If your goal is to be traditionally published, make sure you can answer the above question. Writing the sequel(s) is a rookie mistake.
This post assumes you’ve got one idea that you’ve finished, polished, and are querying or submitting. Once you’ve gotten to that point, while you wait, here’s the deal: it’s time to put that idea down. If it’s something you’ve imagined as a series, make notes, make outlines, write down a few words you absolutely don’t want to lose, but then write something else.
It can be hard to switch gears, to take a breather on characters and a world you’ve been living in and undoubtedly love, but you don’t want to write books 2-infinity until you’re sure you need them. Because if the first book you’re pitching doesn’t land an agent or doesn’t sell, you need to be ready with the answer to the question that started this post. And if the answer is, “Well, I’ve completed three books in this series,” you’re stuck.
Don’t be stuck, or, like me, behind.
My last post told you all about where Lost in Thought is on the path to publication (or not). (Or not) being a good possibility. I admit to making the rookie mistake I’m trying to save you from. When I wrote LiT, and subsequently submitted to the contest, it was for fun. While it was in the contest, I worked on the sequel just because. I was still pregnant and on limited activity and the writing was fun.
When I made the ABNA finals, I underwent a rapid paradigm shift. Suddenly, what had always been an idle dream became a viable reality. I’d always imagined writing and publishing books, but never really believed it would happen. Hell, I’d never really worked at it either. It was just a dream.
Yes, LiT was the first novel-length piece of fiction I ever wrote. Some people probably don’t like me for that. (In fact, I know some don’t because one flat-out told my husband as much.) I’m sorry. My first peek at success came with some luck, yes, but also, some skill. That’s what the contest helped me recognize. I didn’t have to dream about it; I could be a writer.
When I made that realization is when I should have put aside working on the sequel to LiT and started one of the other story ideas I’d been collecting. It took me 8 rejections and a conversation with last year’s YA ABNA winner to realize it. It took me three starts and stops to settle on the next project.
And that has put me almost a whole MS behind. If LiT doesn’t sell, I should be done drafting my next MS, but instead I’m only about ¼ of the way there. Lesson learned.
If your goal is to be traditionally published, don’t make my mistake! Write one thing well, put it out there, and then write something else.
Traditional publishing is certainly only one goal. There are other options out there. If self-publishing is an avenue you want to pursue, this post may not speak to you. Go ahead and write the sequels. :)
I think this is the last in the Golden Ticket series (and a loose connection at that). Today, six 2012 ABNA finalists will be getting the calls that change their lives. Good luck to you all!