Sequels, Sequels.

That second “Sequel” in the title is actually the sequel to the first sequel.

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Supah.

I’m planning my sequel for my Grand Novel. Good idea, bad idea? I think it’s a good idea…even though #1 is not published, my characters & I haven’t spent much quality time together as of late. It’s weird and obsessive I know. But that’s what writing is all about. Obsessing over weirdness.

So, Mont, Harriet, & Ali, here I come!!!…

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8 thoughts on “Sequels, Sequels.

  1. There’s differeing schools of thought on this question. On one hand, if the first novel never sells, and you write a sequel, the work in the sequel is essentially wasted effort. (That’s a big if, though…)

    On the other hand… if your novel does sell, editors apparently prefer to buy in bulk* – as in buy the book and two or three sequels all at once. And, oh, by the way, they want the next book in the series pretty much as soon as you can churn it out (i.e. tomorrow) because by the time the first book is out you need to have the second book already done and ready. In that case… having a good chunk of book 2 done will probably save you a lot of stress and grief.

    That said… If I get around to rewriting that book I’ve been working on since forever any time in the near future (almost certainly will have done so in the not-so-near future, at any rate) I do plan to keep right on trucking and do number 2… because the story is meant to be told in a series, even if I aim to have a satisfying conclusion to book 1.

    *Please note that preferences and proclivities of actual editors are very likely quite different from the characterization I have presented, which is gleaned from occassional blog postings by editors and authors ruminating on their editors.

    • Very good points you brought up here. It’s not exactly a double-or-nothing deal; if the novels never sells, at least I’ve spent that “Quality Time” with my characters. 🙂 But it will look good on a query, I would imagine: “…And I’ve begun work on a thrilling sequel as well…” It would show the agent/editor that I’m in this for the long run.

      • It’s funny… right after posting this response, I read a “Daily Kick” from a few weeks ago by author David Farland that’s related to this topic. He gives his readers permission to share his kicks… so here’s what he said:

        How to Pitch a Series

        My question today comes from Jonathan Burgess, who asks, “How do you go about selling a novel(s) on spec? Is it a good idea? When submitting my finished story, should I mention in the cover letter that I’ve got sequels lined up and being worked on?”

        These are really several questions that are interrelated, but let’s answer them.

        To sell a novel on spec, you need to be a “proven” author—someone who has either published widely in short fiction (usually writing award-winning quality work) or someone who has published a novel or two before. If you’re a fairly new author, you can usually sell on spec if you submit a couple of sample chapters and an outline. But there really is no rule on this. If a publisher is going to give you a lot of money for a novel, they’ll often want more proof. They might ask for a very detailed outline, or more chapters fleshed out, and so on.

        You see, for the publisher, an outline is helpful, but there can still be a lot of pitfalls. For example, an author might write beautifully—crafting a sentence a day over the course of ten years until he or she completes a striking novel. So the publisher has to worry that you won’t write quickly, or won’t write well. Furthermore, if you’re writing on spec, the publisher will want to make sure that you’re healthy. I know of one author, years ago, who tried to sell several novel proposals at once, for tens of thousands of dollars, because he was terminally ill and was supposed to die in a few months. He wanted to go out with a bang rather than a whimper.

        So the publisher is looking for assurance that you can do the job. If the publisher feels reasonably comfortable with the arrangement, you can get a contract.

        Now, you have to realize that when a publisher buys a book from you, you immediately become a proven author. The publisher knows that you can produce quality work. So when you’re pitching a novel that is the first in a series, there’s no harm in letting the publisher know. In most genres, editors actually prefer to buy a small series than a standalone. The publishers recognize that by selling a series, you’re going to create demand for your backlist, and you will tend to grow an audience quickly.

        So don’t be shy about the fact that you have a series. You can always pitch your book as a “standalone novel with series potential” if you’re uneasy about pitching a full-blown series. But you have to weigh that option against pitching the series as a whole. Sometimes the idea for a series is so much bigger than the first novel, you really have to go big.

        If you do pitch a series, you usually don’t have to provide an outline for each book in the series. Normally, you might just give a basic idea of where the series will go. But once again, there are no rules here, and a publisher might well ask for a series overview. It’s pretty rare, but once again, the more money a publisher is being asked to pay, and the more that the publisher plans to push you and your work, the more they are likely to ask in return.

        Last of all, you have to worry about whether it’s a good idea to pitch a series rather than to pitch your novel as a standalone. Several factors come into play. For example, normally a first novel doesn’t sell for a great deal of money, and publishers may be reticent to bet a huge advance. So the advance that you’ll get for a first novel might be much smaller than what you’ll be worth on book four or five in your career. The question then becomes, do you want the security of having a deal in place, or is it more worthwhile to wait for a couple of years, believing that your value as an author will increase? I typically don’t like the idea of selling more than three books in a package, myself. And there is something else that plays into this decision: what if you get stuck writing a ten book series and your sales go down the toilet early on? Do you want to slave away on a contract that wastes your time? Or what if you get another idea for a series four years from now, one that is worth a hundred times what you’re getting paid for the series that you’re working on now?

        So I don’t particularly like the idea of being locked into a contract that goes on for years. I don’t know many authors who do like those kinds of contracts. Yet there are all sorts of extenuating circumstances that you might find yourself in. Ultimately, you need to decide what’s right for you.

      • Wow, it really shouldn’t have taken me that long to get around to reading the article you posted, lol 🙂 So true! Writers are sort of strange creatures by nature. How could we expect to be locked into a multi-year contract with a publisher if we decide to do something else four years on?

        As for the series thing, it may be a good idea to let the publisher know that I’m writing more in the series or have more books in mind. Right on.

  2. Can go either way. Some sequels I like better than the originals, some I think should never have been written. I say, if it’s in your head than your characters aren’t finished with you and you should write it 🙂

    • I like how you said “Your characters aren’t done with you” rather than “You aren’t done with your characters.” 😀 lol So true so true!!!! We are truly slaves to our characters.

      “Writers daily torture themselves with worlds they cannot touch, adventures they cannot live, and characters who don’t love back.”

  3. I’ve written sequels and prequels to all my novels… once you get on (in?) your own world, you just don’t wanna get out! 😉
    Go and write – I’m still unpublished too, and I have dozens of “cycles”, “saga”, whatever you want to call them! 😀

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