That All Important Second Book.

This week has been full of those funny little co-incidences that crop up in life from time to time. You know the sort? When you haven’t heard of something for ages, then all of a sudden it’s all around you, everywhere you look?

Well, for me this past week has been a constant array of discussions about ‘that all important second book’. I chatted with a writer who is plotting her second novel and said, ‘It’s such a worry. What if I can’t do it again?’ When I told an old neighbour I bumped into the release date of my book two she said, ‘You must be terrified! What if people prefer your first?’ I read a Reuters article on Jamie Ford where he expressed his nerves at ‘the high level of expectation’.

My second is already written. Yet, I was starting to wonder – should I be worried? Should I approach this new release with trepidation? Hmmm. I tried to look at the positives – the book has been beta read, subject to re-writes, and will be professionally edited and polished. Surely that is enough to give me confidence in my work?  

Apparently ‘Second Novel Syndrome’ is a well known phenomenon where some authorsapproach their second book with disquiet anxiety. They bite their nails throughout the writing process, question their own judgement, then suffer nerves on the run up to release in fearful anticipation of those first reviews…

OK, I would never compare myself to those best-selling writers whose books have been translated into a plethora of different languages and distributed worldwide. I was not dogged by deadlines with the weight of the world’s expectation at my door, whilst writing my second. However, contractual obligations aside, I think all authors, no matter their publishing preference, feel some of that pressure when they write their follow up.  We constantly strive to make every piece of work better than the last, right? But what it shouldn’t do is to stunt your creativity.

So, here are my top 5 tips for kicking ‘second novel syndrome’ into touch:

1.      Write because you love it. Not because you have a deadline, contractual or self made. If you enjoy the process then you are likely to produce results that you are happy with.

2.      Have the book beta read by honest, independent critics’; give their feedback due consideration and polish, re-work, re-write until you are completely satisfied it’s your best work.

3.      Experiment with different ideas. Some will work, others won’t, but the fun is in the game of trying.

4.       When your work is done, move on and absorb yourself in the next project.

5.     Don’t sweat the reviews. Reading is subjective – it’s impossible to please everybody.

I hope these help a little. I’m off to immerse myself in book three. Have a great week, everyone, and happy writing!




6 thoughts on “That All Important Second Book.

  1. Wise words as always, Jane. Thanks for sharing. I’m immersed in #2 even as we speak and trying not to dwell on all that I know needs fixing – and that’s before my editorial team get hold of it, let alone real live readers. I think cracking on with #3 is exactly the right strategy!

  2. I like your approach to dealing with this issue, it’s too bad I can’t apply it now. After I get the first book out there, I hope I remember to look back at this for the next one.

  3. Ugh…I have this anxiety with every book, especially when the book is in a series because I don’t want to disappoint the fans. It definitely helps to do what you love, and put out the best book you can. Thanks for the great tips Jane!

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