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The Reluctant Sophomore

Guest blogger Paul Cavanagh - Humber grad and published author - gives us some insight into the challengers many writers face after publishing their first book. 

I’m thankful that people keep asking, “When’s your second book coming out?” I’m even more thankful that they still ask it with what sounds like eager anticipation rather than waning enthusiasm. My first novel, After Helen, came out in 2006, published by HarperCollins Canada no less. It had great reviews, including a rave in The Globe & Mail. It sold respectably. So, why has it taken me so long to put out my second?

Well, before I present my excuses, let me start off by saying that I finally have an answer. Spring 2015. My second novel will go on sale Spring 2015.

I actually started working on it before After Helen was released. I thought it would only take me a few years to complete. After all, I had dashed off After Helen in less than three years. It could only get easier, right?

Numerous abandoned drafts later it dawned on me that maybe the writing process wasn’t the same from book to book. First off, the story I was telling was different. It was taking me longer to discover what it was truly about and find the right voice to tell it. Secondly, I was different. My notion of how writing fitted into my life was changing.

It’s taken me several years to acknowledge my writing as something more than a private indulgence that I do outside my “important” work. After my first book came out, I took on a job as the director of a regional end-of-life care network. Writing my second book took a back seat. Eventually I became less reluctant to give it priority alongside other day-job projects, particularly once I started working as an independent consultant. It took me a while to get my head there, though. It required me to stop comparing myself to prolific authors who put out bestsellers every couple of years while working insane hours as doctors or lawyers.

I have also come to see writing a book as only part of my role as an author. When After Helen was released in Canada in 2006, I was a neophyte. The publishing process was something that happened to me. I’ve elected to publish independently this time around, which means taking on an active role in everything from marketing and promotion to overseeing editing, design, printing, and distribution. I’ve spent a fair chunk of time preparing for this expanded role.

It may have taken me longer than most to produce my second book, but as they say, better late than never. By this time next year, I hope the question will have changed to, “So, when is your third book coming out?”


Paul’s own imprint, Not That London, will be releasing After Helen outside Canada in November 2014. His second novel will be published worldwide (including Canada) in Spring 2015. For updates, sign up