Getting published is a real be-yatch! Hear about my ups, downs and a few random rants in between.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sequels vs. Series

Don't laugh. It was only in February that I realized there was a difference between a series of books and books that are merely sequels.

If you're reading this like, Huh?, then you're probably like me.

A) It never really crossed my mind that there was a difference until I attended Francine Pascal's, How to Write A Series workshop.

B) Anytime a book has the same characters, I call it a series. Even if there are only three books in that series.

To me, a series is a minimum of two books revolved around the same characters. Granted, it's a mini series...but a series of two books, all the same.

I knew Sweet Valley High was a series. But I wasn't aware that Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants isn't. It's a book with two sequels.

Or would that be a sequel and a trequel?


I've always thought of my Del Rio Bay Clique books as a series. True, only two of them exist right now. But, in my mind I envision many. Heck, even following the kids to college, maybe. Who knows!

It seems by Francine Pascal's definition, my books are a series:

*A series must be many books

*The books must always have the same characters living in the same fictional "world" but may not necessarily revolve around the same two main characters each book

*Must weave in information and characters from past books

*Should pick up where the last book left off - that my books are a series.

Well, mine fits except that many books thing.

Wait. It gets more confusing.

She also said that while Sisterhood wasn't a series (because there are only three? not sure) that Harry Potter could be defined as one...but not necessarily so.

Isn't HP four books? Or is it five? That's definitely a series to me.

Oy Vey!

The truth is, the lines are completely blurred.

Being that Francine Pascal is just about the Queen of the teen lit series book, I ain't arguing with her definition. But, I think her definition hinges largely upon intention.

Pascal writes propsals that outline every aspect of the characters, the setting and the various storylines. She then sells this comprehensive outline (not a book, but an outline) to a publisher/book packager.

So right out of the gate, there are plans for 10-100 books or however many in the series.

Where, with my own books, Kensington purchased two. Hopefully they'll buy many more. But for now, we know there's an original and a sequel.

It seems that the distinction between series and sequels may be more grounded in business than the creative end of writing.

As authors, we're conditioned to focus on that first book and get it done. It's okay to keep the phrase, "And I believe there's potential for a series with this book," at the ready. But most first-timers are discouraged from being married to the series case it isn't bought.

I learned, at this workshop, that since the days of Sweet Valley, Francine Pascal has primarily focused on proposing and selling concepts for series. She didn't say definitively how many of the books she writes herself. But I got the impression that she may only write the first (if any) in the series and that's it.

Her forte is coming up with great series ideas which are then authored by ghostwriters.

Good thing. What writer could churn out a book a month or three times a year without going absolutely nutsy fagen?

Gossip Girls, A-List and The Clique are also intentional series.

But all series aren't necessarily intentional are they?

Don't some books end up being a series because the original or second took off and the publisher ordered up more?

Isn't that how HP was born?

These are the parts of the industry I'm still learning.

Until I'm certain, maybe I need to just think about my books being an original, a sequel, trequel, fourquel, fivequel and so on...


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