Monday, April 1, 2013

My Rule on Sequels

I have a rule that I cannot write the sequel to a book unless I sell the first book in the series.

Pretty straightforward. And pretty easy, since the majority of my "creative works" are standalones. (And though The Wheel of Time has softened me somewhat on this matter, I still think the world needs more standalones.) In fact, I only ever wrote one book that was actually meant to be part of a series.

Except now I'm starting to bend this rule... and may possibly break it. D:

THE PAPER MAGICIAN, which I managed to get off to beta readers on Saturday (hurray!), is a standalone with sequel potential. "Sequel potential" being those safe waters an aspiring author treads in when they send out query letters.

Only as ideas for the potential sequel for the book inched their way into my head, I found that I quite liked them. I found that I wanted to write them. And oops... I've found a full-fledged outline on my computer for book #2. Bad Charlie.

I still have lots of edits to do on four different books, but at the moment I'm actually planning on having my next draft party be for this sequel. I'm fairly confident with book one, yes, but sometimes I wonder if I'm getting ahead of myself!*

What are your thoughts on sequels? Do you wait to write them, keep them on the back burner just in case, or do you flush out the whole series before querying?

As a reader, how do you feel about sequels?

*I've also, oddly enough, been playing with the idea of rewriting the first book I ever finished--a 169,000 word monster epic fantasy that honestly read more like a JRPG than a novel. But I think revamping it could be fun...


  1. I LOVE sequels, as long as I love the story and characters. (And providing that each book has some sort of satisfying conclusion.)

  2. I can write a sequel whether I sell or not. Sequels just need to be done properly and make sense in my book. Also agree with what Jeff said. Best of luck with Paper Magician.

  3. The book I'm querying was written as a stand alone but somewhere in the land of revisions I realized their story wasn't finished. Now it's a trilogy though each one could stand alone. I've only written half of the second one (thank you NaNo) and the third is only notes and a couple scenes that wouldn't leave me along. I've heard that some editors like that sequels are alreay being written because it means the publisher won't have to wait so long for the other books. They can start quick with a lot of momentum. I did decide to put them aside while querying and work on something else for a bit, though. First off I think it will give me better perspective when I go back to those characters and story lines. (provided I can sell them). Also I have been working on that story for four years. I needed to make sure I could write other things.

    Mostly though, I think you should write whatever you're most passionate about. Which story is whispering in your ear and won't stop?

  4. My first novel was written as a standalone, with the opening for a sequel. So was the second novel.

    Once I sold a novel (actually the second novel I'd written), I began writing the second in the series--but even that I worked to write as a standalone, that would complement the first novel and be enjoyable to those who'd read the first. Not an easy task.

    As to that first novel written? It's run the slushpile gauntlet (again) with a large publisher, and is with an editor, awaiting a decision. What I did do, however, was write the first two chapters of the potential sequel. Why? It's difficul to start a novel, I think, and by doing that, I gave myself a running start, should I ever to back to it. I'd have the story started, the voice and character and action moving forward.

    As a reader, I enjoy reading a series, as opposed to standalones novels.

  5. I have a duology in the works where they're both standalones in the same world, their plots take place concurrently, and there are some overlapping characters. So they're fake sequels? Mostly they're interlocking standalones.

    As a reader, though, I love sequels where we follow the main protagonists. I'm not a huge fan of trilogies billed as sequels when the books don't follow the same characters, though. It gives me false expectations and sets me up for disappointment.

    As a writer--I'm with you. I'd prefer to write standalones until one of them "makes it in the door" but at the same time, if you never have any experience writing a sequel, that's not going to be very fun to try writing one your first time with all the pressure of a book contract and readership waiting with bated breath for it.

    I say you've written enough standalones, you can indulge in a sequel now ;) (Besides, I'm really loving The Paper Magician and I'd love to read its sequel :D Mwahaha, the greatest part about being an alpha-reader :D)

  6. As a writer...yes, you should not write the sequel until the first one sells (although this is not what I did *sigh*) Luckily both the first and second book in my series are being published. As a reader, I like series, I like stand alones, I likes em all.

  7. I think your original rule about sequels is fair enough. I stand by the same rule too and just like other writers I keep the potential sequel door open.
    As a reader I don't mind sequels unless they come with cliff hangers and I want to pull my hair.


  8. I looooove sequels... but I TOTALLY agree with not writing them unless the first book sells. I've seen so many people waste time writing the later books when they really should be writing new material and querying! :-)