The Other Side of the Dream

February 28th, 2005 · No Comments
by Booksquare

They say that selling your second book is sometimes harder than selling your first. After all, you are a known commodity. People have expectations. You need to rise to a moment that someone else defines. That first book, you didn’t have all that extra baggage. This one, the second, now it’s for real.

Yes, yes, yes, all that second book stuff is the essence of drama, but nobody wants to read about your struggles with The Man. Not interesting in the least. We all know that the first book is the stuff of dreams, the triumph of the spirit, and the magic of luck. With the first book, even the most mundane story becomes special. You have achieved the goal of millions. You are a published author.

Saying that, we present several accounts of publication from a group of first-time British authors. For those suffering from second book blues, we’re sorry. We’ll get to you eventually.

Being an unpublished author is a bit like being an asylum seeker. You know this is where you belong – your Promised Land – but the gate is guarded. You’re desperate to get in, but you don’t know the rules. You try everything – different fonts, different noms de plume. You take out all the adverbs, then put them back in again. You spend hours refining your synopsis. You know it must be possible, because you see the Published Ones walking around on the other side of the frontier, bathed in an aura of publishedness. You ask their advice. You ask for names of agents and editors, a personal recommendation. They are kind, but non-committal.

So you learn to live with rejection – ‘ … not for us … ‘, ‘ … shows promise but … ‘. You brave humiliation; your life’s work is dumped on something called the ‘slush pile’. You hide your shame; you scribble in secret, but their judgment of your unworthiness seeps into your soul.

‘And your age – you forgot to mention your age.’

‘Did I?’

‘Kazuo Ishiguro worries about reaching 50 and you’ve just started.’ (Marina Lewycka>

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