An Author's Work is Never Done: Next!

You work for years, finally finish your first book and savor the accomplishment. Then you begin outreach — to agents, publishers, marketers, other authors, and, oh yes, readers.

That’s when reality hits. While your first book finds its way in the world, there is still more work to be done — Next!

When is it time for an author to begin his next book? As soon as possible. The most prolific writers often seem to get the most attention, if they’re good. It is as if the audience is saying, “What have you done for me lately?”

In a recent post at, writer Andrea Pearson generously shares some great information for promoting your book.

She also posits a consensus on author success:

“Nine out of ten authors agree that the best way to success is through writing more quality books.”

Obviously, some amazing writers follow this advice.

Don Winslow, author of The Power of the Dog and other crime titles claims that he likes to work on two books at a time. If he’s stuck on one, he dives into the other; sooner or later he’ll finish both.

He also says the longest he has gone without writing after a book is completed is five days. He has a good excuse for all his productivity: writing is an addiction.

Writing is also an outlet for people, like me, who have spent an entire career in one profession. As a law enforcement professional I’ve see so much crazy, baffling, inspiring and troubling stuff that I can’t help but want to make sense of it. Stories are the best outlet.

And the possibilities are never-ending.

Outlining the Future

I now find myself outlining my next book. In some ways it surprises me, because it is not the story about the criminal justice system I began some years ago and then set aside to concentrate on my debut crime fiction, The Accidental Vigilante. You might think I’d pick up the slack on something already in process. But I’m inspired by the completion of my first novel and, in a sense, want to continue in that vein.

Yet who knows where I might be in a month from now. One thing or another may cause me to change course, or rearrange my priorities. I’ve already learned a great deal from colleagues and blogs. Clearly, there are some writers out there who have much to teach. And I’m hungry for knowledge.

Also, while getting started on the next book is exciting, one concept that rings some bells for me is this: Make the best of what you have.

In other words, there may be more that I can do with “Accidental” in this multiplatform era that we live in. Being published in one form or another —send me a note, which do you prefer: self-pub or traditional pub? — is the most important next step.  Yet …

Podcasts, TV and Film, even a video book teaser for “Accidental” may offer passage into the industry of storytelling by giving me more entry points. Public speaking engagements may also prove to be a gratifying part of my new career. I’ve already begun. I’m looking forward to more.

In closing, to sum it up, my take on “next” is this: do what you can and as much as you can to keep the creativity alive.  Sooner or later, someone will notice.


Robert Sterling Hecker

Crime fiction author: The Accidental Vigilante