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View Full Version : When do I talk about a sequel?



amyashley
09-12-2010, 06:25 AM
I am currently compiling my agent list as my MS sits with my beta readers and my query seems to have reached it's full potential. I'm about ready to go shopping! Of course, there will probably be a few final revisions, but it looks like this one is well on it's way.

I am eager to get things started on my sequel, which I already have begun some research on. I haven't started taking notes or anything yet, but since I do most of my outline mentally, I have a good concept laid out. I know I am looking at a trilogy.

My question is when should I bring this up with an agent? I didn't mention it in the query. It seemed pretentious because the books aren't written yet. The first book can stand alone anyway. I didn't think it would factor into a book deal since I was a first time author either.

Mr Flibble
09-12-2010, 07:05 AM
'While this book stands alone, it has series potential'
Don't work on the sequel (other than in your head/notes) till you sold this one. Cos if you don't sell this one....

The again, people have sold whole series. Depends on your genre.



Have something else up your sleeve is always good though.

Steam&Ink
09-12-2010, 09:02 AM
I am currently compiling my agent list as my MS sits with my beta readers and my query seems to have reached it's full potential. I'm about ready to go shopping! Of course, there will probably be a few final revisions, but it looks like this one is well on it's way.

I am eager to get things started on my sequel, which I already have begun some research on. I haven't started taking notes or anything yet, but since I do most of my outline mentally, I have a good concept laid out. I know I am looking at a trilogy.

My question is when should I bring this up with an agent? I didn't mention it in the query. It seemed pretentious because the books aren't written yet. The first book can stand alone anyway. I didn't think it would factor into a book deal since I was a first time author either.


I didn't start my sequel until I got agented. In our first conversation, my agent asked me if I had a sequel, but at that point I only had a scene plan (and as it transpired, not a very robust one).
I'm now working on the sequel (off a much-reworked scene plan) while she is busily submitting the first book to publishers. She is presenting it as a series (I now also have a pretty good scene plan for a third book) but of course there is no guarantee of that.
So it's possible I am writing book #2 for nothing but the love of the craft! :D On the other hand, if a fabulous multi-book offer does present itself **crosses fingers and toeses** then I willl be ahead of the game.

ETA It's pretty normal in a query letter, as IdiotsRUs said, to indicate you have/plan to write a sequel by saying something like "Herding Kittens is a stand-alone novel, with series potential". Don't worry about it sounding pretentious, it's accepted lingo.

Good luck with querying!

Mr. Anonymous
09-12-2010, 09:02 AM
^^ good advice up there.

I'd recommend on working on something unrelated, for the reason Idiots specified. If the first book doesn't sell, nobody will want your second (unless you can make it stand-alone, in which case, by all means!)

I know you're probably sure this will be the one to break you in, but the sad truth is, I've been dead-sure of that myself three times already. My third book is still out with a fair number of agents, granted, but I've already moved on to my fourth, which I think is more commercially viable, and will have a better chance of getting me repped.

Jamesaritchie
09-12-2010, 10:45 AM
A sequel is usually a bad idea until the first book is not only pubished, but is something of a success. If the first book flops, the publisher won't want a sequel, and if that's all you have ready, you may be dropped completely.

Ryan_Sullivan
09-12-2010, 10:53 AM
If you are writing the sequel because you really want to, and would be fulfilled with it never being published, go for it--nothing to lose. If, however, you would only be doing it to have it published, don't.

If an agent is interested enough to call, that might be a good time to say "I have an idea for a sequel..." etc.

amyashley
09-12-2010, 07:03 PM
I promised my husband no serious writing until October. I may hear back from an agent by then, who knows?

I'm pretty serious about writing it, so I will probably go for it and take Ryan's advice. I also intend to work my own marketing as much as possible. I have every confidence it will sell.

LOL @ Herding Kittens!

Genre is urban fantasy, so series are VERY common.

Jamesaritchie
09-12-2010, 07:35 PM
If you are writing the sequel because you really want to, and would be fulfilled with it never being published, go for it--nothing to lose. If, however, you would only be doing it to have it published, don't.

If an agent is interested enough to call, that might be a good time to say "I have an idea for a sequel..." etc.

Nothing to lose except a career.

amyashley
09-12-2010, 08:48 PM
Lose a career by writing a sequel? By suggesting it to your agent? I'm not following here.

I was kind of under the impression that I still have a good 40 years or so left of my life. It isn't make or break. I can always ALWAYS resubmit something new or different elsewhere if this doesn't work.

I do understand that not everything works out perfectly, the world isn't covered in flower petals and moonbeams. One failure or bad choice doesn't ruin your life though. In fact, if anything I've learned that there really aren't so much as mistakes in this life as there are learning experiences. It's what you decide to make of things, and not what they make of you. I'm not some silly teenager, naieve about what life holds. I'm 34, I've got 3 kids and major health issues. I've been through enough crap in life to know that it can get really nasty sometimes.

I refuse to let my career make me. I have every intention of making it be the other way around. I'm not a pessimist though, and I don't think that's a fault.

Giant Baby
09-12-2010, 09:38 PM
Um, no. Writing a sequel will not cost you your career. The worst it can do is go down as a wasted effort if you don't sell book one -- or if book one does not perform so as to warrant a sequel -- and it could be a turn off publishers who'd rather know that you've got something else up your sleeve.

That said, I don't believe any writing is ever truly a wasted effort. If the sequel wants to be written, write it. Your question was about when to bring it up, and I agree that IdiotsRUs and Steampunkette gave you an excellent template for broaching the subject in the query. It's not really necessary at this stage, either way. If an agent is interested in your book, the topic is going to come up, regardless. The main thing is to be sure your book one can stand alone, and to be ready/willing/able to write something else if it doesn't sell.

Ryan_Sullivan
09-12-2010, 10:57 PM
Nothing to lose except a career.

Thanks again for the ever snarky idiotic commentary.

waylander
09-13-2010, 02:45 AM
One thing to consider is that if an agent does sell your novel, the contact for that sale very often has a deadline for a second book buried somewhere on page 3. That deadline could be as close as 6 months away. I don't know how fast you write, but that would scare me.

amyashley
09-13-2010, 03:19 AM
6 months is okay. I'd need help with editing probably, but with an agent on hand already it would cut out a lot of the work I've put in. I write faster than many because I'm pretty strict about my schedule.

charmingbillie
09-13-2010, 03:30 AM
I never mentioned sequels until an agent asked me what other projects I was either working on or had in mind. If they're interested in you, my guess is that it will come up.

IceCreamEmpress
09-13-2010, 04:22 AM
You have nothing to lose except the time spent writing the sequel, just in case the first book doesn't sell. Which isn't nothing, but it's not your entire career, either.

steampunk
09-13-2010, 06:40 PM
I just wanted to chime in and say that I competely disagree with it being a) your career at stake and b) a wasted effort.
My first book, which is on sub with publishers, is a series. I told my agent right from the get go and he didn't bat an eye. When he subs it he says "this is the first of three planned." But it also does stand on it's own.

I think maybe people are over thinking it. Tell your agent or your potential agent when you speak. They will be honest if they think it works that way.

Now, in the meantime, I have chosen to write a second book that is not part of the sequel. It is a totally different story. I didn't do that in case the first one doesn't sell (though that is very logical). I did it because I needed to put those characters aside and focus on something else otherwise I spent too much time worrying about if it will ever get published. The new book keeps my focus on writing.

And i guess this is where I have to go with the whole "not a wasted effort" thing. You become a better writer by writing. Everything you write is a move in that direction. In the end, just write what makes you happy. The story you like to tell. You never know if you'll be luck (and yes, i belive that has much to do with publication) or not. But at least you'll know you were dedicated to becoming the best possible writer you could.

amyashley
09-13-2010, 06:51 PM
steampunk, thanks! Your sentiments echoed my own. I've learned so much in the course of writing this first book that I cannot imagine writing another, regardless of the purpose or sale, would be a waste of effort. Also, I feel the need to keep myself VERY busy. I'm sure something else will come up too.

steampunk
09-13-2010, 07:37 PM
amyashley

you're welcome. Honestly, as I said, there is no such thing as a wasted effort. It's called honing your craft. Focusing on publication, for me mnd you, is just a major distraction from creativity.

Good luck. Write what you want. Publication is a bit of a crapshoot anyway!

Danthia
09-13-2010, 10:41 PM
Having sold a trilogy when the other books weren't written, and having just gone through the process, I have a slightly different perspective.

I queried my novel as a stand alone, that could continue as a trilogy. I wanted to let an agent know I had other ideas in the works, but that this book was fine by itself. Just one line at the bottom of the query. You can either do that, or mention it when you sign with an agent and ask their career advice. Both work. As long as the first book stands alone you're fine either way. It's the "part one" book that's almost impossible to sell as an unpublished author.

I was advised against working on the sequel while my agent shopped the novel, because if it didn't sell, I didn't waste time with a book I also couldn't sell. But that's not your situation. If you really want to write the sequel, write it. There are advantages to having the books written before shopping them. I wished many a time I could go back and edit book one when I got cool ideas in books two or three, but by then it was set in stone. If I ever do a trilogy again, I'd love to do them all at the same time so I can edit them as a group.

Keep in mind that if the first book doesn't pan out, the second book will likely also be unsellable. But if you don't care if it takes an extra year (or however long it takes you to write) to get an agent, there's nothing wrong with writing the sequel now and different book next. And if you write first drafts quickly, you can always dash out that first draft while the story is in your head so if it does sell, it'll take little effort to finish up.

You increase your chances of success by writing something new, but at this stage, there's nothing to lose but a little time. Do whatever makes you happy.

amyashley
09-13-2010, 11:24 PM
At this point in time, by the time I get a decent query out of QLH, I will have a seventeen book series to sell.

JRVogt
09-13-2010, 11:31 PM
I only started in on a sequel after signing on with my agent, who encouraged me to go ahead since he believes the first novel, while standalone, should be fleshed out into a series. Fortunately, I'd spent some time outlining potential follow-ups, and so have been able to get a goodly portion of the sequel written in the months we've spent preparing the first book to send around to publishers. But I wouldn't have started in on it without having an agent, or having his feedback on whether it was a wise time investment.

BrooklynLee
09-14-2010, 01:05 AM
After I found my agent I asked her if I should consider working on the sequel idea I had for my first book. She said not to, because there was a reasonable chance that an editor wouldn't be interested in a sequel until the first book was published and well-received, at least not in my genre. She suggested I work on something else for now.

Well, I'm glad I took that advice because my first book has been on submission for nine months. I'm finishing up my second book, though -- another stand-alone book in the same genre. I know that even if my first book doesn't sell I'll have another one ready for her to submit. But if I'd spent all that time writing the sequel to my first book I think I'd be kicking myself right about now.

If you wouldn't feel that way after months or more of querying agents or submitting to publishers, then go ahead, but just remember that it might end up as wasted effort.

Camilla Delvalle
09-21-2010, 02:55 PM
What if I have already written the sequel? Should I mention it in the query?

I'm going to send a query today, on a fantasy novel that is meant to be stand-alone. But as said I have already written a sequel too. I'm only looking to publish the first book at the moment, I'm not trying to sell it as a series. Will they be more sceptical if they hear there is a sequel?

Izz
09-21-2010, 03:00 PM
What if I have already written the sequel? Should I mention it in the query?

I'm going to send a query today, on a fantasy novel that is meant to be stand-alone. But as said I have already written a sequel too. I'm only looking to publish the first book at the moment, I'm not trying to sell it as a series. Will they be more sceptical if they hear there is a sequel?What IRU and steampunktte said upthread :)



'While this book stands alone, it has series potential'





ETA It's pretty normal in a query letter, as IdiotsRUs said, to indicate you have/plan to write a sequel by saying something like "Herding Kittens is a stand-alone novel, with series potential". Don't worry about it sounding pretentious, it's accepted lingo.

Good luck with querying! :)

Camilla Delvalle
09-22-2010, 03:47 AM
Ok. I have sent the query now and I mentioned the sequel.