Several months ago, I had just finished final edits on Eternal Starling and had started sending out queries. I wrote Eternal Starling as the first book in a trilogy and couldn't wait to finish the next two books. I'd gotten about 40K words into the second book and 10K into the third when I went to dinner with a bestselling author friend of mine.
I asked her the question that every writer dreads . . . what if no one wants my novel?
She said, "You write another book." In fact, her advice was to write another book regardless. She said as soon as you start querying, you write something else.
Okay, I thought, that's what I'm doing. I'm already working on the second and third books in the Eternal Starling trilogy. But, then I really considered the second and third book. And here's the thing . . . what's the point of working on two sequels that probably won't sell if no one is interested in the first book in the trilogy? (I know, I know. You can almost hear the sound of the light bulb clicking in my head).
My friend said she had to write three novels before she finally got an agent and then she got one of the most amazing agents in the business. Seriously. One of the best. And even with the agent equivalent of Superman, the book she wrote didn't sell. Her agent tipped her off to a new subject that was gaining in popularity and my friend wrote her debut novel, the same novel that made her a bestselling author.
I just sent my last round of queries for Eternal Starling and I'm still waiting to hear from agents who have partials on the book, but I realized I don't want to put all my eggs in the Eternal Starling basket. I decided to take the advice of my friend and leave the Eternal Starling world behind for a while and write something else. A month ago, I started my contemporary YA, and the chick-lit mystery I just finished.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I got an email from an agent. This particular agent asked for a partial with the query letter. She read my partial and emailed me to say Eternal Starling wasn't for her, but she thought I had a good voice for YA and chick-lit and she'd like to read any other projects I was working on.
First, I was completely elated! A personal response from an agent! An agent who liked my writing enough to tell me she wanted to read other things I'm working on! I mean, a real agent who brokers six-figure deals thinks I have a good voice and thinks I can write. Maybe I'm not insane after all and I do have a tiny bit of talent.
Second, I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I had followed the advice from my friend and written another book. I was able to email the agent back and say, actually, I am working on other books. I'm almost finished with a chick-lit mystery and I just started a contemporary YA. I told her I'd send her the manuscripts as soon as I finished them and she responded with an enthusiastic thank you and that she looked forward to reading them.
Taking a step back from the book I put so much time into wasn't easy. I was so involved in the Eternal Starling world that it was hard to let it go and come up with other ideas I wanted to work on. But because I did, I have an agent who knows who I am and wants to read my other manuscripts. Because I wrote something else instead of continuing my trilogy, I am a step closer to finding an agent.
Only you can decided when you're ready to write something new. For me, it took a while to find another idea I was as passionate about as Eternal Starling, but now I'm really glad I did. And I'll be forever grateful to my author friend who gave me the good advice to write another book.