Author Topic: YA Trilogies  (Read 12575 times)

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Offline WriteOn

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YA Trilogies
« on: November 29, 2006, 04:00 PM »
What do you think about YA's such as Bras and Broomsticks (Frogs and Frenchkisses, Spells and Sleepingbags) and Rachel Cohen's (I think it's a triology) books-Gingerbread, Shrimp, Cupcake? do you think YA series or triologies are becoming more popular? I know Gossip Girl is huge and I've recently discovered the Jennifer Scales series. I've read the posts that go back and fourth about whether or not to mention a series to an agent for a chapterbook, but what about YA's? especially if you're an unestablished author? I heard that agents like to know that you are capable of producing more than one book, but I've also heard just to wait until you have an agent to mention it. Anyways, just curious on anyone's thoughts....
« Last Edit: November 29, 2006, 06:58 PM by WriteOn »
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Offline andracill

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2006, 06:35 PM »
In my cover letter for the first in my YA duet/trilogy (I haven't decided yet), I mentioned that I'd already written number two, but if she preferred a stand-alone, we could change the appropriate things.  This was to an editor -- I'll keep you posted.

Offline LindaJoy

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2006, 10:12 AM »
I love series like Scott Westerfeld's UGLIES & MIDNIGHTERS. These seem to be triologies so far but could always add more.

For submitting if you haven't sold series before it's best to submit a single book but mention in the query the potential for a series. An exception to this would be if you know for a fact that a publisher is looking for series -- then submit a series proposal with sample chapters/synopsis and series information.
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Offline YAchicka

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2007, 07:47 AM »
I think it depends, but when I pitched my YA novel I mentioned it was the first of a four-book series, and my agent asked for revisions on my ms based on the fact he liked my series idea. I think he may have rejected outright if he hadn't seen something  in my paragraphs about the other books - we did a LOT of work on changing the first ms and I'm so happy we did. Now the waiting... :snail:
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Offline LindaJoy

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2007, 08:06 AM »
Sounds good! I'm working on a YA series proposal, too, but also still agent shopping. Being a series author is the coolest thing. Enjoy!
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Offline Stef

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2007, 08:08 AM »
My WIP is the second book of a planned YA trilogy.  My editor called it a series, which I could do, but that's not what I envisioned.  I decided on a trilogy because, while the books are about the same family, each features a different son as the main character.  Can't speak to mentioning it to an agent as I don't have one, but I told my editor when I submitted that there was more to the story than just my first book.  Several readers have told me they hope there is another book.
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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2007, 06:15 PM »
When I queried, I focussed on just the one book, although it was meant to be part of a series.  I mentioned it when partials or fulls were requested.  I didn't think it was important to put it out there before that point in the process.  Once I was signed, I got the outlines for the next books to my agent in about a week or so.

Offline LindaJoy

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2007, 07:40 AM »
Another interesting occurance is when triologies become quartets or even longer. I recently heard that one of my fave series, UGLIES, which is touted as a trilogy has a 4th book coming out this year. Guess it's okay to change plans when a series is a success.
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Offline PJV

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2007, 08:36 PM »
YAchicka:
I don't feel comfortable emailing you, and hope you will read this despite the time since your post. I was wondering how your search to have your series published is going. I have a series and was hoping for advice on how you pitched it and actually had it read.
Thanks!

Offline YAchicka

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2007, 07:07 AM »
Hey Sabe,

Thanks for asking - my agent sent out the ms to four publishing houses, with one-page descriptions of the other three proposed books in the series. The editors all had positive things to say, but one house made suggestions that really sparked something in me and I asked my agent if he minded another MAJOR rewrite to address the issues. His first response was to just leave it alone and continue submitting (those first 4 ultimately rejected), but then his internet went out for four hours and he had time to reflect and told me to go for it.

It was a little depressing to be back to rewriting (everything after page 60 was scrapped) after WAITING for that call. But here was the thing - as we were submitting, I re-read the first books in a ton of series in my genre (Sisterhood of Traveling Pants, Bras & Broomsticks, etc...) and realized that I was trying to tackle way too much for the first book. There was so much happeneing, it took away from the set up of the characters that is necessary for a series to take hold. That is partially because my book was originally a stand-alone that built into this great world with awesome characters that sort of asked to be continued. Once I 'saw' the weakness in that first ms, I couldn't help but to change it, even though I loved a lot about the original version (and can perhaps use some of it in the second book in the series).

When I finished my revisions, my agent liked them so much he contacted one of the rejecting editors who had loved my characters, but thought the plot was tackling too much, and she asked to take another look exclusively. Well, two and a half months later, we JUST got news that she's leaving the house, but has handed it off to another editor and so we are now waiting to hear all over again (but at least it is with someone with a totally fresh perspective).

So my advice would be to make sure your first book is super-strong, it needs to really grab attention, but should also be balanced with those character-driven elements that make series books appealing. Plus, read a ton of series - it is so interesting to see which ones make you want to run right out and get the next book in the series, and which ones leave you sort of 'meh.' You need to have your READERS first in your mind, then work backwards from there. My original query letter pitched the first book with a small mention at the end saying it was the first in a four-book series. But if I re-wrote that now, I'd probably be more up front about the other books. (Then again, that may not have gotten me as many requests) (or maybe it would've gotten me more!). So hard to tell in this biz.

Good luck with your submitting!  :clover :clover :clover
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AnneMarie_writes

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2007, 06:41 PM »
As a reader, I like those books that aren't strictly a series. They deal with the same world. Maybe the same characters, though often not. I'm thinking of Holly Black's Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside. They're all in the world of faerie, but they're not all about Kaye and Roiben. However, I also completely love Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels trilogy or Justine Larbalestier's Magic or Madness trilogy. I suppose it depends on the strength of the writer and the story. I'm not much help as a reader.

As a writer, I'm working on a very interconnected trilogy. The first book definitely stands alone -- even though there's a great cliff-hanger, which could be removed if an agent wants the stand alone. Major conflicts are resolved in book 1. In my search for agents, I have not mentioned the possibility of more books. This was due to reading Nathan Bransford's blog. Perhaps I shall have to change tactics.

Offline LindaJoy

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2007, 06:55 AM »
Good luck YAChicka!! Sounds like you did the right (write?) thing!

Short series seem to be popular in the current market. Mentioning in queries that you have a series seems to be more the norm than the exception now.

I had a reverse situation happen in July, though. I subbed a single-title to the editor I've worked with on my THE SEER series. He had major changes (like hating the heroine at first). But I made them and he suggested continuing with the story hook for a few more books -- so even though I tried for just one book, I'll have three. The first book, DEAD GIRL WALKING, comes out Sept. 2008.

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Offline YAchicka

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2007, 07:40 AM »
How awesome that they want More More MORE from you!!!
Congratulations and good luck with the book and writing the sequels.

I've wondered about how successful a book needs to be for them to follow through with the series, like, are there cases where a book didn't do well enough to justify publishing the follow-ups?
Of course, I'm still hoping for that initial YES for mine, and so I suppose I can put off that worry for now.  :werd
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Offline LindaJoy

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2007, 06:06 AM »
Usually a series is contracted for multiple books at the beginning so the 2nd and maybe 3rd are already written before the sales figures are in on the first book. So if it's a three book contract for paperback originals, the three usually come out. For hardbacks the expectations seem higher and I have heard of a few situations where maybe a second book was published but not the third.  Hardbacks reply more on library sales and good reviews. Paperbacks are usually purchased directly by readers who aren't likely to read reviews anyway.

When I published my REGENERATION series with Berkley in 2000 it was initially a 3-book contract. The books came out, did good but not amazing. When a movie option and YALSA honor happened, Berkley added two more titles. But when the movie option lapsed and sales continued to be good but not amazing, the series ended. Readers kept emailing me asking for more (some still do) and I felt awful telling them the series was over. I went ahead and wrote a 6th book for fans which I posted on my 2nd website over at www.LJSingleton.com .

Good luck with your series writing!

LJS
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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2007, 06:21 AM »
Hey Linda Joy, since you're the resident Series expert  :ha have a question for you - is it some sort of industry-standard that most contemporary series are five books and then done?

Writeaway (another Blue Boarder) and I were talking about it and she mentioned that five was average.  I'd never thought about it.  But once she said that I looked at some of the popular series and realized that books like Travelling Pants etc...are capped at about 4-5 books.

I'm not talking about ghost written series like Gossip Girl and The A-List - those can go on forever.  But a series written by one author, like yours, like mine - do you think it's expected that the books will cap out at five?  Even if they're extremly popular?

It sort of makes sense.  Your readership may grow with you but they may not.  Five would ensure you kind of capture them all through middle school or through most of high school before they defect to other reading interests.

Scott Westerfeld's started as a trilogy but has gone into it's fourth - so I wouldnt' be surprised to see a fifth. 

I'm wondering because I'm at five with my contract with Kensington, even though I initially had eight in mind for the series.  I'm thinking maybe I should just cap it at five.  I mean, if the publisher or readers are really hungry for more, I can give more.  But the thought of capping it at five is starting to look appealing because then I can move on to my next series idea in earnest.

Thoughts on whether five part series are a trend or simply a coincidence?

-P

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2007, 06:05 PM »
Just got off the phone with my agent, and he said he'd been building some "buzz" about my YA debut with editors, and many of them were asking if this was a trilogy. It seems to be the thing editors want right now. I have a synopsis for Book Two, and now I'm supposed to be "thinking" about what (or if) Book Three will come into being. Very exciting. Daunting, but exciting  :laugh

Offline olmue

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2007, 09:58 PM »
Wow, cool, Angie!

Offline LindaJoy

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2007, 08:19 AM »
Great, Angie!

And from what I hear, unless the series is a packaged wonder like Gossip Girls, short series seem to be the norm. I've heard that it's because shelf space is hard to get for longer series. I also suspect it has to do with lack of review interest for additional books in a series (only fans have reviewed #5 SEER/FATAL CHARM). One book may have trouble finding an audience but a trilogy seems to do better in the current market. I'm sure it will change again...cycles keep repeating. We're currently going through a teen series cycle that very similar to what happened in the 80's only then packagers were the ones producing most of the series and now it seems to be more short original (mostly chicklit/paranormal) series.

I'm going with the flow and proposing only short series, too. My next series (DEAD GIRL WALKING) is planned for a trilogy. And another series I'm working on with aliens is also planned for a trilogy.

Still with all this said, I miss writing THE SEER books and would love to do another once these projects are done. When I planned THE SEER I hoped it would go for many books--a dozen would have been nice. But the way I've stayed in this business is by being flexible, staying aware of the marketing and listening to my editor(s).

Overall a longer series has a better chance to gain fans...or lose them if the books don't build momentum. Shorter series can be stepping stones for your career, readers following authors from series to series. That's what I'm doing now.

Good luck!
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Offline Duskydawn

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2007, 12:59 PM »
That's why I'm trying to follow the market progress of Holly Black's "Spiderwick Chronicles" (although it's MG), it had a film due to come out and has its five books. I'm curious to see how it's received on many levels as it is similar, in some minor ways, to projects of mine.

Wow, LindaJoy! Congrats to you & Running2StandStill, too! I hope to have "multiple" examples of my own someday!

Offline PatEsden

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2007, 04:48 PM »
Congratulations and good luck to you all.
Early this year I started querying the first book in a trilogy. I didn't mention that it was part of a series of stand-alone books. I got more rejections than requests. 

Last month, I started querying the second stand-alone book in the trilogy. I mentioned that it was part of a trilogy and that I was currently revising the prequel. I have recieved more requests than rejections this time. It could be that this book is more appealing to agents, but I suspect it is because I mentioned the trilogy and that a second book is complete.

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2007, 01:42 PM »
And from what I hear, unless the series is a packaged wonder like Gossip Girls, short series seem to be the norm.

I'm going with the flow and proposing only short series, too. My next series (DEAD GIRL WALKING) is planned for a trilogy. And another series I'm working on with aliens is also planned for a trilogy.


Interesting feedback.  I'm about to plan my next project and I had series in mind but am wondering if I should be thinking trilogy.  I always thought trilogies were more sci-fi and paranormal.  Are there any out there that aren't?  Oh...is Secret Society Girl considered a trilogy?  I suppose it is.

I want to make sure I'm packaging the book so it's palatable.  At this time, I only know what the first book is about and that there can be more.

-P

Offline CC

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #21 on: December 09, 2007, 02:21 PM »
I always thought trilogies were more sci-fi and paranormal.  Are there any out there that aren't?  Oh...is Secret Society Girl considered a trilogy?  I suppose it is.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the Rachel Cohen books -- GINGERBREAD, SHRIMP, and CUPCAKE considered a trilogy? They've got the same core characters but you don't necessarily have to read them in sequence to know what's going on?


OOps... Writeon already mentioned these books at the top of the post... sorry... I'll go back to the YA thread where I belong now... :D
« Last Edit: December 09, 2007, 02:25 PM by CC »
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Paulahy

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #22 on: December 09, 2007, 02:51 PM »
Ahh, of course.  I read Write-on's post earlier in the week but when I asked the question I'd already forgotten those books were mentioned.  Good catch CC.

-P

Offline Debby G

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #23 on: December 09, 2007, 04:38 PM »
My THE BAND YA trilogy was sold as a trilogy. It's about a teenage rock band, with no fantasy (well, except that most of the main characters are rich and gorgeous) or sci fi elements.
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Offline YAchicka

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2007, 04:51 PM »
Isn't PEACHES going to be a trilogy too?
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Paulahy

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2007, 05:19 AM »
Well Deb, I'll be reading your books for "research."  Don't you love when you can read pleasure books for work purposes?  ;D

-P

Offline Debby G

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #26 on: December 10, 2007, 06:48 AM »
And books are tax deductible!

Thanks.
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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2007, 09:10 AM »
And books are tax deductible!

Ye-haw!!!   :excited

-P

Offline Carrie Ryan

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2007, 01:01 PM »
Something that I've been thinking about with series (and how many books to write in a series) is whether the publisher is going to keep the first books in print and readily available.  I couldn't even find Holly Black's earlier titles (Tithe and Valient) on the shelves at my local big box.  I've heard of series tanking because of this.  I know I don't like to read books out of order and if I can't find the earlier books in the bookstore, I tend not to read anything in the series (or order it online).

When I was subbing my book, I kep thinking of it as the first in a loosly connected trilogy.  I kept asking my agent if I needed to write a synopsis for the other books or at least a paragraph and he said no.  I ended up selling in a two book deal and my editor didn't even know I had other book ideas for that world!  in the end, I think it's going to work out for me because I've just come up with another book I'd like to write for my contracted book 2 instead (and take a step back from the series).
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Paulahy

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Re: YA Trilogies
« Reply #29 on: December 10, 2007, 01:14 PM »
Something that I've been thinking about with series (and how many books to write in a series) is whether the publisher is going to keep the first books in print and readily available.  I couldn't even find Holly Black's earlier titles (Tithe and Valient) on the shelves at my local big box. 

I'm experiencing this, right now.

When I went to do drive-by signings at local stores, none of them had So Not The Drama, only Don't Get It Twisted.  I was very disappointed because I was hoping that being side-by-side would help boost sales for both books.  But as it stands, anyone interested in the first one would have to request it, I guess.

However, I noticed that most other series had at least one other volume of the series shelved with it - if not all at least the two most current.

I asked my agent about this and she said that it was likely the call of the bookstore and not my publishers.  I was hoping one of the booksellers would jump in and speak on it.  But to get an answer we may have to start a new thread under the Business theme.

-P