Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sequels and Stand-Alones

I've read on various agent blogs that it's best if your first novel is a stand-alone, even if you intend for it to be first in a series. Agents find it easier to sell a book that is self-contained, because the publisher doesn't have to commit to buying the whole series until after they see how that first book sells.

So I was surprised when my agent, Eleanor Wood, asked for an outline to a sequel for DARK HEIR. It turns out that because most of the hot-selling fantasy books right now are series titles, a book with series potential can be easier to sell than a single title.

I hadn't planned to write a sequel for DARK HEIR, at least not yet. I love these characters, but according to my brain, their story has been told. Now it's pashing on new characters. I'm pretty certain, in terms of my long-term writing career, I would be more comfortable writing unrelated novels set in distinct worlds, but I won't get the opportunity to do so unless I get my first sale. Hence, this weekend, I've been plotting out the surprise sequel.

The most surprising thing about it is how quickly it's coming together. I struggled for several months plotting the book I am (was?) working on, but because I already know the characters in DARK HEIR, I know how their personalities need to change and grow next. I also remembered an antagonist who was only assumed to be killed in the first book. Muahahaha! Insta-villain, back from the dead.

Still, it feels like a gear clash to head back to that world, those characters, and that material. I would enjoy writing a sequel to DARK HEIR, because that book's got such a special place in my heart, but I admit I'm dismayed at the thought of putting what I'm working on now aside. Oh, well; a gal's gotta take the long view.


Fantasy has a strong market for big books, big stories, and big series, and yet in general fiction, shorter books seems to be the latest trend. If you're a fantasy reader, do you prefer series novels or single titles? Do you like big reads?

If you're not a fantasy reader, how do you react to the same questions? Do you want a fast read, or a big book? Are you happy to come back to a world you've seen before, or would you rather a good book's premise not be rehashed? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


P.S. - Don't forget to congratulate Chumplet, a.k.a. Sandra Cormier on Tuesday for the Canada Day e-release of her novel, BAD ICE!

You can win a free copy by participating in her trivia contest on Tuesday, and you can buy an e-copy (for six bucks!!) here at any time.

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