Advice from the Archives: Second Book-itis: 5 Tips for Writing Your Second Book

Second book-itis: a painful and demoralizing syndrome common among authors who wish to produce a second book after their first success.

Here’s how it works:

After three years of writing, polishing and shopping around your prize manuscript, you finally get “the call” from an editor wanting to publish your book. Break out the Champagne, baby!  Now you’re a real author.

But before your newborn book even hits the shelves, your editor starts asking about your next project. She loved your manuscript so much, she wanted more! This is great, right?

No problem—it only took you a couple years and multiple meetings with your writing group to come up with the first idea. Surely you can produce another one in a few weeks. No pressure. Oh wait. A whole lot of pressure. Can’t think. Let brilliance happen immediately!

Uh-oh…you may be heading for a bad case of second book-itis.

Five things to remember if you are currently suffering from this syndrome:

  1. You’re not alone. Every author who has written a second book feels your pain. Even your favorite author probably struggled with her second book. It’s almost a rite of passage.
  2. You had years to polish and hone that first manuscript. It’s only understandable that producing something on demand is a challenge. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
  3. Your editor is on your side and wants you to do well.
  4. Be gracious and eager to do whatever is necessary to make the book right. Your editor will appreciate it and give you as many chances as possible to succeed.
  5. Try to relax if you can. This is just another step on your path.

Second book-itis is something we’ve gone through with many brand-new authors. They must shudder remembering the torture of coming up with a proposal and then having to revise multiple times before going to contract. They all probably considered giving up at some point, but they all made it through. And so can you.

Keep going.