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Should you write the first book and then try to publish, or should you write the entire series first?

This question is a lot more challenging to answer than it seems. I chose to write the entire trilogy before I submitted to publishers.


Writing the series first has been beneficial to me for several reasons.

1. I did not have the pressure of breaking my writing flow with queries and rejections.

This is advantageous because when I was on a roll, I was able to hop from one book to the next with only about a week’s difference. The characters’ motivations were still fresh in my mind, and the conflict was still compounding on itself.

Keep in mind that I typically write from the hip (there’s a term for this, but I can’t think of it right now). Because I write from the hip, I need long stretches of unbroken writing if I am going to write successfully.

Querying agents during this “creative incubation” period would have been distracting.

2. I had the ability to change threads.

Oftentimes there were characters or events or subplots that changed as I wrote the sequels. Because I had chosen to write the series first, I was able to go back and rewire the prequels according to the latter changes that I made.

For instance, I initially had a character survive a trauma, but after finishing the series, I realized that there was no room for this character’s subplot, so I just cut him from the series altogether.


1. Revisions are harder.

When the editor tells you that you need to remove a character from your story, then you will have to revise the entire series without that character. That can be a tough rewrite, especially if you have a special plan for that character later on.

2. Traditional publishing can be tougher.

If the publisher buys your first book, then you are locked into that publisher. You cannot sell the other books to anyone else because that publisher, by law, owns the rights to that series.

If you want to self-publish the remaining books in the series, you can’t because you’re in competition with the publisher who now owns your series.

If the publisher doesn’t see it as financially viable to sell the other books, there is no way that you will be able to make money off of the sequels.


What would I suggest?

It’s hard to say. I am glad that I waited to try to publish my first series, but with this second series, I am going to publish each book individually.

Why? I just want to try something different. That means that I’m going to have to go through this entire querying process again in about two months. Ex-“sigh”-ting…(that’s my way of saying that I’m excited, but I also have a big challenge ahead).

I hope this helps. Thanks!

2 thoughts on “FINISH THE SERIES??

  1. Patty-chan

    Publishing question: Could you self-publish your book while querying? Or, could you self-publish the first part of your series while finishing the latter two books, then send all three to a publisher?

    1. William Stadler Post author

      You could definitely do that. The problem with doing that is that if you are not making any money, then the publisher may find your book and its low sales, making the publisher think, “Well, if he can’t sell his book, what makes him think that we can?” It’s more of a turn-off to publishers if you do it this way, so it’s better to choose one or the other and run with it.


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