The Best is Yet to Come: Why Your First Book Probably Won't be Your Best, blog post by Emma Strandberg for the book marketing agency Palamedes PR

The Best is Yet to Come: Why Your First Published Book is Not Always Your Best


It’s taken months, even years, to write. But is an author’s first book likely to be their best? In the latest of her exclusive blogs for PRscribe, the acclaimed travel writer and photographer Emma Strandberg reflects on this key question and on the evolution of her own writing.

Emma’s previous posts on writing include From Wanderlust to Words; It’s the Journey that Counts; The Evolution of Book Publishing, and Emma Strandberg on her Gruelling Publishing Journey.

The acclaimed travel writer, Emma Strandberg, writes a post for the Palamedes PR publishing and marketing blog, PRscribe

“The journey to becoming a published author is both thrilling and challenging. As writers, we pour our hearts and souls into our debut novels, hoping to make a mark in the literary world.

However, it’s essential to recognise that the first book we publish is not necessarily our best work. Throughout my own publishing journey, I have learnt that it’s okay to embrace the personal growth and evolution that comes with each subsequent book even if a part of that learning curve is acknowledging mistakes I have made in my earlier work. With a tinge of embarrassment, I nonetheless congratulate myself for having come as far as I have. My second book was much better than my first, though still not perfect. I felt, and still feel, that I have so much more to give. For me, time and financial restrictions dominate each project, and it is only now, as I work on the final edits of my third novel, that I feel I have discovered my unique voice and style as an author. It has taken time and practice to refine my skill and develop a distinct writing voice. The more I write, the more I gain a deeper understanding of my strengths and weaknesses, allowing me to further improve and evolve.

Publishing a book is a learning experience. I chose the self-publishing route to getting my books “out there”. I continually learn more about the publishing industry, the editing process, and the expectations of readers. The feedback I receive, both positive and constructive, helps me to understand what resonates with my audience. I try to become more adept at exploring new ideas and themes. My own creativity expands, and I feel as though I gain enough confidence to take risks. Armed with this knowledge, I can make informed decisions and improve my storytelling with each new book.  

I feel that each book I have so far written represents a balance sheet of who I was at that moment in my writing journey“.

– Emma Strandberg (pictured above)

In the future I plan to try to experiment with different styles and narrative techniques. My genre is travel-memoir and although I don’t plan to change that, I have so much raw material that I have amassed over the past forty years of travelling that my future works will undoubtedly see me push the boundaries of storytelling, resulting in richer and more nuanced narratives. Writing is a skill that improves with practice. Be it crafting characters, creating engaging plots, or mastering the art of pacing. With each book, we can all hone our skills, ultimately producing more captivating stories. As we mature, both in age and in our careers, our perspectives, experiences, and interests change over time, and this is reflected in our work. I feel that each book I have so far written represents a balance sheet of who I was at that moment in my writing journey. Embracing this evolutionary journey has allowed me to celebrate the progress I’ve made while encouraging me to raise to the challenge of future projects. I am still confined by the limitations of writing time verses income but will not let the practicalities of life affect my literary evolution. As John Grisham once said when asked what advice he would give to an aspiring author – “Pursue a real profession first and write as a hobby. Very few aspiring writers survive on words alone.”

My first published book will always hold a special place in my heart. While I admit freely that it was in no way my best work, I poured my heart and soul into it. As I continue to write and publish books, I marvel at the invaluable feedback I have received from readers. A hugely successful book blog tour for my second book Where the f**k is Blönduòs? arranged by Palamedes PR catapulted my writing to a larger audience and I am determined to now deliver to them my best work. My third book, due out later this year, is a book I have dreamed of writing for over a decade. It is the book that I am not tired of editing, and which continues to make even me laugh as I re-read it for the hundredth time. So, fellow writers, let us celebrate our writing journey and eagerly embrace the future, knowing that our best work is yet to come.

Emma Strandberg books sitting side by side on a table

Emma Strandberg is a widely-read author and accomplished photographer.

Her travel memoir Where the F**k is Where the F**k is Blönduós was described as a “triumph of travel writing and a masterpiece of memoir” by The Sun. Her brilliant first book, Fully Booked, recounts her experiences as a new B&B owner on the freezing west coast of Sweden.

For further information about Emma’s work, visit her website:

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