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Thread: Query Letter: Look ahead?

  1. #1
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    Query Letter: Look ahead?

    I have written the first of what will be a series of books. In my query letter, should I mention that it will form a series? Should I preview where I see the series going, or stick to the content of the book being queried?

    Thanks!
    Kevin

  2. #2
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by avekevin View Post
    I have written the first of what will be a series of books. In my query letter, should I mention that it will form a series? Should I preview where I see the series going, or stick to the content of the book being queried?

    Thanks!
    Kevin
    The general rule of thumb is to query one book at a time, and make sure the book works as a stand-alone. Adding the words "with series potential" to the housekeeping may be an enticement for an agent, but strictly speaking you should only query finished work.
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  3. #3
    Get it off! It burns! Dennis E. Taylor's Avatar
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    "Outgrabing the Mome Raths" is adult fantasy and is a complete novel at 86,000 words, with series potential for up to 99 books.

    ... or something to that effect.
    Formerly Angry Guy.

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  4. #4
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I've heard opposite opinions on this from agents. One thing they seem to consitently like, though (which may or may not apply here) is:

    "Standalone with series potential"

    In other words, low commitment initially with the option to cash in if it does well.

    If it can't stand on its own, I'd probably customize the mention of series (or lack thereof) per agent. If an agent mostly does series, I'd tell them that it starts a series. If they mostly do standalones and only occasionally series, I probably wouldn't mention that it's a series and hope that they got hooked on the story itself.

  5. #5
    All the nopes. lizmonster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nahath View Post
    If an agent mostly does series, I'd tell them that it starts a series.
    I'm not entirely sure this is good advice. It's not really the agent that "does" a series; it's the publisher. (I subbed one book; it was the publisher who asked for three.) An agent that has authors who've published series isn't necessarily more likely to look at a book that isn't self-contained.

    If you write something that has series potential, it can be a plus. (If you've started more than the book you're querying, that can also help you.) If you write something that can't stand alone (series notwithstanding), you're severely constraining your chances pretty much all along the line.
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  6. #6
    People are not wearing enough hats JJ Litke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizmonster View Post
    I'm not entirely sure this is good advice. It's not really the agent that "does" a series; it's the publisher. (I subbed one book; it was the publisher who asked for three.) An agent that has authors who've published series isn't necessarily more likely to look at a book that isn't self-contained.

    If you write something that has series potential, it can be a plus. (If you've started more than the book you're querying, that can also help you.) If you write something that can't stand alone (series notwithstanding), you're severely constraining your chances pretty much all along the line.
    +1

    avekevin, take a look at Query Letter Hell in the Share Your Work area. There are several sticky threads there loaded with resources and advice. You need 50 posts to post a query for critique, but you can learn tons by participating in the critique threads already there.
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  7. #7
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    Thanks, everyone. The book has a self-contained plot but is left open ended to allow for much more with a bit of a cliffhanger/look-ahead at the end. "Standalone with series potential" sounds like an appropriate description.

    Kevin

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ Litke View Post
    take a look at Query Letter Hell in the Share Your Work area.
    I've started, and it's already been helpful. There's just so much!

  9. #9
    People are not wearing enough hats JJ Litke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by avekevin View Post
    I've started, and it's already been helpful. There's just so much!
    I know, right?! If you wade around there long enough it starts to be less overwhelming and more familiar.
    The Invisible Box, Apex Magazine issue #92
    When the Planets Left
    , Cast of Wonders episode 210
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  10. #10
    beef rank be frank's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJ Litke View Post
    I know, right?! If you wade around there long enough it starts to be less overwhelming and more familiar.
    Sounds a lot like AW as a whole, really.
    The early bird may catch the worm, but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese.

    here be all the query exercises

  11. #11
    Aerospace engineer turned writer Laer Carroll's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by avekevin View Post
    The book has a self-contained plot but is left open ended to allow for much more with a bit of a cliffhanger/look-ahead at the end.
    Absolutely HATE cliffhangers. Would throw book in recycler and remember your name so as to avoid it forever. You must handle the look-ahead very delicately to avoid hanger-averse readers.
    Last edited by Laer Carroll; 09-27-2017 at 01:32 AM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laer Carroll View Post
    Absolutely HATE cliffhangers. Would throw book in recycler and remember your name so as to avoid it forever. You must handle the look-ahead very delicately to avoid hanger-averse readers.
    Point taken. I'll consider how to handle it for all audiences.

  13. #13
    Heckuva good sport frimble3's Avatar
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    Thank you. Please keep in mind that some of us have been burned by books that hinted that 'all would be answered' in the next book, and that next book never came. Or, came long after we'd stopped caring.

  14. #14
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I find that most first books in a series works as a stand-alone, but once the publisher has confirmed that there will be a second/third to come, the next book almost always ends on some kind of cliff-hanger. I think you should definitely mention that it has series potential, especially with fantasy or sci-fi.

  15. #15
    Aerospace engineer turned writer Laer Carroll's Avatar
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    I find that most first books in a series works as a stand-alone, but once the publisher has confirmed that there will be a second/third to come, the next book almost always ends on some kind of cliff-hanger.
    If it does I will still pitch the book in the recycler, and the first of the series as well. I will still forever ban your books in my personal library.

    I think you should definitely mention that it has series potential, especially with fantasy or sci-fi.
    I disagree. If this potential is true, it will be immediately obvious to any savvy agent and your publisher, and you will have wasted a few precious words in a query which must be as compact and effective as a haiku. It also sets up expectations you may not be able to fulfill, leaving a sour taste in the mouth of the agent and publisher.

    One possible way to handle the series-potential idea is in the part of the query we typically put near the end.

    "I am seeking representation for My Perfect Book and possible sequels, prequels, and tie-ins. I am also interested in expanding into young adult and techno-thrillers."

    This sets up no possibly hard-to-pull-off expectations, but does show that you have thought deeply about your profession and its future. Agents and publishers typically want to work with writers who will produce lots of books in the years to come.

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