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I wrote and self-published a MG fantasy book that did relatively well locally: It's in elementary school libraries, at the local public libraries, and as a student teacher I enjoy giving lessons on the writing process. Of course, the kids are always asking for a sequel. The kids read and love the book. It has about 25+ professional illustrations and a professional cover. The book checks out all the time at the libraries.

The first story had a satisfying ending, but it's also left open for sequels. Yes, I have a sequel in the works. I'm halfway done. It's the best writing that I've ever done. It shines more than the first book.

But I have these doubts:

1) I self-published the book because I failed to impress agents. I sent it to 100 agents at first. One said it wasn't what she was hoping for (I think the upcoming sequel and its detail is exactly what she was looking for).

2) As a self publisher, I wanted to see how much money I would make from the first book. I knew if I went self publishing after agents that I would't make hardly any money. I didn't have time to market the book on my own. At most I make about $10/month, even with it on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, etc. Thus, my doubt is if I send my sequel to agents, will they really care to look at it? The first book was thrown out (defined as self-publishing). I'm just glad I did my agent search first.

My main question then: If the first book didn't sell well due to going the self-publishing route, is writing the sequel worth it from a business perspective toward agents? I have another story in mind that's separate, so I'm weighing in with what is more worthwhile money and agent-wise. I keep thinking agents won't want to read a sequel when they know the first book was rejected by agents and it got put into the self-publishing world.

Thoughts are welcomed.

  • Why did you delete most of your question? It contain relevant information that helped to narrow down the situation you were asking about. – user16226 Aug 16 '17 at 11:17
  • I saw your question and rolled back the answer to an earlier version. I think the question could use some tightening, but the edit was pretty extreme. – April Mar 22 at 19:51
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Well, more to the point, no agent is going to want to read a sequel to a book they don't represent because no publisher is going to want to publish a sequel to a book that they did not publish. The value to agents and publishers is seldom in the first book, it is in the body of work. If they want the second, they are going to want the first.

Now, if you can frame the second novel as a stand-alone work, without reference to the first book at all, then you may be able to sell it as the first book in a series, and then (once the series is established and making people money), bring the first book to them as a prequel (A Magician's Nephew, in other words.)

On the other hand, if you have testimonials and a record of library checkout to point to, that may make it possible to approach agents again with the first book. The agent and the publisher are both primarily asking themselves, can this sell. Tangible demonstration that the book is being read and requested (if the evidence is credible) can convince them it will.

Publishing is a commercial business. Agents and publishers turn down books they personally like that they don't think will sell. They accept books that they don't like that they do think will sell. Just be aware that the "my nephew and his friends all loved it" pitch cuts no ice. You need to find a way to demonstrate that the response you are getting is a genuine response to the book and not just a matter of local kids, teachers, or librarians being nice to someone they know.

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    +1, and sigh. Amazing how often your answers leave me with nothing to add... :-) – Amadeus Aug 19 '17 at 15:24

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