Saturday, November 29, 2008

New authors and trilogies

I have seen this a lot coming across my desk. New authors writing trilogies (and yes, even up to a seven book series). When they contact me, they immediatly start pounding this set, and it is very clear, they are hoping to sell the set, buy a house in the Bahamas and retire for life.

Ummmm, not.

Now, please don't get me wrong. Linked books are not a bad idea and yes, it is great to be able to have several books already "in the bank". But there are far more down sides to this one and I always caution writers to think before they write and certainly before they submit.

One of the biggest down falls to this plan is the time you have put into the series. Book one is done and you are well on the way through number two or even further. Now, here is the question. If book one fails, you have no where to go and the series is over. This is especially true when book two and so forth really relies heavily on the information from the other books. Think Harry Potter - What if Book one had failed? Twilight? Get the idea.

One of the second issues deals with the newness of the author. Editors will be very shy about multi-book deals all tied together if they are unclear about the author. They would love to see sales before making this type of agreement. Again, it all comes back to the first book.

Now, linked books are great. Use the same characters, have them pop in and out of the books but make sure that we don't need to see and understand information from prior books. In this case, I think one of the best authors that does this is Andrew Greeley. Heck, he even blends characters from three series (at least I think it was three).

So, here is the suggestion. In your head, see the books as linked. Heck, even see the books as a series, but pitch the stories as independent books but state when you submit that you have ideas that can link the books. It creates flexibility.

The last suggestion is even easier. If you submit to an editor or agent book one and they pass on it, don't just rush off and send book two. Along the same lines, don't say it is the second book in a series. They aren't going to buy it and then go back and pick up number one. Make sure to also insure you aren't making all of the same mistakes in book two that you were rejected for in the first.



  1. I'm so glad you posted this. My manuscript was requested by an editor, then rejected, but she asked to see another. Well, the other is about the secondary characters in the first. It can definitely stand on its own though, so I've been debating whether I should change names or leave them. If I leave the names the same, the editor will know that this manuscript is linked to the one she rejected. I really don't know what to do and would hate to offend the editor. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

  2. I would contact them and be very open with them. Tell them that you had planned on it being linked but that you knew it would work as a stand alone. Show them the flexibility.

    Also, take the time to make the changes and use their suggestions from the first rejection. Then, highlight what you did in the second manuscript, being very specific, and show how you incorporated those changes.

    The key is to show that you can follow directions!

    Best of luck! Keep me posted!

  3. Thanks Scott. I like the idea of mentioning flexibility. I also appreciate you taking the time to share some advice.
    Thank you!