Follow-up the Leader

Jim Winter brought up an interesting topic at Crimespace today regarding what to write as a follow-up to the novel he and his agent are currently submitting. His book is a standalone and he mentions that if it were a series book he would start working on number two right away and possibly even outlining book three.

Harry Hunsicker was of the adamant opinion that one should not write the follow-up to a series novel until the first one has sold. He advocates starting something new even if it’s basically the same characters. Now Harry is a great writer, and has had quite a bit of success with his Hank Oswald series, so obviously he knows what he’s talking about. Buuuuuuuuuttttt, Laura Lippman is also an excellent writer with some success of her own and she advocates the opposite approach. Laura had the second book in her Tess Monaghan series finished by the time the first one sold and credits that with being able to jump start her career early on.

Both have valid points but because you’re here you obviously are dying to know what my opinion is? I side with Laura.

This is actually a debate I’ve been having with myself for a few weeks. I have the first book in the series finished and I’m submitting it currently to agents. I wanted to immediately start the next book and did so with MURDER BOY. About halfway through I knew this wasn’t the book I wanted to followup the first in the series. I wanted it to be a bigger and better book than the first one and one that, if the first didn’t sell, could be used as the new first book in the series. I’m confident enough in my character that I know he will sell, I think it’s just a matter of which book he will debut in. So right now I’m working on a different book, one that I hope will be the second book in the series, but I think could be reworked to act as an opening book if it had to.

Any thoughts?

2 thoughts on “Follow-up the Leader

  1. I do see Harry’s point (part of what I was fishing for when I wrote that post), since it is, indeed, lost time.My feeling, though, is I don’t want to get caught with my pants down.”Got a follow up?””Why certainly!” [I just don’t know what the hell it is yet.]Then again, both NORTHCOAST SHAKEDOWN and ROAD RULES enjoyed something the two now-orphaned Kepler books didn’t have when I wrote them: No deadlines.Part of my problem right now is I have a new series idea, but I’m not so sure it’s developed enough to start a book with. There’s an ARC to it, but the details are still way too sketchy. OTOH, I really don’t have another standalone in the tank.Decisions, decisions. NaNoWriMo again?

  2. I’m playing catch up with blogs since I’ve been in a Crimespace fog as well as trying to write some freelance pieces that I stupidly agreed to do.But this topic intrigues me. I had my second in the series written when I won the Sara Freed contest, and my editor bought it not six months after I won the contest and six months before Sacred Cows even debuted. And because it had taken so long for anyone at all to notice Sacred Cows, much less the second in the series, I also wrote a sort of series spinoff with my PI character Vinny DeLucia before Sacred Cows won the contest. Annie makes a cameo in the book, but it takes place two years before Sacred Cows, before Annie and Vinny meet up again. It’s more of a thriller than the series, and it was so much fun to write. Hopefully someday I can get it published!

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