Let’s say you’ve written a wonderful manuscript. You’ve done all the editing your mind can handle. The cover is ready. You’ve already begun promoting your new title. Everything is set. The book has been published! Hooray!!! So, now what?
Of course, now you can really focus on promoting your book. However, as a writer, you can’t spend every minute of every day, promoting. Writers write. It’s what we do. There’s another book in you, waiting to come out, but perhaps you’re not quite ready to start another new draft.
I recently ran into this problem. I had just completed the next two books in a series I had been working on, and finished the final book in yet a different series. Being someone whose mind needs constant stimulation, I tried to decide what to do next. Then I thought, “I’ll publish a book of short stories! Yes!”. So I did. But now that book is complete. I have another book in mind, but I’m not ready to work on it just yet. So, the question became: How do I fill in the time between working on the last book, and starting the next book?
I know I can’t just sit around and do absolutely nothing. It’s against my nature. However, I know if I start another book before I’m ready to, I won’t put 100% of myself into it, and the book will ultimately…suck. Therefor, I have come up with a few ways to keep myself busy in the meantime.
Read! If you’re a writer, chances are, you’re also a reader. Reading is a fantastic way to pass the time between books. While working on Our Lady of Righteous Rage, I read several books about punk rock, guitars, etc. Even when I’m not working on that series, I still read punk-related books and magazines. I often find sources of material for the next book.
Re-read your other books. This may sound like a crazy idea, but it can come in handy. I know: you probably read your other books to death while you were working on them. But here’s a scenario: you’re writing the third book in a series. Maybe there are a few details from the previous two books you have forgotten. This has happened to me. It may be helpful to go back and re-read the other books.
Study your competition. Let’s say you’re writing a book about a group of children with unusual or magical powers, but you’ve never read Harry Potter or Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. This may be a good time to read other books that fall within the genre you’re writing for. This will give you an opportunity to see what makes those other books so popular among readers.
You can still promote your older books. Just because you published a certain title three years ago, doesn’t mean you should just stick it on a shelf and forget about it. I published Fortune’s Wing in 2009, and I still tweet about it and post about it on Facebook. If I forget about the book, so will the rest of the world. You can use this time to devote a little attention to the previous books you’ve published.
Do you have any hobbies that tie into your writing? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Everyone is different. Playing guitar and listening to music led me to write Our Lady of Righteous Rage, so while I worked on that series, I also played my guitars and listened to a ton of Green day, MCR and The Clash, to name a few. Doing this inspired me, and gave me some fresh insight for the next books in the series. If you’re a sci-fi writer, maybe watching a few sci-fi movies will keep you in the spirit of your writing.
I hope my advice was helpful. Keep writing, folks.