Does the Book Biz Set Up Second Books to Fail?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka

Today’s lead story recounts the travails of various authors, agents and editors in dealing with selling, writing and publishing second books. It’s long been held that a “second book jinx” exists. Do you think it’s true?

Personally, I have several friends who have struggled with their second books. But the reason has as much to do with the publishing industry as with them: These writers — primarily, but not exclusively novelists — were all had two book contracts. After having spend years, and in some cases, a decade or more sweating over their first books. Yet, when it comes to their second books, they’re given a year or two at most to deliver the follow-up. How could they not deliver something somewhat inferior to the first work?

Certainly the authors could have turned down the two-book contract, but knowing the financial situations most writers face, few will have the means to say “no.”

So, do you think the book business by nature of offering two-book contracts to debut novelists are inadvertently setting up second books to fail?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.