Geeze louise

While looking for the representation for my first novel I've started working on the second book of what I plan to be a trilogy. What if I never find an agent for the first book and the second book turns out to be better than the first? It firmly stands on the shoulders of the first one and publishing the second without the first wouldn't make much sense.

Should I shelf the trilogy till/if I find the agent interested in my first book?

Dear dog, you do like to worry about things you have no control over don't you?

I let my lawyer worry about "what if" and I worry about what's on my desk right now. What it costs in cash (even at Shyster Snark's discount rates) it saves in peace of mind.

Keep writing. Worry about this later, if at all. If you REALLY need to worry about something you have no control over: killer bees.


LadyBronco said...

Bees = bad.


Just the first picture made my skin crawl!

Anonymous said...


That's exactly what happened to me :) so I feel your pain.

I wrote a YA fantasy, which hasn't yet been agented. Then, I wrote the sequel, a much stronger novel, but too much a follow-up to the earlier novel to stand alone.


Right now I'm polishing something completely different, neither fantasy nor YA.

One of these days I do plan to write another YA fantasy set in the same world, one that can stand on its own.

And I might go back and try to tweak the sequel, to figure out if it can be revised...

Dave Fragments said...

Don't shelf the trilogy, write the second to stand alone. Trust the readers to understand.

Simon Haynes said...

OP - this is exactly what happened to me. I wrote a book, set about finding a publisher and then, while I was doing that, sat down and wrote the next in the series. Then I wrote another, and I was working on book four when I found a publisher.
Now the first three are in the shops and I'm back to working on book four.
The benefit with working on a series is that you can always go back to the first book after #2 or #3 is finished to give it another spit & polish. You learn more with each title, so by the time you pick up #1 again you SHOULD be a better writer, plotter, character-er and so on.
Hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

I love you, writer. I have the same situation, and am having a hard time getting my first book read as it opens with dead kids. Seriously.

They get attacked by a swarm of killer bees. Not to be confused with Killer Yaps.

Okay, that part wasn't so serious.

I'm beginning my third book, a different story, and it begins hot. I figure I'll have to move that one in order to get my first book read. No words of mine will ever get shoved under the bed. They'll be buried with my anaphylactic corpse.

Anonymous said...

This wasn't from George Lucas, by any chance, was it?

Kit Whitfield said...

Should you shelf it? That probably depends on whether you have other ideas for stories. It also depends on whether your novels die if you don't water them regularly, or whether you'd be able to put one aside and come back to it without any problems.

If you can think of a new, standalone novel to begin, I'd probably start work on it and put the sequel on the back burner, unless that's going to kill it. I'd certainly consider doing that if you don't get an agent quickly (which is what often happens).

If, on the other hand, you don't have any new ideas just now, you might as well work on the sequel. It'll keep your hand in, if nothing else. If you can write it with an eye to making it as standalone as possible, that'd be good.

But, if that's the case, I'd certainly encourage you to start thinking about a new book that isn't dependent on a previous one. Many people don't sell their first novel, but sell their second or third, and your chances improve the more independent each of your books are. Think about sequels when you've sold something, would be my advice.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I'm published, the first in my kids' series comes out this summer, the second (already sold) is recently finished, and even my agent said "don't work on the third, we don't know if they'll want to continue the series yet..."

It's a mistake to write three books in a trilogy that may never sell, imho.

Poodle Girl

Anonymous said...

You write what you must write and make it as strong as you possibly can. Perhaps that first book can do with a revision. I sold my first book when four in the series were already done. The publisher picked and chose two of the later books. Now the earlier books are also in print, doing better than those published first. On the downside: fans don't like it when books are not in chronological order. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for all of your input!

It figures that your responses were more helpful than of Her Royal Majesty, Queen of Rabitania, Dutches of Snarkdom. The 'just write' advice is relatively easy to give. Putting a lot of time into something that might never gather the magical dust of the library is an entirely different matter.

My sequel is outlined, first chapter is done, and several scenes from it are burning my conscience and begging to be put on forms of storage other then my brain cells.


I'm trying to balance working full time, being a father to three children, renovating an 1873 house with my own two hands (and other body parts occasionally), and writing (mostly on the train and instead of sleeping).

I look at things practically. Working on other stories will be like diversifying my investments. If my series don't sell maybe something else will.

To answer Kit Whitfield... Lack of ideas has never been my problem. ;)

Once again, thanks a lot for all of your support.


The Poopie said...

Just make the second a stand alone with a brief moment or two of summary of the first.

Anonymous said...


Writing, unfortunately, isn't an investment (though of course your time is). Work on what you want to work on. If Book 2 is burning a hole in your brain, demanding to be let out, you are almost certainly better off to work on Book 2 than on some other project that doesn't sustain your enthusiasm as much.

If Book 1 is unpublishable as it stands, you can always rewrite it, drawing on the skills you will learn while writing Book 2.

Conversely, you're not crazy to think maybe you should diversify. But consider your own work habits. Are you a fast writer, or a slow writer? Do you improve in huge leaps and bounds, or at a slower, more regular pace? The answers to those questions also affect your strategies.

(word verification: fwspydog. What KY looks like after he's been digging holes in Central Park.)

Twill said...

On the other hand, writing down those burning scenes for posterity couldn't hurt. Just don't spend too much time polishing...