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Archived Author Help > Surviving the sophomore jinx...

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message 1: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments Hi all, I recently got a review back, while not 5 stars, it was very positive and said I set the bar high... now the sequel is set to come out this summer and I'm nervous to get caught up in the whole sophomore jinx debaucle. I'm wondering how others deal with this... I don't think you can ever avoid the gut - wrenching nausea, but I'd love to know how others have approached this... you know aside from a bottle of bourbon.


message 2: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
I wrote a blog about it. Seriously, it seemed to help immensely after I put it out there for the internet to deal with. Helps that I have awesome followers that encouraged me and lifted me up at the time.


message 3: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments I have a small, yet very support group of followers. Does it ever get easier? Dumb question... probably not.


message 4: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
It gets easier, in the sense that you know you have people that will support you in the long run no matter what. I'm a firm believer in writing a tale you'll enjoy, because if you enjoy it, there's BOUND to be at least one other person in the world that will enjoy it.
It also helps that I was the fat kid in school, always picked on before they realized I could throw them through walls, so I developed thick skin at a young age.


message 5: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments And now you're a Stormtrooper, so who's laughing now?


message 6: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments It's really wonderful you have people anticipating your books. I wouldn't psych yourself out since you're obviously doing something right already with your writing :)


message 7: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments Thanks Courtney :) I think stand-alones are one thing, but trying to maintain or enhance momentum thru a series is the part that is making me nervous.


message 8: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
Exactly! I'm not just a stormtrooper, I'm the first Jedi Storm trooper!


message 9: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments I am in awe, sir.


message 10: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Hm, to be honest, I got through it by never having the thought occur to me. I wrote a book, people seemed to like it, so writing the second was actually easier in my mind because it meant there was a built in audience.
I now have eight books in several different subgenres and have heard from some folks that they like x better than y and that's fine. You can't please everyone, so don't try. All you can do is write the next book as best as you can. Write a book that *you* think is better than the last one or if that is too much pressure, just write one you think is just as good.


message 11: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments It's in the editor's hands now... he usually had a good way of bringing me up or pushing me down. Once I get his initial reaction, I'll know better what to do with this anxiety. The betas that I have used from one book to the next really liked the second one because I delved deeper into the fantasy-realm of the plot (so to speak). I try to keep in mind what people have said about the first book to help fine-tune my vision for the rest of the series. I don't know if that's what you're supposed to do, but dammit if I don't operate that way.


message 12: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments I saw you haven't released the first book yet on Amazon or am I confused?


message 13: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments No, the first one is out there. myBook.to/B00SU3WYWG


message 14: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments Okay, cause Amazon said it was being released this June and I was impressed you had 11 reviews already lol


message 15: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments Weird lol


message 16: by Jenycka (new)

Jenycka Wolfe (jenyckawolfe) | 301 comments Believing in something gives it power. Frame it in your mind as not the sophomore jinx, but the Slam-Dunk Sequel! You are proving that you're a serious writer, getting that next book out the door! Your fans are going to appreciate that, and you'll gain new fans who like the second book so they go and pick up the first.


message 17: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments thanks Jenycka! have I said how much I appreciate this group? :)


message 18: by Jenycka (new)

Jenycka Wolfe (jenyckawolfe) | 301 comments J.C. wrote: "thanks Jenycka! have I said how much I appreciate this group? :)"

Shall we form an "Appreciation for Support for Indie Authors Group" group?"


message 19: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments I like it!


message 20: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments I'm not sure I believe in the "sophomore jinx." I do believe that some authors have a "what do I do for an encore?" problem. I do think that, having not seriously considered what to do for a sequel, some people (and I don't mean just indie authors here -- I think indie authors are actually better at this than average) rush a sequel to "capitalize".

From what you posted above, it sounds like you have a good editor and good beta readers who will give you decent feedback. It sounds like you can rely on them to help you deal with this.

As for how we dealt with it, we were just ignorant. We made a plan in ignorance, and we started to follow it in ignorance. Fools rush in...

Also, I have nothing against a bottle of bourbon, in principle. (I prefer scotch.)


message 21: by Charles (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments Sophomore curse is a lot like the Oscar curse, or the MVP curse, or the Sports Illustrated curse. Some overnight success can having you drinking your own kool aid. The result is more rock star, less investment. (Whatever I write is amazing, the world has told me so. I can stop working as hard now. I have arrived.)

Add in rushing the book out and you have a full blown recipe for disaster. I think it is as much of an ego check as anything. I feel more pressure to raise the bar now, personally.


message 22: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments thank you gentlemen. I feel like I have a solid image for the series, and I love each segment more than the last... but you know when someone "sets the bar high" the silent pressures can kill. I appreciate these groups and the different takes on such universal topics... all very interesting.


message 23: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4333 comments Mod
J.C. wrote: "I'm wondering how others deal with this..."

I'll be honest, I'm not sure what a sophomore jinx is.

When it comes to my writing, I set my expectations low. I work on something until I'm happy with it, show it to the editor. If she's happy with it, I give it one or two more passes and then publish. Then I move on to the next project and do not look back.


message 24: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments Dwayne, I think what's really got me on this is keeping up the momentum an expectation of a series. I love my vision. I feel it grow strong and stronger as I dig deeper into the plot that I intend to carry through 5 books total. The "sophomore jinx" is really a fun way for me to say I hope I don't f*ck up what I've put down as ground work for the readers with the first book. I don't think I am based on my betas' feedback, but I don't think any writer is immune to the beastly self-doubt every now and then. This group had been great because we all can relate to this and we're not afraid to say "hey, I feel like that too sometimes."


message 25: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Wooding (matthewwooding) | 2 comments Second album syndrome is what musicians refer to it as and I'm going through a similar thing writing my 2nd book right now. I don't know if it's beneficial or not that it's not related to my 1st book. On the one hand I don't have to worry about letting people down after setting expectations of the series. But on the other hand I need to recapture people with a different story, different characters!
I'm pretty hard to please though, so I figure once I'm happy with it whatever it was that people enjoyed about my 1st book should come through again in future books.
I figure it's like anything, the more you do it the more confidence you have in yourself and less you self-doubt. At least that is what I hope! lol


message 26: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments Matthew, exactly! I got the reference from the musical realm (SELF to be exact... a fun little song) anyway... yes, I think with practice and support that this is all part of the process and honing our craft.


message 27: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4333 comments Mod
J.C. wrote: "I love my vision. I feel it grow strong and stronger as I dig deeper into the plot..."

This is good. This is excellent! Love your visions and stay true to them. It's wonderful, yes, when readers also love our works, but not everyone will. I can somewhat relate to what you're saying. I am working on a novel and to pave the way to it, I'm also working on a series of short stories, each featuring a different set of characters from the novel. I know some people will read the stories and love them. They will love some more than others. When the novel comes along, some will love it, some will not. I'm expecting that. For some, the novel will fill what they have come to expect after reading the stories, for some, it will fall flat. But, I am loving the journey, loving the characters, loving the story. I can't control what others will think of my work, but I can work to satisfy myself. That's really my main goal.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, put your emotions into what you can control: your vision and your writing. Make it as damn good as you can and make sure you're happy with it. Don't stress about others and their thoughts and opinions as you have no control over that. You'll go mad worrying about things you can't control.


message 28: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments Thanks Dwayne!


message 29: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments J.C. wrote: "... I think what's really got me on this is keeping up the momentum an expectation of a series. I love my vision. I feel it grow strong and stronger as I dig deeper into the plot that I intend to carry through 5 books total. The "sophomore jinx" is really a fun way for me to say I hope I don't f*ck up what I've put down as ground work for the readers with the first book..."

For what's it's worth, I just want to add an exclamation point to what Dwayne said above (#28). You can't know what expectations your readers (in general) have; you really can't know what "effing up" means. But you do know what your vision is and that you love it, and you feel it is getting stronger. That's great. Trust what you know and try not to worry too much about what is unknowable. (Not worrying at all would be superhuman -- so don't worry about worrying.)

I also think you can bet on two things: 1) readers are more forgiving than we sometimes fear; 2) they have a nose for "falsity". If you stay true to your vision, they are more likely to follow along, even if they don't know where you are going and/or are not 100% thrilled with the current environs.


message 30: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments So true. Thanks everyone!


message 31: by C.B. Matson (new)

C.B. Matson | 143 comments Thanks for starting this topic J.C.; lots of good (and useful) comments came back. I've got the same issue. Released my first novel last month and now I find myself comparing my current sophomore (sophomoric?) draft to my earlier finished product (weeps into keyboard, runs in safe mode, creates detailed spreadsheets of useless data, takes long walks and thinks about "Ramen Girl"). Well, they say you can edit Crap; I hope so. All above advice received gladly.


message 32: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments Thanks CB... we are definitely not alone :)


message 33: by Micah (last edited May 01, 2015 11:11AM) (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 1042 comments You just have to write what you have to write and let the chips fall where they may (whatever the hell that means). I've done painting, sculpture, music, books...I've gotten to the point where once a work is done, it's out of my hands. I've already gotten what I needed out of it. Its relationship with other people is not my problem. They're going to react in ways I couldn't anticipate or expect. But that's there thing, not mine.

So, just get on with it and write the next thing.

That's the theory, anyway. My second published work was set in a different history/universe than my first, so I don't really think of it as a true sophomore effort. I published several shorter works in that second universe and am only now getting close to completing the revisions/edits on the second novel set in the same universe as my first.

My problem is that the two books are set at opposite ends of this history. And the two books are very different from each other in tone and action. I suspect this second one may suck. But as John Lee Hooker's momma once said "It's in him, and it's got to come out."

Pretty sure most of my beta readers are going to wonder what happened to me. It's not what they've become accustomed to. I tend to bounce around a bit in the kind of works I produce.

Oh well. It is what it is.


message 34: by Itsknighttyme (new)

Itsknighttyme | 2 comments I just released my 1st ebook a few days ago, and I'm already thinking about starting to work on my second while it's still fresh in my head. I already have the ideas for the 2nd installment. Is there a certain time frame you should wait or a number of sales goal before you start concentrating on a 2nd book?


message 35: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
I'm of the school to start writing as soon as you have the story in your mind. Then again, I waited til I had the first draft of my entire trilogy done before I even released the first one. Just understand having one book by itself isn't guaranteed to do anything, and writing another book is an excellent way to promote yourself.
After all, does it sound better when someone says, "Read the first one in my trilogy!" Or, "Read my entire series available here!"


message 36: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments I agree with Riley, 100%. When readers asked for more, "Ummm... Dunno" is not a good answer.

I will add that when your bills are on the line, that ups the ante, but it doesn't change the calculus.


message 37: by Rachael (new)

Rachael Eyre (rachaeleyre) | 194 comments For a while I thought my second book had been struck by the sophomore jinx, since it sold far fewer copies than my first, but recently I discovered it wasn't on my Author's page on Amazon, meaning people who liked the first had no idea I'd written a second book. I've already noticed a difference. Sometimes the reason why can be as simple as that.


message 38: by J.C. (new)

J.C. Stockli (jcstockli) | 41 comments Good to know Rachel!


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