On Writing Sequels

Bookshelf of journals

Unlike my journals….

It surprises people sometimes to hear that I’m not diving instantly into writing the sequel to Salvaged. I’ve outlined Quarantined, I know what happens, but I haven’t written more than a few scribbled notes on it.

Why not write the sequel? 

Salvaged has had a few nibbles. It may be the book that gets me an agent. It may not be the book that I sell to a publisher.  (FYI, this aligns with advice I got from an agent at a conference.)

If it’s not the book that gets me an agent, or gets me published, then all of the work of writing the sequel would be time and energy I could spend on other pieces.

I have lots of worlds in my head, and though I love that world, and could tell a million stories from it, I also need to honor some of the others for a while.

Why some writers write sequels right away:

If you’re self-publishing and not trying for a traditional publishing route, then writing the sequel right away makes good business sense. If readers enjoy book one, you want to have book two on the shelf to sell them immediately while they’re still excited.

It can be easier – keeping up momentum, holding the world in your head without a break. These things can be easier for sequel writing.  This is the reason I am most tempted to try to fiddle with it.

I know one writer who wrote her sequel immediately because she felt like she had to prove to herself that she could do the plot line justice that she set up in book one, or book one wouldn’t be marketable.  Okay. Good reason.

There are plenty of valid reasons to type THE END at the bottom of one work and start hammering away at the next. I get it.  They just aren’t mine.

What I’m doing instead:

I’ve been toying with a collaboration on a film script for about 2 years, and that finally started getting serious this spring. I’m working on that – and all of the fun a collaboration entails – through the end of this month. There might be more work on this project later, but that will require funding.

I’m editing short stories and getting them beta-read so I can start submitting to magazines again.

I’m toying with the idea of jumping back into my comic book script, word-sprinting flash fiction and other short stories, considering writing a role-playing game, and fiddling with a lot of smaller one-off projects.

Frankly, I need the break.

My day job is taking up most of my brain space and energy, since I switched positions in April. I’m still climbing the learning curve. I don’t have the capacity for anything big right now.

However, aside from giving myself a bit of slack, it’s also the clear next step in the Become-A-Published-Author career plan.  Though sending query letters aren’t exactly like sending a resume, it’s similar. And right now, I don’t have any work experience.  Getting published “clips” – short stories in magazines – is one way to add experience to that application.  I’d been working on it concurrently with Salvaged, now it’s my short-term focus.

I’ll probably gear up for another novel-length draft in November, and it will not be Quarantined unless Salvaged gets a lot of traction mighty quickly.

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3 thoughts on “On Writing Sequels

  1. Pingback: On Writing Sequels | Todd DeanTodd Dean

  2. You pretty much just explained my own exact thought processes, except, of course, that I’m doing it from the opposite side.

    One of the reasons (I’d say THE main reason above all others) I chose the self-publishing route is because I have so many stories set in this one world that I want to make sure get produced. I’m working on the 5th book in the series right now, while prepping for publishing the first and revising the second. Exactly what you said about the success of the first affecting whether the sequel stands a chance is the risk I didn’t want to take, and why I shied away from traditional publishing.

    But I think it’s good that you have other projects and ideas to explore, and your reasons for exploring them now (maximizing your options and not putting all your eggs in one series) make a lot of sense. Maybe part of my issue is that I simply don’t have any other ideas right now. If, for whatever reason, I stopped working on Arcana Revived, I would literally be lost without a clue what to write.

    So it’s a good thing I’m obsessed with this series.

    • I think you’ve hit your groove. I’ve got so many ideas that I want to write about, I feel like spending all of my time in one world right now is not the best use of my efforts.

      I’ve always said that I can see myself as a hybrid author. For many reasons, I’m trying trad-pub first. If Salvaged doesn’t get traction with trad-pub, I still feel strongly enough about the novel to self-pub it later. You’d better believe the sequel would be hot on its heels. And honestly, if it did get traction with trad-pub, the publisher is likely to request a sequel. So, it’s more of a matter of timing, than whether I’ll write it.

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