Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why is it important to write more than one book?

A few years back when I had around three books (a MG book and 2 collection of linked stories) to shop around to Indian publishers, I was slightly hassled thinking that I have 3 unpublished books lying around, not to mention another earlier one which I had given up on and another one which I had left halfway.

When I started blogging  two years back, I realized that writers all over the world have written plenty of books before they get lucky. There are very few writers who strike it lucky with the first book they write. I am wondering whether we can call all our unpublished books our practice books. Afterall, we do need to practice our writing, hone our craft and skills on something before we unleash our stories to the world.

And last September when I started querying, I read on many agents’ websites that they wanted to know what else the writer has written. No agent wants a writer who may just write one book and then do the disappearing act. Agents have reiterated time and again that they are investing in a writer’s career and not just one book.

Even for writers it’s advantageous to keep writing different stories and trying various themes to see what they are good at. And then there is always the advantage that we can always return to our previously unpublished work and rewrite it with our newly acquired skills and submit it after we feel it’s in a polished state.

What do you all feel about writers writing more than one book before they are ready for publishing? What is your personal take on this? Do you think the earlier books can be categorized as practice books? How many books did you write before you were ready for publishing? I would love to know all your opinions about this.

The winner of  Samuel Park's book This Burns my Heart is Kristen Wixted. I will get in touch with you regarding the prize.


  1. Am yet to make a break:(. Maybe I need to read what others have experienced!

  2. I agree completely, Rachna. I’ve written two full-length novels and I know for a fact that I have improved even a little bit with each draft. Though neither have snagged a publisher’s interest, I really enjoyed writing them and hope to win them over with my next one!

  3. Really opinionated here:

    I tend to believe that a writer focused solely on one project, on idea, isn't thinking beyond the publication of one singe concept.

    I think that experimental novel can sell; but it will probably be at a time when the writer least expects. Its like the first child; you don't really know the rules and nuances until they specifically apply to your situation.

    Every child is different, even when they are doing the same-old-same thing of the other children. The experimental novel is like the first child; you don't give up on it b/c you made some mistakes. You learn from them.

    I've had ephifanies during a completely different writing. Perhaps I'm critiquing or just reading another authors work and I'll have a "oh, so that's what I'm doing wrong" moment.

    I don't believe in deleting something that didn't work. You never know when it might be perfect for something eles. Who says writing is linear :)

    My thought is if you are in the middle of a writing project, and a totally unique idea hits you that doesn't belong; just go with it and figure out what it is later.

    Yeah, writers should have more than one open project. It allows them to diversify and rethink their world and writing concepts. Not every idea is a viable story, but the author won't know this until they explore the shiny new thing. In my opinion, at least.

    Yeah, I have a dead trilogy; my first writing. Sometimes I go back and revise/edit/query the first book. Eventualy, every new writing skill or strategy I learn ends up in this three book concept. I don't know that it will ever be published, but it is a measureable outlet for all I've learned in my writing career.

    I'd tell every new author I know that even if the first project never sells, it is worthy of your love because it got your started on the journey as an author. Every publication since the first writing got you where you want to be.

    Why should the first writing experiment be viewed as any different than your first love, first sexual encounter, first dinner cooked, first job, first time driving a car, first anything? To me, the first is just the first; a learning experience. You love it even if you fail, or you hate it and never come back.

    Practice doesn't always make perfect; but if certainly make proficient if you keep at it.

    I have some published short stories that are not in my prefered novel genre. I guess I got published when I wrote something a publisher was interested in. Finding the right publisher is about as hard as writing that first novel.

    End rant/soap box. A very good discussion topic Rachna.


  4. I suppose every writer has early work that would be considered apprenticeship writing. But I don't think there's a hard-and-fast rule about how much you must write before getting published. Some people are more talented than others and will get published sooner. Nothing wrong with that. That's the way it is with everything.

  5. My first completed novel became CassaStar, but before that it was an incomplete novel I'd written thirty years ago and decided to completely rewrite it. So it wasn't my official first.

  6. The more you write the better, for sure:) I've written half a dozen books, but am still waiting to come up with one that someone would want to publish:)

  7. Yay for Kristen! I won that book on another blog, and I can't wait to read it.

    My first book was definitely a practice book, although I didn't think so at the time. Heck, book #2 might even be a practice book. Book #3 landed the agent, so I know I had improved. And now I'm working on book #4, incorporating all the lessons I've learned to date.

    We never stop learning, and that's one of the many things I love about writing!

  8. inspired by how many writers are out there with so much skill, you included. good discussion topic. you can even call the unpublished books your "beta" version. Everything has a beta these days!

  9. It was interesting to read others' comments on this issue. I think it would be nice to write as any as possible, like you mentioned treat the unpubllished ones as practice books. Or, if you become famous one day then those will surely get published :)>


  10. Sensible advice. Encouraging and helpful.

  11. I too have books that are written but will never be published. As you say, we have to practice our art somehow. It's like the first piece of pottery worked by a successful potter. It takes years to smooth out all the uneven surfaces.

  12. Thanks Rachna! So excited to read This Burns my Heart!
    I have written a few books too, some I never shopped around at all, a couple others I did but I didn't dig my heels in and send to every agent who might have an interest (like I plan to do now). I never shopped those first 3 because I knew they were practice novels, like you say. And they were pretty bad!
    This is a really interesting subject that everyone can relate to.

  13. Just keep writing!

    My friend Sharon Hinck's first published novel was in the "mom-lit" genre which then prompted an interest in her fantasy books! She's a great writer and storyteller who just kept at it.


  14. Congrads to Kristen.

    I think earlier books are practice books that can be turned into published stories. That is happening to me. Rewriting is the most important learning tool we have. *waving*

  15. I think the more prolific you are, the better. I've written 3 books now, too, and parts of others.

  16. Great discussion! I wish I could write faster - I have so many ideas that I want to write. I do think that the more you write, the better your writing gets.

  17. Writing and revising and continuing to write and revise can be so important. I recently read about an author who put her finished novel away because something about it was not working. She took the novel out now and again, reworked and rewrote in between other projects. Eventually, the problems were worked out and the original novel was not only published, but became an award winner.

  18. Hi friends, thanks for dropping by. I am seeing that for most of us we have written quite a few books before we bag an agent or a publishing contract. Every book we write is a part of our learning experience and growth. There is always the option of revisiting old manuscripts with new insights and better writing techniques.