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Second time might not be the charm

Newsday delves into the perilous world of the second-novel curse, with many wonderful stories from big-name authors’ navigating the high-stakes world of Novel #2 (and beyond).

Highlights include Amy Tan getting hit with “How does it feel to have written your best book first?” at her first literary luncheon post Joy Luck Club. The Dogs of Babel author Carolyn Parkhurst enjoyed the TV appearances and bestseller status until the stress of coming out with a home-run again took over.

She is one of many (including Sue Monk Kidd) who “have suffered cases of ‘second novel syndrome,’ as it’s known,” including White Oleander‘s Janet Fitch, whose inflated head got her started on a “grandiose” historical novel that she had to abandon, despite the help of a “support group for second novelists.”

According to the story, “the ‘sophomore jinx,’ as the second-novel phenomenon is also called, often seems to boil down to a fear that the public will want the same novel a second time, says Asya Muchnick, Little, Brown editor …. ‘The media and the public get excited about a breakout first novel,’ she says, and second books often don’t win the same attention or sales …. Right now, we’re in a market where everyone is looking for the next new thing.'”

The article finishes with a breakdown of authors with loooong breaks in between titles, and ends with the naively optimistic:

“HARPER LEE

Novel #1: To Kill a Mockingbird, 1960

Novel #2: ????”

Related links:
Read the Newsday story here