Friday, March 12, 2010

Debut Ponderings

Most aspiring authors spend a lot of time dreaming about the one. Their debut novel. Their first adventure into the world of publishing.

One problem: Which one is the one?

I have a lot of ideas. And I mean A LOT. Last count I had... (skims through notebook quickly) (Gulps) (Skims through again, double checking obscene number) (Oh, wow, it's accurate) SEVENTY-FOUR IDEAS. Whoa.

Okay, so some of these seventy-four ideas are just barely ideas. One sentence describing a very very brief story. Some I've actually thought a lot about. Some have character names.

Some are just things I wrote down on a whim, like when Colleen Lindsay said she wanted a YA steampunk novel about girl gangsters in the 19th century, or when all the hoopla was going on about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and I decided I was going to jump on the bandwagon and write a zombie Hamlet story called Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Undead. (I *still* think that's a good idea.) But I have to face reality: there is a very, super slim chance I will ever outline one of these two novel ideas let alone write it. There's potential sure, each of those could totally be flushed out into a whole story, but will I ever do it? Meh. Probably not.

Of the seventy-four ideas, let me count how many I actually have outlined and plan to write... Okay, thirty-six. That's, uh, a little better.

Now let's narrow it down even more, of those thirty-six, which ones do I really want to see published. Which ones am I willing to put all the hard work into to bring them to life.... twenty-one.

Now of those twenty-one, which ones would I want to be my debut... I can narrow it down to ten. Ten fully formed ideas, all of which have at least a basic outline. All of them have character names. All of them have different plots.

But the main thing is, as a debut, each would take my career in a different direction. It's all about author branding. If your debut is about a teen boy who saves the city from a supervillain, then your sophomore novel probably won't be a sweeping historical romance. (Actually, no, I don't have any ideas for a sweeping historical romance. Which is weird, because you'd think out of 74 at least one might be... but no.)

I have a little chart in one of my notebooks, showing the possible course of projects if a certain project is my debut. For example, The Temper -> Temper Sequel -> Wanted (bounty hunters) -> The Cure (zombies) -> Blood Ties. The first four books feature a boy MC, though The Cure has a strong romance plot. I think of it this way: fans of Temper would like Wanted, fans of Wanted would like The Cure, fans of The Cure would like Blood Ties. But not all fans of Temper would like Blood Ties, and probably wouldn't like that jump. It's all about building your audience/fan base while still appealing to the original fans.

But lets say Temper isn't my debut. Lets say Blood Ties is. The following novels would be totally different. Blood Ties -> Blood Bonds (sequel) -> The Cure -> Wanted -> Temper. Of course, this is just one progression, purposely made to include Temper at some point. I could stretch it out a lot longer, filling in more girly type novels before The Cure, like Plural of Love, or Confessions of the Dead, or The Fallen (like I said, I have too many ideas.) It all depends on which direction I want to take it.

Hm. Well, those are my thoughts for the day. Keep in mind, nothing I ever say is a hard and fast rule. Most of the time I have no idea what I'm talking about :)

What's your opinion on the debut-sophomore relationship?
What novel would you like to be your debut?


  1. Okay, so I feel like a total hack! How can you have so many formed ideas?! I'm afraid we can't be friends anymore.

    Okay, we can.

    This is really fascinating and something I've thought about a bit.
    I've written a couple of fun, YA paranormal that also (hopefully) have some depth, but then many of my ideas don't fit that mould.

    My next WiP (unless I change my mind) is also a YA paranormal but I'm hoping it will be a bit darker. I also really want to write a historical fiction novel, but I know that I DON'T want that to be my debut.

    Great post. Lots to think about.

  2. Seventy-four frickin ideas?!?! Geez.

    I want my debut novel to be a Mystery/Suspense and be popular enough to spawn a series. If your gonna dream, my as well dream big!


  3. Wow! I have seven well-formed ideas and I thought that was a lot! But I think all those seven potential stories go well together--they're a strong collection of my imagination and story telling. I'd be more than happy to have any of them published but of course I'm always hoping the one I'm writing now will be the one. Good luck with all those ideas! And you seem so organized with all the charts and notebooks (I so need to be more like that).

  4. Oh wow, I've never even thought about that. Actually, if I write and publish any of the ideas I've had recently, I think the others would fit in pretty well, because all stories take place in a different world--or at least partly--and all have kind of the same idea to them. But then again I will probably never write any of them, or one at most. Oh well.

    Oh, and are you still working on Plural of Love? I don't see it on your project page but I can't remember you posting that you finished it. Just wondering--the idea sounded really interesting. :)

  5. Okay, I'm with Jade. We aren't speaking anymore unless I have 74 ideas too. *pout*

    Oh-I'm kidding. What would I do without you? :0) That is so awesome, but I could also see how it might drive an A personality type a little insane. :0)

    Uhm...and I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks of all that other stuff...debut novel and all. :0)

    The one I finished for Nano was to be my debut. I was so proud. Well......I started another one and I think it might be it. And it's not even what I would normally write. *sigh* What a dilemma.

  6. Yeah I'm not the only one with a ridiculous number of ideas! Well I only have like thirty, and only 27 of those are breifly outlined or fully formed and out of those I'm working on about 7-5 I could actually see being my debut novel, but I don't know how I'd choose.

    Also in regards to the debut-sophmore relationship, I don't really think that they have to be very closely related. But I've also never given oodles of thought to it's all I'm going to think about.

  7. Oh you are so much smarter than we were! We didn't realize that you couldn't debut with one book and then follow it up with something completely different. It would have been great if someone would have mentioned it before we completed an 80,000 word manuscript that we'll have to shelve indefinitely. Ouch.

  8. I feel so lame right now... I never even thought of that (author branding). I suppose my most likely debut would be the novel I just finished (an adult romantic suspense), as I can see myself writing prequels, sequels, or other books in the same genre and being perfectly happy. BUT, the other novel I have done is a YA fantasy, and the next novel I have planned is a sci-fi/fantasy epic.

    I can't stay with one target audience to save my life, apparently... that's great for my creativity, not so great for selling multiple books.