Thursday, March 06, 2014

Query question: Trilogy at the query stage

I completed my first novel in what I expect to be a trilogy. Weighing in the difficult battle it would take to get an agent to agree to push three books (from an unknown author no less), I was reminded of something Terry Brooks had done.
He said when he was writing the second book of a trilogy, he sheltered it from his agent with the hope of surprising him/her. However, when he was finished it was too full of holes to fix, and he had to start from scratch.
If I do get The Call, and they ask what I've been working on, I'm going to be at a loss. Terry's experience made me cautious about starting the second book in the trilogy, but I want to write it. Now, I could write a stand alone book and try to snag an agent and market the trilogy that way, but if they didn't want the other books, it would be a sticky situation.
What should I do?

Publishers like series from first time authors.
Write the second book.

I have NO idea why Terry Brooks had a book full of plot holes, but I assure you it's not the norm. I have authors working on series ahead of editors and they've never had to trash the whole book and start again.

Generally an editor isn't going to overhaul a book so completely that a sequel would have to be started from scratch. Tinkered with sure, but that's about it.

And remember too: what you want to write is the most important thing right now. Don't write trying to anticipate what an agent or editor wants.  We don't know what we want till we read it, and only you can write that.


Stacy said...

Oh wow, thanks for this, Janet! Good timing for what I'm working on, too.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

"what you want to write is the most important thing right now."

I do like having this reminder. Sometimes, depending on what you've written, the submission guidelines of agents can be discouraging, to say in the least.

Anonymous said...

"what you want to write is the most important thing right now."

Posted on wall, at eye level.

Lance said...

Posted on baseboard -- at eye level.

AJ Blythe said...

1. Publishers like series from first time authors

Exactly what I needed to hear right now.

Unknown said...

Thanks for answering my question, Mrs. Shark. Now that I know that publishers like series, this touches on the subject of including a book as the first of a series in the query letter. I have read some agents love knowing there's more to come, because they know they will have a lasting relationship with the author, but some agents don't like it because they feel either pressured or daunted.

Wendy Qualls said...

The twist to this is that it's very, very hard for a not-yet-published author to see if their work is not yet good enough for publication. Book 2 does you no good if Book 1 doesn't sell. The advice I was given (and followed) was to do some basic work on your second book - plot out the series, figure out your characters, do the world-building, get a few chapters in - but then put it aside and work on something else for a while. If an agent loves your first book, you'll always have time to pick it up again and keep going. If not, though, you will have your "something new" done that much quicker, so you can jump back into querying with the next project.