1. Grumps
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    Grumps Member

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    Queries/Submissions Query letter

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Grumps, Oct 17, 2008.

    Hello

    I'm just about to send a query letter. The ms in question is the middle part of a three-novel set but can be read on its own, and should be read first. There will be a prequel and sequel. The prequel is currently under construction.

    In my letter, do I mention the other novels or just the one for submission?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You're only in a position to sell one novel, and you will have your work cut out for you with that alone, unless you are already an established novelist (in which case you wouldn't have to ask this).

    It's a standalone novel, or had better be. Never mind any pland you have for related novels; keep them to yourself. Once you have sold your first novel, you have a leg up on selling a related novel to the same publisher when it is ready.
     
  3. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Having multi-part novels that work on their own is a good idea anyway. What if your library didn't realize that they were part of a series and didn't order them all? You have to be able to read them without getting confused.
     
  4. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here are several sites I use as reference for query letters. They pretty much repeat a theme and each offers their reasoning for the design of each paragraph in a query letter.

    Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
    http://www.sfwa.org/writing/query.htm

    AgentQuery.com
    http://www.agentquery.com/writer_hq.aspx

    Tara Harper - editor and successful sci-fi writer
    http://www.tarakharper.com/faq_qery.htm

    Robert Sawyer - award winning sci-fi writer
    http://www.sfwriter.com/agent.htm

    As far as mentioning sequels, Robert Sawyer says, "Agents have no use for one-book clients, since almost all first novels sell for peanuts — the agent makes no real money unless you have an on-going career."

    Several other query letter sites I use say the same thing. If you have potential to write one successful book, that's nice, but if you have already planned several sequels, then your potential profitability to the agent and publisher is far greater.
     
  5. Grumps
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    Grumps Member

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    Thanks again for all of the useful comments.

    I had suspected that Cogito's answer was correct, and it should be a one-book sale to an agent. But then I read Salty's comments and now consider it would be beneficial to mention the book as part of a series.

    All books (written and planned) can be read standalone.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, agents don't want to bother with one-trick ponies!...

    but they also don't want to bother with beginners who think their stuff is so good it deserves sequels...

    so while it's best to mention you have other books in-the-works, i'd strongly suggest you not mention they're sequels/prequels... just 'several other books/novels' will suffice to settle any one-book-wonder jitters...
     
  7. Grumps
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    Grumps Member

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    Thanks.

    And yet, some published authors have had success with query letters stating their planned sequels.

    Do I, don't I? Life's a gamble. I think I'll toss a coin!
     
  8. Little Miss Edi
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    Little Miss Edi Contributing Member

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    Before you toss a coin, I thought I'd offer a penny for your thoughts. :p

    I would suggest not mentioning it (if you're submitting to a publisher). Especially if you're a 'first time' author - if they decide to gamble, trot out the others and away you go. But they're more likely to bet on one then a potential three. So I would avoid it for now.

    That said, I haven't had any dealings with agents so can't say a huge amount about them. But publishers are in the process of gambling so you want to make yourself look as 'low risk, high gain' as possible. :)
     
  9. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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  10. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you. The "www.agentquery" link is really the only one a writer needs but the others offer reinforcement for the advice in Agent Query. I would suggest that anyone struggling with writing a query letter, take mammamaia up on her generous offer to help with such matters.
     
  11. Grumps
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    Grumps Member

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    I thank everyone for their comments but find so much contradiction.

    Of the links posted in agentquery.com, two of the query letters mention that the novel being proposed is part of a series, or that there is a sequel planned. And another letter mentions that they are a first time novelist. Both of these actions have been explicitly said to be not a good thing to do.

    All letters have a good hook, and this seems to be the most important part.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, if I were to choose one person on the site to listen to on matters such as this, it would be Maia.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    thanks for the kind words, guys!

    grumps...

    i'd definitely avoid saying either that you are a first time novelist or have sequels planned... just let the book you're currently offering sell itself as a stand-alone novel and mention you have 'others in the works' without saying they're sequels...

    as for mentioning a planned series, the success of one depends on the strength of the continuing character... and/or a series schtick, such as sara paretsky's alphabet series for her kinsey milhone books... so, if your first book features a likeable mc that readers are likely to want more of, i don't see any downside to a brief/simple mention of your working on his/her further adventures...

    hope this helps and lives up to my 'press' [ ;-) ]...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  14. Grumps
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    Grumps Member

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    Thank you for your advice, which I'm very grateful for.

    Well, I'm not really a first time novelist, it's just that I've not been published yet ;)

    As my MC is quite strong (however, my daughter preferred the villain), then I should hope to mention the planned further adventures. But how do I do that without saying that there are (or will be) sequels?
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Do you really want to advertise or imply that you don't feel comfortable creating new characters in a different work?

    Letting the publisher know that you have other novels in development is, in my opinion, a better sell than to imply you want to write and sell more of the same.

    Just as you don't want to give the impression that you will be a one-book wonder, you don't want to imply you can only write around one character collection or one extended setting.
     
  16. Grumps
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    Grumps Member

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    And this is where I get confused as to the best plan of attack. Maia stated
    So, taking all of this advice, I should mention both new works featuring the same MC (sequels), AND other new works that are totally separate. This is true by the way.

    I will get this query letter written. But I don't want to mess it up. Thanks again.
     
  17. cabbage
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    I'm sorry, but what is ms?
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's in-lingo for 'manuscript'...

    however, since no 'ms' is mentioned in the last few posts, i'm guessing you typed 'ms' instead of 'mc'... and 'mc' stands for 'main character'...

    if you want to be a professional writer, you'll have to study up on the terminology...
     
  19. cabbage
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    I meant ms. Thank you mammamia.
     

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