Why an author’s first book is different….

imageDid you ever devour an author’s first book and find the subsequent books slightly different? Perhaps in tone or intensity, or level of quirkiness? I recently had a conversation with a gentleman about that very topic. What is the reason for this “first book”  phenomenon? From my perspective, that first book is your ‘book of the heart’ so to speak. It’s that story that’s been kicking around in your soul for ages and maybe it took a good two or three (or more) years to finally get it nailed down. Then a miracle occured and someone actually wants to pay you and publish the thing! Incredible. But now your writing is not completely “of the heart” anymore, it’s “of the head” as we seek to make a go of it in shark infested publishing waters.

Now, there will be deadlines (because a second book must follow the first with a reasonable period in between to carry our readers along.) There will be lessons learned from the first book that we now apply to the second. There will be planning for the third book perhaps, and the next series after that if we’re going to seriously pursue a writing career.  Unless you are producing books regularly, both readers and publishers will forget about you.

Will the author’s next books be sub par? No, just….different. I have gained skill as a writer with each book I produced and I’d like to think I’m a better writer now than fourteen years ago, but my writing will never be quite have that “book of the heart” feel again.

Have you ever noticed an author’s books changing over time? Does that bother you? Or, on the other hand, do you sometimes feel that a book series can be too “cookie cutter,” mere duplications of the first book? Would love to hear your comments. Giving away an Amazon gift card and a signed book this month.

10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Elizabeth Dent on April 11, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Some of the author’s first book are really good and then the second one is patterned just like the first one . Then others are totally difference . I am not a writer but after the first one I would suggest to venture out and get away from the first book and try something new . If the writer stays on the same pattern of witting we can just about figure out the end . Give us a twist toward the end and give us something to cling and hold onto your seat and you are reading as fast as you can and don’t want to put the book down till you finish .

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  2. Thanks for the comment, Michelle and best of luck with that second book!

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  3. Posted by Jeannie Sowell on April 10, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    I have noticed that writer’s books do change. With some of them, I can see where its their writing skills improving. But others, after they reach a level of success, they seem like they are following the same outline and just substituting names and circumstances. One mystery writer I used to read had the same formula for “who did it”. I could figure it out pretty soon. I quit reading those books. Unlike your book, Jungle Fire, I did not see that ending coming and I’m glad that I was surprised!

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    • I agree, Jeannie. I sometimes find that the “formula” gets a little old. I felt that way with the Janet Evanovich books, same jokes, same types of plots, plus I became disgusted that Stephanie was with two men. Thanks for the comment, Jeannie.

      Dana Mentink award winning fiction author http://www.danamentink.com

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  4. Posted by Shanda on April 10, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Yes, one to the point that I was sure the author had just slapped her name on someone else’s work.
    What about the reverse? When your book of your heart is put on the back burner and you publish a later ms first? Opportunity being a factor . . .

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    • Good point, Shanda. In my case, it was book of the heart first, but I have plenty of finished novels that I loved writing stuck in file cabinets because they didn’t sell.

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      • Posted by Shanda on April 11, 2014 at 3:51 pm

        Perhaps you could self-publish. You probably have the fan base to sell your own work. If you love the books, someone else will too. Maybe even other publishers? Just a thought. I hate the idea of good books languishing. 🙂

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      • I have self published a few time so far. It’s been a good experience for the most part.

        Dana Mentink award winning fiction author http://www.danamentink.com

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  5. Very interesting! I’d never really thought about this. I guess it differs from author to author. Sometimes I find that the first book is inferior to the sequel, as the writer’s style has improved and writes better and better with each book. But you’re right — sometimes that first book just has a certain je ne sais quoi about it that can’t be replicated. Fun! I will think about this more … and try not to let it mess with my head too much as I work on my own second book, lol.

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