Short answer: Not a lot.
Long answer: A few things change, but mostly it’s back to the usual. And by usual I mean, more writing. EVEN more now, because you’re feeling the pressure from your publisher’s deadline (if you had more than a one book deal), and you have readers now who are waiting on you to write more.
Some little secrets –
1. Writing is no easier after the first book
In general, I’ve not found it any more or less difficult, though certain aspects have become easier. For example, I feel more confident about my own writing, which helps fight that annoying bugger I like to call The Fear (more on that here), and I’m more aware of the narrative structure of a novel, so can self-edit that as I go.
But in some ways, it’s harder too. Now I’m not just worrying about writing a book for myself. There are readers – real, actual people who thought my first book was ok enough to want more – waiting for book 2. And did I mention the pressure of writing to a deadline? Stupidly, I overcome this by taking back control and setting my own deadlines – closer than my publisher’s. TAKE THAT, PRESSURE. Weirdly, it works for me.
2. Bad reviews suck
Ughhh, it’s a horrible, twisty feeling when you come across these. But come across these you will. Look at Harry Potter, look at your most dearest, forever-in-your-heart books. They all have bad reviews too. So although it sucks, you’ve just got to learn to deal.
A little trick I use. After reading a not-so-great review, flick back to a good one. A really really good one. Read. Repeat. You’ll feel better in no time.
3. Prepare for the post-publication funk
My wise, wise agent was the one who made me realise post-publication funk was a thing. I’d been struggling, really struggling, with my WIP in the weeks after The Elites came out. I doubted everything I wrote. Each day, writing was like tearing words from my eyeballs. I did everything I could to avoid it, even getting seriously ill and spending a few weeks bed-bound (ok, so that might not have been intentional. But perhaps it was my body saying, Hold the eff up! I’m scared! Don’t make me do this!). I emailed to my agent to explain how I was going to be late on the deadline we’d agreed on, and she wrote back a wonderful message that included this piece of advice (which hopefully she doesn’t mind me sharing) –
“Don’t underestimate the slightly blindsiding feeling of having THE ELITES out there, your first book on the shelves. It’s a dizzying feeling and can provoke all sorts of weird reactions.”
I wanted to share that with you all because I think it’s so true. For many first-time authors – this definitely applied to me – having a book published is a dream. Maybe even The Dream. And when it’s out, the dream has come true, and it’s both overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. Be prepared to feel a bit off. Be prepared to give yourself a break. Take time to let the reality of what’s happened sink in. Because –
You did it.
You did it.