I’d like to thank Donna and the rest of the First Novels Club for inviting me to be on their blog today! Thanks so much :)
I’m doing a little blog tour for my latest release, SEA GLASS. This is the second book in the Glass series and the story picks up right where STORM GLASS (Glass Book #1) left off. I always wrap up a main plot line in all my books regardless of where they are in the series, but SEA GLASS is closely tied to STORM GLASS and I suggest you read STORM GLASS first.
Having said that, I wanted to talk about the sophomore slump that plagues many novelists. It’s when the second book in a series or trilogy fails to sell as many copies of the first book. There are many reasons for this. First – new books by new authors are like finding treasure – especially when they are good. It’s a discovery and exciting – like first dates. But when the second book comes along, the world and writing style are no longer fresh, the characters are all known and it’s no longer a discovery but more like quiet contentment – a couple settling in, comfortable with each other. With trilogies, usually that second book is all the middle of the story plot – nothing is resolved or solved, it’s a bridge between book 1 and book 3. That’s one of the reasons I call my books a series, because I try hard to make each book its own story.
Publishing also plays a part in the sophomore slump. After hyping the first book and spending marketing dollars for ads and advance reading copies, the second book usually isn’t given the same attention in the press. Also some readers prefer to have all the books in a series before reading them so they will wait until they are all released.
Another reason second books sell less, is sometimes they aren’t as well written as the first. A new author can spend years on her first book, polishing it and refining the story until it’s ready to be read by the publishing industry. Then when the contract comes and the publisher wants a second book, the author now has a deadline and no longer has the luxury of thinking about a story for years.
Of course there is the fact that some readers will take a chance and buy a new author’s book and not care for the story or the writing and will not buy anymore.
And new authors are given some slack by readers :) The story may not be perfectly plotted or have pristine grammar, but it’s her first book – mistakes are expected and swept under the rug. However on book 2, the author is now a pro and those mistakes won’t be forgiven.
Authors can try and beat the sophomore slump, by spending more of their time and money promoting the book, and making sure it’s as well written as the first. But even doing these things, the slump can be inevitable.
When I sold my first book, POISON STUDY, I was happy I had 18 months to write the next book, MAGIC STUDY. There was no pressure, besides the deadline. I figured if POISON STUDY received rave reviews, I would have a hard time writing the next book – not wanting to disappoint my readers. And if POISON STUDY bombed – then my confidence would be shot and I wouldn’t be able to write. As it turned out POISON collected a number of great reviews and awards – so when I started book 3, FIRE STUDY – that’s when I had a hard time.
MAGIC STUDY also did well with the reviews and it actually sold more copies than POISON STUDY – but one of the reasons I avoided the slump, was because my publisher released POISON STUDY as a mass-market paperback a month before MAGIC STUDY came out. It seems all those readers who picked up POISON STUDY at the grocery store just couldn’t wait a year for MAGIC STUDY to be released in paperback. However when all three were re-released by MIRA as trade sized paperback, MAGIC STUDY’s sales numbers have been lower than POISON STUDY’s and FIRE STUDY’s.
So what does this all boil down to? Publishing can be a crazy business and readers can sometimes take a series for granted – like a spouse – thinking the books will always be there for you when you’re ready to read the next one. Except in this economy, that is no longer the case. Publishers will stop printing an author’s books if they don’t sell – even in mid-series.
That’s my take on the sophomore slump. Do you know any other reasons or have any stories about an author’s second book? Please share with us!
New York Times best-selling author, Maria V. Snyder switched careers from meteorologist to novelist when she began writing the award-winning Study Series (Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study) about a young woman forced to become a poison taster. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maria dreamed of chasing tornados, but lacked the skills to forecast their location. Writing, however, lets Maria control the weather, which she gleefully does via a powerful Stormdancer in her Glass books.
Her new Glass Series (Storm Glass and Sea Glass) combines two things Maria loves, the weather and glass. The third book of the series, Spy Glass will be released next September, 2010. Readers are always welcome to e-mail Maria at email@example.com or you can check out her website and writing tips at http://www.mariavsnyder.com/.
About Sea Glass:
Like the colorful pieces of sea glass washed up on shore, Opal has weathered rough waters and twisting currents. But instead of finding a tranquil eddy, Opal is caught in a riptide. Her unique glass messengers which allow instant communication over vast distances have become a vital part of Sitian society. Used solely by the Councilors and Magicians, now other powerful factions are vying for control. Control of the messengers equals control of Sitia. Unfortunately that also means control of Opal.
If that isn’t enough of a problem, Opal’s determination to prove blood magic is still being used is met with strong resistance. The Council doubts her, her mentor doubts her, and even her family is concerned. When her world is turned upside down, she begins to doubt herself. In the end, Opal must decide who to believe, who to trust, and who has control—otherwise she will shatter into a million pieces and lose everything.
Hey, look - it's our FIRST CONTEST!
Maria was gracious enough to offer a signed set of Glass books to one lucky reader. This one's easy - just follow our blog (if you don't already) and comment below by September 19th to give yourself a chance to win these great books! The winner will be announced September 20th.
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