Second book syndrome

Pushing through with the writing and publication of a second book can be fraught. How can you navigate some of the inherent concerns about the process?

It’s a well-known phenomenon: the anxious, agonising self-torture writers put themselves through when releasing their second book. (Musicians suffer from a similar malady: the difficult second album.)

There are usually all sorts of worries that afflict writers upon contemplating their sophomore creation. Is it too similar to the first book? Or maybe too dissimilar? Was the debut effort a total fluke, leading to a debilitating case of imposter syndrome when trying to replicate it? What if, after momentarily basking in the publicity sun that the first one enjoyed, this second one is just ignored because you are no longer the bright new thing?

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Thuy On is Reviews Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her first book, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was published by University of Western Australia Press (UWAP). Her next collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Twitter: @thuy_on