Monday, May 04, 2020

No Book 3 on a 3-book deal

Over a year ago I got an offer from a small publisher to publish a trilogy of books. The first and second were published but now I’ve been told that the decision was taken to drop the series and the rights have been returned to me. I would imagine it’s pointless to query other publishers to take up the series, which means I have few options: shelve 5 years of work, self-publish (which I really would not like to do) or, I’m toying with the idea of publishing the books one chapter a week on my blog as a thank you to those who loved the series so far and also as self-promotion. Is this another decision as bad as trusting a small publisher? I no longer trust my judgement! I’m writing another novel and hope to find an agent who will help me find a good home for it, so I don’t wish to ruin any little credibility I still have!

I'd really appreciate any advice you and your readers care to give to help me put things in perspective.
That's a whole lot of dream stomping there. I've been through this with some clients and it's very hard to find any kind of silver lining.

But, there's no reason you have to do anything with Book #3 right now.
In fact, it's probably better to let it sit for awhile while you regroup and plan.

Get started finding a new agent with the new book.
Then, with your agent, who probably knows a thing or two about this kind of problem, figure out what to do.

The LAST thing you want to do is post it for free.
That limits your options down the road in ways you don't want to imagine.

If you don't want to self-publish, please please please listen to your self and DO NOT DO IT.

Self publishing is a VERY hard task, even when you're all in.

Shelve Book #3, and you'll have all your options preserved for when you need them.


nightsmusic said...

I have a couple of author friends who are multi-published who have been in the same predicament. They had a series that the publisher wanted to finish even though there was another book involved, or one author who had a secondary character that got such an overwhelming response from her readers that it was almost assured his book would do just as well as her others, but the publisher didn't want it. It's been a couple years now that they've sat on the stories and while they've continued to publish, those books are still nagging at them. Both have mentioned they might either self publish or publish on their blog so, that said, you are not alone in this.

Janet is right that an agent for your story now will better know what to do. If I recall, there have been a couple of series that have changed publishers and continued to do well, so you never know what will happen down the road.

Good luck!

AJ Blythe said...

Like Nightsmusic, I've had a friend in this situation (except the publisher was a big one). She took a breath and did exactly what Janet said. She wrote a new book and landed an agent. The agent found a home for that book and eventually was able to find a home for the series. Because she had the whole series ready to go, they released the series monthly and then in a boxed set.

Don't give up, OP. Good luck.

Brittany said...

Getting dropped mid-series is a sadly common occurrence, and having the third book in a trilogy canceled is certainly its primary manifestation. (Book 2 is usually already in the works so they'll go ahead and publish it regardless of book 1's sales, but if book 2 also doesn't sell, that's that.) The answer to this always seems to be to shelve it and move on. It might get picked up by another publisher who decides to reissue the whole series, or it might even get picked up by another medium. Like, Victoria Schwab's The Archived got its third book canceled, and is now in development for TV. Or you might decide down the line to go ahead and self-publish or release it by another means. But you lose nothing by waiting and pursuing other options in the meantime.

Katja said...

Yes, self-publishing is a very hard task. And if you do it properly (I would like to think I have done it properly), you spend about £2000 on the project (beta reader, copy editor, proof reader - who even f*cked my work up - cover designer, interior designer).

You go on social media and advertise. You've got a few fans who jump on in in the first few months. And then, it's dead.
You're even incredibly lucky that a fantastic literary agent from NYC puts it on her blog (back in February). But even that results in ZERO sales. Can you imagine?!

I'm going to finish writing my second novel. I'm planning on querying it, like the first one. I'm not expecting getting an agent. And so I will self-publish that one again because I've started writing this book that is linked to the first.

And then I will probably be done with writing.

Casual-T, I responded to you on the other post, but it didn't go through yet - Janet would need to approve it, I believe. (I guess it's because I commented twice before.)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I am horrified by the idea of series being dropped (like this), sequels being rejected (it happened to one of my writer friends), etc. etc.

I also agree with Janet, DO NOT self publish if you aren't gung-ho, "hell yeah self publishing!" It can be as much or as little as you make of it, but keeping your expectations in proportion to that is another thing entirely.

I'm so disappointed for you, OP, best of luck on your next project!

Katja said...

Oh damn... Reiders, I just realised that my previous comment could be perceived as if I was reproaching or something like that...

I didn't mean to complain or moan about no sales even though my book was featured here on the blog. I didn't mean (or think, or feel!) that The Reef was supposed to buy it. I didn't mean to say anything between the lines. I apologise if it's been understood that way!

I just wanted to point out that even the greatest publicity things can easily result in nothing for self-published books. I could mention another example: that Washington Post guy gave me a nice blurb (he didn't stick it into his paper, but gave me something for marketing it myself). I put it wherever I could but it hasn't done anything, really. It's just gone to sleep, that blurb. Oh, AND the book. ;)

Sorry again if I made anybody feel uncomfortable with my previous comment!

nightsmusic said...

Jennifer horrified, yes. The two I mentioned are with Berkley/Penguin so it doesn't only happen with smaller publishers. Unfortunately. :(

John Davis Frain said...

If I could time travel, I'd go back to when novelists would appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and plug their book to an audience of millions.

My hair has time traveled back to the 60s, I believe, so who knows ... maybe there's a chance.

Brigid said...

Katja, I understood what you meant. This is such a tricky business! Like anything, it's a combination of hard work and faery dust.

Joseph S. said...

John Davis Frain

I think my hair is time-traveling to 2040.

(Right now it's adopting the Art Garfunkel look)

Katja said...

Brigid, phew, and thank you for letting me know.

John & Joseph, I cut my own hair a short while ago. Using our kitchen scissors. I totally love it. Shall I come to your houses?? :D
I might never go back to a hairdresser.

OT: Has anyone watched Big Little Lies? After 5 episodes, I realised it's actually a novel.
I believe Fiancé only watched with me as a favour. He'll have to suffer season 2 now. Does this kind count as classical women's fiction? (I'd really love to know!)

Craig F said...

OP: It sounds like you are on the right path, writing a new book and finding an agent. Already being published should be a leg up.

I was hoping to find something light and airy today, The quarantine is dragging at me, my timing is coming even further skewed.

I broke down and use my Wahl trimmer on my hair. I have two years of experience with it, trimming my beard.

Used the 5/8 inch guard everywhere and the the 1/2 inch un the upper sides and 3/8 on the lower sides.

Looked pretty good, but Kathy said she liked me being a little shaggier. The next day our hairdresser called and offered to stop by and cut our hair. Timing.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

nightsmusic my friend's sequel rejection also happened with a bigger publisher (at least I think William Morrow is?)

Katja, that wasn't at all how I took your comment! Though the idea of you giving up writing makes me said.

On the topic of hair trims...the length of my hair is fine, I got that done within the last few months. My bangs, though, are starting to be "blink into my eyes" length. And I'm starting to think "well if I just be careful and take it slow, how bad can it be?" We'll see how that goes!

NLiu said...

Oh, OP! This just sounds completely heartbreaking. I really feel for you. The last! book! In a trilogy! Gaaaaahhhhhhhhhh. It must be the worst. I have no advice apart from "just do what Janet says" (but you knew that already) . And, here is a box of tissues out of husband's stockpile. You don't have to cry on them, you can also scrunch them up, scream at them, or tear them to pieces and sprinkle them everywhere to make your room into a winter wonderland and forget all your troubles. (That last one comes care of my toddler - he has all the best ideas.)

Lennon Faris said...

I am sorry to hear that, OP. In my naivety I would have thought that a 'deal' meant that they couldn't pull out. Good to know, I guess! I hope it works out OK for you.

Craig, I am sending thoughts of paddle boats, summer sun, woodworking art, and perfectly timed haircuts your way. I hope they reach you and your Kathy very soon!

Casual-T said...

What a bummer, OP! I have no experience in book publishing (self or otherwise), but I do know that self-publishing music is on a par with the concept that "it is what you make it." Which, in most cases, is a shyte load of work, for close to no returns. Of course, there's no "one size fits all" solution to this, and there is the odd self-publishing success story, but on average... Not so much.

Best of luck, OP. At least you know you've done it before, and can do it again!!

PS: @Katja... Replied to your post on the other thread. Prepare to be super-mega-wowed, once Janet approves the comment. ;D