What if My Agent Doesn’t Like My Next Book?

As if it’s not stressful enough getting an agent based on that first book, it seems everyone wonders the same thing. What if they love my first book but hate my second one?

I’ve had a few of my authors ask me this about their publishers – the ones that signed them to multi-book deals. “I know they like the first book, but I’m already halfway finished with the second one. What if they don’t like it?”

All valid questions, of course. So first I’m going to ease your mind; then we’ll cut to the chase.

Here’s the easing-your-mind part: you can relax. The agent or publishing house signed you because they like you, they really like you. There were forty thousand other authors they could have signed, and they signed you. Yay.

When an agent or publisher signs you, they have some degree of belief that you can write, not just one book, but hopefully many more. They have a commitment to you. They’re putting their time and effort into you, and they’re going to want to stick with you. So they’re predisposed to be favorable to what you write. Try not to worry so much.

Now for the reality check.

It’s true, many writers’ sophomore efforts fall short of the mark. The most common reason is that most authors work on that first novel, the one that sold, for far longer than the second one. They may have even agonized over it for years. The second novel, by contrast, was usually written much faster and under the pressure of a contract, if not a deadline. So naturally, the second novel has a good chance of not being quite as good as the first one.

Keep in mind that a writer working on their second for-publication novel is still a newbie. They don’t have very much experience writing for publication. They don’t have a track record that assures everyone (including themselves) of their ability to write book after book. So it’s not uncommon for everyone to wonder if the second book will be as good. Everyone worries for good reason.


If you wrote one great one, and your second one is not quite as good, the world’s not going to end. You just fix it. Presumably you’ll have the help of whoever told you it wasn’t good enough – your agent or editor. You’ll get notes for revision and you’ll get to work. Or you’ll be told to junk it and start over. (Hopefully not the latter, but it’s been known to happen.)

So the answer to the “what if” question is, “you deal with it.”

Now, a few people have written me and suggested that once an agent takes on a writer, they’re basically obligated to sell whatever the writer writes, regardless of whether the agent likes it or not. Um, not so much. It’s the agent’s job to continually assess the writing and the market, and to make judgments about which projects are worthy of putting out there. An agent needs to protect the author’s reputation by refusing to submit sub-par work; the agents needs to protect their own reputation, too. If you signed with the agent, hopefully you trust their judgment and you also have a good enough rapport with them that you can talk through any problems.

Q4U: Have you thought beyond selling that first book? Do you worry about the agent or publisher not liking your other work? If you sign with an agent, what expectations do you have about them selling your entire body of work?

P.S. Click here for an older post about whether or not an agent is obligated to try and sell every manuscript a client writes.

Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Emily Casey on May 19, 2010 at 7:58 PM

    >Rachelle, you have had some rockin' posts lately. Thanks for this.

  2. arbraun on May 19, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    >I'm concerned that my second book is a bit different as far as content, but not that different. I'm not much of a worrier. I've given thought to how it might cause a problem, but I believe the agent will trust my talent. I'm confident about my ability as a storyteller. If the dreaded happens, I can scrap book number two and go with the third one. It's my favorite anyway.

  3. Space Coast Conservative [dot]com on May 19, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    >I have thought about this. I don't think it's an agent's job to sell every work I ever write, but I don't know the contract portion of it, because if my agent weren't willing to represent another genre to a publisher, or to magazines (I sometimes write shorter works, not just book length), or whatever, would it be ethical of me to represent myself to possible other publishers?

    I had a friend who worked strictly in the romance genre and once she was picked up by a publisher, she had it made. I don't work in one particular genre, so I would have to approach more publishing houses and different avenues to get some of my works published. Does that mean that I have to find an agent who is willing to do that for me (is there such an agent?), or does the agent get to pick and choose what I get published because he/she is the exclusive seller of my work and I can do nothing to get other things out there?

    What are the normal rules for that?

  4. David Jarrett on May 19, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    >I think those of us still trying to get our debut novels published will probably not be very impressed with this dilemma.

  5. Dara on May 19, 2010 at 9:23 AM

    >I haven't given it a lot of thought yet as I'm still trying to work on that first one. 🙂

    But it has crossed my mind…thank you for putting it as ease–it's one less thing to agonize over 😛

  6. Marla Taviano on May 19, 2010 at 7:41 AM

    >Thank you!!

  7. Kathryn Magendie on May 19, 2010 at 6:43 AM

    >Oh god yes did I go through this – but, the worry didn't end even after the book came out! Now I obsess whether readers will like the 2nd at least as much as the 1st! – it's just as you say, I had much less time to write the 2nd; however, the good news is it's a continuation of the story so I Know the characters and the words came fast.

    The third book coming this fall is unrelated to the first two, so will readers like the new characters . . . here I go again *laugh*

    It's the feeling like: if you are a new(to published novels) writer, and readers love your first book, but you disappoint them with the second, will they come back for the third and fourth and beyond?

  8. Lucy on May 19, 2010 at 2:21 AM

    >@ Anon. 11:36

    Let me just say that it takes way more time for me; and that the research I do, which I admit is very, very heavy in terms of hours spent, means that I wouldn't dream of trying to tackle one of these projects in the traditional publishing time frame. Also, I don't stay in the same period or country, which means that I'm just as likely to be starting all over again, rather than building on previous material.

    Not to reflect on other historical novel writers, but I do see my genre as making heavier demands on my time and energies than if I were writing, let's say, contemporary romance. Moreover, I'm not content to make things up when I know the data is out there somewhere, and that can lead to some pretty long and intensive chases for material.

    As a writing and research style, I find it worth the effort in terms of results, but it doesn't lend itself to one-year time frames.

  9. KC Frantzen on May 18, 2010 at 9:40 PM


    Timely as always!

    Others have suggested to begin working on book 2 as you shop book 1. It makes a lot of sense and I'm beginning to do this.

    Thank you for this blog. It's a real help and presented in a kind, firm way – just what I need!!! 🙂

  10. Carradee on May 18, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    >Have you thought beyond selling that first book?

    Yep. That's part of why I'm trying to get 2 projects ready for shopping before I start submitting. I want to feel comfortable enough with my writing ability to think I can produce a sophomore work in a year of good enough quality that I won't want to collect all printed copies to burn them five years later.

    Do you worry about the agent or publisher not liking your other work?

    I don't like everything I write. Why should I expect anyone else to? Even my favorite authors have works I don't care for. I have friends who confess to loving one project of mine without having any interest whatsoever in another. I don't expect an agent to like everything of mine, either.

    If you sign with an agent, what expectations do you have about them selling your entire body of work?

    I don't. If my future agent someday says that maybe we should part ways, fine. If s/he would rather I find a different agent for some specific projects, fine.

    When I sold Tupperware, I didn't try to sell all the products, only the ones I liked. I only liked the ones that were of good quality and worked well. Some products I actually recommended against.

    Yeah, I'm too forthright to be a good saleswoman.

  11. Jay on May 18, 2010 at 6:45 PM

    >This holds true in the music industry as well. A band has plenty of time to write their first album, not so much for their subsequent releases.

  12. Krista Phillips on May 18, 2010 at 6:45 PM

    >I'm thinking that's one reason that I want an agent. I'd rather have my agent wrinkle their nose at my book idea then an editor after I've finished writing it!

    In answer to your Q4U, I have thought beyond the first book. I think that's why we are admonished to "write another book" so when you come to an agent, you aren't sitting just with one idea. You have, hopefully, multiple salable ideas.

    My expectations for having an agent is to get honest feedback. I would sure not want them to champion a book that they had no confidence in. It would make us BOTH look bad.

  13. Kelly Wittmann on May 18, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    >No, I never worry about this. That would be getting way ahead of myself. I'll deal with it as it comes (if it comes!).

  14. Jen J. on May 18, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    >Thanks for a great post. The possibility of a second book is always something that I keep in mind because I have written a standalone novel, but one that is really the beginning of a series. As such, it is self-contained, but long story arcs are introduced in it – character development arcs for both of the main characters that could continue over a few books or more, depending on the depth of expansion of those arcs. I know I'm selling the first book only, but I love these characters and I know that there is so much more to explore (I'm just a sucker for series, I guess; getting to know characters and then being able to come back to explore their lives and adventures at a deeper level). I've got the second book in my head – the character development, the case that will drive the second book's self-contained arc etc., but I don't want to write it quite yet until I can see if a) book one interests an agent and b) what changes might be required and how that would impact on downstream arcs.

    But your post really solidified for me how the process of moving into a second book works. Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and experience with us!

  15. Julie Weathers on May 18, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    >Yes, I've thought about this very thing. I love Far Rider and I think it will eventually find a home. Even though it's meant to be a series, yes, it can stand alone, I didn't start writing the next book. I went back to a story I started a long time ago and never finished. Right now the writing is forced because I haven't fallen completely in love with it again, but I notice similarities with FR. It has strong characters and a quirky sense of humor as well as a story line that intrigues me.

    Hopefully, that is what agents, publishers and readers will love. If they don't, I either fix it or move on to the next project.

    I've been around horse racing too long to give up if everything you do doesn't land you in the winner's circle.

  16. Kristina on May 18, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    >Have thought – a lot, actually – about selling the first and then second and third and so on. I have a lot of stories in my head, they *have to* get out! But, I don't envision my agent/editor/publisher (once I have those people in my corner!) taking anything and everything I send…I expect we'll go over ideas and hopefully come to an agreement on a direction. And the books will grow from there.

  17. Lisa_Gibson on May 18, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    >Really interesting post. I would hope that my second book would be sold as well. However, I don't have expectations that it would. Each novel is a seperate entity unto it's self. I have hopes for all my little literary children though. 😉

  18. Susan Kaye Quinn on May 18, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    >I wonder about this, particularly because I write both MG & YA. An agent may not want to rep both, although I would think they would at least be interested, since as you say, they are interested in me-the-writer not just me-the-one-book.

  19. T. Anne on May 18, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    >I wouldn't expect my agent to rep all my manuscripts. A few of the ones I've written have been excellent learning tools, but I shudder to think they'd see the light of day. With the ones that sparkle I would hope we would be on the same page, but I would happily acquiesce to whatever my agent wanted. I would trust their judgement.

    BTW Jody, great insight.

  20. Loree H on May 18, 2010 at 12:55 PM

    >In 2001, when I began writing and didn't know any better, I wrote a "Mount Everest" mountain of a book – 1050 pages.

    I queried it to one agent who requested the mss but rejected it. He told me there was a good story in there but it was much too long and need editing. Crushed, I put it on the shelf and began and finished my second novel by 2005.

    Before I finished that one, I did tons of research on the publishing industry and joined a writers group. This novel was a 90,000 word historical fiction. I spent a lot of time trying to peddle that one. I got some real great bites on the line but no deal or representation. I took the advice of all the agents and editors and spent time revising. Also during that time, I started my third novel but have not found it quite ready to query yet. So here I am with 3 books and no idea which direction to take.

    Well, the day after Christmas last year, 2009, I fell on ice and broke my wrist and severed the tendons on my thumb. I had to have surgery. During my recovery and time off from work, I thought, oh good, at last some real time to do some writing. Still, I had no idea what to begin writing or to go back and edit.

    Funny how God always directs us, He put something in front of me that reminded me of that first giant book I wrote. I found myself re-reading it after 7 years. It was much better than I remembered, and I fell in love with the characters all over again. I began an editing process while recovering from my surgery. I found that I could break this book into 3 novels, and surprise, surprise, surprise, had myself a series. I just finished the first part's editing and tightening. I'm almost ready to query part one.

    I find I have 5 complete novels now, instead of just 3. They're all the same genre.

    I hope that my whole body of work will sell once I've sold one. That multi-book deal would sit just fine with me.

    Thanks for all your great advice, Rachelle. You've helped some of us more than you will ever know.

  21. Anonymous on May 18, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    >Lucy, speak for yourself! I also write historical fiction and research builds on itself. My 2nd book half the time to research since I could re-use my info. Writing a book in 12-18 mos is plenty of time to do research, and doesn't mean the writing will be sub-par or inferior.

  22. Lucy on May 18, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    >This issue is exactly why I would choose a smaller, one-book deal over a larger multi-book deal. I honestly don't believe in putting work on the market that is less than 100% of my best. I know this runs counter to traditional publishing practice, and may mean that my career will be slower to get off the ground in the short-time, but in the long term, I expect it to do much better, as the product going out will not be sub-par.

    Let me add: I write historical fiction (not romance), where the research involved is significant. These babies take TIME. I can't think of anything less wise than to put myself under a contract deadline of a year or eighteen months. Brrr. Makes me shiver to contemplate the result.

  23. Nicole on May 18, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    >Thanks for the reassuring and informative post.

    I have thought beyond my first book (which is my WIP). I'm not writing a series, but I have brainstormed several books that are linked through the characters, as well as being set up the same way.

    I hope that since my future books will be linked to my first one (but still standalone), my future agent and/or publisher will see a good marketing potential in my work.

  24. JDuncan on May 18, 2010 at 12:02 PM

    >I'm actually in this position now. Revisions are in on the first book and I'm a quarter of the way into the second. When I wrote the fist book, I left it open for continuation but didn't really plan anything more. I started a completely different book and was a third of the way through that when I sold the first one. In planning the second, I realized it was going to have a different flavor than the fist, more psychological and emotionally focused than the first. Would this work? My agent liked the synopsis for book two (I'm a plotter so I do this kind of thing) so I dove in.

    I like the second book, the fact that it's a bit more character focused than plot. The pacing and feel is different, at least for the first half of the story. I'm hoping agent and editor like what I'm doing because that whole, "This doesn't work, try again" response would probably freak me out just a bit. Writing on deadline changes the game in this regard. I have no desire to go from plenty of time to "omg, how am I going to finish on time." Being published certainly comes with a different set of "rules" as it were. You're no longer writing just for yourself. You're responsible to those you work with and eventually to readers too. There will be expectations to live up to. The pressure is on now.

  25. Reena Jacobs on May 18, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    >I'm still working on finding representation for my first novel, though I'm working on the next. Honestly, I hadn't considered an agent/publisher would not like a second novel. In my naive little head, I figured my writing would improve as I progressed, making the next novel even better.

    However, I can see how time constraints might make it difficult for an author to polish, and repolish as with the first novel.

    Even so, I found your post encouraging. If that does happen, I'll just have to deal with it, as you said. I haven't given up yet. Would be silly to give up because I hit a bump in the road. 🙂

  26. Rachel Olsen on May 18, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    >Working on the concept for the second book now – so thanks for this timely reassurance!

    I expect my agent to steer me, to help me ferret out the best possible topics, to find the intersection between my passion and expertise and the market's trends and needs. So I'm fine with my agent sending me back to the idea drawing board.

    In my opinion, an agent should not simply be a yes-man, but a partner and asset.

  27. ed cyzewski on May 18, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    >Gosh, I can relate to this post in so many ways… I think the important thing for me is being able to collaborate with my agent on developing ideas together.

  28. hannah on May 18, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    >My publisher actually rejected the next *two* books we showed after my debut. Overall, a good decision–the third one that they did accept is my best book yet, and I'm so proud to have it as my "second book."

  29. Ronie Kendig on May 18, 2010 at 11:24 AM

    >GREAT post! I turned in my second book to my publisher, and I've been wondering if they'll like it. Thanks!

  30. Sierra Godfrey on May 18, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    >Have I thought beyond the first book? Heck yes! Second, and third. And applying all that I learn through each one to the next. I always think to some of my favorite authors and look at their first books…not as good as their latest, for sure.

  31. Anonymous on May 18, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    >This actually happened to me. My agent loved loved loved my first book and totally despised the second. Her scathing comments and refusal to work with me on it so underminded my ability to write that we eventually parted ways. Shortly after that, due to unrelated events, she wound up on the P&E list. But in a way, she did me a favor. I'm a lot stronger now and getting some awesome feedback on my newer work. There's not much anyone can say about my writing that could affect me like that again.

  32. sharonbially on May 18, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    >Rachelle, this is slightly off-topic of your question, but your post raises a point that has always baffled me: why DO editors sign multi-book deals, especially for first-time authors who have not yet demonstrated that their books will sell? I know one author whose first book sold in a two-book deal, and she never wrote the second book. And another whose first book sold in a three-book deal, but the sales so far on the two that are now published are agonizingly low. And a third author whose first book sold less than 500 copies, but her savvy agent managed to negotiate her a subsequent 2-book deal because she'd gotten a (bad) review in the NYT — but, as the agent put it, a bad NYT review is better than no NYT review! What is the rationale? It makes no sense whatsoever from a business perspective. Especially as the publishing industry struggles economically…

  33. Katherine Hyde on May 18, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    >My concern is less about writing a book of lower quality (although the idea of a deadline terrifies me) than about the fact that I want to write a variety of books, not all necessarily in the same genre. I'm pitching a contemporary/literary now, but I also have ideas for a YA fantasy and a historical/literary. I'm not at all sure one agent or one publisher would be interested in everything I want to write.

  34. Kimberley Troutte on May 18, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    >Good post!
    I was blessed to have the second book I wrote published first and the first second. My third book, however, was rejected soundly. I couldn't believe it! It was devastating for a whole day (okay maybe a week) then I carefully read the notes the editor gave me and realized that she was right. I had lots of work to do so I trashed the first third of the book. And started over. Turns out, God was really looking out for me on this one. All sorts of world events occurred around this time that would have made my book null and void. Now I have time to incorporate those events and make a richer story. I sent a note to the editor thanking her for her rejection. Sometimes, rejections are the best thing that can happen to a book.

  35. Stephanie McGee on May 18, 2010 at 9:54 AM

    >Very informative post. While I haven't thought about selling that second manuscript, I do know that I have more than one book in me. I have a follow-up idea for my current project and a couple series ideas floating around in my head right now. I'm focusing on the current project, but I would hope that when the day comes, I'll have a wise guide along the publishing path who will be able to help me figure out the next step in my career.

    And that's a big part of what I perceive as an agent's job. Guiding the client's career in the best interest for both parties.

    As always, thanks for a great post.

  36. Keli Gwyn on May 18, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    >This post epitomizes what I'm experiencing at present. At the request of my knowledgeable agent, I'm rewriting a significant portion of my story. What I turn in will be vastly different than what I sent her the first time. I wonder what she'll think of it and worry that she'll send me back to the keyboard to pound out another version. In my more logical moments, I know it's far more likely she'll point out problems and have me shore up weak areas.

    When self-doubt throws a sucker punch and threatens to cream my creativity, I remember my agent's wise counsel: Every writer deals with revision, even multi-published best-selling authors. In reading the comments today, it's clear most writers, both published and not-yet-published, deal with doubt as well. What I'm going through is normal. My job is not to give in to the fear and doubts but to forge ahead in spite of them.

  37. Anonymous on May 18, 2010 at 9:39 AM

    >I have a definite style and original ideas, so if an agent likes that, they'll like the second book as well as the first.

    The problem is, my first book is a science fiction thriller and my second book is a paranormal coming-of-age YA. I've had both ideas for a few years now, but am just now finishing up book 1. So, it might be that my agent (once I get one) won't represent both categories and therefore won't be the best person to sell them both. But, I'll just have to wait and see, perhaps those categories aren't so far apart after all.

    It might also be that the agent/publisher wants me to work book 1 into a series. Since I've got an intriguing opening and I'm leaving a situation without full closure, I'll have wiggle room to write a prequel or sequel if that is requested. (oh, I have such high hopes!)

  38. A. Townsend on May 18, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    >I'm also marketing my first novel to agents right now. My first novel is also the first book of a Family Saga trilogy. All three books are completed and professionally edited. If an agent and a publisher like the first book, I am confident they'll like the other two in the trilogy. However … I am working on a new novel while I market the trilogy. It is the first of a six-book series, and these books are Christian supernatural thrillers. So, yes, I have wondered how agents and publishers react when they publish an author's Family Saga trilogy only to have her submit her next proposal for a series of a different genre. Thanks, Rachelle.

    ~ Angela

  39. Shannon Taylor Vannatter on May 18, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    >Very timely post for me. I spent six years getting book one in my series publishable and eight months on book two. Book two stressed me out. My first book with a deadline. My first book expected to follow the synopsis my editor had approved. My first book with expectations. I went through my first bout of writers' block and had to force myself out of it by simply writing anyway.
    In an effort to make book two good, I threw in everything but the kitchen sink. My content editor calmly pointed out there was too much going on, that I needed to streamline the plot and gave me suggestions on threads she thought I should ax. I got busy with the ax and it's so much better.
    I wrote book 3 in five months and have to turn it in in two weeks. I hope I learned from book 2 and feel book 3 is more focused. We'll see, but if not, my content editor will save my day and I'll get to work with my ax.

  40. Serenity on May 18, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    >This is such a timely post for me. I just wrote to my agent the angst I'd been feeling about pretty much this exact thing. I love your advice: You deal with it. The unknown is so hard to face, and it eats at us. But once we know something, even if it's that we haven't quite struck the right story or voice with a current WIP, then we can deal with it and move forward.

  41. Anonymous on May 18, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    >I like my first novel so much that I kept revising it and now it's out with agents. I started the second but stopped since it takes all my time and energy to shop around ms. #1. My ideas and stories are original but seems agents just want the sure thing that's been done to death.

  42. Danielle LaPaglia on May 18, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    >I have thought about it. I even have plot points for the next one started in a folder in my desk…just in case. Right now, my efforts are concentrated on my current manuscript, but I'm still open to new ideas and try to capture the essence of them in notes and scenes and plot points for use sometime in the future.

  43. Erika on May 18, 2010 at 8:44 AM

    >A very timely post for me too. Thanks, Rachelle.

    I am revising my first novel for a two book contract and was just mentioning to my husband the other day that I think it has helped to have several (gulp, 13 +) previous unpublished manuscripts lining the trail to where I am now. So while I do feel the inevitable "what ifs" of wondering how my next manuscripts will be received, I have the comfort of knowing they will keep coming out of me, as so many of us feel (ie, good luck keeping the stories in!)

    Like Jody spoke of submitting a synopsis early on, in my case, I presented my next novel (which I am halfway through) to my now-editor early on in the submission process and she seemed intrigued, as was my agent, so that certainly helps to temper some of the doubts that may arise.

  44. Caroline Starr Rose on May 18, 2010 at 8:11 AM

    >I'm revising a potential second book that my agent believes in but is very different from the first.

    Thanks for the wisdom here.

  45. Robby on May 18, 2010 at 7:54 AM

    >I've actually thought about this quite a bit the past few days. I finished a book I thought I was going to query and decided not to, moving on to the next story. I think that each novel deserves the same dedication, and I don't want to forget that.

  46. Lynn Colt on May 18, 2010 at 7:41 AM

    >I do wonder/worry about this, but basically it comes down to the fact that when you don't have an agent/editor you have very little professional feedback at the manuscript length, so it CAN take longer (months, years …) to make that first ms shine. WITH an agent, you at least have someone (who was awesome enough to like your first novel) who can tell you straight-up what needs to be worked on to get things up to scratch. That is invaluable.

  47. scarlettprose on May 18, 2010 at 7:22 AM

    >This is a great post. I'm in the process of seeking representation for my first book, and about six chapters in to the sequel. However, my first can stand alone, no sequel is needed. If my agent suggested for me to scrap the sequel for now, I would. I have ideas aplenty on other books I could be writing. As long as the editor likes my voice and my style, I think I could come up with a plot that fits all our needs/wants. Flexibility is part of the business.

  48. Deborah Vogts on May 18, 2010 at 7:08 AM

    >Great post, Rachelle.

    I have to admit to being one of those "worriers" who is a horrid doubter. What if the editor doesn't like my "second" or "third" book or what if my readers and reviewers are less then pleased with my continuing series. The what-if's are never ending.

    With my second book just now releasing, I admit I'm on pins & needles . . .

    When the worry gets to be too much, I always fall back on God's grace & mercy and let him take over. Just knowing it's in his hands is a huge comfort–no matter what happens.

  49. Alexis Grant on May 18, 2010 at 7:08 AM

    >Great post, Rachelle. I love how you say it's your job to figure out which projects to submit — because you ARE working for the author's best interest. We trust you!

  50. Amy Sue Nathan on May 18, 2010 at 6:34 AM

    >I wondered but stop myself from getting too far ahead. I don't yet have an agent — I'm still on the first-book-bandwagon.

    This is like the authors who obsess over their query letters when they haven't even finished their first draft (and I've seen it). Putting time, attention and energy in the wrong places, well, it takes it away from the "write" places.

    That being said — I am in love with my second book — so one day I hope someone else will be too.

  51. Catherine West on May 18, 2010 at 6:28 AM

    >Self doubt is always lurking in the shadows, at least for me. Agent approval is the first hurdle, and it is a big one. But then comes the angst of trying to find the right home for the first book and future books. It's hard not to stress over it, but I think it is so important to maintain focus and use all that waiting time to keep writing. I don't think it helps to worry about whether or not what you're working on next is going to be good enough. If I gave in to that thought, I'd probably never write another word! I just go on faith and trust the people around me who know a lot more than I do, to guide me and tell me upfront when things are going south and I need to start over. Fortunately these days I seem to be receiving a lot of encouragement, even in rejection, so that helps. I don't think its healthy to worry about 'what the agent/publisher will think' – that seems to somehow thwart the relationship I would hope to have, (and do have), with my agent. Who always writes a great blog by the way, and leaves me with something to chew on before I get down to work! Thanks, Rachelle.

  52. Lisa Jordan on May 18, 2010 at 5:57 AM

    >Great post…and a question I asked, too.

    I'm in the waiting process of seeing if the publisher wants my first book. I've already discussed the other books in my series with my agent. We talked about the direction I should go for now. She has a list of my book ideas and knows I'm not a one-book author. I wanted to make sure I'm spending time writing novels that she thinks she can place in the market.

    My second book has been more challenging to write because of my own self-doubts and hearing about publishers wanting fresh ideas. I admit to not being an original writer with an idea that's going to wow editors, but my voice is my own. I need to stifle those doubts and get writing.

  53. Katie Ganshert on May 18, 2010 at 5:44 AM

    >I am quite sure I will never let you see my first two manuscripts, so of course, you won't be able to sell them (neither would you want to if you read them!)

    I do have that fear though…that lurking question, "What if she doesn't like this new novel I submitted to her? What if she's groaning because it's complete rubbish?" or even, "What if I can't do this again?" That last one always seems to be a prominent fear when I begin a new project.

    It's nice to know I'm not alone in these fears. It's also nice to know that praying, journaling, reading, and working on my wip are all natural remedies for the problem.

  54. Jody Hedlund on May 18, 2010 at 5:22 AM

    >Great post, Rachelle. Another thing I might add is that I've had to turn in a synopsis for each of my future books to my acqusitions editor. So before I started writing my second contracted book, my publishing house gave me their direction and approval on the story itself. So I'm not stabbing in the dark, hoping they'll like what I picked. They already know upfront.

    Even with the synopsis, I'm sure they'll find things they want me to change. I had to rewrite parts of my first book too. I'm learning that editorial rewrites are just part of the process, no matter how good a writer you are.

    But I still firmly believe it's my job to keep growing and learning in my writing skills, and also to make my book the best it can be before turning it in to my editor.

  55. Creepy Query Girl on May 18, 2010 at 2:05 AM

    >I've often wondered about this because my first and second books are completely different genres, styles, lengths etc…

  56. Julie Jordan a.k.a. @Writers_Cafe on May 18, 2010 at 1:30 AM

    >As one of those 'newbie' writers who hasn't quite published my first book yet, but already has a spin-off idea, I admit to wondering about this scenario.
    You described my situation precisely. I wrote my book in 2002-03, then put it aside. Late last year, I brought it out and started working on it again. I'm currently working on edits. Next stop – agent.
    A while back, one of the minor characters told me he wanted his own book. I was delighted – and wondered if there was a book there. I've decided to give it a go, once I get #1 on its way.
    Your post went a long ways toward reassuring me – and my minor character – that it will all work out when the second book is ready to go.
    BTW – the spin-off is about a Scots Duke who looks like Fabio, only with red hair, and an attitude. I can't wait to get started!

  57. Lynda Young on May 18, 2010 at 1:18 AM

    >I know for a fact I have more than one book in me. It's something I've had to think about quite a bit. I also believe the more I write, the better I get. But also, if my publisher/agent doesn't like my 2nd book, then I'm more than happy to either improve it, or write another.

  58. Adam Heine on May 18, 2010 at 1:15 AM

    >Thank you for this. This is a question I've wondered about for more than a year. Much appreciated!