Oh, sophomore novels. Why is it that the second of anything is always the most nerve-wracking? Anything that comes second always has so much pressure behind it. But is simultaneously forgettable. There’s really no winning for a second scenario.
For example, if the first date was bad, was it just nerves? Or, they could be trying to hide their weirdness until you’re too invested to run away. The second date is more nerve-wracking than the first.
If someone butchered the first movie/season/episode in a series, do you keep watching? Sometimes weak pilots / first seasons turn into spectacular masterpieces (we're looking at you, Parks and Rec). Or you could be setting yourself up for further disappointment, when they just can't get their act together.
When it comes to books, the easy wins are the first and third of a series.
The first book is the beginning of your new love; perfect, new, and wholly original. The third book is usually the finale, and has the weight and importance of bringing everything home. The second book is all the stuff that has to bridge the first and the third book.
Publishing a sophomore novel is even harder when the novels aren't connected. A debut author knocks it out of the park the first time around in a standalone novel, and afterwards, everything changes. There will be a second book, because
publishing houses want to make money
book writing is the author's passion. The second book will undergo unbelievable scrutiny. People will debate whether or not it was a fluke or the author's genius. Some will think the follow-up is amazing, because they have a rock-strong dedication to the author. Some will say it's terrible, because they are too attached to the first and nothing can ever live up to it. And others will simply read it, and decide if they think it's better, worse, or the same quality.
There's even the case of the sequel, years and years later. Do you remember when Stephen King announced Doctor Sleep
, his sequel to The Shining?
I do, because I went into a shock coma and only woke up when it was published. And now,
we've just learned that Mitch Albom is publishing a follow-up
to The Five People You Meet in Heaven
, titled The Next Person You Meet in Heaven.
It's a big deal to write a follow-up to a smash hit, because it's such a tough situation. Few authors want to live with the tagline, "It's good, but it's no <insert name of prior novel>."
This is their craft. They want to keep writing. And that means, no matter what, they have to create a sophomore novel.
Some in the publishing world think the best thing for an author to do is to crank out a mid-level sophomore novel and just let things ride. If it'll always be the Temple of Doom
of the series, you might as well save your good material for the finale.
This idea, however, cuts off the chance of an amazing sequel. If you have the literary prowess to swing for the fences and land a Catching Fire
, wouldn't we all rather read that?
Yes, there were cupcakes.
This is the case of Lauren Denton's Hurricane Season.
Last year, her debut The Hideaway
was a runaway best-seller. It was peak Southern literature, climbing the Amazon and USA Today
charts for weeks. Publishers Weekly
loved and starred it. RT Book Reviews
loved and starred it. The dang Library Journal loved it, starred it, and called it the debut of the month. But after all of the hubbub died down and the cupcakes were eaten, there was still Lauren Denton, who had to follow up on her own success.
This is the problem with sophomore novels.
There's too much expectation, too much weight and burden, one way or the other. They never get to live in their own ecosystem and exist as their own thing. The only thing an author can do is write another book and let it be what is: a sophomore novel.
is a sophomore novel. It'll live in a world of "another" and "the follow-up to," but that doesn't change what it is at its core: an emotional Southern contemporary novel. A powerful story about a two sisters that have to decide what truly makes up a 'full life,' and the children caught between them. A dang good novel.
If it helps, Publishers Weekly
and RT Book Reviews
love this one, too.
Kayleigh is an active friend to the Page Chaser team and enjoys practicing her English accent and drinking tea – an Anglophile to the end. If you want to follow Kayleigh, check her out on the Page Chaser Instagram, Facebook, or at the movies using her Movie Pass.
HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., operates Page Chaser, the publisher of
The Hideaway and