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Bmann
07-06-2015, 06:50 PM
Hello all, I have been sending out queries for my ms but I think I may be going about it wrong. My story is intended to span three books, I'm a newbie so I'm not sure how to address this properly within the query? Should I even mention this in my query? The thing is while I intend and would want it to be a three book story it could, with some altercation be a standalone story. I've read a lot of conflicting stuff about whether or not to even mention the word "series" in a query. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

Aggy B.
07-06-2015, 07:18 PM
The phrase you are looking for is "series potential".

FREX: Noodles is an 80,000 word dark fantasy with series potential.

Even if an agent is looking to pick up a standalone book, most will be open to the idea that there could be more if the first is successful. What you don't want to do is imply that the book will only function as part of a trilogy or that you're going to spend the next three years writing the sequels even if the first book hasn't sold yet.

I queried a steampunk novel as having "series potential". There is a chance that was a turnoff to some of the agents I queried, but the one I signed with was completely jazzed about the idea that it was the beginning of a trilogy.

Naturally, YMMV.

Bmann
07-06-2015, 07:31 PM
Thank you very much Aggy:)

Jamesaritchie
07-06-2015, 07:41 PM
Three books is usually not a series, it's a trilogy. This does not mean the first book can't stand alone, if written properly. But unless it's a true trilogy with one story that spans three books, I wouldn't mention it at all. It's an incredibly rare novel that does not have series potential, and for new writers, series are made by sales numbers, not by planning.

If the first book flops on the market, there will be no series. If it sells well, there will be a series, if there's any potential at all, and there almost always is. Agents and editors know when a book has series potential, and it's better for new writers not to even think about it, or to start writing a second book until the first ones sells, and shows it has legs.

If it is a true trilogy, you have to mention it. A trilogy is a tough sell for a new writer, but not an impossible one. Quality always beats out lack of experience.

krinaphobia
07-06-2015, 08:05 PM
I had the same question a while back, and what I was told was to focus my query on the first book, but that I could mention near the end of the letter that the book was the first in a planned trilogy. Good luck!

CEtchison
07-06-2015, 09:22 PM
It depends on what and who you are querying. Recently there have been numerous agents and editors on Twitter asking specifically for series. If you've got something they are asking for, absolutely you tell them it's part of a series.

Aggy B.
07-06-2015, 09:36 PM
If you have something that is specifically a trilogy (three book arc, each builds on the last) you can say "first in a potential trilogy".

Mine is a series that starts with a three book arc. And, while it's true that if your agent only sells the first book and it doesn't do well there (likely) won't be any more in the trilogy/series. You might have an agent who is aiming for a multi-book deal though.

Again, my agent has been super-keen on the fact that I can write with a series in mind. (Being able to outline sequels and write from an outline helps, in that regard.) It goes back to the main concern of finding an agent who has a similar vision as yours.

Best of luck.

Bmann
07-06-2015, 11:19 PM
I realize a trilogy is a tough sell for an unknown/unproven writer. While my goal would be to have it picked up and sell well enough for me to write the rest I hold no illusions to the odds being in my favor. But my plan is to get it out one way or the other. If no agent is interested I will likely just publish it myself through Amazons program or some other means. I knew it was probably a foolish move to try to enter the market with such a story but it seemed the best way with what I read.

I originally intended the story to be just one book, but research I found showed that unknown authors querying for a 1k+ manuscript was not advisable. So I stopped with the first manuscript. While the story IMO could stand as it is I have the feeling most would not think so being as the ending would leave too much pondering for the reader. Thank you for all the advice:)

mellymel
07-07-2015, 01:56 AM
And by 1k I'm guessing you mean 100K? :D

Bmann
07-07-2015, 02:39 AM
And by 1k I'm guessing you mean 100K? :D

I'm just making all kinds of mistakes today with my posting :D But actually I meant a thousand pages :)

cornflake
07-07-2015, 03:02 AM
I'm just making all kinds of mistakes today with my posting :D But actually I meant a thousand pages :)

You mean you've got a 250,000-word manuscript? No, you can't query a single book that long and expect anything but rejection. You might cut it down or use part of it though.

Bmann
07-07-2015, 03:35 AM
You mean you've got a 250,000-word manuscript? No, you can't query a single book that long and expect anything but rejection. You might cut it down or use part of it though.

No I mean I was initially going to write the entire story as one book, but after some research I decided to split it up so as not to have to query a thousand page MS. My MS now stands at 107k words.

TerryRodgers
07-18-2015, 12:16 AM
No I mean I was initially going to write the entire story as one book, but after some research I decided to split it up so as not to have to query a thousand page MS. My MS now stands at 107k words.

Can it work as a standalone? As many have mentioned, if it can't stand alone, your odds are significantly higher against you.

Bmann
07-21-2015, 02:11 AM
Can it work as a standalone? As many have mentioned, if it can't stand alone, your odds are significantly higher against you.

It can stand alone if need be. However that is only my opinion. As I said, if it doesn't get picked up I intend to self publish it to simply get it out there. I realize this story was probably not the best to try and test the waters with what with me being unknown/unpublished, but nevertheless I will try.

Thedrellum
07-21-2015, 03:10 AM
Every writer is unknown and unpublished to start with. It all depends on the writing, though. If you're writing is amazing, and the books are amazing, selling it as a trilogy is possible. Same for selling the first book as a stand-alone.

I guess what I'm saying is that you should have faith in your work, as it is the work itself that matters most in getting published.

ElaineA
07-21-2015, 06:06 PM
I can tell you, having just attended a conference with 20 agents on one panel, this group clearly did not want to be pitched books that cannot stand alone. One agent's quote was "There is no series unless the first book sells so well a publisher is willing to take on the second." And every agent nodded. That is not to say you can't mention potential, as Aggy says, but if you are interested in an agent and a traditional publishing path, you'd be best served if each book has a separate resolution on its own. And that the agent knows this via your query letter.

Another agent used the example of Harry Potter. Obviously those books read one to the next, and the deeper in the series, the more one probably has had to have read the previous works to know all the characters, etc. BUT, each book resolves its own problem. So Harry v. Voldemort is the overarching series conflict, but in book 1, Harry finds the Sorcerer's Stone. That plot fully resolves and the reader is left both satisfied and anxious to see what comes next with the Voldemort plot.

I agree with Thedrellum 1) that every writer is unknown and unpublished at some point. The agents on the panel didn't seem the least bothered by that. They were there looking for potential among a lot of unpublished writers, after all; and 2) You should have full confidence in your work, and the writing is what matters. But going in with eyes open will save you some angst. There are hundreds of agents out there. If you get wind of one interested in what you have, pitch it. But also know that a greater number will probably be more cautious if book one doesn't have a complete arc on its own.

Good luck with it! :Thumbs:

Bmann
07-21-2015, 07:21 PM
I've added this to the end of my query: "I believe it can stand on its own or be the start in a potential trilogy". Does that sound ok?

Thedrellum
07-21-2015, 08:19 PM
From what I've seen, the usual phrasing is "TITLE is a WORD COUNT + GENRE with series potential."

Toothpaste
07-21-2015, 09:55 PM
"Standalone with series potential" is kind of the standard.