Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Difference Between the Debut and Sophomore Novels


A month from now my sophomore novel, Can't Help Falling, will have just been released. Coming just under six months from the release of my debut novel, Close To You, has made for a busy year!

I was thinking recently about the main differences recently between your first and second book releases and thought I'd share four of them today :)

Expectations
Your debut novel is a crazy exciting terrifying time. Your first book baby is being released into the world and you have no control over how readers are going to react to it. However, readers also don't have any expectations based on previous reading experience as to what they expect from a "X Author" novel. You have a blank slate as an author. This changes with the sophomore novel. People have thoughts, opinions and hopes as to the kind of story you might be deliver. Now you feel the weight of hoping, praying, that your new story will not be a disappointment to those who enjoyed your first.

You Know How Really Hard It Is To Get Readers To Take A Chance on a New Author 
With your debut novel you knew this in theory. As a reader you knew how hard it was to convince you to spend your hard earned money on an unknown author when your budget didn't even reach to all those authors you already know and love. But you naively hope that between sheer force of will, your great hook, and feeling like you're wallpapering the internet with all your guest posts/interviews/articles that readers will flock to your story.

With the sophomore novel, you've learned in the trenches that you are the rule, not the exception. You've eyeballed sales figures that have you wondering if the system lost a digit somewhere. You've let out many a silent virtual scream at people assuring you that they can't wait to read your book, they're just waiting for the e-version to be made free. You've seen much coveted positive reviews in sought after publications give your sales figures a low double digit bump that week. You've learnt from experience that this author thing really is a long game.

You've Toughened Up 
You thought that after your years pursuing publication, horrible contest scores, harsh judges' remarks and countless rejections from agents and editors that you had a pretty tough skin. Then came your first one star review, then the next, then the next and you got to process public criticism available for the world to see. You've learned never to look at reviews on a bad day and that life is too short to worry about people who don't know you personally but feel they have a licence to not just review your book but also pass comment on your character.

You know there is little better than hearing from a reader that God somehow used your inadequate words on a page to speak to them and that makes all of the tough stuff worth it. 

Giveaway!
I'm giving away a copy of the winner's choice of Close To You or Can't Help Falling to one commenter. If you're an author I'd love to hear what was different for you between the first and second book. If you're a reader I'd love to hear what has finally made you take a chance on an unknown author :)

Winner will be drawn on 17 September and announced in the comments on 18 September.

Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Her debut romantic comedy, Close To You, is about a disillusioned academic-turned-tour-guide and an entrepreneur who knows nothing about Tolkien who fall in love on a Tolkien themed tour of New Zealand. Her sophomore novel, Can't Help Falling, is about about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England. When she's not working her day job as a public servant, chasing around a ninja preschooler and his feisty toddler sister, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connnect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Author and Twitter @KaraIsaac

48 comments:

  1. Kara, once again I so enjoyed "Close to You" and anxiously awaiting arrival of "Can't Help Falling".

    I haven't made it to 2nd book published but I sure found writing the 2nd one a lot harder than the first. Adding to the struggle was that recurring thought of whether the one novel was all I really had in me. I think you may have mentioned this in earlier post but that's the enemy talking and we have to keep believing.

    I'll be interested to see if the publisher's strategy of releasing 2 relatively quickly is a good thing (my hunch is that it is) but does that put pressure on everyone (you and the publisher) to keep delivering novels at short intervals? Don't let it worry you. Keep hanging on to the Lord, enjoy playing with Him and what happens happens.

    Bless,

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    1. Hi Ian! I definitely that as I wrote Can't Help Falling I had to constantly struggle against the doubt that maybe I just had one great story in me and Close To You was as good as I got. Fortunately, some of the early reviews I've seen don't agree :)

      I have definitely found it easier to maintain momentum having the two books release only six months apart. The promotional activities for Close To You have just merged into the lead up for Can't Help Falling. But there will definitely be a longer gap between this one and the next (assuming I even receive another contract) so it will be interesting to see how reader's respond to that.

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  2. I've already read my advance review copy, and I'm looking forward to stalking my local Paper Plus for a "real" copy.

    I loved Close to You for the local New Zealand setting, but Oxford also makes a great setting, and I think I ended up enjoying Can't Help Falling as much, if not more (helped, no doubt, by seeing familiar characters in Oxford).

    I read a lot of new and new-to-me authors, mostly because I get the review copies free from NetGalley. Seriously, people who are waiting for the ebook to go free could just join NetGalley ... all you have to do is read the book and post an honest review.

    If the book isn't from NetGalley, then my new authors are usually recommendations from friends or reviewers I trust. For example, I've recently read and loved novels from Amy Matayo and Tammy L Gray after seeing them recommended by others. And now I'm recommending them - and Can't Help Falling, of course!

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    1. Very excited to read that you think Can't Help Falling is even better, Iola. And Allie and Jackson reappear! Now I'm very excited.

      BTW, who or what is PaperPlus?

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    2. PaperPlus is a general market bookstore chain in New Zealand :)

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  3. Thanks so much, Iola! And hurray for PaperPlus!

    Like you, if I see the same book/author being recommended by multiple people that I trust then it's usually only a matter of time before I end up buying the book. Unless, for some reason, the subject matter really doesn't appeal to me.

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  4. Taking a chance on a new author... your name and debut novel was posted by an author I truly love. She posted and I took her suggestion. Always looking for good Christian fiction. Loved your first book, looking forward to number 2!

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    1. Thanks so much, Autumn! So lovely to see you here :)

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  6. For me to take a chance on a new author-it boils down to the story. Something in it needs to draw me in. Take Close to You for example: I was drawn in by the LOTR element. That was enough to get me reading. When I read it-I LOVED it!!

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    1. Thanks, Melissa! It's been really interesting with Close To You. For some people the LOTR element has been a big draw. For others it's put them off until other readers have reassured them they you don't need to be a Tolkien lover to enjoy the story :)

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  7. Interesting to get your thoughts on this topic. I appreciate your comments about readers having to take a chance.. While for the most part I feel lucky enough to read ARCs to review, I get an opportunity to try before I buy. Some may be content to read books this way... Some of my reader friends solely read from the library only. My choice is usually, when I really love a book - and I give it a 5 star (which I don't do lightly) I always then buy the paper copy. Either I just buy it or it goes on my Christmas list ;) Hence the stack of novels piled up on my floor awaiting a bookshelf (which this year might also need to go on my Christmas list!!) Generally authors are pretty consistent. I have only one case of book purchase regret, and that was for a publisher that doesn't do the ARC thing - the debut novel to this day still stands of one of probably my favourite top 5 books ever. I was so so excited for the next book - which by the way was a couple years later, not 6 months, that I pre-ordered it. It sits in the 'who can I give this book away to' pile without destroying our friendship ;) That feeling of spending your hard earned cash on a flop, is really soul destroying!!! I still wonder how it can happen... because like I said, that's rare in the book world (at least what I choose to read)!!

    I would like to say that you have achieved something special in your writing, in that you stand out. When you read 150+ books a year it's easy to forget.. Even some of the good ones. Making something unique about your writing might feel like a long shot to the author, but to the reader it really helps. I don't think I've read a book that does what you do, with an underlying theme connected to other literary greats. It also leaves me excited to see where you'll go next - no pressure ;) I wish the best for you as you hopefully continue to write, so I can add to my pile of novels on my floor ��

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    1. Hi Amy, thanks so much for your thoughts!

      Since it took me a bit of time to get published I have a few friends who are editors or work in publishing. All of whom have had the delightful joy of having to reject some of my earlier manuscripts ;-) What you describe in terms of the sophomore novel is what I've had those people describe to me as a nightmare scenario. The debut novel is a wonderful incredible piece of work, often which has taken the author years of writing, rewriting and polishing to really make it shine. Then they have a contract and their second novel suddenly has to be delivered in a 12-18 month timeframe (in my case it was nine!) and the writer just isn't able to produce the same kind of work under that kind of deadline. Then the publisher is left with a choice - refuse to accept the book and find themselves with a big hole in their next year's line up or do the best that they can work with the author to get it into better shape during the editorial process. That's why for many authors the sophomore novel is so nerve wracking if we've been contracted for it before it's been written. The experience of writing in the hope of the contract and then the one of having to suddenly deliver to a contracted deadline are very different and most of us don't know how we're going to deliver under that kind of pressure until we're right in the middle of it.

      Thank you for your kind words. The truth is I don't know where I'm going to go next :) None of the other Inklings came anywhere close to being as well known as Tolkien and Lewis. But hopefully they do well enough that my publisher wants to take a chance on a third something!

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  8. Congrats on the soph release, Kara!! That's great!! Your books are right up my alley!

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  9. I take a chance in a new author (to me) because of recommendations from friends. I have several in my library now. I actually got started as a AR when I was on a trip to Scotland in 2014. I was on a tour with my favorite author, Liz Curtis Higgs, and two other Authors were on the trip too. Carrie Turansky and Cathy Gohlk. It has been an amazing journey.

    I now really enjoy reading new to me authors work and have not been disappointed. There have been two brand new published authors I have founds and love. And now, a third young, yet to be released author, Andrea Cox, I am on her Street Team. Helping to introduce her to others before her first book is published.

    Kara Issac I am looking forward to reading both of your novels.

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    1. Thanks so much for dropping by! I can't even imagine what an amazing trio that must have been. I haven't ready anything by Carrie Turansky (yet) but am a big fan of both Liz Curtis Higgs and Cathy Gohlke :)

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  10. I take a chance in a new author (to me) because of recommendations from friends. I have several in my library now. I actually got started as a AR when I was on a trip to Scotland in 2014. I was on a tour with my favorite author, Liz Curtis Higgs, and two other Authors were on the trip too. Carrie Turansky and Cathy Gohlk. It has been an amazing journey.

    I now really enjoy reading new to me authors work and have not been disappointed. There have been two brand new published authors I have founds and love. And now, a third young, yet to be released author, Andrea Cox, I am on her Street Team. Helping to introduce her to others before her first book is published.

    Kara Issac I am looking forward to reading both of your novels.

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  11. I love finding new authors! I'm glad that your books have been released close together. Finding a new author, loving their first book, and finding out that their next one is a year or more away is torture for us readers. Loved Close to You and can't wait to read Can't Help Falling!

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    1. I'm with you, Nancy! There's nothing I love much more than finding a new author I love and then discovering they have other books already released or there isn't long until the next one.

      Authors (unless they are independent) often don't have a whole of of sway on the timing of when their books are released. The publisher has to weigh a lot of things like how many they have the capacity to produce in a given quarter, balancing out the types of genres etc. Though of course the author also needs time to write them! There is a suspense trilogy that I have heard great things about but they are releasing 10-12 months apart so I've decided I'm not going to start #1 until #3 is almost out because I just can't wait two years to find out what happens :)

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  12. Usually for me to try a new author it takes one or more of the following:

    A rec from an author I already love
    A fabulous cover
    An intriguing back cover and/or Amazon description.

    Sadly I haven't read yours yet but they are on my TBR pile!

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    1. Thank you so much! Your TBR is probably as tall as mine but I hope you enjoy them when they make it to the top!

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  13. I have a long list of new authors to try and books on my TBR list. I spend quite a lot on books, and I admit that when they are cheaper I am more likely to go ahead and try them. Once I try a book I like, I will drop everything to read the next. When I say I can't wait to read a book, that means I have to decide when to buy just that book, or go ahead and buy as many as ten that are cheaper. The cover and recommendations (especially from my favorite authors) go along way in helping me to decide each week. Yours are on my TBR list, and the reviews have gone a long way in moving them up the list.

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    1. Hi Becky,

      Like you I have a "must read" list when I often pre-order favourite authors and happily pay full price to get the book asap. Then I have a "would be great to read" list of authors I'm not as familiar with or have read and enjoy but they haven't quite made the must read list. Sometimes things like recommendations from friends help move those to become a must read or often it will be seeing it come up on special that gets me buying them.

      I hope you enjoy Close To You and/or Can't Help Falling if you have an opportunity to read them :)

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  14. I can see where it would be scary! We loved the first one with the passion of a thousand suns, so sure, we hope for the same awesomeness in the second. (no pressure, really!) Thing is - I have no doubts about you. Close to You seemed so natural and relaxing that I think it is a gift you have and your second story will be just as amazing. Don't doubt yourself - keep on writing!!! After reading CTY I'm a life long fan.

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    1. Thanks so much, Susan. Fingers and toes crossed you feel the same after reading Can't Help Falling :)

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  15. I'll give you 5 reasons for trying a new author:
    1. Book Club
    2. Reviews/Social Media Hype
    3. The author has published book #2 and book #1 is free on kindle.
    5. Compelling Synopsis
    4. The Cover {I'm so shallow.}

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    1. I'm shallow right with you, Amanda! If the cover looks cheap or amateurish 99% of the time I won't even bother to read the description. For your book club would you buy the book if it's a new author or try to source first from the library (or elsewhere)?

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  16. My first book has a beautiful cover. I hear that comment all the time, and I don't mind mentioning it because I had nothing to do with creating it. My second book (with a different publisher) has a cover that leans more toward animation than real life. The colors are bright. It appeals more to young readers. The title includes Mars and Venus, and some people have thought it's a science fiction book although the back cover copy clearly explains that it's a love story. Having two books in print has reinforced how important the cover and the title are. I hope you had a great experience at ACFW this year!

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    1. I had a great time as ACFW. Always one of the highlights of the writing year! My credit card is still recovering though :)

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  17. I hardly remember now how I first hear about Close to You! I think someone tweeted about it and then I looked up your site and saw it was a book set in NZ about a LotR tour! So obviously it sounded like the best book ever. :) And then you so kindly offered me a copy and I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!!! I'm so excited to read Can't Help Falling! Lewis and Oxford... another irresistible combination! :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Amy! Fingers and toes crossed you enjoy it just as much!!

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  18. I heard about your first book from several blogs I subscribe to and actually won a copy from one of the blogs. I really liked it so now want to read Can't Help Falling. I loaned Close To You to my daughter since she is a big Lord of the Rings fan. I'm not, but enjoyed the book anyway. I find a lot of new authors by reading book blogs and some by browsing at my local library. Even with free Kindle books from Amazon, I'll read the reviews if it's an author I'm not familiar with. Since I realize the value of reviews, I've gotten better about writing them.

    pmkellogg56[at]gmail[dot]com

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    1. Thanks so much for all you do writing reviews, Pam. You're right. They are SO important to authors (even if you didn't love the book) and we so appreciate the time and effort it takes readers to leave them.

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  19. While I haven't read "Close to You", I have read some super awesome reviews of it! They have me at New Zealand and J.R.R Tolkien, seriously :-) That's why I'd take a chance at a new author, if they write something of interest to me.

    Such a fun post, thanks for the giveaway chance Kara!

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    1. Thanks so much for dropping by, Trixi. I'm so glad New Zealand and Tolkien helped pique your interest. I hope you enjoy it if you ever have the chance to read it :)

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    2. Kara, my mom lives in New Zealand (since 2001) on the North Island. So that's why it's of particular interest to me :-)
      As far as Tolkien, my dad had the entire paperback collection that I read and re-read when I was a kid many times over! I was THRILLED when the movies came out!!

      I just found both of these books on my libraries Overdrive system (ebooks)...yay! Though my first preference is physical copies, so even if I don't win "Close to You", I still get to read it :-)

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    3. Your mum has great taste in countries to love in ;-)

      Hurray for libraries! Like you, my first preference is physical copies but alas the funds are not unlimited :)

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  20. Kara had me at LOTR! I can't wait to read "Close To You"! I take a chance on a new author because of the story line and personal recommendations.

    Thank you for the chance!

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    1. Personal recommendations are so important. I recently picked up a couple of books because of them that I wouldn't have bought if not for friends telling me they were a MUST READ (and they were right :) )

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  21. I have several things that attract me to try a new author - a recommendation from a friend or another author whose work I enjoy, a free introductory book, an intriguing description, or a blog review written by the author's husband! (Just kidding on that last one, but it WAS the deciding factor for me reading Close to You! Of course, I already told you that!) :)

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    1. I told my husband that and showed him our photo. He was stoked (and I think semi-skeptical but I assured him it was true!) :)

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  22. Most of the time I pick up an unknown author thanks to recommendations from blogger friends. Covers are always a huge draw and sometimes I like the setting or the storyline sounds unique!

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    1. Blogger friends are often my go-to as well for new authors. Especially if more than one is raving about the same book!

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  23. Congratulations Amanda Geaney! You're the winner of your choice of Close To You or Can't Help Falling. I'll be in touch!

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  24. Congrats Kara on book #2 releasing soon! I've pre-ordered my Kindle copy :)

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  25. Congrats on book number two, Kara! It's always so exciting to see a story come to life.

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