Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Guest post: "Second books rule"

The latest episode in my series on writing a second book is by an author with a unique perspective. This honest post challenges us to keep getting better with every book--and says it's okay to play favorites!

Second Books Rule, First Books Drool
by Greg R. Fishbone

I wanted to post something in Jenn's "Second Book" series, but from a slightly different slant. As I was gearing up for the release of my second book, I started hearing rumors that the publisher of my first book was having difficulties. The owner had been suffering from health problems for some time and word on the street was that the press would soon be closing for good. These rumors have turned out to be true. While I certainly hope Miriam feels better soon and that all the other authors at Blooming Tree Press can find new homes for their books, I'm a bit conflicted about seeing The Penguins of Doom go out of print. I'm disappointed, but also strangely relieved.

When The Penguins of Doom came out in 2007, it was the most polished writing I'd ever done, after years of honing my craft and developing my own personal style. I've had nothing but positive feedback from readers. But this past spring, I felt a flush of embarrassment to see Penguins on sale at a conference. I wanted to tell people not to buy it because I could do better, and had done better, and they'd know that if only they could just wait for The Challengers to be released in September. I felt bad about thinking that way about my first book and it puzzled me, because I still loved that book, the characters, and the world I had created for them. Just not as much as I loved the new book.

I don't know whether other authors feel this way, but publishing a second book made me reevaluate the first book in a new light. Since one of my personal goals is to constantly increase my skills, it was important to me that my second book be better than the first. It's also natural that I'd want people to judge me on the better book. Therefore, I shouldn't feel guilty, as if I'd written the second book behind the first book's back. Still, at some level, I did.

How much loyalty do we owe our books? The truth is that books are not children--you can love one more than another. You can believe that one is objectively better, funnier, and fresher, and you shouldn't feel afraid to say so.

I'll always be grateful to Miriam and BTP for publishing Penguins and to everyone who stocked it on a shelf, obtained a copy to read, or posted a review. I'm thrilled to hear from readers who enjoyed the book, and maybe some of them won't like The Challengers nearly as much, but that doesn't change how I feel. My second book is better than my first and I hope my third will be better than my second.

I retained the digital rights to Penguins, and I've been toying with releasing an ebook edition to keep the book in print and available, but somehow I'm not feeling any rush.

Greg R. Fishbone is an author of galactic fiction for young readers, including the Galaxy Games series of humorous middle grade sci-fi novels from the Tu Books imprint at Lee & Low Books. In this hilarious middle-grade romp through space, eleven-year-old Tyler Sato leads a team of kids representing all of Earth in a sports tournament against alien kids from across the galaxy.

This post is also part of Greg Fishbone's Galaxy Games blog tour.  For those of you participating in the blog tour Puzzle Contest, here is today's puzzle piece:

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