You’ve already learned so, so much. Under my tutelage, you’ve gone from someone who couldn’t even type to someone who has met John Grisham in person AND written a best-selling novel. You better pinch yourself – just to make sure you’re not dreaming!!
Now, unless that pinch snapped you out of this literary wonderland, there’s only two or three steps left to go. I’m going to keep it pretty simple: Why did you start writing? The answer, of course, is money. Few vocations are as profitable as writing creatively and you wanted your share of the largesse. It makes perfect sense. And now? Now you’re in the catbird seat. It’s time to talk about the sweetest plum of all – the advance. The pile of money a publisher is going to hand you (interest-free) for the rights to your next masterwork.
You get one shot at this, Tolstoy. One shot, Sylvia Plath. DO NOT BLOW IT!!
What you’ll want to do is play it close to the vest. Tell your literary rep you have a dynamite concept. Tell them the follow-up book is practically writing itself, but add that you can’t say more; you don’t want to jinx it. This is when you have to bury your pride at sea and really sell it. Lay it all on the line! Meanwhile, are you actually doing any writing? Hell no! What are you, some kind of machine? There’s only one Stephen King and he resides in Bangor, Maine. The best that you can do (and me, too) is to pretend you have another idea as good as the one that drove your first book. It’s time for the piper to be paid and for once in your whole damn unprofitable life, you’re the piper!
However, as this is all playing out, you do need to do some work. Start building a new identity on the side. Pick up some wigs, theatre makeup and clothes unlike anything you’ve ever worn or would wear. Think about a name you could grow into – a whole new persona. You’re probably wondering, is all this preparation for pocketing your advance and vanishing into thin air? Here’s my unvarnished answer to that: You’re g-damn right it is.
You really are learning, you know that?