Your Agent Wants a Second Book

 

As you read this, are you at some point—beginning, middle, or end—in the writing of your first book?

Start thinking about Book #2.

Think of yourself with a shelf like Stephen King’s (partial version here)

I’m serious.

I know when we’re up to our eyeballs in alligators it’s hard to start planning ahead to draining the next swamp.

But athletes think in terms of careers, as do dancers and filmmakers and restaurauteurs and entrepreneurs.

You and I need to too.

Can you picture a shelf of books? Your books.

Ten of ’em.

Fifteen.

Twenty.

Can you imagine not just one title but an actual body of work?

It’s in you.

You can do it.

The Legend of Bagger Vance was my first published novel. I remember my blood running cold as the manuscript was being submitted when my agent, Sterling Lord, called and asked, “What else have you got?”

Of course I had nothing. Not even a glimmer.

“That’s the first thing a publisher will ask me,” Sterling said. “‘What’s his next book?’ I can make a much better deal for Book #1 if I can tell them, ‘Steve’s just finishing the next one and it’s a corker.'”

Beyond such commercial considerations however lies the deeper soul-connection between you and me and our Muse.

The goddess does not like it when we sell ourselves and our gifts short. Can you blame her? She’s the one giving us those gifts.

Thinking beyond Book #1 doesn’t mean we have to sit down and plot out the next seventeen titles. We couldn’t even if we wanted to. The Muse loves to surprise us. She knows what’s coming next and she’ll communicate it to us when she’d good and ready.

But be assured: there is a next one.

And another after that.

Are you forty years old? You’ve got another forty years of writing life, maybe more.

Fifty is nothing for a writer.

Sixty-five is barely a beginning.

An amateur can write one book. You and I must think of ourselves as pros.

A professional thinks in terms of decades.

She thinks in terms of a career.

Start thinking ahead now.

 

DO THE WORK

Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

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THE AUTHENTIC SWING

A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.

The-Authentic-Swing

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.

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TURNING PRO

Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"

Turning-Pro

25 Comments

  1. Mary Doyle on November 13, 2019 at 4:39 am

    Thanks for this, Steve – I didn’t know that I needed to hear this until I read it!

    • Annette Tingle on November 13, 2019 at 3:44 pm

      Yes. You said it!

  2. Brian Nelson on November 13, 2019 at 7:19 am

    Steve,
    This is so spot-on for many vocations/pursuits. We were about to conduct a very complex and expensive intelligence training exercise, and were just finishing an mind-numbing meeting rehearsing the entire 2 week exercise in 15-30 minute chunks. We had a legal pad filled with mistakes, shortcomings, hidden obstacles we hadn’t considered before.

    Towards the end of the meeting, I asked the team about a language training idea I had. I wanted to blend CrossFit principles of short, intense physical workouts with language training.

    After the meeting, one of the NCOs asked me, “Sir, how about we actually finish this exercise before adding anything new?”

    “Mike, we’ve identified every single area where something could go wrong. For me, this exercise is done. Execution will be fun. We’ve done the hard work. My job is to always think about the direction of our organization–and keep the creative tension alive. Someone has to be looking over the horizon.”
    bsn

    • Jule Kucera on November 13, 2019 at 10:02 am

      Brian, your team is lucky to have you.

  3. Uchenna on November 13, 2019 at 8:06 am

    Wow. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Kristi Garrett on November 13, 2019 at 8:25 am

    “Sixty-five is barely a beginning.”

    Bless you, Steve. I often wonder how many times I have to reinvent myself before I’ll be satisfied. Probably never. And maybe that’s the point.

  5. Melanie Bikowski on November 13, 2019 at 8:36 am

    Dang! I was just thinking about this as I am in the middle of writing my first book and was like…well, shit…what about the second one! LOL

  6. Graham Glover on November 13, 2019 at 9:31 am

    I’m a photographer. My main genre for photography, fashion, has fallen apart. I have not been able to get a model for over a year, despite relentless efforts on my part.

    I’m still shooting regularly. I have one large project for December in the queue, and have one I’m developing for this coming weekend. I just shot a project last weekend and finished all of the processing. Are any of these fashion? Nope. Am I still aiming for fashion? Yup! The next project will be street photography in DC, but I don’t yet have a concept for it and only a vague theme. I’ll develop and refine those tonight during my scheduled project creation time.

  7. Okyeame on November 13, 2019 at 9:47 am

    Great read!

  8. Stehanie Clayton on November 13, 2019 at 9:53 am

    Thanks for this, Mr. Pressfield. As always, good advice.

    I’m enjoying your latest book. I loved last week’s post; the story of your first agents selling it. I wonder if you could discuss (at some point) what inspired you. It seems a bit of a departure from your other work.

    Many thanks.

    • Jule Kucera on November 13, 2019 at 10:01 am

      Stehanie, “a bit of a departure” is a bit of an understatement! Great question… I don’t recall it from Steve’s “from the trenches” posts.

  9. Anne Marie Gazzolo on November 13, 2019 at 11:10 am

    Love ya, Steven! I got so many books inside of me it’s not even funny. I just have to get them out! Thanks and God bless.

  10. Gigi Blackshear on November 13, 2019 at 11:20 am

    How I wish someone had said these words t me when I finished book one. Readers also want the next book. I did eventually crank out book two, but I am stuck. Three has been hard to come by. Thank you for the encouragement.

  11. Angela Applewhite on November 13, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    I remember selling the idea of the second book to my editor when I was gearing up to send her one of my gazillion drafts of the first book. She was very intrigued by the concept. Little did she know, I hadn’t started writing it. Now that I’m on that journey, I wonder if I’ll ever finish.
    But now that I’ve read your post for today, I guess I better finish the second book. I have an entire shelf filled with books to write.

    Thank you for the inspiration.

  12. Yvonne on November 13, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    This one made me teary (tears of gratitude)…I really needed to hear this today. Thank you, Steve.

  13. claudia lorber on November 13, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    Egad! Thanks, Steve, for exactly the jolt I needed. Time to stop fiddling, and finish!

  14. John C Thomson on November 13, 2019 at 3:07 pm

    My name is Ed Norton, not really, but my wife keeps comparing me to him as one who is always rolling up his sleeves and getting ready to begin.

  15. Jan Bowler on November 13, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    Great advice, Steven. It’s easy to be so focussed on what Im writing now that I fail to leave space in my brain for what’s next. Now I’ll remedy this.

  16. Wai'ale'ale on November 13, 2019 at 8:01 pm

    I love so much what you tell here! I have been overwhelmed by my mentor of life /faith sharing his vision for next 300 years, each goal for each 50 years to accomplish for fundamental social change and relation to human revolution. I often don’t share the feeling of other people…”Great to see and have our target/goal/blue print…I always dislike to hear about the next, and next and next…! It drains me because I lose the focus of today and makes me feel so burdened …but somehow, reading this post, I got it, something I didn’t get it for 40 years. I am on writing my first one, I’ll think #2:) Thank you very much, Aloha!!

  17. Pete Tittes on November 13, 2019 at 11:10 pm

    I lucked out. I’d already written 22 thousand words in what I believed was my second novel before I finished my first. The first reached 180K and now I’m dividing it into my first and new second novel. The problems that I was having with them was because they were two novels strung together as one.

  18. Ilya Faruntsev on November 14, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Wow!
    Steven, you just talking directly, about myself and it touches. About first book and about forty as just a start.
    Thank you!

  19. Rock Kendzior on November 14, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    As always, I am grateful for your thoughts. Thanks for sharing and inspiring. Cheers

  20. Ruth Nolan on November 15, 2019 at 2:01 am

    Thank you

  21. Sandra on November 17, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    Your words not only inspire, they speak to the heart and soul of a writer. I still have my original sticky note that reads, “Did I overcome resistance today?” That was the beginning of my journey…thank you.

  22. Andy on November 19, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    Every time I need a little reminder to stick with it, I re-read “Turning Pro”. It’s like a breath of fresh air after a fart in a space suit, for lack of a better, more accurate analogy.
    Reminds me of the orange cat sitting regally and assuredly across from you when you cooked your food outside that concrete shack, not-so tacitly reminding you that you should never give up until you achieve the self-sufficiency and self-sovereignty that at least an old tom can muster.

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