|Photo credit: AhBook on Flickr|
And yet, I have yet to write a sequel.
Well, that's not entirely true—after writing my very first novel, I wrote half of the sequel before realizing that I wasn't going to be able to sell the first book of the series and I'd be better off spending time writing something new.
And there lies the problem with writing a series while you're unpublished and seeking a traditional publishing route—if you don't get the first book published, you're going to find it very difficult to find representation for the second book.
At this point I've written eight novels—and with each book I had ideas for a series. And yet, when the time came to put those WIPs away (for those that have been shelved, that is), I didn't allow myself to even consider writing the sequel—and not because I didn't want to.
The thing is, when you're an unpublished writer and your goal is to publish traditionally, writing a sequel before you've sold the first book is an enormous risk, because it doesn't matter how fantastic that sequel is if you can't get the first book published.
It may seem like defeatist thinking to refuse to write a sequel because you might not be able to sell the first book, but rather than focusing on the this might not get published part, I like to think of writing a sequel as a reward, or a celebration of sorts. You see, I've made this unwritten pact with myself that I won't write a sequel until I've sold a book, so the ability to write a series has, in a sense, become a sort of milestone for me.
For now, I've written eight different worlds with eight different sets of characters and eight different adventures—and I don't regret not writing a sequel for a second. The experience of starting fresh with every WIP has taught me that I'm capable of writing more than one unrelated novel, and that it's perfectly possible to fall in love with a new cast of characters over and over again.
And those are two important lessons that I might not have learned otherwise.
Have you ever written a sequel? Why or why not? If you don't write, do you prefer reading series or standalone novels?