The Stress of Writing Book #3 in a Series

Porter Montage (1)So, here you are. You wrote your first book in a series and put it out to the world. It’s something you’re excited about, you have a new main hero you think people will love and you have all these characters you want to bring to the world. When I wrote THE HUNT FOR XANADU, I was so nervous. I felt like this was my standout novel. Something I wanted to be smart, interesting and mainstream. I had the same self doubts like everyone else. Was it any good? Would people buy into this fantastical thriller steeped in Buddhist Spiritual mysteries or would I thoroughly embarrass myself?

Thankfully, it was well received. People liked my super smart and fearless Kelsey Porter, her cop boyfriend Desmond and wanted to see more of her brother, Ari. So when I wrote Book #2 in the series, I wanted to up the ante on all of them. But I had some doubts. Would it be as well received as book #1? Did I totally mess up the series with all my fantastical ideas? Was my premise just too crazy? With all the twists, was I trying to be too smart? I didn’t know, but I got the guts and put THE QUEST OF THE EMPTY TOMB out to the world just two months ago and people are starting to read it and react to it. Thankfully, they like it so far, (SQUEE!) reviews are coming in and fingers crossed I get more in soon.

So now I’ve started Book #3 in the series and suddenly I realize this is serious. People who have bought into Book #1 and Book #2 are people LIKE ME, who want to read the next book in the series NOW! I’ve already had multiple people ask me when the next book is being released! (gulp) I know what it means to get involved in a favorite series. I can’t get enough of them and wait with bated breath for the next one to come out.

So is this what’s happening now with my books? Can I say I’m getting fans? That is suddenly a lot of pressure and I’m stuck on chapter 5, hoping that I don’t screw this up. I have a wonderful book development editor I work with named Denise Vitola, and I throw things her way all the time. She listened to my ideas and the vague outline for the book and thought they were sound, but had a sage piece of advice that was so important it made me take a step back. You see, this Kelsey Porter series is a “thriller with fantastical aspects,” but I’m a writer who tends to “write fantasy with thriller aspects.” I need to make sure that I soundly keep this book thriller so that I don’t lose my thriller fans, while still being true to the story’s fantastical aspects. But she had another wise piece of advice to help allay my fears. You see, if I’ve gotten readers through Book #1 and Book #2, and they want to read book #3, then it’s pretty certain they’ve already bought into my premise. I just need to keep it real and deliver with the next book.

So for everyone that has read Book #1 and Book #2 of the Kelsey Porter series, thank you so much. I love hearing from you and I love seeing the reviews more than you know. Those reviews help me in so many ways, (even if they are only a line or two). They help with ads and promotions for some sites that won’t let you advertise until you have a certain amount of reviews. Not to mention, it’s great for me to actually hear from readers what they think.

So, Book #3 is 27 pages along so far. I have an idea of what I want to happen and where I want it to go, but no idea how I’m getting there yet. But I’m working on it. When I get immersed in writing a book, the story lives with me and now this one is always in the back of my mind. I may not be physically writing at times, but little scenarios constantly play in my head and I roleplay if scenes work or not. So don’t worry, I’m thinking about Kelsey all the time. I think about Ari, Josh and some other characters that will be new to the series. And yes, you’ll find out what Ari is up to… and I assure you, it’s no good. Well, I guess that depends on what you consider “no good.” 😉

On a final note, while I plow away on Book #3 I’ve also been working on other things. If you were fans of my horror tale, THE MANNEQUINS, I’ve just completed a horror anthology and it is at a beta reader right now. It’s going to be called RICKET ROW and is a collection of creepy psychological horror tales I’ve written over the years. Look for that in early June if all goes well. And lastly, I updated my web page, again. Love to hear what you think of it, so please check it out at http://www.elysesalpeter.com

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15 thoughts on “The Stress of Writing Book #3 in a Series

  1. Series are a great thing for authors. You’ve created a fantastic lead – Kelsey – and if you can keep up the pace, I can see you working your way through several books about her. Keep up the good work… and I like the new web site.

  2. Series are indeed great, but you have taken on a very ambitious task. Think of it: it’s a series, so you’ve committed to writing not just one, but several novels. And combining two genres, thriller and fantasy, means you have twice as many conventions and rules to observe – or break. I know because I did the same thing. It’s exciting and scary at the same time.

  3. It’s hard to explain it to readers, but writers write ALL THE TIME. Some of our best writing happens when we aren’t actually writing 😉 I know this book will come together for you. Let the story write itself and forget about the pressures for now.

  4. I’m working on the last book in a series — YA Christmas Fantasy, a weird mixup — and I absolutely understand what you’re feeling. It’s difficult to keep going, and it’s difficult not to feel hurried by readers who want it NOW, or that you’re going to mess the story up.

    My advice, from experience, is this: don’t worry. Write your first draft, put what you want into the story, and leave revision for after you’re done. Discard all of those worries about having the book out, about what people will think, because they will drive you crazy, and you’ll lose sight of the story, and you don’t want that. If people already loved what you’ve written, then they will love the new story, and if they don’t, then they don’t; some people will dislike the story, but there’s nothing you can do about that, so focus on those who do love it — mainly, you. And remember: you can’t please everyone, so don’t even try.

    Do your best, edit what needs to be edited once you’re done, and leave the rest to the readers.

    Happy writing!

    Alexandra~

    • Really great advice. I’m actually still stalled on Chapter 5 and while I keep going back and adding to the first five chapters, I need to move the story along but I worry what I’m doing isn’t going to work. You’re right – just write it and leave the revisions and rewrites for later. Get the story down. Thank you so much for commenting.

  5. When I read the title of your blog, I got excited, thinking now here is something I can understand. You’ve hit the nail on the head! Having written two trilogies, one mystery and one sci-fantasy, I found that the third in each series put more weight on my shoulders. I loved traveling to Alaska to “do research” for the 3rd cruise mystery, incorporating actual pictures I took into the book. I couldn’t travel to Drako to “see” new locations for the sci-fantasy so I had to focus on something new. I had a baby dragon in book 2, so I chose to concentrate on adult dragons in the new story, imagine how they worked into the plot and helped save the world. That made it more fun for me and soon the book got even bigger that 1 or 2.

    The only trouble you will find is that readers won’t buy just book 2 or 3 without starting with book 1. This is understandable, even though I write concise descriptions of things leading up to the current action, but it makes the author feel they are slogging through mud to get to new readers. Your books are probably easier to read as stand alone books, so you might not face the same challenge. Good luck on finishing the new one.

    • Thank you so much! I actually have this book taking place out west (in the US) and I so wish I knew the area. I tend to write about things I know little about, so I do so much researching and now I feel all this stress to get it right. Really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment – thank you.

  6. OH.MY.GOD. Talk about reading this at the wrong time. I am so weighted now with what’s going on with my ONE book release party and what goes along with that… it’s just crazy! I can’t even fathom any of this right now… or I should say, I don’t WANT to fathom it. You are one STRONG, SMART woman, though. If anyone is up to the task, I know it is you. Good luck, lady!

  7. Elyse, you always amaze me. I’m still struggling to finish my first novel, and meanwhile, you keep putting them out. You’ll get this done! And yes, you have *fans*! Congratulations. And those fans will be thrilled, and your fan base will grow!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Monica – and you WILL get that novel done! A lot of what I get out are things I’ve had completed in one sense or another, so I’ve been spending time cleaning them up. So much to always do. Never enough hours, or for me, brainpower, in a day.

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