I have heard of the legendary sophomore syndrome which afflicts those who’ve written a well received debut novel, only to find themselves struggling to do it again with their second.
Honestly, I didn’t think that would be me. I had a great idea for a second novel. Began to write away, was nailing the voice and the story and even making myself laugh out loud.
Then I submitted my sample chapters and got a call from my agent and publisher saying, “We need to talk.”
Not the words you want to hear after submitting a story. Turns out it was too different than Crossing Oceans and really more of a YA (young adult) novel. I knew they were right so I happily (well tolerantly) went back to the drawing board.
I submitted an idea for a different novel. They loved it. Hooray. Six months later I had a book that I had written so fast I had no idea if it was brilliant or crap, though I strongly suspected it was somewhere in between. It might not be my best work, I rationalized, but if it’s the worst book I deliver in my career I’ll be doing well.
Not the right attitude.
So I get another, “We need to talk.” Now, I’m looking at a major rewrite. Apparently I’m not above the sophomore syndrome. I am however blessed enough to have an agent and publisher who won’t let me slide by with a mediocre follow up. I’ve seen a few novelists who weren’t so lucky and their careers have suffered for them.