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!