1. scribbledhopes

    scribbledhopes New Member

    May 2, 2008
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    Can a Trilogy sell for a new writer if it is good and all the books complete?

    Discussion in 'Marketing' started by scribbledhopes, Jul 31, 2012.

    Hi Everyone,

    Can Trilogies sets be sold to a publisher by new writers, or is it best to start off with a one book offering.

    This is my problem.

    My Novel is long: 27 Chapters, 893 pages, 159,000 words.

    All of this will be complete by years end in final draft. Half way through, making great progress.

    The novel is almost finished the second draft. It is geared to young adult, my target audience is around 14 but I believe an adult could easily find it a interesting and a good read.

    I need to do one of three things as I am polishing it.

    Put it on a diet and cut it in half
    Chop it into two books of 90,000 words which is doable with the plot set up
    Chop it into a Trilogy of about 40,000 words for each.

    I lean toward the trilogy for some reason. (I loved trilogies when I was a young reader)

    The issue I am unsure about is whether as a new writer with a trilogy to sell would even be bothered with, considering it too chancy. Even if all three books were offered up complete for evaluation at the same time and expected to be sold as a set or in stages. (so there is no wondering if I would finish the other two)

    Of course how it was sold would be the publishers discretion.

    I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot. I can carve it down at the cost of of the story, and just hold onto the original as the official unedited cut for some later date for republication if it took up some steam. Unfortunately, that would leave a poor skeleton of it’s magic and charm.

    My target beta testers (about a dozen children between the ages of 12 and 16) are eating it up like candy. I like to beta test my work to make sure the story is flowing and understandable for my audience.

    I interview each one usually for 15 minutes or so after a few chapters, to pick out some details. Words they struggled with, plots that went over them, things that didn’t go so well.
    Children will tell you what they think you want to hear, so you have to probe. If you do it right you can get your answers. I have learned a lot about how their young minds spin.

    Some of their favorite characters would have to go to shrink it to acceptable word parameters of a single book, and for some of them, those odd characters are the best and most thrilling part of the book.
    As one young lady of 14 put it, she wants a stuffed animal (of course she doesn’t know he is on the chopping block) of one of the characters for her bed.

    I found that and unexpected and amusing request. I also find it entertaining they have this incredible urge to write book reports to me on what they have experienced so far, though it wasn’t required. I rather enjoy reading them and keep them in a binder as encouragement.

    The kids are adorable to deal with, and as a reward, they all have little binders I provided for them that I put the new chapters as they book is slowly introduced to them. (after a friendly interview of course) With the understanding an editor would alter its contents, so they may be the few that have the uncut original version. This delights them to no end. The binders are there’s to keep.

    I consider this probing valuable R&D for myself. It also encourages me.

    I do have a second problem, they are reading the books to their younger siblings who are all caught up in it. This was unexpected. I hadn’t meant the book for anyone under 10, so I am not too sure if I should discourage that. There are some scary parts in the book and I wouldn’t want to frighten my younger readers. (the book has no gore, no one dies, no sexual undertones of course, and the hero always wins.) The whole book is about an odd group of misfit children who band together and do some amazing things.

    The way they do it is the unusual, I find it very unique in nature and I haven’t seen its like yet at the bookstore. I have looked, so I am encouraged.
    I have a few older friends who are as well caught up in the story even more so than the children, which also encourages me to be careful with my snipers.

    So chopping the book is a bit heartbreaking.

    Could a new writer sell a completed trilogy if it had a lot of potential, or am I dooming myself to the Slush pile of death.

    I need to decide, because come January I am determined to have the completed works out to ponder in some agents or publishers hands.

    I could always take constructive feedback, I can take rejection letters, I expect it and will recieve it as guidance. I am humble by nature, some friends say it is a weakness but I consider it a strength. I am also very determined to get somebody to see the treasures I have created. I just don’t know if I need to bust it up a bit the first time around.

    I could always do the two books of 90 K, I am not too sure if that would sell as well to a YA market. A two book set up is odd to me.

    This of course effects how I construct the final polished version. Any advice would and is always appreciated. Your time and thoughts are gold to me. Thanks, Dave
  2. Banzai

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Mar 31, 2007
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    Reading, UK
    Of course it's possible. All things are possible. But as an unpublished writer, you're racking the odds massively up against you with a trilogy. Publishers would be reluctant to invest, because the increased risk; what if the first novel flops?

    It does sound like you have an idea what you're doing (from your beta-readers, etc), but my advice would still be to try and trim it down to one novel. 159k seems (to me) very long for a YA novel, whilst 40k seems too short. A two-novel approach might be a good bed, but if (and only if) you can sell the first volume as a stand-alone novel. By which I mean that the story doesn't need the second instalment for completion and closure.

    In the end, submitting a novel to an agent/publisher is a gamble. All you can do as the writer is try and tilt the odds in your favour.
  3. MeganHeld

    MeganHeld New Member

    Dec 3, 2010
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    Ontario, Canada
    Oh, it is possible! You just found a new age market. I would recommend the trilogy. Good books don't need to be long. You may find that once you divide it you may add more so the books may change. You are writing it like an entire novel, which is a good method day. Plus, it will make the readers want more by doing it in 3. YA is a wider market because younger and older people read the novels. Think of Hunger Games, all the books are a smaller size and many people young and old read it.

    You are leaning towards the trilogy. So do it!
  4. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I'd make sure the first book could stand on it's own if need be , you don't have to tie everything up - in fact if you've done
    your homework , the characters should make the publishers want to see more of them giving you the upper hand of easily
    producing more.

    The trouble with a trilogy is, I've been here for about two months now and I've heard dozens of writers who plan to
    write one , or they're writing one , since we're not the only site around I can only imagine the onslaught of
    trilogies the publishers have to deal with on a daily basis. You don't want to get their defences up first thing.

    You could also think about hiring an agent as he/she might have more experience in handling the publishers.
  5. captain kate

    captain kate Active Member

    May 4, 2008
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    Cruising through space.
    The first novel needs to be the best, and able to stand on it's own to make the sequels. Unfortunately, it seems you may have fallen in love with your words. 159k makes it extremely unlikely you'll get published because most publishers like new author's books to be 80-100k in length. Once established, then those 159k epics can be sent to be published, but I wouldn't send a novel that big off to an agent.

    Now, if you choose to e-book it, which they are selling more then hardcover now by the way, then the size isn't as important...if it's a fairly quick read or the reader will put it down.
  6. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    It's possible, but your odds are better of flipping a coin five times and having it land on its edge on a hard flat surface every time.

    Publishers DO NOT want series from unknown writers. It magnifies their risk to where it is no longer worthwhile.
  7. scribbledhopes

    scribbledhopes New Member

    May 2, 2008
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    Thanks Everyone,
    That was very helpful and did get me thinking.

    Overlooking it I am fairly sure I can split it down the middle, 80 k words, alter the end of the first book and have a decent submission. It would like look and read like a great book, but if they ever asked me if I had a sequel, I would already have it waiting in the wings for presentation. The hard part is what is in the second portion that makes the first portion so meaningful and enjoyable, things start to glue together, making you want to read it twice. Though I love the trilogy idea, short three books, I think it is too much of a gamble. Though Megan you did temp me. I might be able to pull that off once I get around a bit. It does lose much of its charm in two pieces, but I guess that is the price you pay to fit into a buyers mold.

    Its a market really and there is a gamble pulishers have to take, what sells is what matters. I can respect that.

    Your consideration and thoughts are appreciated. Dave..
  8. B93

    B93 Active Member

    Jul 23, 2012
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    Each book must stand on its own.

    I think 159,000 is too big for that market whether or established or not, and most markets as first novel. Sell the first book. Mention in your query that you have it planned for a sequel or trilogy but don't try to sell all two/three at once.

    Your arithmetic lost me.
    159,000 / 2 = 79,500, and might need to grow to 90,000 each because of the split
    159,000 / 3 = 53,000 and should not shrink to 40,000 each. Maybe 60,000 each and that would be a good length for YA.
  9. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

    Nov 30, 2006
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    Ohio, USA
    It is vastly more difficult to find a publisher for a trilogy than for a standalone novel, when trying to break in. However, some smaller houses may be more open to it than larger houses (or agents normally required to gain access to editors at larger houses).

    The notion that a planned trilogy can be carved up into separate books, while possible may weaken the overall story (mentioned above). While it's not as drastic as taking just a very large novel and trying to divide it (story arc problems and pacing, being just two concerns) because a trilogy by nature has some natural division built in from one book to the next, you may be better off just trying to sell the trilogy.

    The reason I say this? If you have an excellent trilogy, wouldn't it have at least an equal chance of selling as the same books individually if the story suffers a bit and isn't quite as strong?

    While you're trying to get the trilogy sold, go ahead and work on a standalone novel. If you're able to sell that, and it's successful in the market, the publisher will be looking for more from you. If it hasn't sold, you have the trilogy right there handy.
  10. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Dec 30, 2010
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    I say keep the story as it is, and if no publisher wants it - then go self-publish, because the truth is, it honestly sounds like you already have a small fan base that is actually growing without you even actually trying. It could sell itself. Of course the recognition of the trad route is greater, but profits might well be similar what with the publisher taking most of the cash anyway.

    It depends - what do you want more? Do you want: 1) Your story to stay true to itself and wait for a publisher who recognises its full potential or self publish, or 2) cut it so it loses the essence and what made it so great but get recognised by a big pub? Would you want readers to read the trimmed version?
  11. scribbledhopes

    scribbledhopes New Member

    May 2, 2008
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    Thanks Everyone.

    I have a lot to think about. I think I am going to make a third draft pass at the story after this second. Keeping the word count in mind from this point on. Maybe I can slim down the sentences instead of the story itself. I am trying to think micro instead of macro changes. I would like to keep it all and still have a shot with a submission. Try to say the same thing with less. I would be happy if I can lower the word count to acceptable levels and hold the story true.

    That moves my deadline I set for myself. I can not do this extra draft before the end of the year.

    After I get that done, I will have a clearer idea on what my true word count is.

    It will be a great deal of work. I do enjoy writing so it isn't that painful, but it does get tiring rehashing old script. That is why I am continuing with the second draft from where I am now in the script with attention to word count going forward. The thought of going back to page one again so soon makes me cringe.

  12. Thom

    Thom Active Member

    Jul 24, 2009
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    As a first time writer, such as myself, I would think the best way to start with a trilogy would be to have the first book as its own complete story. The plot and characters can be expanded on afterward, with success, with little 'Easter eggs' in the first draft then expanded upon to create the greater, three book story arc in the follow up sequels. But even if the first book does not do good enough to continue the expanded story arc, then at least you have one complete book out and in print.
    And who know, the characters and story could be revisited a few years down the road.

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