Publishing first time authors

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Rangerton, Jul 16, 2011.

  1.  
    Rangerton

    Rangerton New Member

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    I remember reading/hearing somewhere (can't remember where, maybe I dreamt it:) ) that publishers would not be interested in publishing a new author's first book if it was part of a trilogy/series. The reason being they would be unsure of the first book selling, let alone a series, from an unknown author.

    Is this right? Or did I dream it?

    Thanks
  2.  
    chopper

    chopper still alive

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    sort of.

    the main issue* is that publishers need to know that you have more than one book in you; that you have the ideas, ability and commitment to write more. trilogies or continuing series are perfect demonstrations of that.







    *or the first main issue...
  3.  
    Rangerton

    Rangerton New Member

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    Thanks chopper, damn that was a fast reply :)
  4.  
    chopper

    chopper still alive

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    heh. you got lucky - sometimes it takes me whole minutes to get to a keyboard....
  5.  
    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    Don't know where you read it, but it depends to a certain extent on the genre. If you are writing fantasy, publishers are more likely to pick up your first book if they know that there are more on the way, and they do like series books, because that is how you build a following.
  6.  
    The Judge

    The Judge Truth. Order. Moderation. Staff Member

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    As far as SFF is concerned, it's the exact opposite of what you've said -- agents practically insist on a first timer having at least an outline for follow up books, and they'd much prefer those follow ups to be already written.

    As far as the rest of the publishing industry is concerned, I think it is what you've said -- they're much more reluctant. But as chopper says they will still want to know you have ideas for other books, even if those books aren't part of a series. They don't want to invest a lot of time and effort in someone who dries up after the first novel.


    PS I see Teresa beat me to the post -- must type faster...
  7.  
    Rangerton

    Rangerton New Member

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    Yeah, I see the point you guys are making.

    Thanks Teresa and Judge
  8.  
    Anne Lyle

    Anne Lyle Fantastical historian

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    Seconding what Teresa and TJ said. One of the first things my agent asked when I pitched my book was "how books 2 and maybe 3 in the series would pan out" - I hadn't mentioned anything about a series...! He eventually negotiated a three-book deal for me, with the initial proposal package being one completed manuscript and a synopsis for a sequel.

    I think you would have more trouble selling a long, multi-volume story like The Wheel of Time, because a new writer is an unknown quantity - unless you've written the entire series, there's no proof you can deliver. A short series such as a trilogy, preferably with at least the first book having a self-contained storyline, is your safest bet all round. Either that, or an open-ended episodic series like The Dresden Files.

    There are pros and cons to writing an entire series before seeking publication. On the plus side, you have it all ready to go; on the minus, if the editor requests changes to book one, that could throw the whole series out of kilter. This is pretty much what happened to me - after submitting sample chapters and a synopsis of the first book, my editor asked for a substantial change that has meant not just revisions to book one but completely rewriting book two (which I already had in rough draft). I'm just glad I didn't bother writing a third one!
  9.  
    Rangerton

    Rangerton New Member

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    Thanks Anne.

    By the way, I'm nowhere near ready to even try getting anything published. I have only just decided to give fiction writing a go, as I was concentrating on non fiction, but never got much of that done either :(
  10.  
    Anne Lyle

    Anne Lyle Fantastical historian

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    Ah well, the landscape will probably have changed again by the time you've finished a book to publishable standards!
  11.  
    Rangerton

    Rangerton New Member

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    Yeah no doubt you are right Anne.


    Thanks again everyone
  12.  
    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    The market tends to change fairly slowly and some things (like series vs. stand-alone) go through cycles -- but writing a first novel can take a long time, too.

    So there is absolutely no telling what it will be like when you finish your first book.
  13.  
    Scarfy

    Scarfy Stephen J Sweeney

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    Wow, I never knew that. I generally don't consider writing standalone novels, since I like the idea of finishing one book and then picking up another with familiar characters in it.

    Didn't know that series books were something of a sway to agents and publishers. But, given that they help build a following, it's quite logical really.
  14.  
    DaveWallace

    DaveWallace New Member

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    Hi, my first post on this board. This is a question that applies to me, as well.

    So if I have the first book of a planned trilogy, but one that comes to a natural ending point, it's a good thing from that perspective?
  15.  
    chopper

    chopper still alive

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    the most likely answer is: probably. as long as it fits the story, and the following parts of the trilogy sound as exciting.
  16.  
    Anne Lyle

    Anne Lyle Fantastical historian

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    Well, it worked for me, so I'd have to say yes, a standalone volume 1 with a couple of sequels is a good package to have on offer (assuming that package is of sufficient quality to interest a publisher, of course!).

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