After writing The End, I took a step back and looked at it. Since I had immersed myself so fully in learning about the craft during the ten months it took to draft it, I knew that the end was written much more skillfully than the beginning. Revising was going to be a huge job. I also knew I had reached a skill level where I could do it.
So as I looked at this completed draft I loved on my left, and the promise of a new story in a blank document on my right, I asked myself what might be one of the most important questions to ask yourself.
If I queried this book and all my publication dreams
came true, is this the book I want to lead with?
As you sell books, you build an audience. That audience will keep coming back to you for largely the same type of book. Think of some of your favorite authors— the ones you keep going back to. If they suddenly wrote a vastly different book and you got it because you loved the author, you’d likely think, “What the heck kind of book is this?! This is NOT what I signed up for!” More or less, right? There are authors that have genre-jumped and done it well, but they also have to do a huge amount of new audience building along with it. So you’ve got to think, is this the genre I want to write in for a while? Is THIS the book that I want to have as the first book to represent me as an author?
For that book that I loved, the answer was no. It wasn’t right.
I don’t write fast. So I knew that the decision meant a time sacrifice as well. That my dream of publication would probably be pushed back by my decision. (At the same time, though, I knew that going through the massive job of polishing a book to perfection that might not sell would also slow my journey.)
But I bit back a tear, gave it a hug, thanked this book I loved more than cheesecake and summer sunshine for being the embodiment of what it took to get me where I was, and gently placed it on the shelf. It still sits there now, selflessly sacrificing for the greater good its chance to not only live dust-free, but to be read by more than four people.
Yes, it stung to shelf a book I was in love with. But do you know what? That book is fine. I’m fine. And I fell even more in love with my next book.
And there’s really nothing quite like a blank document and the promise of a new book that you just know is going to rock.
How about you? Have you ever shelved a book? Tried to shelf one and couldn’t part with it? Not to the point where you’ve had to make that decision yet? I want to know!