Ah, the naiveté of ignorance!
When it came time to put out Blood of the True Believer, I foolishly believed I knew so much more than I did in the past. I said to myself, “Self, we’ve done this before! This is not our first rodeo! Get those cute boots out!”
Apparently, your second rodeo is not much better than your first.
Sure, a lot of things are the same, and I certainly knew better how to find a target reader, how to engage an audience—important for someone with a theatre degree—and even how to build hype for a book. What I forgot to figure in was how to market a book which is dependent upon the previous book, without spoiling either book? Surely, I thought, while swinging up into the saddle, I can just push the second book, and the first will sell itself by proxy.
I was promptly bucked off that bronco.
I asked around my fellow authors on Instagram, hoping I wasn’t the only one in need of an infirmary from this tough situation. The feedback met my expectations, in that I was hardly alone. Turns out this is a common frustration among my series-writing peeps.
There is so much work that goes into writing a series! Since I can’t force the metaphor any further, I’ll just say that it’s a whole different beast from crafting that first book. Shoeing your first horse? I don’t know. Sometimes I found myself grumpy at whoever didn’t write this down (me). As it happens, I did write all of this down… in book one, but someone failed to re-read the original text (that was me, again). Oops. I spelled character names wrong and couldn’t remember who was how much older than who. Once I got through all of that, I thought I was in the clear. On to the familiar stuff! Smooth roads ahead! Lessons learned, albeit the hard way!
None of that is true! Who lied to me (me)?
The truth is that I’ve found myself pushing book one much more than I’m pushing book 2. I’m chasing down reviewers. I’m giving away more free copies of The Hole in the World than I planned. It’s paid off, in part, and I’ve met lovely people in the process, but I feel for poor middle child Blood of the True Believer. I don’t think they even got to hop on the pony, since my attentions mostly moved on to drafting book three, and I found myself needing to focus my promo on book 1 just to get people to consider book two.
Wisdom and hindsight and a metaphorically separated tailbone tell me that my focus will probably always be on that first book baby. Which is fine in many aspects. Oh, how I love that book. Rough edges (they exist!) and all. Hearing someone refer to it as a ‘little gem’ makes my life. I would love to spend more time getting people to love that sequel. It’s a problem of our own making, those of us not doing standalone stories, in part, but at the end of the day, I’m not sorry. I’m learning. I think that’s the most important part.
Are you dealing with this same problem? I’d love to hear your suggestions!