Wikipedia defines the sophomore slump as, “an instance in which a second effort fails to live up to the standards of the first effort.”
Like say, the second book of your series, which is about to release in, ohhhhh, maybe TWO DAYS.
Are you afraid of the sophomore slump?
Over a year ago, I talked about the fear of releasing your debut novel (or the demons, in my case, haha) and that was a terror in and of itself. The thing with writing your second novel is now you have a standard—now you have an established world, characters, and rules you have to abide by and hope you can write a sequel to that world as well as the first.
With a first novel, you had plenty of time to sit there, mull it over, rewrite, ponder the arc, motivations, conflicts, etc. The possibilities were endless. Then you pitch it to an agent or editor (or maybe you self-publish and you hire one), they accept it, and it goes through another round of analysis.
With your second, you have a deadline (whether strict or self-imposed) and you move through the story a little faster. You might not analyze it as much since now this fantasy world is very realistic in your mind and your characters are so vivid they’re practically your friends. You suffer, celebrate, weep, and rage with them as you flesh out their experiences. When I try to explain this phenomenon to my husband, I describe it as a trance-like state that becomes stronger and stronger the more you delve into the fantasy world you’ve created.
Frankly, it’s a virtual high.
And for some reason, this ease sparks a wee bit of anxiety in me.
Can the second novel be read as a standalone, so new readers can join the fray?
You hope so, or at least I do.
Can new readers still understand the world, characters, and setting without having to info dump like no tomorrow?
Maybe? *forces confidence into voice* Yes.
Does it have the same energy, passion, and flavor as the first? Did you take it up a notch for your loyal readers and give them something to squee about?
These were the questions I asked myself when I wrote a sequel. It needs to be a standalone, have a smooth transition, and pack a bigger punch—not enough to knock your loyal readers out, but to blow ‘em away a little, and to attract new readers.
And this is what I hope to achieve this week when BLACK BULLET releases. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ll be riddled with anxiety and checking Amazon and Goodreads a bazillion times a day for a good while afterward, but I hope it’s everything my readers hope for when they one-click that buy button and venture into the dark world I’ve created.
For those who’ve written a sequel, what did you fear most? Were you afraid of a sophomore slump and how did you get past that fear to write another awesome book?
Regardless, it’s on to the next one. And I can’t wait to dive back in. 😀
But in the meantime…
* * *
L.D. Rose is a neurotic physician by day, crazed writer by night, and all around wannabe superhero. She writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but she’s been known to delve into horror, sci-fi, and medical suspense on occasion. L.D. Rose is a PAN member of the RWA, FF&P, NEC-RWA and CoLoNY. She currently lives in Rhode Island with her studly hubby, her hyperactive boxer, and her two devious cats.
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Reblogged this on L.D. ROSE and commented:
Talking about the Sophomore Slump at the SMP blog!
There’s only one way to avoid the anxiety–don’t look back. Sounds too simple, but it works. Once your work is out in the world, it’s out of your hands. I’ve always contended that my second fantasy novel was, by far, the best of the three, and yet the sales for it are lower than the first and third. You just never know what string of events is going to make a book do better, or worse, than others. Just keep writing the best books you can, and stop checking over your shoulder. And your stats.
You’re absolutely right, Terri. I just have to keep looking forward (but stop looking at my stats, yet I can’t resist, LOL). Thanks for the pep talk, I really needed it! ❤
Love the Alec Baldwin GIF 🙂 Solstice was my 2nd book and not related to Twin Flames (Forever Flames came out later) I think I just had the regular anxiety. Not sure I had even heard of the sophomore slump at that time – I was still pretty green.
You have nothing to worry about with Black Bullet – you did a great job, incorporating the previous characters but making it a stand alone with strong lead characters. It’ll be a hit for sure.
Terri’s right – stop looking at stats – you’ll drive yourself crazy. Reviews, too – just let it go, it’s out of your control and not worth making yourself crazy. Check once a month or so and leave it at that and keep on writing… ❤
Thank you, Debbie! ❤ I'm going to try my hardest to stop staring at Amazon, LOL. And the Alec GIF is perfect, isn't it? Haha! 😀
YES, I can relate!!! Why do you think I wrote a Christmas novelette AND an entirely different novel with a new cast of characters and new setting last year?!! And a new children’s picture book?! 😉 I’ll answer that. I was avoiding my sequel to THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS for many of the reasons you mentioned.
I feared the sophomore slump, having it live up to the two awards I won for my debut, making sure it could be read as a standalone without too much backstory, creating the same cool characters and adding new ones, and more. Agony. Currently, I’m hovering around 97k with no end in sight, so I will have Book 2 and Book 3 in this series. That actually calms me a bit. I have TWO MORE CHANCES to get it right!!
I’m sure BLACK BULLET will be fabulous. Congrats on staying on track with such a crazy, busy career!
P.S. I’m right there with you obsessively checking stats and reviews… Cheers.
I’m totally with you, Beth! And I’m glad I’m not the only one, LOL. I’m sure your sequel will be awesome as well, and like you said, you can always break it up into a few more novels. 😉 Thank you for chiming in!
Alec has the right solution! I’m working on the second of a three-book series. Book one was great fun and I have book two nearly finished and a quick and dirty outline of book three in my head–BUT I am stuck in self-doubt Hell with book 2!! This blog is just what I needed to read–to know I’m not the only one 🙂 Thanks!!
I can totally relate, Sorchia! But I managed to git’er done and now it’s time to set it free. And your definitely not the only one! Thanks for chiming in and letting me know I’m not alone. 😀
I understand the anxiety, Ben and I left Mabel Bunt with such a cliffhanger, we were under an obligation to write and produce the goods in a timely manner. The horrible sense of doubt and impostor syndrome was the same the second time around; just as nasty and wet and cold as ever.
It’s still that way with Mabel Bunt three
I definitely can relate, Rhissianna! Especially on the imposter syndrome front. I deal with it at both my day job and writing. I’m sure you’ll both do great, though! ❤
Thanks for stopping by!