I see an upsetting attitude toward writing, and that attitude is "Don't write the 2nd book in the series until the publisher accepts the 1st book and it sells enough to pay back the advance. If it doesn’t sell, the 2nd book is just a waste and useless so don't even start it. Better yet, make the first book a standalone."
To that I say NO! NO! And *expletive* NO!
We are writers. We don’t write with the end goal to make money. We write even knowing the gamble we may never make money. If you wanted money, you would have become a doctor, or a lawyer, or started your own business. So isn’t it interesting that doctors, lawyers, and businessmen ALSO write stories? They aren’t writing for money.
We write, in the purest sense, because we have a story to tell. Even if we never get paid, we’d write anyway. And by all the grace in me, I want you to know it.
Because writing comes from our deepest selves, our vulnerable selves, exposed selves, our naked selves. And we don't sell our naked selves for money (Unless you do.) We want to give readers characters they can relate to, themes that validate them and ourselves, world-building they can get lost in. Sometimes that expands beyond a tight word count of 80,000 words. Sometimes the story is bigger because you are passionate. You want to tell more so you write more, write a five-book series. It took you 18 years and 8 drafts and that whole time your books weren’t making money. No one threatened, enslaved, or coerced you to write them. You wrote all that insanity because…
You have something you want to say. This is why writers give their stories out for free, or self-published at deep discounts. It’s not for the money. It never was.
I plead with you, buck this story-killing trend to only write one book at a time with the attitude to sell. Break free! Let it out! Write the whole story chiseled into your heart, no matter how long, and with the attitude that you have something you want to tell the world. You see, doing this, a magical thing happens. That energy of “Story First” threads into your novel; pieces of your heart and soul shaped into words on paper, therefore MAKING this the story readers WANT to hear.
Tell the story you want, however long it takes. It was never about the money anyway.
Image by Idella Cutler