Thursday, October 27, 2011

Second books and the unexpected

Note: The Spooktacular Giveaway Hop for an advance copy of my second book, Try Not to Breathe, is still going on here.

And speaking of second books, the latest guest post in my "second-books" series is from Lauren Bjorkman. I described Lauren's debut, My Invented Life, earlier on this blog as "funny and quirky and unexpected; it isn't quite like anything else I've read." Now Lauren talks about navigating the differences between first and second books, and coping with expectations while keeping the love of writing.

The Sophomore Book
by Lauren Bjorkman

When Henry Holt offered on my debut YA novel, they gave me a two-book deal. The changes requested by my editor for book 1 took me five weeks to complete.

When My Invented Life went to copy edits, I had a contract for unnamed book 2. Book 2 existed before my editor knew the premise, characters, plot, or themes. Before I did. This didn’t worry me. I had a ton of ideas.

At the time my debut sold, I had written most of a second YA novel, dark and edgy, very different from my first. Some months later, I finished it, and showed it to my agent and editor. I also sent a proposal for a more light-hearted story called Miss Fortune Cookie. They both felt that book 2 should be closer in style to My Invented Life, so chose the proposal.

Thrilled to have a new project, I wrote at hyper-speed (for me), finishing a draft one year later. My agent loved it, and sent it to my editor right away. My editor didn’t connect with it as much. Thus started the editorial letter and revision phase. Fast-forward another year. We still have not finished book 2.

Why is this time so different?

I took my time on My Invented Life—about two and a half years. Many different writers critiqued it during that period. I could accept the feedback that resonated with me, and ignore the rest. This changed with book 2. No matter what my crit partners thought, or even my agent, my editor had to be enthusiastic. When I revised Miss Fortune Cookie for her the first time, I didn’t understand her point of view. Not wanting to make the same mistake twice, I called her when her second letter came. We talked on the phone for hours. The next revision took me six months.

On the plus side, I have not suffered from post-debut writer’s block. And, despite the setbacks, my love of writing remains undiminished.

While I wait for the next editorial round to begin, I chip away on my third novel—a funny, hopeful, “dystopian” YA—and could not be happier.

Lauren Bjorkman grew up on a sailboat, sharing the tiny forecastle with her sister and the sail bags. Luckily she likes tiny spaces. She and her sister have remained close friends. She lives in New Mexico with her husband, two sons, and two ridiculous felines.


  1. Another interesting guest post!

    I'm glad to hear the love of writing has remained throughout the process. :)