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When readers want a sequel

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I wrote my SF novel as a stand-alone story with no intentions of writing a sequel. Lately, though, readers have been expressing the desire for a second or even a third book with these characters. The thing is, a sequel wouldn't really be SF -- or if it is, it'd be because I manufactured some other difference between the engineered people (the saphers) and the regular humans. To me, that would be cheesy and obvious -- a stunt that's obviously an attempt to milk the original book.

While I REALLY appreciate readers enjoying it so much they don't want it to end, I hope I can get them to trust me to write another story that they'll love just as much -- or even more!

Venom got a new review yesterday on Amazon that really left me speechless. I hope y'all don't mind if I share.

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  1. expatrie's Avatar
    As a reader, I have to empathize. I read Zero History and really wish Gibson would plow ahead as if the Internet and all that crap never happened and keep writing things like "Hinterlands", "The Winter Market", "Fragments of a Hologram Rose", and "New Rose Hotel." Even a spin-off or franchise of "The Gernsback Continuum" would be interesting to read.

    As to your dilemma: What about doing a short story set before or after the book to both build interest (promote) and satisfy your readers (reward loyalty)? Kind of like a deleted scene or supplemental material for the DVD.
    Updated March 18th, 2011 at 08:41 PM by expatrie
  2. N. E. White's Avatar
    How about taking a minor character in that world and building a story about them?

    Read the review - congratulations! I've just added Venom to my list of books to read.
  3. marysipe's Avatar
    You know, I don't think it's such a bad thing to leave people wanting more. I haven't gotten anything so long as a novel published, but I don't want to be a series writer. Part of the fun for me is creating and exploring a new world. I have a billion of them in my head and I want to visit as many as I can!

    I think the short story's a good idea, too! Good luck!
  4. MangyWerewolf's Avatar
    great review. I just bought a copy for my Kindle. Looking forward to reading it.
  5. kcmay's Avatar
    Great idea about the short stories! Thank you! I'll definitely think more on that. Maybe they can be my summer writing project. I fear that writing past the end of the story might wear out the story's welcome, but some short stories about significant events in the main characters' lives (before and after the novel events) might be nice.

    Thanks tmso for putting it on your list!

    Thanks for buying, Mangy! I hope you like it.
  6. expatrie's Avatar
    The disadvantage of an 'after the book' short story is spoilers for those who haven't read it. Perhaps there was a prologue that didn't make the cut, or a dramatic event half-way through that also got cut.

    My model here is Jim Butcher - he typically puts out a 'between the novels' short story, just bear in mind he's writing series fiction. The stories stand alone (mostly) and take place outside the time of the novels (he tends to tag them with when they took place but usually you can tell anyway...) He can also counterpoint the tone of the novels--add a lighter element, for example.

    But I wouldn't agree that writing a short story to add to a novel would make it series fiction. To really be a series you need at least three books (my personal definition-no debating please). And series fiction is probably the best way to build a readership, pragmatically speaking. (pointing at the bookshelves here--Harry Potter, Harry Dresden, Kushiel's needlepoint throw pillow, Four Thousand and three ways of deciding between Ranger and the other dude.... Z is for Zugzwang and AA is for Alcoholics Anonymous... OMG! Waddaya mean I'm the son of Poseidon?)

  7. kcmay's Avatar
    Oh, yes! You're right -- I hadn't considered the spoiler issue. I might be able to find a scene or two that I'd cut from the novel that I could publish on my web site in a Deleted Scenes area. The two main characters have plenty of history together -- they've known each other since childhood (and they're now in their early 30s). There are plenty of story opportunities there!
  8. SkyFitsJeff's Avatar
    I personally love books in a series. Once I fall in love with characters, I want to see more and more of their adventures.

    Having said that, I've also been really turned off to characters and even stories I use to love because of really bad sequels that exist merely to make money.

    If you really have nothing left to say or stories left to tell with these characters, there is nothing wrong with moving on to a new book. Wait until you have a great story to tell; don't let eager fans push you into a subpar effort. If you have other ideas and other stories to tell that involve new characters and new worlds, I'm sure they'll follow you and be glad for the trip.