Do agents ever consider starting with the second of a two part series?
I published my first novel, of crime plus supernatural, several years ago via a local micro-press. We're a co-op arrangement. We share several editors and cover designers, publish both paperback and ebook via Amazon and Smashwords, and have a distributor to gain better access to bookstores and libraries. I've had 'modest' success, as in I've sold to a few bookstores and libraries and to all my friends and family. All of whom want to see the sequel, of course. However, our press only does first time authors, so I am now looking for an agent.
After several months and some twenty queries, I've had no takers, with just form letter responses.
Is this type of sell a difficult one? Would I be better to self-publish this to satisfy my possibly limited audience (and myself) and focus on sending out the several other novels, in sci-fi and fantasy, that I have written since then?
Let's all remember what my job is: finding books that publishers want to make available for sale in bookstores.
With that in mind, the real question is what book buyer (ie reader) wants to start with book 2? It's not so much will I take it on, as do I think there's a reader for this?
You see the answer coming don't you?
I know a number of readers who get hives at the thought of reading books out of order.
And here's the real problem: you haven't sold enough books yet to convince a publisher that Book #2 will make them money.
If a reader sees buzz for Book #2, and sees it's a sequel, they are likely to buy Book #1 instead. (Hives, remember)
A publisher looks at that and says: all MY promo money and time and effort is going to benefit Book #1, a book I have no stake in, AND a book I don't know will do the heavy lifting of bringing readers to Book #2.
Publishers are not lying on their backs gazing at clouds wishing for things.
They're sitting in their counting houses scheming about how to make more money than last year. Risk taking is not their first or tenth choice. You and I may not like that much, but it doesn't change that's how things are.
I find it strange that a publishing collective only does first time authors. It seems to me there might be quite a passel of writerly types there who are now in your situation. Perhaps you need to create Son of Collective to publish the loinfruit of those first books.