How To Battle Second/Next Book Stress

By on September 21, 2016

The first book is difficult to write. Many writers think the second book will be easier.

It isn’t.

With the second book, there are expectations from readers.

The expectations might be good. Readers loved the first book. The book was a run away success or critically acclaimed. They expect the second book to be even better. OMG…what if it isn’t? What if readers hate the next book? What if you’re a one hit wonder? What if you never best that first book?

The expectations might be bad. Readers hated the first book. You have a collection of 1 star reviews that rival mine. The harshness is extreme. They hope the next book will be better, say they’ll give you one more chance. OMG…what if the second book is the same? What if you blow that second chance? What if you’ll never be good enough?

The most likely expectation is readers have no expectations. They didn’t read the first book. There are no reviews, not many sales. OMG… what if they don’t read the second book? What if the second book doesn’t have a strong enough hook? What if you’re a craptastic writer, destined to never have a readership?

Rationally, we know this is all bullshit. We’re creating art. Some readers will hate the next book. Some readers will love it. If our second book is different from the first, readers will assume that the third book will be different also and give us another chance. Sales have more to do with marketing than with the quality of the book or the strength of the writing.

But humans aren’t rational beings and writing is definitely not a rational exercise. Second or next book stress is very real. It’s one of the reasons there are so many one book writers in Romanceland. Success in writing is as much psychological, knowing how our own unique brains work, as it is about talent or skill.

The number one way to beat second/next book stress is to write the first draft of that second story before the first story releases. Almost every successful writer will advise you to ‘Write the next book.” This is one of the reasons why we’re given this advice.

Jumping Barrel, the Freebie cyborg story, is ready to be released now. I’m not releasing it now, however, because I don’t have the first draft of Theirs To Command, the next story, written. (I’ll have it written by December.) Having that one story buffer eliminates almost all of the next book stress for me. It makes writing much more enjoyable.

But-but-but the first story has already released. What do I do now?

What works for me is going into the writing cave and pretending the first story DIDN’T release, acting as though I’m starting from nothing. I once made up another pen name (privately) and told myself I would release my story under that name, simply to fool my brain into thinking there were no reader expectations.

I’ll turn off social media. I’ll stop obsessively checking book rankings (Admit it. You do it. Almost all of us do.) I won’t respond to my writer email. I’ll create the illusion that no one is waiting for the next book.

I’ll also give myself permission to write shit. My first drafts are always a mess. And I’m in good company.

“The first draft of anything is shit.” – Ernest Hemingway

“My first drafts are filled with lurching, cliched writing, outright flailing around.” – Jennifer Egan

“I’ll vomit out the first draft.” – Nora Roberts

Sometimes I’ll write a short story or flash fiction, simply to put a buffer between my latest release and my next longer story. Sometimes I’ll participate in writing sprints with other writing buddies. The speed doesn’t allow my brain time to worry about whether or not the current scene is ‘the best ever.’

The trick is to try multiple tricks until something works, until something feels natural. You get sucked into the story and forget about everything else.

What are your tricks to beat second/next book stress?


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Wild. Free. Hers.

Mayhem has spent his lengthy lifespan obeying the Humanoid Alliance’s rules. Finally free from their cruel control, the cyborg warrior plans to cause chaos. He infiltrates a remote settlement, provokes the savage locals until they want him dead, and allows himself to be captured by the sexiest little Retriever he has ever laid his mechanically-enhanced eyes on.

Imee’s sole mission in life is to keep her family alive. To do this, she must hunt rebels, returning them to the Humanoid Alliance’s evil clutches where they will be executed. She doesn’t allow herself to feel anything for her targets…until she meets a tall, muscular cyborg with wild hair and even wilder eyes.

With his sure hands, laughing lips and erotic holds, Mayhem makes Imee’s body sizzle and her resistance melt. Their love is doomed. She must deliver the warrior to his death or she’ll place her family’s safety at risk. But she can’t resist him.

Imee soon discovers that Mayhem, life, and love are never predictable.

Chasing Mayhem is Book 6 in the Cyborg Sizzle series and is a STANDALONE story.
It is also a BBW Cyborg SciFi Romance.

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One response to “How To Battle Second/Next Book Stress”

  1. Jannie says:

    However you reach the finished product, your stories consistently pulls me into depths of emotions unsurpassed by most of the authors I read.
    To me, that is success!

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