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First Time Novel and Sequels

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Hello and thank you in advance for any input on this subject.  I just finished my first MG novel (YAY!) but the book is designed to have a sequel.   Do agents/publishers pick up books that will need a sequel from first time writers?
#1 - July 19, 2014, 06:48 PM
Querying my first novel and working on my second! Fingers crossed!

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Is the sequel a possibility or a necessity? I'm not an expert on this, but I think a debut novel should be able to stand alone, even if a sequel is in the works. HP and the Sorcerer's Stone worked well as a stand alone even though six more books followed. Star Wars worked well as a stand alone even though more movies followed.



#2 - July 20, 2014, 09:29 AM

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It should be able to stand alone, even if you've anticipated a sequel. In your query, include something like, "This is a stand-alone novel, with the potential for a sequel."

The tricky part of this is writing your ending. You need to have the reader feel some satisfaction at the end of the book. Some problems will be solved, the protagonist is in a better position and has gone through a change. But you can leave a few loose ends or unsolved questions that will be explored in the next book. If the ending is too unsatisfying, you will have unhappy readers.
#3 - July 20, 2014, 09:37 AM
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Personally, I do not like to read a book that feels like it is the first half of a whole book that was chopped in two. I can live with a few loose ends, but I also need some resolution. Well established authors might be able to make a completely open ended book fly, but it is going to be a stretch for your first book.
#4 - July 20, 2014, 11:33 AM

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I agree. It needs to be able to stand on its own. One reason is that unless a debut does quite well, a publisher won't be interested in a sequel anyway.
#5 - July 20, 2014, 01:18 PM
A Smidgen of Sky (Harcourt 2012)
A Sliver of Sun (book #2)
 A Million Ways Home (Scholastic 2014)
Just Left of Lucky (2018)
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Thank you! I had come to that conclusion as well and decided to write as a stand alone.  I appreciate the input!
#6 - July 20, 2014, 03:54 PM
Querying my first novel and working on my second! Fingers crossed!

I will dissent and say that I've read plenty of debut novels with cliffhanger endings leading into a sequel. But I imagine these are harder to sell, especially now that trilogies are losing momentum in the marketplace.
#7 - July 21, 2014, 08:53 AM
The Echo Room (Tor Teen, 2018)
Where Futures End (Penguin, 2016)
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An example of a MG novel that stands alone very well is SILVERWING by Kenneth Oppel. It turned out to be the first in a trilogy, but it didn't end with a cliffhanger. It had a satisfying ending, but there were some unresolved problems.
#8 - July 21, 2014, 09:15 AM
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I will dissent and say that I've read plenty of debut novels with cliffhanger endings leading into a sequel. But I imagine these are harder to sell, especially now that trilogies are losing momentum in the marketplace.

Could you give us some examples?
#9 - July 21, 2014, 10:54 AM
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It's important that it can stand alone and still leave room for a sequel. I think the difference between a true cliffhanger ending and a satisfying ending to a stand alone novel is that in a cliffhanger ending, the main story or question is not finished or answered in the book and you have to read another book to find out what happens (for instance, a murder mystery where you don't find out who the killer is until book 2 - have read a series like that and was so frustrated that I stopped reading right after I found out who the killer was in the 2nd book - I didn't trust the author not to leave the reader hanging again at the end of the 2nd/3rd etc. books).

With a standalone novel, the questions are answered, but there's a hint at the next adventure or a few loose ends that lead into the next book. For instance, in a murder mystery, the killer would be revealed and maybe even caught in the first book. At the end of the book, there could be a hint that maybe he escaped, or the main characters have another murder to solve, etc.
#10 - July 21, 2014, 12:21 PM
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Debbie, BORN WICKED comes to mind. The third book comes out very soon, and the first book really wasn't a stand alone. I think THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO was a debut too? It had a maddening cliffhanger. FALLING KINGDOMS, an epic fantasy debut, also had a very unresolved ending. I think the second book might be out now.
#11 - July 21, 2014, 09:21 PM
The Echo Room (Tor Teen, 2018)
Where Futures End (Penguin, 2016)
www.parkerpeevyhouse.com

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My understanding is that a publisher won't buy the second in a series until they know the first is going to sell. So you could pitch the book as a stand-alone with series potential.
#12 - July 22, 2014, 09:38 AM
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Sometimes I see two book deals listed, but the publisher really has to believe in book one to take that chance. I think this is more likely to happen in YA because that market has exploded so much.

Whizbee, all of your examples are YA. Can you think of any middle grade that did this?
#13 - July 28, 2014, 07:31 AM
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I'm not as current on my MG reading. I can think of examples that came out right after Harry Potter and were most likely designed to capitalize on the fantasy series phenomenon, but for current books I'm not as sure. I'm betting the diary-style books sell as series, but those aren't really sequels as much as they are series.
#14 - July 28, 2014, 08:18 AM
The Echo Room (Tor Teen, 2018)
Where Futures End (Penguin, 2016)
www.parkerpeevyhouse.com

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JBert's debut SCAVENGER was a two-book deal (well, actually a three-book deal but the third book was not related to the other two) based on one completed book. It's MG.


I imagine it's not that common, though.
#15 - July 28, 2014, 11:01 AM

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