Second Book Woes

Also known as the sophomore slump in other industries, it’s equally a phenomenon in the writing industry where authors feel less than enthusiastic or motivated or confident about writing their second book.

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Maureen Fisher, an author friend of mine, for lunch last week when she was in town visiting her new grandson. We’ve known each other for over 10 years from my time immersed in the romance writing community in Ottawa. It was great to reminisce about the road trip we took together to a writing retreat (which coincidently was the experience that prompted me to create my own writing retreat in the mountains) and about the fictional characters we’ve developed over the years.

Maureen and I talked about how difficult it is to write a romance novel when we are limited to the expected happily ever after ending. We talked about how difficult it is to stay focused on writing your book when there are so many other things in life competing for your attention, even as a full-time writer who doesn’t run a business on the side. And, we talked about the second book, and how difficult it is to get it out of your head and into the world. Let’s explore why that is…

It Means More This Time

I have seen it with my clients and I know this to be true for myself—the second book is generally a more meaningful topic. The first book can often be the catchall of your expertise, the overview of your knowledge, your personal life story as a legacy you leave behind. The second book is written with a more narrow and clear purpose. It often requires more thought, more research, more introspection. The first book has usually been brewing in your psyche for a decade and the second book now has to be created out of nothing in mere months.


There’s something about being told to color inside the lines that can set an artist off for weeks at a time. Having the weight of expectation on our shoulders, and knowing a publisher is waiting for our book, can set us into a rebellious temper-tantrum that would rival a two-year-old who doesn’t want to be rushed out the door while they try to tie their own shoes. And don’t be mistaken, entrepreneurs are as much artists as painters and poets because these business giants are inundated with brilliant new ideas every day and it is extremely difficult to pick one, promise it to an editor, and deliver on it when so many other shiny objects keep showing up.

Best Case and Worst Case

Ah, the inner critic. It’s just as difficult to silence the inner critic when your first book was a huge success and you are afraid you won’t measure up the second time, as it is if your first book was less than stellar in the sales department and you wonder if you just don’t have what it takes.

The constant here is that the inner critic will always find something to bitch about… you can’t depend on that part of your brain to rule your life or you’ll never get anywhere.

The good news is that if you’re suffering from the sophomore blues we can help you with accountability and silencing the inner critic. If you have written a book before, you know all the moving parts and may only need a shorter commitment from a writing coach. Don’t be a One Hit Wonder, we are here to help, just reach out.