I’ve seen something on the web that has made me think a bit (a dangerous thing, as my wife will tell anyone). The item in question has to do with sequels and the writing thereof during the query process.
The item that got me thinking was an article—I don’t remember where, sorry—in which the author advised against working on a sequel while you’re querying what would be the first novel in the trilogy/series/whatever. The author’s rationale was this: what if your first novel flops? If this happens, any work you put in on a sequel will be time wasted. Makes sense, right?
I’m not sure if I agree or not.
You could certainly spend the during-query time working on a separate novel. This would give you a fallback position if the first novel fails to attract an agent or fails to sell if published. It would also allow you follow the commonly-issued advice of “write, write, write” that is doled out so readily by writing pundits. Finally, if would force you to explore new story lines, possibly expanding your capacity for imagination in the process—always a good thing.
What about agent responses during the query period? Case in point: I’ve seen many suggestions from other writing pundits that say you should add “… and has series potential” to your query if your book is the first of potentially many. There’s no telling how an agent might interpret this. Will they assume that you’re already writing the next book in your saga? Will they think that you’re sitting on your (insert body part reference here) while you wait for them to say they’ll represent you? It’s impossible to predict.
Now, consider what could happen if an agent picks you up, gets you published, and wants your sequel ASAP. If you’ve gone off on another train of thought, you’ll have to drop everything from your new project and try and pick up where you left off with the first book. This could be a big problem, especially if you left a lot of loose ends dangling at the end of book one and you didn’t keep good enough notes to track them all. In general, it’s a delay that could cost you some sales, not to mention some credibility.
Time for my nugget of naive wisdom. I have made the commitment to stick with my sci-fi series, Tapper (officially named in the interview mentioned in my previous two posts). In fact, I even included a line in one query letter that specifically mentioned that I have a second book already in the works. I’ve been told, “No, you should never do that!” (or words to that effect) by other authors, but I’ve also seen other authors do the exact same thing. To me, it means I’m serious about my story and am willing to pursue it to the end.
If no one picks up Tapper for representation, or if it doesn’t sell (God help me on both counts), I won’t consider what I’m doing as a waste of time. I’ll still be following the “write, write, write” mantra and expanding my skills. I’ll still be introducing new characters and new locations and learning how to deal with both. Finally, I’ll have a head start should the unthinkable happen and Tapper becomes a hit. 😉
I’m interested to hear what you think about the matter. Please shoot me a line via the Contact page and let me know. I may share some of the responses I get in a future post.
Thank you for reading!