Too much pressure??

This may be a somewhat controversial topic. And before I go into my thoughts I need to make a few things clear. I am in no way attacking/demeaning authors or their work. These are my own personal thoughts and opinions and I’m just voicing them, wondering if anyone else feels the same way. I am not in the publishing industry, nor am I a published author. So my point of view on this is mine alone and does not reflect the industry as a whole.

I’m starting to wonder if there’s some sort of a second book syndrome going on. I don’t mean this in the way as a second book in a series. I mean this as in the second book after an authors debut stand alone or series.  I made it a point a few years ago to discover more authors. I found that I kept sticking to the same people and wanted to broaden my horizons. And since doing that, I have to say,  the debuts I’ve read over the last few years have been incredible! I finish them and think to myself “How was that their first book?” Debut books/series have been quite impressive! I fell in love with what they wrote and how they wrote it, immediately becoming a fan. So when they come out with a new standalone or series I jump in head first. But lately, I’ve felt a little underwhelmed with their second books. And this makes me ask myself a few questions.

First question – Is it me? Am I expecting too much? I realize that I’m not going to love EVERYTHING an author produces. It’s only natural that I run into something that I can’t relate to. And when I read a debut that I love so much I wonder if I’m unintentionally comparing. It’s possible. Sometimes it’s hard to separate a story you associate with that author and it’s easy enough to compare. But somehow I don’t think that’s it.

But if it’s not me, then what is it? Here comes the second question: Is there too much pressure to produce once an author publishes a successful debut? I think this may be a little closer to the truth. See, the problems I’ve been having with the second books/series is that they feel unpolished – almost incomplete. They lack that sort of finesse, detail, wonder, and beauty that I felt in that first book. Here are a few examples:

 

These were not bad books! Not even close! So please don’t take that away from what I’m saying. But there was something, to me anyways, that missed the mark. They both stayed true to the things that originally drew me into their first books so, logically, these should have worked. But for me they seemed to lack that detail and finishing touch. They both felt a little forced and rushed. And that feeling of it being rushed, along with what I felt was missing, lead me to ask myself these questions.

Is the pressure coming from the author or the publisher? It seems that the average is to release a new book every year. From both perspectives they would want to keep up with that average to keep the author current and relevant. With the amount of books that are published within a years time, keeping your name at the forefront of readers minds would be something to strongly consider. Create interest, start hype and promotion, release, then begin again. But when you think about it – this average may not be the best for every author.

When that author wrote that first book, how long did they work on it? I know for most it was more than a year. They probably started with the idea, built a base, and edited for many years during their attempt to get published. They spent years working on that book, polishing the details and making it the perfection they always dreamed of. I have a good friend (who I’ve never actually met in person but I’ve talked to for over 11 years online) who has been working on her book for years. Last summer I was lucky enough to read that book and DAMN, it’s so good! My hopes for her to get published are sky high. And let me tell you, she deserves it! I read it a year ago and the details and characters are still so vivid in my mind. But I know roughly how much time she’s spent writing and editing that book and she hasn’t done it in the span of a year. ***SIDE NOTE*** Dear agents; please help Tarrowburn see the light of day! I desperately need this book physically on my shelf. She promised me a signed copy!! (If you’re interested, please visit L Ryan Storms website or her Twitter) ***ANOTHER SIDE NOTE*** Lorraine please don’t murder me for saying all of this!! LOL

So that’s what makes me wonder. Let’s say that the author spent 2-3 years working on that debut book. That’s a considerably larger amount of time than a year (or less when you take into account that it has to go to editing before it can even be published). That would account for the missing details. Now I know that once a person is published they have an entire publishing house behind them, giving them the tools they need to succeed. But I still think that pressure has become an issue at this point.

Have you experienced this version of “second book syndrome?” Do you feel as though there may be some pressure to quickly produce books? Am I looking to deeply on this?? It’s possible! I am pretty sleep deprived lately……… I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time, happy reading!

38 Comments Add yours

  1. I can totally see where you are coming from. It is hard to be a debut author and I can understand how there could be pressure. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amber says:

    You know, I don’t think authors would take offense to this post at all.

    One of my favorite authors, I’ve seen more than once, talking on Facebook about book pressure and living up to what the fans expect. This is an indie author, obviously, she’s self-published and has what would seem like less pressure put on her, I want to say she put out five books last year. Full-length novels, too. She puts out amazingly good books and I’ve never disliked one of hers, ever.

    My other favorite author, she is published, there is a ton pressure. Publishing company deadlines. She puts out a book maybe every six months to a year. Also, amazing books that I’ve read multiple times. People literally message her telling her it’s taking too long and wanting to know when the next book will be out. Uh, when it’s out. Have some patience.

    I have also seen authors who have amazing first books and just sort of lose their mojo on the second book, or sometimes it’s the third book. I tend to find that more with trilogies, actually. It’s like, “Well this all won’t fit in the second book, so let’s make a third.” Then when they make a third, it’s about 50% book, a jump in time, some more book, and then an epilogue years later. Still good, but usually has a lot of filler.

    As for how quickly, let’s go back to that first author I mentioned up there. She actually asked in her fan group the other day what people thought was a reasonable time frame for the next book in a series. People said FOUR MONTHS. FOUR. That might be a reason why things aren’t getting the same attention for second books. To me, four months is crazy. Someone said that six months was their max and the wait was just ridiculous after that. I’ll admit to boggling at some of the replies. Four months for quality work is just not realistic.

    Personally, I’ve been reading since I was 9. I’m 33 now. One of the series I’ve been reading, I started reading not long after I turned 18. It currently has 31 books in it. These are full-length books with 300 to 400 pages in them. When the series started, the books came out fast. Now, because the other writes other things as well, they are slower but she puts the same detail and attention into them, which is why I keep reading them.

    LONG comment short. 😛 I think the pressure is a real, living breathing, monster of a thing. I think there is pressure on any front when you write a book. It’s an author, putting their work out there for people to judge. Not just books though, anything in which someone puts a lot of time, work and effort into. You know they want to make it perfect for people and have them love it, especially it’s a second book, movie, etc etc.

    I could go on and on but I won’t. 😀 Great post, doll! You obviously got me thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t imagine the strain that self published authors feel. They are doing this all themselves. Building their name and fan base. The pressure they must feel is enormous! And what makes me even crazier is these people who self publish are no less relevant than published writers – but this is a whole other discussion that drives me crazy!! Another time lol

      The pressure from fans may even be worse than what the publishers or authors put on themselves. Like you’ve said, I’ve seen people literally angry that it takes a year for a book to come out. I realize that I’m not the most patient of people but come on!

      Though there are some people that just have it in them to pump out books and ideas with blinding speed and superior quality. Take Nora Roberts for example. How many books does she write in a year, under her own name or under a pen name? But yet I’ve never met a Nora Roberts book I didn’t like! Some people can write like mad while others it takes some time, yet the pressure is all the same. But four months for a full length novel – insanity!! I just can’t imagine!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very interesting post. I’ve also experienced this. And I agree, I don’t think authors would be offended because I think they are under tremendous personal and professional pressure to live up to their debut.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really do hope so. It would break my heart to offend an author. They pour so much of themselves into a book. I hate writing a review that isn’t positively glowing and hope they understand that there are many aspects at work why someone would love their book or just find it ok

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you’ll find that they have a pretty hard shell. And any feedback is usually appreciated. Of course there will always be the exception. Can’t please everyone right? 🙄

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Exactly!! Most authors get a hard shell from the many rejections during the attempts to get published. I’m not sure my skin could ever be that thick though!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I think, sadly, it’s true. I remember my favourite author saying that her advice to other writers would be to enjoy your success of publishing a book for a short time but then hurry onto the next project so you don’t get too backed up. If I think about that, then your post makes a ton of sense!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember reading something a long time ago that an author just chose to stop writing and didn’t read anything on social media or fan mail because it was just too much. It would be sad for something that they once found fun to turn into something that was more work than anything.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is really sad 😦 I hope to publish one day but I know it doesn’t come without it’s struggles

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I hope you get the chance to experience it! It goes from one set of struggles to another. But I think it would be worth it!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. kyera says:

    I completely agree, I think about how many years an author probably puts into their debut novel and it can’t compare to the 8 or 9 months they’re probably given for subsequent books. It’s tough, because as consumers we want the books as quickly as possible and the publishers know that – but at the same time I’m sure many would be willing to wait just a little bit more to get a book that was allowed to reach its full potential. Either way, great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! You said it perfectly – as a reader I wish I didn’t have to wait but I would much rather they take their time and make it what they intended than settle for something just to meet a deadline

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Beware Of The Reader says:

    I can relate to what you’re saying for authors working with a publishing house. That’s valid for most if not all YA books. It may also be the reason why some indie authors prefer remaining their own boss and avoid publishing houses.
    But I think the biggest pressure comes from the fans and from the author. When your book was a hit it must be very difficult to remain unaffected and true to yourself.
    My favorite author Amy Harmon in her interview told me you have to write what you love and for yourself. If you’re proud of what you’ve done then it’s the most important.
    I think her words are gold. It’s the same for us bloggers. We have to remain true to ourself even if we don’t gather many followers in doing so because we are maybe not in the norm or using the best “marketing” techniques.
    As long as the authors or bloggers do what they love and believe in I think they will always have done a good job.😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very well said. As long as the person creating is happy with what they’ve done that’s all that matters! Not everyone is going to like what you’ve written (book or blog form). It’s just not possible! But it’s always possible to please yourself! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I so so agree with this post. There is an incredible amount of pressure to put out quality work after initial success and it’s ridiculous how many people say that they can’t wait more then a few months for the next book in their favorite series… (personally I am willing to wait as long as an author needs… I need the best version that they are happy with putting out.. thank you)

    But it is also true about authors needing to stay relevant although Kristin Cashore for example hadn’t written a new book in YEARS and is finally coming out with a new one Jane, Unlimited in a few months! I’m so happy and excited for it!!! So long as I love an author they will always be relevant in my mind 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m more than willing to wait! Take all the time you need. I will be biting my nails and stalking their Goodreads for an announcement until then though! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You are 100% spot on for this, and it’s what terrifies new authors. There is an immense amount of pressure, not just from the publisher, but also from the readers, to produce a second work that will rival the quality of the first. But without putting the same amount of time and attention into it, it’s very hard to match the attention to detail.

    And thank you for the shameless plug. Love you, my friend! (Btw, I’m thinking of changing the name of Tarrowburn and using Tarrowburn as the name of the full trilogy…. Still mulling it over!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Tarrowburn trilogy has a really nice ring to it!! I like that for the name of the series. When you start thinking of the title for the book you know I’ll always be there to think it over with you!

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  9. What an interesting post! I don’t think I’ve ever paid attention to debuts/second books from authors so I can’t really say if I’ve been underwhelmed by any of them.
    But I can totally see where you’re coming from! And I do believe that there is pressure whether it be personal or from outsiders (publishers, editors, readers) and there might not be enough time to develop the second book with as much detail as the authors did with their debut novels!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I think this holds a lot of truth. It’s really hard to come good and the pressure is immense, I imagine. I know in the music industry they always talk about the tricky third album so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the second book syndrome was an actual thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. mikaela says:

    Oh, yeah, I’m sure that authors feel pressure from their publishing authors. I follow V.E. Schwab on Twitter, and she talks a lot about writing and how the publishing industry works, and I remember she mentioned that nothing is definite. That even if you’re picked up by a publishing house for one book or series, it doesn’t mean they’ll bring you back for another depending on the sales. And I can’t imagine how stressful it is for debut authors who get into the Big 5. Writing is an art just like any other, and I know that actors, musicians, and singers also feel pressure as well, so I’m not surprised, I guess!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh really? I had no idea that a publishing company could choose not to pick up your next book! I was under the assumption that if you’re published by them that’s who you stick with. Kind of like the music industry. I literally know nothing about publishing as a whole lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. mikaela says:

        Yeah, it’s actually really interesting! As a blogger, I’ve noticed that some authors have several different publishers – like Adam Silvera’s first two books were under Penguin, but They Both Die At the End is under HarperTeen. Very interesting!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Huh! I’m going to have to start paying attention to that! It is very interesting!

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Definitely, and I definitely think that’s the case. An author’s debut has been in the works for years (maybe even a decade!) so it’s bound to be good!
    The second book will usually be released under pressure from both the publishers and fans, I guess. Everyone wants to read more from their favorite author, after all!
    So yeah, rarely are they as good. There are many exceptions, thankfully, but I believe those come from experienced authors rather than newcomers. It takes something extra to work under pressure and still deliver awesome content.
    Loved your post! Was super relatable 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes there are exceptions. I’m just not a writer myself (considered it but there’s just no time!) so it’s hard to form an opinion without being a part of it. Fans seem to cause the worst amount of pressure. But as long as they’re happy with what they’re producing that’s all that matters!

      Like

  13. Great post and I can totaly relate. I have just signed a contract this week for my first book to be published with a sequel in the works. The first book “Reckless Beginnings” took seven years to write but the idea of the book had been spinning around in my head for fourteen years prior, before putting pen to paper. My contract for the first book is for two year and they would like the sequel completed by then. The pressure is on yes.. will i be able to do it. I will not submit anything that is below my standards. If it takes a littler longer I will make sure it was worth the wait. I’m super excited about my book debut but also a bundle of nerves. Funny I just posted about my emotions regarding this topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow congratulations! That’s fantastic! I can’t imagine what an author goes through once they get a publisher. Like you said, you spend years working on the first book, and then you get a fraction of that time to work on book two. I hope they give you the tools you need to be successful! Best of luck! I’m glad to hear that you’re comfortable with it taking longer. As much as readers want the next book now, most of us would appreciate if it takes longer and is something the author is really happy with!

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  14. I’m a true believer in quality over quantity. This is all new to me . I’m still in that “shock awe” mode that I’m going to be published. I want to stick to my work ethnics and not allow them to be changed due to the pressure from a publisher to produce more works. It truly does show when a writer has been rushed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope shock and awe mode lasts a long while 🙂 enjoy it! I much prefer quality over quantity. I don’t care if I have to wait years. I will know that the author put their all into it

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Reblogged this on Tina Hogan Grant (Author) and commented:
    This subject matter is something I’m dealing with at this present moment with the fact that I have a sequel to write “Better Endings” within two years. But as mentioned in this post I firmly believe in quality over quantity. If it takes a little longer to complete I will make sure it was worth the wait

    Liked by 1 person

  16. As an author, I think it might be the assurance of publication. I work really hard on my writing because I know it has very little chance of getting published so I want to give myself the best shot. If I’d already had a successful book and knew that I would get accepted, I might be tempted to be lazy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think that it would turn into laziness at all. I have many writer friends who have had years to rework their manuscripts but then when put into a time constraint I don’t think you have the ability to work a second the way you would the first. And as you move on and write more it would become easier for you to get to the end goal you want to accomplish in a shorter period of time. Practice makes perfect right?! Wishing you the best of luck with getting published in the future!!

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