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View Full Version : Question regarding Sequels to those who've sold books



Michael Baker
04-10-2009, 05:30 PM
To those of you who have sold stand alone novels (discounting series books or multiple-parters like Wings), and you've had an idea for a sequel, prequel, or companion book, how have you gone about implementing it? Do you wait until your first book comes out, then approach the publisher? Or do you wait until the publisher approaches you? (presumably if they like the sales figures) Or do you write it on spec and present it to the publisher even before the first book comes out? I would think that a publisher would want to wait to see the sales on a first book before buying a sequel. And if a publisher did pass on a sequel, could you shop it to a different publisher? Wouldn't the second publisher want to know why the original wasn't publishing it?

It seems a lot of writers begin work on a sequel as soon as they sell their first book, but from my point of view, it doesn't seem like it's that great an idea. What do you think?

timewaster
04-10-2009, 05:57 PM
The final part of my trilogy comes out next month. The first volume came out in 2000. I had ideas for a sequel, but sold a stand alone in between so the sequel finally appeared in 2003. I then sold four further stand alones before getting a commission to finish the series. I think this is unusual. I always wanted to write three books with these characters but each book has been conceived separately and researched separately as they take place in different historical periods.
Although I was keen on writing a trilogy I was never prepared to write the subsequent parts without a commission and I submitted a couple of earlier ideas for the final part before settling on the one that was accepted. All the books are with the same publisher.
The earlier two have be rejacketed and will be re released to coincide with the publication of the third one.

It's a gamble writing a uncomissioned sequel. It didn't occur to me to sell the idea of a sequel to anyone but the original publisher - if the first book doesn't sell well why would anyone take a second?

I'd work on something else until you have some indication that the first one might have sold enough to justify a second. IMHO YMMV

Amarie
04-10-2009, 08:40 PM
I haven't sold a stand-alone novel, but I'll take a shot at your question. If a writer has an agent, he/she will usually let the agent know of an idea for a sequel, prequel, etc., so the agent can decide whether to pitch the second idea when the first manuscript goes out on sub. to publishing houses.

timewaster
04-10-2009, 09:08 PM
Yeah. That's true but if you have a two or three book deal the content is not always specfied and so the content of the books tends to be a negotiation between writer and editor.

Danthia
04-10-2009, 09:50 PM
My situation was different (I sold as a trilogy), but from what I understand:


Do you wait until your first book comes out, then approach the publisher?
If you want to write a sequel, write it. You don't have to wait until the first book sells. I'd suggest going with an agent and letting them deal with publishers, because they'd likely try to sell it as a multi-book deal (which is what happened to me). But if you want to submit directly to publishers you can. You'd most likely tell them about the second book when they make an offer on the first.


Or do you wait until the publisher approaches you? (presumably if they like the sales figures)
Publishers aren't going to approach you. (I'm sure there are some unique cases where they would, but I imagine you'd have to be bestseller level before that'll happen.)


Or do you write it on spec and present it to the publisher even before the first book comes out? I would think that a publisher would want to wait to see the sales on a first book before buying a sequel.
Not necessarily. A lot of buzz and interest is created long before the book comes out. Mine comes out in Oct, and the publisher is already marketing it to booksellers. Print run is determined bu this interest, so if a book gets a lot of it, I can see them buying a sequel.


And if a publisher did pass on a sequel, could you shop it to a different publisher? Wouldn't the second publisher want to know why the original wasn't publishing it?
You can, but it's rare for a publisher to take on a second book of a series published by someone else.


It seems a lot of writers begin work on a sequel as soon as they sell their first book, but from my point of view, it doesn't seem like it's that great an idea. What do you think?
The odds of you selling a sequel as just as good as a stand alone book, so if you want a sequel, write it. You've already proven the idea is something someone wants to buy. Why wouldn't you if you have one in mind? I wouldn't, however, write the sequel if you haven't sold the first. You're better off writing something new in case the first doesn't sell.

Forgive me if I'm overstepping here or misreading, but most of this is something your agent would handle for you (which is why I think writers should go the agent route). It's their job to handle the business aspect so you can deal with the writing :) But ultimately, when you have a book ready to go, you send it to agent or editor and try to sell it. If you go right to the editor (publisher), you'll have built a relationship with them by the time the book comes out, so you can probably ask them about other books. I can't really say how this would work since I didn't submit this way.