Right, so you’ve written a good book. It may not have been your first but it’s the one that has prompted you into publishing it. As immodest as it sounds, you know it’s just too good to keep to yourself and that others will get enjoyment from reading it.
Now this isn’t about all the challenges about being an indie author – I deal with that in my other blogs. This is about knowing what to write next. They, whoever they are, say that everyone has a book in them and you consider whether that is it; you have written your one book and to contemplate starting out again is crazy. Even if you have the overwhelming urge to pen your next novel, you will wonder how it could possibly be as good as the one just finished; remembering of course this was the one that stopped you being a closet writer and opened you up to the world for people to critique. You will know that the music industry is littered with one-hit-wonders and you start to understand how someone could create such an epic tune only to slip back into oblivion.
But then you get past these doubts because, deep down, you know this is what you were meant to do. For me the real question was what type of a book to write next. I know not all writers feel this way but, in my case, I never even set out to write crime fiction. I could probably count on one hand the number of crime novels I have read and I choose not to watch most of the crime dramas that come on TV. Ideas come to me for books across all sorts of genres, and it worries me because all the authors I revere tend to stick to one thing. It was a bit like being a kid growing up in the ‘80s and 90s, I looked forward to each Arnie flick because (okay Twins and Kindergarten Cop aside) I knew what I would be getting. But whilst I enjoyed his films it’s the actors like Denzel Washington and, more recently, Jennifer Lawrence that I admire because they can turn their hand to any manner of roles (I was going to say Nicolas Cage before I thought of Denzel but perhaps he has been too diverse and for every decent movie he’s in, there is a stinker too).
And as celebrated as they are, I want to be something similar as an author. Yes, I’m scared that someone who likes my crime series will give Never Mind, Just Rewind a go and hate it because it is a completely different sort of book. But it’s the gamble I’m willing to take, in just the way Jennifer Lawrence did in agreeing to star in Red Sparrow, because my ultimate goal is for people to like me for my writing. They might be fans of crime fiction but are willing to take a punt on something different because they trust me and know that everything will be okay.
But just like people panned Terminator: Genysis for not being as good as T2 (I mean, how could it be?) sticking to one genre is not exactly a safe route either. People will come to your new work with high expectations from your previous and you’d better hope you live up to them. In many respects, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Take this, for example, I have a review on the sequel to my crime thriller that, whilst saying he enjoyed it, felt it was just more of the same, whereas another review praises it for evolving the story and its characters. They talk about it in TV circles as the tricky second season.
Yet, I like to live dangerously and so, as well as branching out into other genres I have started writing the first book in a new crime series. Like I said before, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, and so I have chosen to be damned either way.