Missy, here. I'm so happy to welcome back my good friend, Abingdon and Barbour author, Jennifer Hudson Taylor! Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for a copy of Highland Sanctuary Jenn is generously offering today. And now...Jenn!
The Journey from Book 1 to Book 2
By Jennifer Hudson Taylor
Authors are often asked to write about their journey to publication, while seasoned authors discuss their entire writing careers. Today, I’d like to talk about my journey from book 1 to book 2, right after leaving unpubbed island.
Timing Does Make a Difference
Highland Blessings was my debut novel in May 2010, while Highland Sanctuary was my second novel in October 2011. It was very different having a spring release compared to a fall release. I felt like there was more excitement centered around my first book, not just from me as a new author, but from others as well.
I think there are lots of people who want to help new authors and promote them on their first book. Everyone knows how hard it is to get started and so lots of people have concentrated their efforts in this area—sort of like a community support system. I wonder if any of you other authors noticed this on your debut novel? This is great news for those of you still on unpubbed island! (Congrats to all the Seekers for moving OFF unpubbed island!)
Timing seems to be key with most things, and the release of a novel is no different. With a spring release lots of people are looking for vacation reading material. They need something to read on the plane, on the beach, and in the car on long road trips. Lots of teachers, school staff, and students from high school and universities have more free reading time during the summer.
The fall has been different. They are all back in school and vacations are over. Everyone is busy trying to help their kids keep up with school schedules, planning holiday parties, and saving those dollars for special Christmas gifts. Therefore, I think a spike in sales for all books will start hitting in mid-November to December for the holiday orders. This is one of the reasons I ran such a long blog tour over a period of a couple of months rather than just the first 30 days.
Also, I’m hearing a lot more about how people are cutting back on their spending. I’m not a forecaster or an economist, but I’m sensing that a lot of people are struggling more in 2011 than they did in 2010. People are still buying, but they are slower to make buying decisions. Many who bought Highland Blessings the first month it was out, waited until the second month to buy Highland Sanctuary. I’m referring to my online sales through my website, since I can’t speak for store sales.
The Road to Both Books
With Highland Blessings, I was able to take ten years to finish it and rewrite it as many times as I wanted while I wrote other books. I had no deadlines, only self-imposed ones I set, if I set any. I had no pressure to market this book or other books because I wasn’t a published author. I could blog if I wanted…or not. The only pressure I had was the learning curve of how to be a better writer so I could be a published author. Learn and practice…Learn and practice…Learn and practice.
With Highland Sanctuary, I had to finish it in a year to meet my deadline. When my macro edits came back, I had to juggle them with writing two other contracted novellas. By this time I was still promoting the first book, because one never stops promoting one’s work once it is published. I signed a contract for 3 more books and received an offer on a 4th. My next book has to be finished in six months, so I must keep writing on the new book, while I do all the promoting of Highland Sanctuary.
And I do still work a full-time job outside the home.
Experience is Invaluable
The one thing that you have on the second book that you didn’t have on the first is a bit of experience. Authors have more of an idea what worked well and what didn’t. Therefore, one knows what not to waste time and money on. However, most of us keep trying new things. I had a big two-week contest that I ran on my blog with the second book.
No one wanted the gift certificates that I offered for Chick-Fil-A or Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Everyone wanted the gifts of multiple printed books, tote bags, assorted coffees and mugs. This shocked me. I really thought they would want the gift certificates. I gave them choices and by doing so, I learned about what readers want.
With my blog tour I offered more guest posts on my second book so there would be more variety since it ran longer. While this is better for the readers, it is definitely more time consuming, and for me, it was hard due to the timing of other unexpected things that hit my life.
My father-in-law died two weeks before Highland Sanctuary released. I got behind on everything from blog posts to mailing out books to people who had won them and were buying them. To make matters worse, I got very sick a couple of weeks after my book released. I ended up missing a major book signing where I did very well with the first book. I had to miss a writer’s conference I was supposed to speak at and then another one was cancelled due to lack of registrants. Right after I was well, my 14-year-old daughter went into the hospital. So I’m gaining new experiences with this second book release.
These were things that were out of my control, and as a seasoned Christian, I know to turn it over to God and that is what I’m trying to do. If I had been published when I was younger, I don’t believe I would have had the maturity to do this. I would have fretted and worried MUCH more. Again, God knows the best timing for us—on everything!
My advice is to plan what is reasonable to YOU and not compare yourself to other authors and what they do. We plan for our book releases 6-8 months in advance, but we never know what might strike our lives when that time actually arrives—so pray when you plan. Listen to the Holy Spirit guiding you, especially if something doesn’t feel right and you think you might be taking on too much. You may not know what is in your near future, but God does so try to listen to Him when you pray about planning your schedule.
Jennifer Hudson Taylor is an award winning author of historical Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas and a speaker on topics of faith, writing and publishing. Her work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Romantic Times Book Reviews, and The Military Trader. She serves as the in-house Publicist at Hartline Literary Agency and co-owns Upon the Rock Publishing, an e-publishing/publicist company. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Journalism. When she isn't writing, she enjoys spending time with family, long walks, traveling, touring historical sites, hanging out at bookstores with coffee shops, genealogy, and reading.