Sunday, June 5, 2011

How Long Should You Wait to Write a Sequel?

Astronomical Clock detailI got an interesting question from a writing friend last week.

She’d published a novel five years ago and wondered if that was too long ago to consider writing a sequel for the book.

My answer was that if a writer loves the novel’s characters and setting, then why not write a follow-up to the first book? It can, actually, be a lot easier to write a sequel than to create something entirely from scratch.

Her concern was mainly centered around the fact that her original readers might not be interested in reading a sequel after such a long break between books.

Although it would be great to get your original readers to read your sequel, it might be better to approach it as an opportunity to find new readers. If you still have your readers’ contact information (if they’d asked to be on your newsletter list, etc.), then you could send out a special edition of your newsletter alerting them to the long-awaited sequel.

Otherwise, I’d just look for brand-new readers via blogging and a professional Facebook page (like John Doe, Author).

As far as the writing of the novel goes, I’d probably write it as a standalone novel. If you write the book as if your characters haven’t already been introduced to your readers, you won’t confuse anyone. Besides, even the readers for your first book might need a refresher course.

If you self-published the first book or if you have your rights to re-release your backlist, you could consider re-launching the first book as an ebook. This could provide the introduction to the next book that you’re looking for. It would be especially easy if you have the original Word file of your first book. If you’re not sure where to start, Jenny Hansen wrote a great post on her Cowbell blog to get you pointed in the right direction. You really don’t need to have a lot of technical know-how.

At any rate, I don’t think a writer has anything to lose. You could make a few of your previous readers happy by providing a sequel, and could pick up a lot of new readers by writing a book full of characters you’re comfortable with who come alive on the page.

Have you ever considered writing a sequel to a book that came out years before? Come across any series like that?


Finger Lickin’ Dead releases tomorrow! Hope you’ll join me for my blog tour, starting later this week. :)