7 Tips for Avoiding Second Book Syndrome

If you just finished writing your first book in a book series, and gained a degree of success, then it is time to get started on your second one. However, you should proceed with caution. 

There is a condition called second book syndrome wherein a writer fails to write a second book that will live up to the first one. It is something that has plagued many writers.

Due to the success of the first book, there is a certain pressure to create an equally great sequel. This leads some writers to get scared, and foul up the writing process. Some writers overdo it which inevitably has the book lose the magic of the first one.

While others plan out the book series beforehand, and the second book follows a formulaic pattern that fails to impress readers. So if you want to create a second book that is not just as good as the first one, but surpasses it, then you should have a set plan. 


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Here are 7 tips for avoiding second book syndrome:

  • Plan out your book series

Once you finish writing your first book and saw how readers reacted to it, then you will be able to gauge how popular your book is, and how many books you should write. Look back on the first book’s writing process. 

How long did it take you to finish it? How difficult was it? Did you enjoy it or did you struggle throughout the whole process?

Writing one book is hard enough, let alone writing a whole series. You should remember that writing a book series is a big obligation. Once you get started on the book series, you should make sure to finish it, because you don’t want to let your readers down.

Now that you know the realities of writing a book, you will be able to realistically plan out your book series. 

If you planned to write a book series made up of 7 books, should you shorten it to a trilogy or push through with the 7 books? 

Overall, you have full control of every aspect of your book series.

  • Create a different plot for your second book

Although your second book should be a continuation of the first book in the series, this does not mean that you should constrain yourself to just the main storyline. You should also create new plot points in the second book. 

This will not only give you a chance to differentiate your new book from the first one, it is also a way for you to expand further on other aspects of the story.

  • Elevate the stakes for the second book

If you want your readers to continue to care for your cast of characters, it is important that you elevate the stakes for the next book. It would be boring for the reader, if the stakes still stay the same. 

So if your main characters were going up against a great enemy or obstacle in the first book, then you should make the obstacles or enemies in the second book even more difficult to deal with.

  • Learn from the mistakes you made in the first book

While you were writing your first book, you would most likely have made some mistakes. It could have been bad grammar, a plodding pace, or a tendency to write in an overly detailed way.

Whatever your mistakes were, you should take note of them, and make sure not to commit them in your second book. One of the best things about writing a book series, is that you could see the mistakes you made as a writer, and correct them on your next book.

  • Expand your roster of characters

When it comes to writing a book series, it is important that you expand your roster of characters. Although you should still keep your main cast of characters, and have the story revolve around them, it is not a bad idea to add new main characters as well. 

When you make new characters, it is imperative that they add a new dynamic to the story. Don’t just make a new character, just for the sake of a new character.

When you make your characters, they should be fleshed-out. They should have unique appearances, backstories, and a clear link to the current storyline. 

Your new characters should not just appear out of nowhere. There should be a clear explanation why he or she became part of the story.

  • Don’t start the writing process right away

When it comes to writing a second book for a book series, it is not a good idea to start on the book writing process right away. You should take a break for a week or two, before you start on the second book. 

Remember that you just finished writing your first book, and although you are quite excited to start on the writing process, you must still be exhausted mentally. It is no easy feat to write a novel, and if you push yourself to create a sequel right away, you will run the risk of getting burnt out. 

So take the time to step back from the writing process. Go on a trip or take up a hobby. Do whatever you want. What’s important is that you take your mind off the writing process for a while.

  • Continually challenge yourself to be better

When it comes to writing a book series, you will always need to bring your A-game. Remember that as you write more books for your book series, readers will make a point to compare the books in your series. 

So if you want to keep the momentum going, you should make sure that you improve your writing as much as possible. Try to incorporate new concepts to your writing as well. Overall, the more multifaceted your writing, the better your book series will be.

Second book syndrome is difficult for any writer to overcome. So if you are poised to write a second book in your book series, you should be prepared. With these tips you’ll have the knowledge to overcome second book syndrome.

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