Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Writing book #2 on a two-book deal

Since two-book deals seem to be fairly common and the second book should be similar to the first in terms of genre and audience, I’m wondering how similar the second book should be.  I realize I’m putting the cart before the horse a bit as I’m just getting ready to query, but as I’m starting my next novel I was curious.  As an example, if the first is upmarket historical fiction, can the second be contemporary?  How different is too different?

The cart is not only in front of the horse, it's been loaded on a barge and shipped downriver. The horse can't even see it anymore.

This question falls in the rodent-wheel category: things you should not worry about at all right now.

The reason is that what you will need for your second novel is entirely dependent on the deal you strike for Book #1. The editor/publisher will have a LOT of say in it, and you can't begin to guess what they want cause the book hasn't been subbed, let alone sold.

Even if there is a common practice of what kind of book it will most likely be, you may not be in that category.


If you're thinking about what to write while you're on submission to agents, write what you want. When you acquire representation, you and  your agent will put  your heads together to strategize what's next.


Any questions?

10 comments:

Em-Musing said...

As always, sage advice. Gracias!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Book two is a boogey man from what I see in the writing community. I hear things like "book two is your career" at least twice a day. Yikes. So I get the rodent wheel. I have a similar question, somewhat related.

I took a query workshop back at the end of 2018. I am about to query, starting in September after loads of revisions based on wonderful feedback. In the workshop, I mentioned my book was a stand-alone with series potential.

The agent, a New Leaf agent no less that is not Janet, said that if I mentioned "series potential", I should add where I am in the series - outlined, whatever to show I am actively thinking about a series.

Well, as of today, I have a second book in sixth or seventh draft, possibly three months from completion after I send this book out into the trenches. Book three has written six chapters with a full outline. Books four and five are in full outline form with three solid chapters that I will use in some form or another. Book six is planned and book seven is fully written with one or two more solid revisions required.

I blame Jeff Somers for all of this. His "Writing Without Rules" - when I didn't feel like writing on my WIP, I wrote something else that I did feel like writing about and so many books burst out of me. It's maybe not what Jeff intended when he said to write the fun bits first but it's what happened.

Do I mention books three and after, or just that I have a second book close to ready to go in my initial query? Should I mention them at all in the initial query or is this save to the phone call stuff?

Honestly, I would love a two or three book deal but not sure how likely that is. My delusions of grandeur are in tight competition with the spinning rodent wheel that tells me everything I do is mediocre and I will be all "close but no cigar" for the rest of my mortal existence. I am thinking of taking a sledge hammer to the rodent wheel. Thank you for any thoughts on this.

Theresa said...

I'm in awe of E.M.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

"...write what you want."

Love this.
Sounds like how we should live our lives.

We only get one shot at this boys and girls, write what you want, live what you want.

Timothy Lowe said...

Not to be pessimistic, but the first one might not sell. If you write something totally different, it might be that thing, not your first, that strikes a chord. Write from your gut, what keeps you glued to the keyboard. Please yourself first. A sale is out of your control; keep the writing fun.

Lennon Faris said...

I never knew a 2-book deal happened outside of a series.

E.M. - I second Theresa! I thought Janet had said to leave it at 'series potential' to avoid cart-before-horse symptoms in query. This might be one of those agent-specific things.

Craig F said...

I did a time line divided up into a trilogy of trilogies. It was mainly done as a way for me to get organized and coherently move along.

It was also a way to get to my million words. I figured that somewhere along it, I might be good enough to take that big shot at pie in the sky.

I have no idea if anybody in publishing will give a shit about it, but it was good for me and if I actually with one of those potshots at the pie, who knows?

I still think one of the first thrillers is my most fun and exciting book, but not by a lot.

It was a thriller, by the way, see number 9 from yesterday's post.

julie.weathers said...

So, I guess I can stop worrying about which book to write next.

Got it. I need to start running or something. I'm never going to live long enough to write everything I want to. Then again, there's the story of the runner who got ran over while running, so maybe not.

Craig Yes, I was late to respond to yesterday's post, but I had to. It was too delicious not to.

Sometimes you just have to march to your own drummer. Keep on writing.

John Davis Frain said...

Researchers have discovered several areas in the world's oceans where vast amounts of garbage collects. They even have names for these places, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Without going into detail, ocean tides tend to collect plastics and then literally take out the trash, so it's concentrated in one area.

Now, if researchers could visit Melanie's ranch and teach some of those beautiful horses to swim while Mel is helping them to recover, these wonderful creatures could horse paddle out into the ocean to some so-called garbage patches and reclaim their carts that so many writers have set adrift.

Anyone have any other ideas I can use to avoid editing my ms? Send 'em over.

MA Hudson said...

Whichever story you choose to write next, I reckon it's a good idea to start on the query and synopsis as soon as possible. That way, if an agent suddenly gets back to you with, 'What else do you have?' you can quickly polish them up and send them off.