Write Another Book

Recently I had lunch with two writers, one published and the other not yet, but close. The most impressive thing about these two women is that they’ve each written more than a dozen books. Because of that, I think they both have strong writing careers ahead of them.

I work with a lot of first-time authors, because that’s part of what I love to do. But something I’m learning is that we may be doing you a disservice if we contract you when you’ve only written one book. Yes, writing that book was a huge accomplishment. And if your very first book garnered positive attention from editors and/or agents, that’s even more of an accomplishment. It’s terrific!

But it might not be enough. The hard truth is that it takes more than one book to really know “how to be a writer.” So if you get contracted after that one book, over which you slaved for years, and then you’re under the gun to produce another book on a deadline, what’s going to happen? You might have a difficult time.

If you’ve got that one book in the can, and you’ve edited and revised until you’re blue in the face, and for whatever reason it’s not selling, you might want to just stop. Set it aside and write another book.

Don’t feel like you’re giving up. Don’t get depressed about the one that didn’t sell. Keep writing. The only thing that’s going to make you a better writer, and possibly transform you into a publishable writer, is to write more books. Any editor will tell you that no matter how fabulous an author’s first book is, it’s rather scary signing a contract with someone who’s never written more than the one.

Keep writing!

If you should decide to invest in some personalized counsel, I offer coaching for unpublished authors here: My Coaching Services


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. Elba on August 7, 2020 at 9:37 AM

    Thanks for sharing this information. Should all the books be in the same genre? I have a literary fiction novel and now I’m writing magical realism. My understanding is that agents are interested in one genre but I’m writing what my imagination feeds me, not forcing myself into one category. Will this make it more difficult for me to find an agent?

  2. Maco Stewart on August 6, 2020 at 11:17 AM

    This is an important post. It’s much too easy for us to focus on our beloved most recent effort and not realize that this is a life, not a lottery ticket purchase. The one thing that appears to be most in common among “successful” writers is that they stick with it, and eventually the world takes note.