About a month ago, I finished my second Young Adult contemporary manuscript, and probably my sixth or seventh completed manuscript overall.
After finishing, for a week, I spent my time trying to wrap my head around what to do next. There is still much to be done, on many levels. I need to hear back from the editor who is reading the manuscript (for a fee). I need to have my critique partners, and willing friends, read the manuscript. I’ll need to make changes based on everyone’s feedback. I need to write a query letter and synopsis. I need to finish researching agents, slot them into categories (top priority, middle, low) and develop a strategy for querying them. At this time, my list of possible agents certainly is not infinite, but it feels like it is.
At the same time as I'm releasing what'd been steady, focused thought on the recently completed manuscript, I'm casting my thoughts forward about what to do next. After spending two weeks studying the market, via reports from Publishers Marketplace about what’s been selling in the past two years, and checking BWI to examine all YA releases for 2011, I've made a decision about my next project.
Originally, I'd planned to revise my first YA manuscript, set in the 1960's. I love that book, and based on what I now know about writing and revision, after taking Holly Lisle's How to Think Sideways and How to Revise Your Novel courses, along with reading her clinic books, I now have far more knowledge and tools than before. I'm curious to see what that manuscript would evolve into, based on my new understanding and skills.
Instead, based on my market research about what's not only selling, but making enormous advances, I've decided togo back to the second manuscript I ever wrote, probably fifteen years ago, and re-slant that into a three-book, YA historical fantasy.
The original book was a historical novel written for adult readers. It went through three complete incarnations during the two years it took to write. Researching it, I read about every book on the subject at the WSU library, about 200 nonfiction books. (Crazy? Absolutely!)
The manuscript turned out to be—brace yourself—264,000 words, or 1056 manuscript pages. In my memory, it’s always been 650 manuscript pages, double-spaced, but I got it out this morning and discovered I was wrong. Just thinking about it blows my mind. But also has me rubbing my hands together with glee.
Do you think I might have enough information, characters, conflict and possible scenes to morph this into a three-book series? I have absolutely no doubts. I do want to put a fantasy element into it, and I haven’t decided what, yet, that should be. But I am positively itching to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
What do you do in the interim between finishing one book and launching into another? How do you decide what to write next?