With my second novel coming out in October (and it being titled, Second Skin), I’ve been thinking a lot about how authors tackle their second book. Personally, I’ve been through the wringer with Second Skin. To crank up the intensity, key scenes / concepts were brought forward into Under My Skin and that left me with a huge gap in Second Skin’s plot. Plus, every change I make to SS affects my outline for the third book, Skin of My Teeth. Then there’s the marketing of book two. When to start? How can I use what I learned from promoting UMS? What if fans of UMS are disappointed with baby number two? What if I fail to deliver a dark and humours read? Ugh! Talk about pressure.
In efforts to stymie my own jitters, I’ve asked author buddies to offer their insights. I’m collecting responses and will share them with you as I get’m. So, here goes…this is the first “Second Thoughts” feature and we have Jennifer R. Hubbard, author of The Secret Year (Viking, 2010), and fellow member of the Class of 2k10.
Brief bio: “In high school, I considered it fun to come home from school and write novels. My grandfather worked at a printing plant that produced spiral-bound notebooks. Any flaws in the printing or binding process would land the notebooks in the company store at a steep discount, so I always had plenty of notebooks on hand. Now I write on a computer most of the time.”
Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Colt has been sneaking out at night to meet Julia, a girl from an upper-class neighborhood unlike his own. They’ve never told anyone else about their relationship: not their family or friends, and especially not Julia’s boyfriend. When Julia dies suddenly, Colt tries to cope with her death while pretending that he never even knew her. He discovers a journal Julia left behind. But Colt is not prepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship, nor to pay the price for the secrets he’s kept.
- Are your novels within the same genre / age level? Or are they completely different? If different, what challenges did you face when writing such different tones/genres/voices?
My second book is a contemporary realistic YA novel, as my first (The Secret Year) was. At the moment, contemporary YA is my favorite kind of book. My second novel is not a sequel to the first, but I think it will appeal to the same readers.
It also has a first person male narrator. But this narrator is different from Colt in The Secret Year. In many ways, the new character, Ryan, is in worse trouble and bigger danger.
How are your marketing efforts different with this second novel? Is it easier now that you have a fan base, or do you feel pressure to up the ante?
It’s a little early to think about marketing the second book. But already, I can foresee a couple of differences. First, I won’t have a debut-author group this time around. I maintain contact with my debut friends, but we’re not doing a formal, debut-themed marketing effort anymore.
I have become part of a local author group doing events in my area, and most of my live events will come through them (The Kidlit Authors Club, http://kidlitauthorsclub.com/ ). Obviously, I still believe in the power of author groups! I think multiple authors are usually a stronger draw at an event, and nothing beats the mutual support and shared information of a group.
I’ll continue my online presence because I enjoy that. I’m on Twitter as @JennRHubbard, and I blog on LiveJournal (http://writerjenn.livejournal.com/ ) and Blogspot (http://jenniferrhubbard.blogspot.com/ ). I’m also open to Skype visits (http://skypeanauthor.wetpaint.com/page/Jennifer+Hubbard ), and I’m always happy to speak to librarians, teachers, book clubs, classes, and other writers.
Cover love: how much input did you have with your covers? More with the second? Love them? Or wish they were something more?
I haven’t seen a cover for my second book yet, but The Secret Year has two covers: hardcover and paperback. Their design was determined by the publisher, but I’ve been quite vocal about my admiration for the design work. I really am much more word-oriented; I’m not a visual artist. I wouldn’t really want to rely on my own amateurish cover concepts, when Penguin has experts who do a much better job!
Many authors experience shifts in their writing world before their second book is published. Some find new agents, get an agent if they didn’t have one before, or even seek out new publishers. Have you had any such dramas?
Funny you should ask! My agent and editor, who had both been with me through book 1 and the start of book 2, left their respective jobs about a month apart. The transition wasn’t as difficult as it might have been, since I moved to another representative at the same literary agency. And my editor continued to work on my book in a freelance capacity, while the editorial assistant who’d worked on both books remained at the publisher. Still, that transitional month was unsettling at the time. But as the dust clears, I remain with my same agency and publisher, working with excellent people.
Can you share an excerpt of the 2nd book? Link to booktrailer?
Here’s a brief synopsis: In the summer after his suicide attempt, 16-year-old Ryan struggles with his own guilty secrets, and befriends a girl who’s visiting psychics in an attempt to reach her dead father.
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on seconds, Jennifer! Can’t wait to read Ryan’s story…psychics/ dead father – I know it’s contemporary but those hints of even slightly paranormal goodness have me hooked. 😉 May your book two launch be double the fun of book one!