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  1. #1
    rock doctor
    Guest

    Writing a series/trilogy

    Will I shoot myself in the foot to achieve publication if I submit a manuscript that clearly points to another book ahead? The manuscript can stand alone, but it is clear that the story has a greater goal to be reached. Opinions? Experiences?

    ~RD



  2. #2
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Writing a series/trilogy

    Probably, yes. If you aren't an established author. Publishers usually want to know that their new authors have legs before they project future projects. Your book shouldn't point clearly to a book ahead anyway. It should be complete in itself, while leaving threads finished, at least for now and available for extension (e.g., if your protagonist doesn't die, that thread can always be extended).

  3. #3
    Josh Lemay
    Guest

    Re: Writing a series/trilogy

    It's been done before by first time published authors. I don't know if this means they are exceptions to the rules or if it is an acceptable practice, though.

    I imagine(my own pure speculation) that if an agent likes your manuscript enough to represent it, they would appreciate the fact that you've got more books in the works. That'll be more money for them in the long run and the subsequent money should be easier for them to make. I'd say you really have to work on interesting them with the initial product, though.

    Again, I don't know from an agent's point of view if they despise books that lead to sequels/trilogies/whatever. Just adding my own logical thought process to the whole thing. I could be dead wrong.

  4. #4
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Writing a series/trilogy

    I don't know if this means they are exceptions to the rules or if it is an acceptable practice, though.

    It means they are rare exceptions to the rule. But this is, of course, what tells other hopefuls that they will be the exception too.

  5. #5
    L Bea
    Guest

    Re: Writing a series/trilogy

    I agree that you need to focus on #l solely. Give all you've got to get that one sold. Believe me. That will be plenty of work in and of itself.

    Bea

  6. #6
    Chuck Shaw
    Guest

    Re: Writing a series/trilogy

    What the heck, Gary? Any commercially viable manuscript is rare enough (at least as a percentage of the slush) to be almost a rule unto itself. Given two equally good manuscripts, both arriving the same day on the same desk, would an agent go for the one with sequels in progress or the one with no mention of possible further work by the author?

    Of course if they were equal and really good, the agent would probably grab both and consider it a red letter day!

    CS

  7. #7
    Gary Kessler
    Guest

    Re: Writing a series/trilogy

    Multiple agents would respond differently, depending on all sorts of variables, some completely uncontrollable. Why should the subset of agents be any different than any other subset of people in the population?

    The "two equally good manuscripts" doesn't hit the mark to begin with. Publishers buy manuscripts to fill specific holes in their coming catalogs; agents look for manuscripts to fill known holes. So "goodness" isn't the first barrier. If one of the "equally good" manuscripts fills a hole and the other on doesn't, that's likely the control on the decision.

    They could both be brilliant and not fill a hole and so both be passed over.

    Your question is simply unanswerable.

    On the question of mentioning sequel possibilities in a query from a previously unpublished writer, I can only comment anecdotally, and my experience may be out of pattern.

    First I can say, though, that an agent will not judge a manuscript to be "good" simply because the query letter is good (they might judge a manuscript to be "bad" when they receive a "bad" query letter, though--the process is set on looking for the "no" rather than the "yes" because of the glut on offer). We're the reason for that right here--people shop their query letter drafts around more than they do their manuscript drafts and they tend to spend more time toning up the query letter than they do the manuscript--and it's much easier to "perfect" a one-page query letter than a 90,000-word book. Agents don't make assumptions about the manuscript until they have it in their hands. So they don't determine a manuscript is "good" on the basis of a "good" query letter (which is where this suggestion of sequels will appear).

    That said, where I've worked, the query letter from an unestablished writer that offers up sequels as well is one of the cases where someone will raise it high and say "Got another one of those" and everyone will chuckle and shake their heads.

    Book authors--especially new ones--and both agents and publishers just don't look at a manuscript and its possible future in the same way. Authors gush with the only perfect book ever written and the agents/publishers have to tie up time and money and effort with each book project, and it must have an indentifiable and touchable market, and it must produce a profit or their whole business goes under. These just aren't the same perspectives. And an unknown, untried writer asking for this kind of faith and investment in a series of books is asking for quite a lot.

  8. #8
    Chuck Shaw
    Guest

    Re: Writing a series/trilogy

    Gary
    I am not trying eo be a wise##s here, I am trying to understand and failing. It seems to me that the potential for a series would add to the profitability for all involved. I can't wrap my head around why it could be considered a negative.

    Is this experience? Do a higher percentage of authors offering sets and sequels produce sub standard products?

    Or is it market? The publisher don't want too many sets on the shelves in a given genre at the same time?

    Or is production scheduling so involved that a decision would have to be made on the second book before the publisher knows how well the first one sells?

    I'm missing something here.

    CS

  9. #9
    Rogue Mutt
    Guest

    Re: Writing a series/trilogy

    I think the main idea here is to worry about getting one book right before trying to sell multiples. Besides, even if you have an idea for future installments, it seems like the agent/publisher would want to get in their input first.

  10. #10
    junel ;-)
    Guest

    Re: Writing a series/trilogy

    I've heard agents getting writers to sign two or three book deals after the first is published, wether that is a sequel to the first i do not know, or if it's any subsequent projects the writer may have in the pipeline. But if agents are eager to sign up writers they see as having selling-potential for exclusive representation rights, then sequels would fall under that contract, and i imagine the agent and publisher would be grateful there was a sequel in the works. But that's assuming that the novel is good in the first place of course.

    And it could depend on the the type of novel, the genre it is in. For example, if you were writing a crime/mystery/detective novel, agents and publishers would be looking for a protagonist they could build a series out of, like Agatha Christies characters. Or fantasy novels are usually completed in series and trilogies.

    just my opinion.

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