SYWTBAW: Second Book Syndrome and Facing Rejection After Getting Published

The day I got The Call, I started writing the second book in my series. I knew they would want more—no one wants to be a one-hit wonder, after all. So I plotted, I planned, I pounded out 73,000 words in 5 months. I wrote a synopsis. I pitched. I submitted.

The proposal (and the third book, which I had already started) was rejected.

I stared gut-wrenching, pizza-and-whiskey-binge-style failure in the face once more. How could this be? I'd just sold a book. Surely all those lessons I learned the first time around could only make me better! Surely I was destined to write something even more brilliant!

I wallowed. I put my completed MS aside and put the kibbosh on my third book. There was no point in continuing—it wasn't going to sell as it was. I had to purge the ideas, scrub the stories completely from my brain. (Whiskey and Red Dead Redemption helped a lot in this stage). I had to come up with something new. I was terrified.

Once I'd gotten over the despair, I went back and read my lovely and brilliant editor's extensive notes. The thoroughness and articulation of her thoughts reminded me of why she is a damn good editor. She wasn't wrong in her assessment: there were some rough spots, some contrivances, some areas where the story became predictable and, frankly, boring. I was trying too hard to give the reader what they want. I wasn't being true.

But once I understood this, how could I go about writing something new? Something not predictable? Something that would capture the imagination?

Hell, if I had the answers, I'd already be doing it instead of blogging right now...

If I have any iota of wisdom to share out of thie SYWTBAW bit, it's this: don't get complacent. Don't despair. I've said it before, I'll say it again—Keep moving forward. Just keep swimming.

Now, back to the idea cave...


Writing is easy:  All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.

~Gene Fowler





2 thoughts on “SYWTBAW: Second Book Syndrome and Facing Rejection After Getting Published

  1. Aw, hugs.'s blip, you know?

    While I was waiting to hear on my revisions from the first book I sold, I started another. Turns out it was horrible. The best thing that happened was my editor asking for new ideas (and not the one I'd started, thinking it was SO Harlequin Romance). And the funny thing was she came back with "you clearly want to write xxx" when it was the idea I'd thought about the LEAST. But it was good because I went into that story clean - it was a fresh start.

    Trying too hard to give the reader what they want is really, really common - when you really just need to immerse yourself in the story and write it in your own unique, sparkling voice. 🙂

    You can do eeet! 🙂


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