To most of you, it would seem obvious that once I finished Book 1 (Merlin’s Blade), I would begin writing Book 2 (Merlin’s Shadow).
To me, however, it was not obvious. Unless I can sell book 1, book 2 is useless in the sense that neither agent nor publisher will ever see it.
So why am I writing it? Here are my reasons:
To prove I can write at a publishable speed.
Book 1 has taken 3-4 years, and a lot of that has been learning how to research, plot, write, and edit. A publisher and an agent will need to be comfortable with my ability to write at “publishing” speed of 1 book per year.
With 20% done, I am well on my way to having the entire first draft written in six months. As well, I plot very carefully before I write, and I edit everything twice as I go along, so that will make for a decently polished manuscript.
To give myself breathing room.
If a publisher picks up my trilogy, then this lowers my stress meeting their publishing schedule. Keep in mind that there is an additional trilogy after this one (The Pendragon Spiral), for six books total. If I can get ahead one book, then that takes some pressure off.
To continue to hone my skills.
I have become more and more confident in my writing, but I still have things to learn. Working on book 2 has challenged me in different ways.
For instance, whereas book 1 took place entirely in a small village, book 2 is a journey taking the reader across all of Britain and beyond. Because of this, there are different challenges, different pacing issues, and different character development issues.
To help with book 1.
Working on book 2 is helping me evaluate the shortcomings of book 1.
If you remember, I have just chopped out 14,000 words from the beginning of book 1 (nearly 9 sequential chapters) to bring it down to 107,000 words.
This is exciting for me, because it finally puts the book into a size that is publishable in the CBA. It also starts the book much closer to the action, cutting out the fluff.
But as part of this, I need to get some distance from the text so I can “see” whether these massive changes still work. Writing book 2 gives me that distance, and I hope to revisit book 1 soon to see what I think.
Will I write book 3?
The answer is “No”. Not unless I find an agent, and through him, a publisher. If I cannot find an agent, then I will approach the smaller publishers.
Sure, I could self-publish, but I am not inclined to do that. If I cannot find a publisher, then I will be happy to print copies for close-friends and family, put it in a drawer, and move on to write something completely different.
Why would I not self-publish?
Because I believe in my writing! Because I believe my premise is fresh!
Because (I think) what I have written is publishable! I believe that if someone reads my entire manuscript, they will be touched. I have wept while just editing my book.
Now, an author’s viewpoint may not be accurate about their own work, but there is a point where you have to have confidence and move forward.
This publishing business is a slow one, and I need a patience to match. Keeping it under wraps will keep the entire Merlin Spiral and Pendragon Spiral publishable in the future.
What would I write instead?
Aha, now there is a fascinating question. I have a few very imaginative things up my sleeve, but that will wait for another post in the far future.