Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Crazy of Writing a Sequel

The Paper Wait is thrilled to welcome Anna Staniszewski for this awesome guest post! Anna is busy preparing for the launch of her upcoming book, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail.

Now that my second book is almost out in the world, I can safely say that, in my experience, writing a sequel is a marathon of crazy. You find yourself having extreme, often-opposite feelings simultaneously during pretty much every step of the process. Here are some examples:

Scenario: You find out you’ve sold a sequel to your publisher.
Reaction 1 - Yay, I get to write another book!
Reaction 2 - Oh my, I have to write another book.

Scenario: You send the first draft to your editor.
Reaction 1 - Yay, I’m one step closer to having this book be done!
Reaction 2 - Oh my, I hope my editor doesn’t realize she’s made a huge mistake.

Scenario: You get a fan letter from a reader who can’t wait for the next book in the series.
Reaction 1 - Yay, people are reading my book and LIKING IT!
Reaction 2 - Oh my, what if readers are disappointed by the sequel?

And on and on and on. With each tiny accomplishment comes a dose of self-doubt and pressure—oh, the pressure! Of course, 99% of that pressure comes from you, but that doesn’t make it any less…pressuring.

Do I have any advice for how to deal with this crazy rollercoaster? Sort of. I have to say that digging into the manuscript and watching it grow stronger with every revision helped quell some of my fears. (It also helped that I had people like my husband reassuring me that if my editor hated my book, she would probably let me know.)

I think what really freed me up after the first draft was finished was the realization that I wasn’t having enough fun with the story. I wrote the first book in the series as a break from other projects, not thinking it would ever get published. Writing the second book under contract was a hugely different experience. If I could recapture some of the fun of the first book, maybe I would feel better about the second one. And you know what? Once I unleashed my inner wackiness, it helped make the process of writing the sequel a lot more enjoyable.

Now, I wouldn’t want anyone to think that I haven’t been truly appreciative for the opportunity to take my characters on more adventures. Or that writing the sequel has been a horrible experience. It’s certainly been a lot of work, but it’s been work that I’m quite proud of. And guess what? Now that the sequel is all ready to go, I get to (have to) do it all over again with the third book!

Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award.
Currently, Anna lives outside of Boston with her husband and their adopted black Labrador, Emma. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. Her first novel, My Very UnFairy Tale Life, was released by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky in November 2011. The sequel, My Epic Fairy Tale Fail, is coming on March 1, 2013. Visit for more info.


  1. Thank you so much for letting me stop by!

  2. Anna - thanks so much for stopping by. I love hearing about next steps in the wacky world of publishing. And I hope your journey continues to have fairytale endings (and beginnings and middles)!

  3. Thanks so much for this awesome guest post, Anna! There are so many roller coaster emotions in this crazy business of writing! I especially loved your reminder to "unleash my inner wackiness"! That is such an awesome phrase, and something I am sure it is easy to lose track of under pressure. :o)

  4. Good luck with your sequel, Anna! I feel in my bones that it will be a good one!

  5. Anna, Thank you for posting. I can understand how writing a sequel could make you nervous and self-doubt could crush your "voice." Glad you solved the problem. Here's a virtual toast to your success!

  6. Anna- thanks for the insightful post on what it's like to write a sequel. I hope to use your advice in the near future- first I have to work on book number one! Through all the ups and downs, your hard work is paying off!

  7. Anna,
    I love your comment about capturing your inner wackiness. If we could all strategically direct that fun into our writing, we would be better writers.
    I do wonder about your revision process -- did it change much from book one to the sequel?
    Thank you so much for joining us here. Good luck with the books. And keep in touch -- stop by and see us if you're in NJ!

  8. Thanks for the lovely comments, everyone!

    Julie, my revision process did change quite a bit for the sequel. Since I was writing the book on deadline, I had to make the process as efficient as possible. I wound up spending a lot more time outlining and working on the synopsis than I usually do; that way I was more focused once I started working on the actual manuscript.

  9. Ah efficiency. I could use more of that. Very interesting -- necessity drives us well at times. Thanks Anna.