I can't believe that I'm about halfway finished with book # 3 in a series. It's my Screamcatcher YA fantasy (# 1) that started this nearly reckless journey. I've written sequels before--three in the past that didn't sell. That's because book # 1 never sold, so how did I expect to sell two as a package deal? I swore that I would never commit such a blunder and waste of time again.
Alas, lightning struck me again, leaving me addled and stupid.
My reason for the trilogy could be really misplaced and off track. But the original Screamcatcher was offered 10 contracts by small press independents in a span of 11 months. I made submissions after my agent gave it a huge round # 1 of subs to the majors. She turned me loose like an unchained barbarian and suddenly I was getting offers right and left.
These offers put us in a mild shock. I say mild because we couldn't
understand how NYC missed it, along with the medium-sized
independents--and there were a lot of them. My agent agreed that digging even
deeper and finding a large publisher was worth the effort for a round #
2. So it' going out again. Meanwhile, I thought if I got that kind of
reception, surely I could write a sequel to it that was just as
captivating and adventurous.
To safeguard myself, I would make all the
books stand-alones. The titles would all be different. There would be no
"Book 1, Book 2 or Book 3 connotations. The characters
would remain the same but the hooks, queries and synopses for each would
be unique and unfamiliar. I did not want to make any obvious reference of any
book to another. I would, however, make a subtle tie-in with all of them
but it would not be blatant. I figured this stand-alone strategy would
protect me from any of the book # 1 first rounds that were rejected by
the big pubs. "Series" would not be mentioned, until we had an offer on
one of the books. Agent said, "Then we could reel them in for the other
two." Agent agreed to this method.
I've never done this before. I had to have characters that could easily appear multiple times and solve multiple paranormal mysteries--kind of like a Ghostbusters without the humor. I would call it the Badlands Paranormal Society. There's a lot of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in it too, and a rash of other similar ghost cop books.
This is probably the most difficult project I've had in 27 years. I don't even know if I've grabbed the golden ticket or wasted a lot of precious time.I only know that I've constantly seen series books sell like hotcakes, even though many or most of them have been written by A-list authors.
Have you written a trilogy or larger series? How has it worked for you? Was it any easier sell? If you have an agent, did he or she encourage this journey of madness?
It's a little daunting when you fuss and fret over a single book. We all know that feeling. I'm praying, heaving buckets of fairy dust in the air, and throwing kegs of salt over my shoulder. I'm wondering if this is the biggest mistake I've ever made in my writing life. I keep saying to myself, STAND-ALONE, STAND-ALONE, STAND-ALONE, in the hopes that my writing career won't be dashed to bits.
Until next time...