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As I’m sure most of you know, despite popular belief outside of the publishing world, it’s common knowledge amongst writers that most times, the first novel you write will not be the first novel you get published—that the debut novel is very rarely the first novel the author ever wrote, it’s just the first to hit the shelves.
With that in mind, one of you wonderful readers asked how you choose which story to write first, especially when you know the first novel you write will likely remain unpublished.
Now that’s a bit of a tricky question, because while it’s true that something like 95% of the time, that first novel will end up trunked and likely later be referred to as a practice novel, that doesn’t mean you have to mentally doom your first novel to be just a practice novel.
What I mean is this—yes, chances are that first novel is going to be a practice novel and it’s not unlikely that your second and third novels may also end up in the drawer, however, you should still believe in every novel you write. You should still love the idea and the characters and be passionate about your story before you commit it to paper, even if you know it’s probably not going to get published.
I’m going to take it a step further, and you can feel free to disagree with me here, but who cares if your story is going to get published? Knowing that it’s probably not going to see the limelight doesn’t mean you have to love that story any less than the ones with publishing potential. Just because 95% of authors don’t get their first book published doesn’t mean you should treat your first novel like a throwaway book before you’ve even written it.
I guess what I’m saying is this: just because you’re pretty sure your first novel isn’t going to be the one, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat it like it might be. Because no, most writers don’t get their first novel published, but that doesn’t mean it never happens. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. That doesn’t mean your first novel is doomed before you even start.
But if you treat it like it’s doomed? Well, then you’re just setting yourself up for a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because it won’t be nearly as good the story you might have written had you believed in it in the first place.
I hope this doesn’t sound harsh, because I don’t mean it to be. All of this is just a long way of saying that if you have multiple ideas for a first novel and you love them all enough to eventually turn into a book and you’re worried about automatically dooming the first book into the drawer before you even begin—don’t. Don’t worry about publishing, or what’s going to happen to the book when you’ve finished, or if you’ll ever be able to get an agent with it, or if it’ll sell a single copy online. Don’t worry about any of those things, in fact; don’t even think about those things.
Just write the book that you want to write and worry about the rest later. For now, just enjoy the ride.
What do you think about writing the first novel? I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips.