Series are among the biggest money-makers in the publishing industry. Once readers latch on to a great series, they often stick to it loyally, becoming reliable customers for future books. Series such as Harry Potter and Twilight demonstrate this phenomenon, having become household names. But success hinges on a phenomenal first book.
In general, the key to landing a book deal is a convincing query letter to a literary agent, who then pitches your manuscript to publishers. However, if you’re a new author, it’s generally not a good idea to pitch an entire series. If your first book doesn’t work as a standalone story and it doesn’t sell well enough to make publishing sequels worthwhile for the publisher, the publisher’s investment in you will have failed catastrophically.
Most agents aren’t willing to take on new authors based on hypothetical future books that may never come to fruition, so the key to getting your series published is to focus your query letter on the strengths of the first book. You can follow up with the rest of your series if your first book is successful.
Agents Love Series—If They’re Successful
Sequels of successful books are typically easier to sell than debut novels because they already have strong brand recognition and loyal fans. Writing a series is definitely not a bad thing, and it isn’t something you should keep secret from a prospective agent. In fact, a prospective literary agent would probably be pleased to know you’re looking forward to (and currently working on) expanding your first book into a series. But that information is best saved for a follow-up conversation, not your query letter.
If you decide to mention your plans for a series in your query letter, make sure to emphasize that your book also works as a standalone novel. Advertising your manuscript as a standalone story with the potential for a series can be a great way to attract prospective agents. That way, the agent can determine whether to take you on based on the merits of the first book alone. If the book is successful, you can move forward with a sequel poised for success thanks to your loyal readers—and if it’s not so successful, it’s a standalone flop and you can move on to your next project, as the publisher has no obligation to publish your remaining books. This is beneficial to you as an author as well, because if your first book fails, you’d be wasting your time writing a sequel (unless you wanted to do so purely as a hobby).
Writing a query letter, whether for a standalone book or a series, is never easy. If you’re not sure how best to sell your manuscript, turning to professionals can be a wise investment. At QueryLetter.com, you can work with publishing industry professionals who know what agents are looking for and who can elevate your chances of landing representation. Whether you’re pitching a standalone book, a series, or something else, QueryLetter.com can help you achieve your publishing dreams.