Jenni L. Walsh’s Three Tips for Book Two

This week the Debs are talking about their second books. I feel very blessed to continue my career as an author. It’s a dream come true and a profession I highly enjoy. That, of course, doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with challenges. So I’ve cobbled together three quick-ish (they got longer than I expected…) tips for tackling a sophomore book and beyond, based on my own publishing journey. Results may vary.

1. Strategize. I have an ninja agent who always helps me make the best use of my time. From the get go, she’s kept my author goals in mind and is always wheeling and dealing to help me along my way. That included Book 2. My debut, BECOMING BONNIE is Bonnie Parker’s origin story. When first written, it was a planned duology, with each book having it’s own full story arc. As soon as my agent and I sold Book 1 I was eager to start on Book 2. But like many agents’ opinions, she advised me with some honest advice: don’t start writing until we get the nod from your publisher that they want Book 2. Instead, I focused my efforts elsewhere. When the deal for Book 2 came through, I very excitedly dove in. Since then, the project has evolved, and instead of Book 2, which is about Bonnie and Clyde’s infamous crime spree, being merely a sequel, it’s become an independent standalone, and Book 1 has become somewhat of a prequel. It’s been a fun development, and I’m fortunate to have had my agent (and also my wonderful editor) guiding me. My takeaway: Be sure to work with an agent who has ample industry knowledge but who also shares in your vision.

2. Build upon what you know. Book 2 can be horrifying. Part of that stems from the fact that Book 1 was a WIP that developed and developed over time and involved many revisions. I easily had 10 different sets of eyes read it prior to landing my agent. With Book 2, I had a not-so-far off deadline. In the end, only two CPs weighed in, and only one read the full MS, before I delivered Book 2 to my editor. Some say that writing Book 2 is easier. And I sorta think… meh, not really. It still very hard. But like I mentioned, it’s good to build upon what you know and what you’ve learned from working on Book 1. For me, that included drafting chapter summaries. And also implementing what I like to call a 3×3 rule. My takeaway: You’ll pick up tricks of the trade. Don’t forget them. Use them.

3. Look to Book 3. Seems fast, huh? Book 2’s title is undecided and the cover is still being developed, but I’m already looping back toward tip 1 and strategizing. While it’s not *necessary* to write in your genre for every book, and there are many prolific authors who write across genres, my agent, editor, and I would love to build a brand. That means we’re already chatting about future book ideas. Of course, I’ve also learned from tip 1 to be patient. I’ll wait until I get a true nod before I begin writing. In the meantime, I’m promoting Book 1, continuing to work on Book 2, and reading in my genre. It’s definitely enough to keep me busy. My takeaway: trust in and work with your team to continue your dreams.

If you’re looking for more tips, Jessica Strawser, author of ALMOST MISSED YOU, has written a piece for Writer’s Digest: 5 Things All Writers Should Know When Writing A Second Novel. And, if you’re attending the Writer’s Digest Conference and want to hear more about debut novels, Tiffany and I will be on a panel discussing that very thing. Join us!

Also, I’ll have more updates soon on Book 2, including the final title and cover, so stay tuned! We’ll be passing our tiaras to the Deb Class of 2017/2018 in September, but I hope you’ll follow me on Twitter and Facebook to continue my journey with me 🙂

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Jenni L. Walsh spent her early years ​chasing around cats, dogs, and chickens in Philadelphia's countryside, before dividing time between a soccer field and a classroom at Villanova University. She put her marketing degree to good use as an advertising copywriter, zip-code hopping with her husband to DC, NYC, NJ, and not surprisingly, back to Philly. There, Jenni's passion for words continued, adding author to her resume. She now balances her laptop with a kid on each hip, and a four-legged child at her feet. BECOMING BONNIE (Tor Forge/Macmillan, 5/9/2017) is her debut novel that tells the untold story of how church-going Bonnelyn Parker becomes half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo during the 1920s. BONNIE, telling Bonnie and Clyde's crime spree story, will be released in the summer of 2018. Please learn more about Jenni's books at jennilwalsh.com.

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