1. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    Writing all books of a series in one go?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by King Arthur, Jan 30, 2016.

    I'd like to start with the fact that I know traditional publishing is impossibly hard for a single debut novel, and the chances become worse if it's a series. But the scope of my story is huge. I'm currently 30,000 words in, and I think the whole story might easily go over 600,000 words if not reach nearly a million!

    If it gets so long I need to split the novel into several novels (which I don't know if I want to) should I still write it in full, or rather write the first novel and contact a publisher?
     
  2. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    If it indeed goes to word counts like that, of course it will be split up in couple of books and you already know what it means; as a debute work, series is harder to sell. Publisher will most likely lose interest, if you are trying to pitch them full series. So yes, I think you should contact the publisher after first novel.

    It all depends on your work. Is there enough going on during the first novel or are you simply telling very little in huge amount of words?

    "A good story is told with least amount of words as possible." - Some wise prophet, who roams our vast globe.

    ------------------- edit

    You are at 30 000 words. Just consider to write the story.
     
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  3. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I think it all depends on how you plan on getting it published. From what I have seen as far as submission criteria from various publishers it is hard to meet the allotted word count. Most set the bar at 100k, and a few will go as high as 120-150k. Maybe if you get lucky with a good agent you could have it as an epic length in one go, but even they may suggest splitting it into smaller chunks. One factor that could be on your side is if you have already been published, this will raise the odds of getting this larger work printed in one volume instead of 4-5 books. Just an opinion/idea. :p
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    While I believe there is no 'right' advice on this, I'll share my opinion.

    If you intend to get published through a publisher (traditional publishing), then I would say to write the first novel in the series, but make sure that it is a solid story that can stand alone. It should not end abruptly and it should have a complete story arc, although with room for the series to continue. While you're sending it out for representation of an agent or seeking a publisher directly, you can work on the second novel in the series.

    While there is merit in completing the entire series before seeking a publisher (or even deciding to self-publish), a million words is a lot to write and revise multiple times. That of course depends on how fast you write. A million words equals about 550 words a day over five years...and that's new words a day, not counting editing and revision, which takes a decent amount of time in itself.
     
  5. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    Oh yes, I have a good idea on how to wrap everything up into three novels and have them each stand on their own as they cover a different part of my MC's life.

    But it does mean people will have to buy three books to read it.

    On a good day I write 2500 words or more. I started in end of december and have been slow lately but now I know where I'm going.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am not sure what you mean. If each of them stand on their own...how does it mean people will have to buy three books to read it? Can they not just read one book and feel like there was a complete story or story arc? That the novel does stand alone? If they can then they wouldn't have to buy three books to read it (unless you're indicating the entire series).
     
  7. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm with @TWErvin2, speaking both as a reader and based on my understanding of the industry.

    The "standalone with series potential" is a really valuable selling feature, in my experience. It essentially gives publishers the best of both worlds - they don't have to commit to (or don't have to ask their readers to commit to) a multi-book series, but if the first book does well, they have a pre-established audience for the rest of the series.

    In the last couple years I've sold three books that I considered standalones that the publishers asked me to make into the first book of a series. Publishers like series books, at least in some genres.

    But I don't think this system works nearly as well if the books don't have standalone potential. As a reader, I pretty much refuse to read on in any series where I'm left on a cliffhanger - I don't care how great the story's been that far, my reading pleasure is completely ruined if there's no satisfying ending.

    But I'm happy as a clam with books that wrap up the main plot for that book but leave lots of other subplots open for future exploration.
     
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  8. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    No, if I split it as I said anyone can buy any of the three books, read it and be satisfied (hopefully). But to have the whole story they'll need to buy three books.
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    So, standalone with series potential? Sounds good.

    (I'm not sure it sounds good if each book is 200K - 333K long, but that's a different issue...)
     
  10. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    Yeah. It might end up shorter, depending on how long my wars last. My writing's become less terse too (after reading Hemingway two-three years ago I immediateley started writing like him unconsciously!) which may also be a contributor.
     
  11. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    "My liege, and madam, to expostulate
    What majesty should be, what duty is,
    What day is day, night night, and time is time,
    Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
    Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
    And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
    I will be brief. Your noble son is mad. . . ."

    -William Shakespeare
     
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  12. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    I've also considered self-publishing, but I'm a minor and don't know if I could handle that.

    I'd be really grateful if someone could give me the run-down on self-publishing and some good sites/self-publishers.
     
  13. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're 30K into your book, right?

    Get it finished and then start worrying about publishing. Any answers you get now could be totally wrong by the time your book is ready to go.
     
  14. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    I like to know where I'm going, but you're right.
     
  15. locoza
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    locoza Member

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    At least it should fit you, of course it is up to you but at least you shuold be aware that one readymade novel is a good chance to publish it especially when you can prove to your publisher, that there is more in it - a whole story still waiting.
     
  16. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    I am also trying to finish a trilogy before I try to publish. I used my outline of each book to kind of end as a stand alone.
    But when you publish, are you not going to tell the reader somehow that this is book 1 or book 2 of your work.
    ex.: "The Flushing Toilet, Book 1 of the Bathroom Chronicles."
    Wouldn't you want the reader to know there was more to your story? Just a question.
    When I finish, I will edit the first as best I can, then try to publish. The next two I will edit as time permits. But I am definitely going to try to get the first one out there.
     
  17. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    The writing process is slow, so you'll be well on your way to completing book 2 or maybe even working on book 3 before you get book 1 to a point where it's ready to send to a publisher. My work has went something like this:

    1. Write book 1
    2. Edit book 1
    3. Send book 1 out for proof reading, start writing book 2
    4. Make corrections in book 1 that proof reader found, finish writing book 2.
    5. Put book 1 out for beta reading/critique, start editing book 2

    My critique group is only at chapter 12 of 21 and I completed book 2 in that time. At this rate, book 3 will be finished before book 1 makes it through the critique process. When the manuscript for book 1 makes its way to a publisher I will be able to honestly say that all three volumes are complete works in the cover letter.

    My advice is to take your time and make sure you have the best manuscript you can produce before rushing it out to a publisher.
     
  18. King Arthur
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    King Arthur Banned

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    Who talked about rushing?
     
  19. locoza
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    locoza Member

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    It depends on the process you are in, for some it may occur good to just write one after the other, but ohrters then make it all in one, trying to spring along all chapters etc.
     
  20. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    From the advice i have received previously from writers older and wiser than I, it's best you write them all in one go as an unknown writer. That's what my main plans are when it comes to writing my fantasy series that i've been working on since around 2008. It's more feasible for the publishers and it decreases the heavy financial risk involved.
     
  21. TheRealStegblob
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    TheRealStegblob Active Member

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    I'm not sure where you heard "a series is harder to publish than a single novel", as far as I knew (which isn't a considerable amount so perhaps I'm mistaken) is that publishers actually like series a bit more, since banking on a series is usually safer than banking on a ton of stand alone books (as in, it's safer to published two books that are a series because that first book of the series will build a stable audience for the next, where publishing two stand alone books means they both have to fight for themselves), but again maybe I'm wrong, I dunno.

    Anyways.

    Lots of people (allegedly) go, planned or otherwise, for the 'write all the shit down at once then hope an editor saves you', and I guess it tends to work, at least sometimes. I'm someone who is currently writing a series of novels, and as I've finish the manuscript for the first one, I've been writing out a detailed outline for the second one. From my perspective, though, my series is an un-episodic one where each book isn't really a direct sequel to the last, so it's a lot "easier" for me as opposed to someone writing a Lord of the Rings kind of series. My advice, I guess, would be to at least get a solid outline of the whole damn thing and then just write. Whether you write a 600,000 word behemoth or you find yourself completing a solid and self-containing 'book 1', the best bet is to really just go the way you need to go naturally. Trying to force yourself to do this or that kind of format isn't something that really works well for a lot of people, so in the end, go for what works for you and worry about making it work later. That's just my advice, though.
     
  22. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    From my perspective, I would be highly interested in a pitch that involved a series. More so if A) the series was written in full and B) it was well written, exciting and commercial.

    But at 30,000 words in January, you are probably around 50K now. That is still a very long way from being finished with the first book, never mind the tenth. Don't worry about whether it will be published, just focus on making it awesome.

    I will not speak for the big four, but as an Indy publisher, who knows a good many other Indy publishers, I can tell you that an ideal situation from my perspective would be a series of books, with the first couple written, and more on the way in the next year or two.

    This leaves time for final edits, final proofing and all the usual rigmarole of book production.

    Stick at it and give us an update on progress now and again.
     

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