s..."
An interesting strategy . . . just one more idea to keep in mind for traditional or self-publishing writers!


message 27: by E.M. (new)

E.M. Powell I tend to focus on one at a time. But for me the big overlap has come following publication. I'm trying my best to write the next novel but the time eating monsters called promotion & publicity keep making demands for the published one!


message 28: by David (new)

David Hill | 21 comments The project I'm working on started as a single novel but grew into a trilogy. I started on the second book only after the first was finished. The first one took many years to research and write but the second is going much faster since most of the research is already done.


message 29: by Liza (new)

Liza Perrat (httpwwwgoodreadscomlizaperrat) I also find it impossible to work on two books at the one time. I'm in first draft stage of my present novel... find first drafts quite a laborious slog. I love it when I feel the story is right and it's time for the fun part of tweaking sentences, finding just the right word...


message 30: by Kate (new)

Kate Quinn | 591 comments I find that the starting and stopping change depending on whether I have deadlines or not. I wrote my first book (well, the first book that ended up getting published; never mind the previous 16 sitting under my bed) in about 5 months, and then I tinkered with it on and off for about six years. For my second book, though, I had a deadline: the thing had to be done in a year, so it was!


message 31: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (jennepstein) Frankly, my goal is to try to start--e.g., start writing--the next one well before the first one is out--since I'm one of those writers who finds myself feeling pretty unmoored when I'm not actually "writing" something. But as E.M. notes, promotion and publicity can definitely get in the way of that goal! So thus far I've found myself in the research stages of the next one while "tying up" the last one...and since my novels tend to be research-heavy, there is always more to be done.


message 32: by R.M.F. (new)

R.M.F. Brown | 68 comments E.M. wrote: "I tend to focus on one at a time. But for me the big overlap has come following publication. I'm trying my best to write the next novel but the time eating monsters called promotion & publicity kee..."

Glad to know that I'm not the only one with this problem!


message 33: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (jennepstein) Here's a question, though, as long as we are on the monsters called promotion and publicity...how do you know when you've done enough of either? And how do you know if what you are doing is really working? So much of the time I feel like I'm working furiously just to make myself FEEL like I have some control over how my book is going to do--when in fact, I have none. (right?)


message 34: by Steven (new)

Steven Malone | 165 comments Not exactly no control. Even I found that I've sold a couple of books people would not have known existed with out GR, Kindle boards, and Google+. You can reach some readers with your efforts. Know that you've chosen a slow moving career these days. And striking a balance between doing too much, doing enough, and not doing anything will probably always be an art.

Of course, this comes from a writer that knows just about what you know about promotions. Take it as count being worth just what you paid for it.


message 35: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (jennepstein) True. I guess you can't get too caught up in the meta-perspective on this stuff. The truth is that for most of us, much of the real satisfaction comes in the one-on-one connections from individual readers anyway!


message 36: by Diane (new)

Diane Lewis Jennifer wrote: "Here's a question, though, as long as we are on the monsters called promotion and publicity...how do you know when you've done enough of either? And how do you know if what you are doing is really ..."

I feel the same way, how do you know when you've done enough marketing. High-ranking sales I suppose. But sometimes you don't know your sales figures for months.


message 37: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (jennepstein) Diane wrote: "Jennifer wrote: "Here's a question, though, as long as we are on the monsters called promotion and publicity...how do you know when you've done enough of either? And how do you know if what you are..."

That, or sales simply "stop"--at which point I guess you've done everything you can. (Sigh.) More to this point: someone just tweeted a Tobais Wolff quote from the Paris Review: “Writers need to remember that once the book leaves their hands, it’s not theirs anymore.” True, but also kinda hard to remember!


message 38: by Diane (new)

Diane Lewis It's hard to let go of your baby, after months, in my case years, of researching and revising.
I am getting faster, though.


message 39: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (jennepstein) I'm not sure I am....though for sanity's sake I clearly need to be. :)


message 40: by Ariel (new)

Ariel Horn (arielchorn) | 32 comments Fun topic! I plan to format my current book and get that published. Once that behemoth is out of the way, I'll continue work on my Young Adult novel I started between bouts of editing my first novel.


message 41: by Laura (new)

Laura Gill | 162 comments In my case, the behemoth I'm working on now just killed my old laptop. But my new laptop should be able to handle it. Her name is Clytaemnestra, and she doesn't take B.S. from anybody/anything. :)


message 42: by C.P. (last edited May 15, 2013 04:35PM) (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 717 comments Laura wrote: "In my case, the behemoth I'm working on now just killed my old laptop. But my new laptop should be able to handle it. Her name is Clytaemnestra, and she doesn't take B.S. from anybody/anything. :)"

:-D!

Now THAT is a heroine.


message 43: by Laura (new)

Laura Gill | 162 comments C.P. wrote: "Laura wrote: "In my case, the behemoth I'm working on now just killed my old laptop. But my new laptop should be able to handle it. Her name is Clytaemnestra, and she doesn't take B.S. from anybo..."

She hasn't seen my Orestes files. Keeping those away from her, or she might blow a circuit or something. ;-)


message 44: by Zoe (new)

Zoe Saadia (zoesaadia) Laura wrote: "In my case, the behemoth I'm working on now just killed my old laptop. But my new laptop should be able to handle it. Her name is Clytaemnestra, and she doesn't take B.S. from anybody/anything. :)"

Well, I wouldn't put past THIS lady killing the laptop if she found too many files favoring any of the men that crossed her :D
*making a mental note not to feature too strong-willed heroines in any of my future novels* :D


message 45: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (jennepstein) Oh--I'd say feature 'em and hardware be darned! We need more strong women in literature--and more excuses to upgrade our computers :)


message 46: by Zoe (new)

Zoe Saadia (zoesaadia) Jennifer wrote: "Oh--I'd say feature 'em and hardware be darned! We need more strong women in literature--and more excuses to upgrade our computers :)"

Great point :D


message 47: by Liza (new)

Liza Perrat (httpwwwgoodreadscomlizaperrat) Laura wrote: "In my case, the behemoth I'm working on now just killed my old laptop. But my new laptop should be able to handle it. Her name is Clytaemnestra, and she doesn't take B.S. from anybody/anything. :)"

Wow, what a name! Brings to mind a "feminine" kind of illness... sorry, don't mean to be nasty!


message 48: by Kim (new)

Kim Rendfeld (kim_rendfeld) | 2 comments I knew the manuscript was done when I felt as if I could not make it any better, in a major way. Of course, a writer has to say she's done at some point -- you would research or edit forever otherwise. Whenever I finish a manuscript, I grieve and soon start looking for a new idea. Funny thing is, even when I thought the manuscript was done, I would revise it later. This was after getting useful rejections, those rare cases when an editor actually says what didn't work for them.


message 49: by J. (new)

J. Gleason (joegleason) | 45 comments I start them all the time. Some grow, some don't. I never seem to stop editing them, however.


message 50: by Sandra (new)

Sandra O'Briant (sandraramosobriant_) | 52 comments The sequel to The Sandoval Sisters is waiting to be finished, about halfway there. Focused on short stories which I switch to for a change of perspective. Just got back from NYC where the Sandoval Sisters' Secret of Old Blood was awarded first place, Best Historical Fiction and Best First Book, ILWA, 2013. Need to catch my breath.


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