The Ward (Downside Book 2)

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One birth experience took place in an old-world hospital where she stayed on a ward, a large room housing up to a dozen patients. This hospital boasted a relatively thin staff, a skimpy food service, and relatively few amenities. The other birth took place in a state-of-the-art U. Had some problem arisen with her labor and delivery, there is little doubt that the U. However, both births proceeded uneventfully. So which birth experience did she prefer? Many of my colleagues in medicine naturally assume that she would choose the women's hospital back in the States.

It offers second-to-none medical technology, world-class health professionals, and out-of-this world creature comforts that leave many patients feeling more thoroughly pampered than at any other time in their lives. Yet when asked where she would prefer to have her next baby, she replies unhesitatingly that she would opt for the old world hospital. There she felt less alone. She could talk and bond with other patients. She felt like part of a community of mothers.

Over the past century, the architecture of the American hospital has undergone a dramatic transformation. At one time, patients were generally housed in open wards, where each was aware of what was happening with the others and conversations between patients were common.

Then wards were replaced with smaller rooms, generally occupied by two patients. In both situations, privacy could be difficult to sustain, in part because doctors and nurses seeking to preserve privacy could often do little more than pull a curtain.

Today, the ward is ancient history and the double room is fast going the way of the dinosaurs. Hospitals being built today feature private rooms. Nobody wants to lose sleep due to a roommate's television viewing or snoring. Yet sometimes our zeal for privacy gets the better of us, short-circuiting opportunities for compassion and community.

It is hard to be ill and in pain, especially seriously so, but such burdens are often magnified when we shoulder them alone.

When the poet John Donne famously wrote that "No man is an island," he was not making a purely descriptive statement. He was also highlighting our powerful need for companionship -- someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, and a human being to share our experiences with.

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Typically, the events taking place in hospitals represent experiences when we need one another most. In some respects, hospitals increasingly resemble high-security prisons, where we go out of our way to preclude patients from interacting. In our haste to control infections, we isolate them.

Hope all is well. Hi Sue - I love that phrase, and it describes us so well 'Howling alone in the wind'! This is such an interesting and important topic to raise, and I want to mention another point. V, you felt able to make such a strong demand because you are not a first-time author desperate to be published at any cost which I was, and I am sure I am not alone!

I cannot imagine that when I got my book deal I would have said "No" to anything at all. Would a literary agent have advised me to? What are agents' opinions on the 2-book deal? Does it depend on the agent? I think you made a very wise decision, because you know yourself, you have several books under your belt, you don't "need" what a 2-book deal represents in the best-case scenario.

Thanks for bringing this out into the open! I think a two-book deal is one I would go for as an author with a publisher I'm happy to be with. We don't offer two-book deals at Ward Wood, and authors are free to leave for their next book. Some contracts actually tie authors into offering first refusal for the next book, and we don't do that either. The negatives you're mentioning do depend on what the publisher would actually want. They might not want a tight deadline on the second book. They may want to let you take the time you need to write it well, and there may be the help of an editor to get it as good as it can possibly get.

I know people without two-book deals and I also have a friend with a major publisher who does have a two-book deal. I'm sure he wishes he had a three-book deal as he could relax and concentrate on writing, safe in the knowledge that he didn't have to go hunting for a publisher. It no doubt also helped him get paid work related to being with such a high profile publisher, so he didn't have the same problem balancing paid work and writing.

So, what are the pros to using instant booking?

As for the question about 'What if it's a bestseller and you could get paid more by a new publisher? So I don't think I'd begrudge putting a second book with a publisher who has put in the investment in time and money to help me achieve that. My friend is, in my opinion, as good as McEwan, but it's not easy for mid-list authors and you can still feel like a well kept secret. The risk is that now his two-book deal is over they may not take a third book, so he was much happier while he was able to write and not worry about that. He still wrote an excellent second book - better than the first.

Quite a few writers are already well into a second book by the time they find a publisher for the first one, so the two-book deal is good. As I remember, the major publisher gave my friend years to write the second book - I'm not sure if there was a deadline and how long it was. The editor was fantastic, he says. A lot also depends on the author's financial situation. It's incredibly hard balancing earning a living, perhaps being the main wage earner in your family without a high income, and finding time to write.

A two-book deal is then a good choice, and helps you get other kinds of work around it such as teaching and giving talks. A two-book deal gives you time to establish yourself even if it's hard for the publisher to get high sales from your first book. It means they invest more time and money on you as an author, giving you more time to try to become that bestseller or established name.

The Ward (Downside, book 2) by S L Grey

Hi Tania - thanks for such good points. To address the first - the bit about first timers 'desperate to be published at any cost' - I think that's the writer I would most like to talk to, through this discussion. To ask them to consider, at least, the pros and cons of multiple book deals for themselves, so that in the happy event of a publisher waving chequebooks about Ha!! You ask what agents think It was interesting to find two such brilliant and useful blogs see main post above , both written by literary agents, airing this topic.

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Both of them seem to be sensitive to the potentially damaging effect of the pressure of the TBD on the second book, from experience. My own agent listened, and did exactly the right thing as far as I am concerned. He represented my interests as a writer and not only the interests of my bank balance! The two can be at odds with each other, as I know only too well. And my book is a literary one -maybe with commercial leanings.

So the model of single deal is more normal, it seems. It was interesting to read about the genre difference here - and having just celebrated remotely with Jane Holland, her three book deal for romance novels - it began to make sense. I am sure the good agent thinks of it as a case of 'horses for courses' - and gets the best deal for their client, taking their future career into account.


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It can't be simply a question of getting as big a cheque as he can, without considering what might be best fit for that particular writer. Or can it??? I used to be an editor at one of the big publishing houses, and we would always tend to go for two-book deals - we thought it was better for us and better for the author and it showed our commitment to the author's career.

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But from an author's perspective, I can see how that could feel stifling. My advice to authors in a two-book deal is always to start the second book before publication of the first - otherwise pressures from all angles reviews, sales figures, prizes or the lack thereof, and even your publisher's schedule can mount up and take away from the creative space you had when writing your first novel. But I think the second book is harder than the first anyway, regardless of whether you have a contract for it or not - you had your whole life to write the first and then only a year or two to deliver the second.

Not easy. Now I run a digital short story publishing house and we only do one-offs, which makes things easier! Thank you for joining in, and for giving the publisher's viewpoint. Adele - I am interested to hear about your colleague who has completed it looks like his two book deal - and is now finding it tough to concentrate on number three, in the knowledge that the existing publisher might not take the book I understand that. But you then go on to imply that those first two books have not sold as well as their author might like. So isn't that a perfect case where he might relish the thought of submitting to a fresh publisher, through his agent?

The chance to work with fresh marketing initiatives - rather than submit book 3 to the same old same old? Or is that naive? I also dont follow this: "It no doubt also helped him get paid work related to being with such a high profile publisher, so he didn't have the same problem balancing paid work and writing. Thank you for raising the issue of the writer's financial circumstances.

Obviously, being given a future stream of income might make all the difference to the genesis of a book - where the writer needs to 'buy' time to write. And it is interesting to see Clare's point about the writers in her old publishing house being advised to have already started on book 2, while book 1 is on the publishing production line. I believe, but am not sure, Gappah had done that very thing - and it was still an issue for her. But it is lovely to know about the commitment to writer-careers - and that it is not all commercial decision-making!

My friend is with one of the very best publishers so he'd want to stay with them. I'm not sure if the worry over whether they'll take book number 3 hinders him from writing, but I certainly know I can focus more on writing if I have a publishing deal. I think any worry can stop us writing and it's nice to feel secure then sit back and concentrate on our books.

There's nothing wrong with what his publisher is doing, so he's not unhappy with that. He seems to love the way they work with him. It's not easy to get books into shops and to establish an author as one of the best known names. Bookshops only take a book for a season and then the book is old news, unless you're an established bestseller, so you have very little time to make that impact.