The draft of the novel I’ve been working on since 2015 is currently with beta readers (for the third time), and I find myself facing a difficult decision.
I want to write something new while I wait, but what should I write?
I started an unrelated book–which I’m going to call “Desert” for the sake of clarity–and got 30k words in before deciding I wanted to change everything and basically start over. So I could have a second go at that one.
There’s a lot that I like about it, but the problem is that I’m not excited about it right now. What I really want to work on is the sequel to my book that’s with beta readers. (I’ll call that one “RoDS”.)
Unfortunately there are lots of reasons that’s a bad idea.
If I do traditionally publish RoDS
I haven’t decided if I’m going to try to traditionally publish RoDS, but I haven’t ruled it out.
So suppose I do go that route and manage to find myself an agent.
I appreciate even if RoDS sells, the publisher might not want a sequel. Or they might want a sequel, but not the sequel I’ve written. (And probably not the two sequels after that that are begging to be written.)
My (hypothetical) agent might sell RoDS, but only after I change it so much the sequel I’ve written no longer makes sense.
Or my agent might fail to sell RoDS and ask what else I have. Obviously a sequel to the book that didn’t sell wouldn’t do.
If any of these things happen, working on the sequel to RoDS would be a waste of time.
Even if I don’t traditionally publish RoDS
I can appreciate certain aspects of RoDS aren’t especially marketable in today’s environment. It’s too long, for starters. Even if I cut it dramatically it will be too long.
It’s set in a pseudo-medieval world, which is out of fashion.
The world is also male-dominated, the local populace is light skinned (the main darker skinned people are merchants who have travelled from kingdoms to the south), and the diversity is… limited.
I think these artistic choices make sense in the context of the story, but the book doesn’t exactly advance representation.
My point is that Desert might be easier than RoDS to sell traditionally.
So suppose I do self-publish RoDS. Then having a bunch of sequels would probably be a good thing.
In that case I’d still want to pursue traditional publication for Desert (or my next book after it). Which means I need to get on and write it.
I hear having a self-published book that didn’t sell a whole lot of copies (read, most self-published books) can be a hindrance to getting traditionally published. So self-publishing RoDS before I tried to traditionally publish Desert might not be the way to go.
The traditional publishing industry also loves a debut, and if you’re already self-published you’ve lost that chance. Again, a reason not to self-publish RoDS yet, and to get on and write Desert.
The thing is I’m excited about writing the sequel to RoDS. I wouldn’t be surprised if I could get a first draft out in a few months.
My head is in that space right now, and it would be easier to jump back from writing the sequel to editing RoDS when I heard back from my beta readers than it would be to jump from writing Desert.
So, can someone please tell me it’s okay to write the sequel to my unsold (and possibly unsellable) WIP?
Have I missed any reasons I shouldn’t write the sequel? Can you please tell me it’s okay to do it anyway?
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