While I’ve read some stellar sequels lately, I’ve experienced my fair share books that suffer from the sophomore slump. You know the ones I’m talking about – where you’ve been waiting for months or years for a sequel, and you’re so amped about it…and it totally falls flat.
I do empathize – it must be so difficult for authors to avoid this trap. They work so hard to perfect their initial manuscript, then go through tons of edits and revisions on that first piece.
However, speaking from the perspective of a reader, the sophomore slump sucks.
It puts me in a state of confusion – like, “Well, I loved your first book, but now I’m torn because this second book really wasn’t that great. I guess I’ll buy the future sequels because I feel invested at this point, but I’m not sure I won’t be disappointed again.”
Have you experienced the sophomore slump?
5 Ways to Avoid the Sophomore Slump
I am by no means a publishing expert, but just from my own humble opinion, if I saw fewer of this in second books in series, I would be a whole lot happier and more trusting of the author in general.
1Make things happen…you know, like the plot. It’s ok to have background info on characters and build the world and such, but throw your readers a bone. Books where nothing happens are so painful because you’re just waiting for something exciting and awesome to happen.
Every book in a series should add value to the whole – I mean look at the Harry Potter books. Each book builds off of the other, but are really entities unto themselves.
2Don’t torture me with the love triangle. If the first book in a series has a love triangle and by the end of the second book it’s not resolved I feel like the author only wants me for my money (a guaranteed sell on the third book). Also, in situations like these, the book’s movement and tension can rely too heavily on the romantic friction. If that’s all that’s pushing me through the book, then I can tell the subsequent books may not hold my interest.
3Give the characters something to do besides fight another bad guy. I’m all for powerful foes – they are a key element in a lot of fantastic novels. But, if in the second book, the same pattern starts to form (think the Spiderman movies…or any superhero movie series, really), I quickly lose interest. Readers want something new – not the same formula from the first book.
4Keep the first book’s momentum going. After readers have been hooked on a great debut novel, what they want is something EVEN better in the second book. I mean, who wants to read a mediocre book? No one – yet authors can forget that they’ve set the bar for their newly-won loyal fans who now want something more amazing than the first book they gave them.
5Make the plot twists and cliffhangers count. Although I’ve been touting that authors should keep up the excitement and freshness in their sophomore books, I would rather them sacrifice all that than add some weird plot twist just for the heck of it. I’ve been truly shocked by the strange stuff that finds its way into sequels.
Why no, I didn’t realize you were related to your romantic interest…or that you had a secret doppelganger…or even that you are actually a vampire/werewolf hybrid (I made that last one up). Let’s keep it real, yo.
What are your biggest sequel pet peeves? Have you read any books recently that fell into the sophomore slump?