"Published author, aspiring novelist . . . welcome to my world of madness!"

Jan 11, 2012

The Dreaded Sequel--What Now?

As most writers will probably tell you, the process of finishing a book is exhilarating . . . and exhausting. For a brief moment, you feel like you have just conquered the world. And in a way, you have. It’s the process that comes afterward that no one ever warns you about. No matter what venue you take, the final edits, the polishing—the packaging and marketing strategies, all of them pale in comparison to the next step: writing the next book.

Maybe it’s different for authors who jump headlong into some new, shiny project. You really have no expectations to live up to there, no established voice to follow. You’re starting from scratch.

I am starting from scratch too. For the hundredth time. In the past few weeks, I have scrapped and rewritten twenty-thousand words or more—all because of the dreaded sequel.

When I first started Requiem, I had no idea how long of a story it would be. Like most of us, I was compelled by the voice whispering in my ear and fascinated by what it had to say. What I thought would be a short, character-driven story evolved into something much more. About halfway through the process, I realized not only did I have a novel on my hands, but a three part series. Maybe more.


I LOVE these characters. They are fun and intriguing. That, my friends, is not the problem. The problem is that I love the first book a bit too much. (Is such a thing even possible?) Though the second book is plotted out, nothing I pen quite measures up in my eyes, and I am terrified, yes terrified, that other people will look at the sequel and see the same thing. The last thing I want is people looking at me with pity in their eyes and asking what happened.

Is this sort of crippling fear and doubt normal, or have I just lost my mind? Does it extend into new projects as well, or does this vile plague only afflict subsequent books in a series?

I would love to hear your thoughts and any suggestions you might have. Believe me . . . desperation is starting to set in.



  1. Amen ... I couldn't have said it better. I pray some of you have words of wisdom, because I'm in the same sad little boat.

  2. Adriana, my dear friend, I'm sorry to hear that you have been struck by doubts. I think the fact that the first book is so wonderful in your eyes is a great thing. You caught that lightening in a bottle. The fact that the sequel is less than exciting to you is a bit troubling, but not a death sentence.
    Remember though, if your readers love the characters as much as you do, they will flock back. The sequel, therefore, does not have to be brilliant, just a worthy successor. Perhaps you simply need to think about the outline a bit longer and see what your mind may come up with that could spice it up.
    If nothing else, I just want to encourage you to knock that doubt out of your way. It will only hinder your progress!
    Be encouraged, my dear!
    Your buddy from Cali.


  3. Thank you so much, Jimmy! It's hard to explain what has me so rattled. I'm slowly shaking off the doubt and reclaiming my writer's soul. The surest way to fail is to not even try!