SECOND BOOK SYNDROME: PART 1
Nikesh Shukla on second book syndrome and how the industry fetishizes the debut
I have long been a huge admirer of Nikesh Shukla and his work. I respect how he’s not only achieved incredible success in his own writing, but how he’s also utilised that to platform, mentor and support other writers. He’s a person who’s called for change in the industry and raised awareness, he’s also someone who doesn’t limit himself in role or remit: the list of books, accolades and the co-founded agency and prize he’s set up solidify him as a thought-leader in the publishing industry.
His writing focuses on race, racism, identity, and immigration. He is the editor of the bestselling essay collection The Good Immigrant which won the Books Are My Bag ‘Reader’s Choice Award’. He is the author of Coconut Unlimited (shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award), Meatspace and the critically acclaimed The One Who Wrote Destiny. He co-edited The Good Immigrant USA with Chimene Suleyman. He is the author of three YA novels, Run,Riot (shortlisted for a National Book Award), The Boxer (longlisted for the Carnegie Medal) and Stand Up. Nikesh’s new book is a memoir addressed to his young daughter, it’s called Brown Baby: A Memoir Of Race, Family And Home and I’d highly recommend it. He has also written a book on writing called Your Story Matters. And if that isn’t enough, Nikesh is currently working on a Spider-Man comic book miniseries for Marvel.
He was one of Time Magazine’s cultural leaders, Foreign Policy magazine's 100 Global Thinkers and he was listed in The Bookseller's ‘100 most influential people in publishing’. He is also the co-founder of The Good Literary Agency which was founded in 2018 explicitly to represent British authors from backgrounds under-represented in UK publishing including writers of colour, working class, disability, LGBTQ and anyone else who feels they or their stories are under-represented. He is also one of the co-founders of the Jhalak Prize awarded annually to British or British resident writers of colour.
I knew he’d be the perfect person to talk to about second book syndrome. Nikesh shares the barrage of rejections he had to overcome to publish his first book, how the industry fetishizes the debut and offers his advice, urging writers to give themselves the time they need.
And don’t forget to check out his substack: Writing Stuff With Nikesh Shukla.
Over to Nikesh…
1. What does ‘second book syndrome’ mean to you?
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