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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On Series and Linked Books

Agent Scott Eagan gave some pretty good advice last week on sequels and series and I thought I would repeat it here.

He said that he sees a lot of trilogies come across his desk from new authors--a big no-no.

Speaking for myself, I understand why an author would create more than one book in a series, but I have never pitched a book as a series.

The reason should be self-evident, but if you read Eagan's post he spells it out for you. Basically, a new author is a big risk. If you don't yet know how the first book will do how can you possibly take a chance on a series?

Yet, I know dozens (yes, dozens) of author friends who insist on writing and selling their novels as a package.

When I set out to write a story, I usually have a couple of other story lines on the backburner. This is my seed material for sequels. If the first book sells, I can then concentrate on the next project in the series.

As an early writer, I did write a sequel to my first novel. The advice I got back then is that after you finish your first novel, you should immediately begin the second. Like many other people, I thought that meant writing a sequel to the story line I already knew so well.

While that's not necessarily a bad thing, it does leave you thinking that now you have to pitch both (or more) novels to the agent. And that's a misconception--at least for the new novelist.

Pitch only one book at a time. If it's marketable, you'll get your chance to pitch the succeeding ones.

Scott Eagan had an excellent suggestion on how to pitch your subsequent books. Instead of writing them as a series, write them as linked books. Using the same characters as your original novel, write each succeeding book as independent novels. This way if your first book doesn't inspire a contract, your next book might.

For the whole post on this topic go here.

3 comments:

Shelley Munro said...

I think this is good advice, although I hear of lots of writers who want to pitch a series. It takes so long to write a book. As authors, we're not always the best judges of our work. How do we know we can sell them?
I try to think with my business head as well as the creative one. I have to these days! :)

J.K. Coi said...

Great advice. Even for my Immortal Series, I pitched the first book as a separate story and only provided the idea of subsequent books after they had already read it and wanted more.

Maria Zannini said...

And I'm back online again!!

This internet provider doesn't know how close it is to being replaced.

I like sequels in limited fashion. Most sequels tend to lose some of its excitement, especially if they start to go on longer than two or three books.

But using the same characters or the same world holds a lot of appeal. I always hope the author drops in a few tidbits from the first novel as a treat to the faithful reader. It would be like being on an inside secret.