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WeaselFire
11-08-2012, 06:30 PM
I talked to a friend who's a beginning writer and working in the Mystery genre, as I'm beginning to do. I asked how his submissions on his first book were doing and he said he got accepted by an agent who had asked for the book a few months ago. But the agent said she would represent him if he had three books in his mystery series ready to go.

His work is good and has great series potential, and this agent checks out. She has sold a number of series works in the genre,. has a decent track record and has been around for about a decade. I don't doubt any of this and I have a feeling it's a great deal for him.

I've just never heard of any agent/publisher asking for a pre-written series before. Is this really unusual or something I just haven't seen in limited fiction experience?

Jeff

Susan Littlefield
11-08-2012, 06:49 PM
I don't know the answer in general. I do know when a friend's YA book got accepted it was to be a series. Unfortunately, it was dropped because the first book did not sell well.

I'm interested to hear what others have to say.

Kallithrix
11-08-2012, 09:43 PM
the agent said she would represent him if he had three books in his mystery series ready to go.

[...]

I've just never heard of any agent/publisher asking for a pre-written series before. Is this really unusual or something I just haven't seen in limited fiction experience?

Jeff

Hmm, to be honest it does sound plausible in such a tough market, especially in a genre like mystery (or crime) which is naturally disposed towards a series. An agent can only take on so many new clients every year, and they want to know that those clients are going to be worth investing their time in for the long run, and not just a one hit wonder. It does seem quite demanding though. If he is up to the challenge it could be a great opportunity for him. If it feels like too much pressure, I'd suggest this agent might not be the best fit for him.

Jamesaritchie
11-08-2012, 10:10 PM
I've certainly never been asked for this by agent or editor, and I'd run away fast if either did ask. One book written and a synopsis of the next two is acceptable, but not three completed novels. That, in my opinion, is a very, very bad thing, and I write in the mystery genre, as well.

Phaeal
11-08-2012, 10:10 PM
I haven't ever heard of an agent asking a new client to have a whole series finished before signing, but maybe this one is looking at the availablity of three books as a strong selling point.

If he really wants this agent, I guess he'll have to comply. If he's not enough in love, I guess he can keep querying. That one agent offered should give him encouragement another might, without the (to me) unusual stipulation.

At the least (if he has already done this), he could write detailed outlines or treatments of the next two novels in the series, for submission with the first completed book. My agent asked me for one sequel treatment, and I gave him two ten-fifteen pagers, which I think helped a lot in sealing the series deal.

victoriastrauss
11-09-2012, 05:05 AM
I haven't ever heard of an agent asking a new client to have a whole series finished before signing, but maybe this one is looking at the availablity of three books as a strong selling point.
I also wonder if this isn't something that's being spurred by all the digital-only imprints that are being established. Digital consumers seem to be more impatient than print consumers, and maybe the agent is thinking of the possibility of selling to a digital imprint that will bring the series out with only a couple of months between installments.

- Victoria

thothguard51
11-09-2012, 05:26 AM
Unfortunately, it was dropped because the first book did not sell well.

My first agent knew my submission was a trilogy with future series potential. I told her I had the other two in rough draft form and if she wanted I would whip them up and she sell the whole thing as a series.

She laughed, politely, and told me to lets wait and see if she could sell the first one. As she told me, and I have heard elsewhere from other agents and editors, its hard to sell a series because if the first one does not sell well, how much does the publisher want to invest.

Of course, with E-publishing houses, they are in it for the long run as there really is no shelf life. I have seen a lot of new writers banging out books 2, 3, ... 5 in a little more than a years time with e-publishers. I suspect a few of those books were sitting there just waiting anyway, but still, e-publishers seem to want series more so than singles.

And I am not sure how many agents are submitting to these small publishers because there is very few who are giving advances to make it worth the agents time...

Susan Littlefield
11-09-2012, 06:33 AM
Thank you, T. I never even considered that an agent asking for a whole series at once would a reason to run. Now I think I see why: if the first book does not sell well, then the entire series is doomed.

With my friend, she did not sell a series, but it was discussed as series potential.

WeaselFire
11-09-2012, 07:10 PM
I also wonder if this isn't something that's being spurred by all the digital-only imprints that are being established. Digital consumers seem to be more impatient than print consumers, and maybe the agent is thinking of the possibility of selling to a digital imprint that will bring the series out with only a couple of months between installments.
That was my initial thought as well. A good series writer can put out one, maybe two books a year (Unless their name is so famous they can get other writers to do all the work...). The digital market seems to expect faster turn-around times. Trade publishers are looking at two years or more to get a book published. Having a jump on a series seems like a good advantage and selling point.

Jeff

Phaeal
11-09-2012, 09:43 PM
A good series writer can put out one, maybe two books a year (Unless their name is so famous they can get other writers to do all the work...)

Nah, this never happens.

;)

WeaselFire
11-09-2012, 10:08 PM
Now I think I see why: if the first book does not sell well, then the entire series is doomed.
The only real loser on that side would be the author, who worked hard to sell nothing. But that's really the plight of authors everywhere, other than a select few.

I don't know of any "major" imprints that are doing electronic only, but that may also be the wave of the future. And change the dynamics again. Especially as brick and mortar stores crumble away and become Kindle or Nook kiosks in the mall.

Jeff

DavidBrett
11-11-2012, 07:13 AM
It sounds harsh, but totally understandable to me; like folks have pointed out, agents' spaces are limited, and they'll want to be sure they're backing a winning series, and not just a one trick pony.

Also, think of it as buffer: with those the novels done and dusted, that's potentially a couple of years to get them printed before there's demand for a fourth, making the process easier for everyone. The opposite would be the agent raving about your first book, only for you to miss the second's deadline for whatever reason, which would put you both in a bad light with the publisher.

Better to be safe than sorry, right...?

Dave

ARoyce
11-11-2012, 07:24 AM
I also wonder if this isn't something that's being spurred by all the digital-only imprints that are being established. Digital consumers seem to be more impatient than print consumers, and maybe the agent is thinking of the possibility of selling to a digital imprint that will bring the series out with only a couple of months between installments.

- Victoria

I'm also seeing this more in print, at least in the romance genre, maybe five/six months between releases. But then again, traditionally print romance publishers like Kensington (mine), Avon, and Grand Central have all established digital-first imprints too. So digital publishing may be pushing print publishers toward faster timelines and more series as well. Maybe.

retlaw
11-11-2012, 03:51 PM
uff-duh. i hope this demand for a series isn't a trend.

Mr Flibble
11-11-2012, 04:49 PM
I'm also seeing this more in print, at least in the romance genre, maybe five/six months between releases.

In fantasy some pubs are trying it too - mine are out with four and five month intervals, though I didn't have books 2 and 3 written when we too the offer. It seems to be coming more common (apparently helps sales).

Perhaps they want to offer the series for that, but as they are unsure how long your friend might take to write books 2 & 3, are hoping it looks more favourable to have them ready?

Your friend could always ask.

profen4
11-11-2012, 05:14 PM
It sounds fishy to me. I had a discussion with my agent about what I should be working on next while my mss. goes on submission (it's a series). He said I shouldn't bank on it selling and should work on something new. Asking an author to write two more books in a series that might not sell, seems poor advice. What a waste of time that COULD be to that author. ao nguc winny (http://doxinh.com/danh-muc/thuong-hieu-do-lot/hang-winny/ao-nguc-winny/) quan lot nam cao cap (http://doxinh.com.vn/danh-muc/do-lot-nam/quan-lot-nam/) do ve sinh rang mieng (http://doxinh.vn/danh-muc/do-dung-cho-be/do-ve-sinh-rang-mieng/) vay cong so nu (http://trangbanbuon.com/danh-muc/thoi-trang-cong-so/vay-cong-so/) ban buon quan ao (http://trangbanbuon.vn/) cho thue trang phuc da hoi (http://roses.vn/studio/cho-thue-trang-phuc/)