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View Full Version : what direction when 1st in a series fails?



tko
03-16-2012, 11:31 PM
From an agents perspective, what course would you take when the first of trilogy is a big flop? Assuming that you still have a very high confidence level in the novels, and have them all plotted and many chapter worked out in your head.

1.) Give up entirely, start over on a new work, figuring that any flaw in the 1st will be carried over to the second.

2.) Write the 2nd novel as a stand alone and submit. Maybe you can talk any agents that liked it into taking a look at the first?

3.) Finish the trilogy and publish as an ebook, figuring you 1st three novels are cannon fodder anyway, so why not learn, get them out of your system, and move on.

Would it annoy an agent to receive a novel that read well as a stand alone, and then find there was an earlier novel?

AlishaS
03-17-2012, 02:59 AM
When you say, the first in a series failed what exactly are you meaning... that you self published and it flopped... you got it traditionally published and it flopped...

I think we need a bit more info here.

Also, if this is a novel you intend to query yet you've already published, that sometimes doesn't bode well with agents. Also usually whether a book is a series isn't always up to the author, or the agent... usually the publisher will decide if it has series potential whether you've outlined it or not.

Also, pretty much all novels that you query, submit and what not should essentially be stand alone. They shouldn't have a huge cliffhanger at the end. The strings of the main story line and plot should be tied up, with only a hint of things left open that could lead to further novels.

tko
03-17-2012, 06:18 AM
Sorry, wasn't clear.

I queried maybe 200 agents, 5 queries, a few rewrites, no interest. Have never self published.

And yes, the novels are stand alone. Yes, they have a strong ending that completes the novel in a satisfactory ending. But like any series, they would read better in order. Characters age, grow, act based on previous experience. Wouldn't make much sense to publish book two and then book one.



When you say, the first in a series failed what exactly are you meaning... that you self published and it flopped... you got it traditionally published and it flopped...

I think we need a bit more info here.

Also, if this is a novel you intend to query yet you've already published, that sometimes doesn't bode well with agents. Also usually whether a book is a series isn't always up to the author, or the agent... usually the publisher will decide if it has series potential whether you've outlined it or not.

Also, pretty much all novels that you query, submit and what not should essentially be stand alone. They shouldn't have a huge cliffhanger at the end. The strings of the main story line and plot should be tied up, with only a hint of things left open that could lead to further novels.

kaitie
03-17-2012, 06:36 AM
This is the reason we recommend not writing multiple books in a series until the first has sold. If the first doesn't, it can make it harder with the next.

In this case, if they're truly standalone, it won't hurt to query book two. If it gets interest you can mention that it's part of a series. Otherwise, I'd start work on something not-series related.

Nightd
03-17-2012, 07:55 PM
And yes, the novels are stand alone. Yes, they have a strong ending that completes the novel in a satisfactory ending. But like any series, they would read better in order. Characters age, grow, act based on previous experience. Wouldn't make much sense to publish book two and then book one.

The fourth book in my favourite series, the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, by Patricia C. Wrede was actually published first.

I ASSUME since it sold well, that's why she went ahead and were able to publish the first 3.

OR

She never had any plans for a series and the fourth book was always a standalone. Since it sold so well, maybe her publisher asked for a series and she decided on prequels instead sequels.

I've never actually done any research on why she published the 4th book first. Although each book is a standalone and can be read individually, like any any series, they would be read better in order.

gothicangel
03-17-2012, 08:11 PM
I queried maybe 200 agents, 5 queries, a few rewrites, no interest. Have never self published.



Out of interest, could I ask what was your success rate? Out of the 200 where form rejects? Personalised rejects? Partial/full requests?

Is there a possibility that the rejections came from the query letter?

MKrys
03-17-2012, 08:36 PM
Hmmm. A tough one, but I'm going to throw out my first thought: it may be beneficial to move on to a completely new book. What could it hurt? You could always return to your previous novels at a later date, and in fact, having some time away from them might give you some perspective as to why the first wasn't picked up. Plus you'd have a whole new shiny book finished.

Just sayin' :)

heyjude
03-17-2012, 09:41 PM
I agree with those who said write a whole new book.

If that's successful, you can always go back to your series. By then maybe you'd have a bit more experience and can see where it went wrong.

My first-in-a-series didn't sell. I just wrote something else. Looks like that may not sell, either, but that's okay 'cause I'm writing something else. One foot in front of the other!

tko
03-17-2012, 11:58 PM
It was a total fail. Four queries over 6 months, each posted here (literally hundreds of hours of though.) Three different openings. One request for a full that the agent never got back to me on. Two comments. Everything else a form letter, sometimes in 5 minutes on a Sunday evening.

What's funny is I had one of Amazon's most prolific thriller reviewers tell me he really like my novel. Several other independent readers have thought it was the best novel they've read in the last year (no, it wasn't my dog or mom). And of course, many have hated it. So I don't know. I'm close in some weird way, but still failing big time. I'd like to tell myself it's because its hard to break into the thriller genre, but then I think monkeys on a typewriter could have done better.



Out of interest, could I ask what was your success rate? Out of the 200 where form rejects? Personalised rejects? Partial/full requests?

Is there a possibility that the rejections came from the query letter?