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Querying Two Books at Once

You’ve written two books and for some reason, you’re querying them both at the same time. First, congratulations on the two books. One book is a feat, two is amazing.

Since your books are similar, one a thriller and the other suspense, it would make sense that you would write one query for both books. That way an agent can see the full breadth of your work. Right? Wrong.

As an agent, I want to be handed one book. I want to see your best work and base my decision to represent you on that. I also want the book that’s indicative of the direction you see your career going. If you wrote two books, but one is no longer the direction you want to go, I don’t want that one first. I want the book that will launch a career, not just any book and definitely not every book.

Strategy for Querying Two Books

Since you do have two books written and ready to query, let me tell you what I’d do. I’d put the older book away.

I assume you wrote the two books at different times and have been querying the one while writing the next. Once the Next is ready to query it’s time to put the First away. It’s a sign that you should move forward.

Now write the Third, query the Next, and let the First sit. Once the Third is done, if (hopefully not) the Next hasn’t sold, put that one away while you write the Fourth and query the Third.

Persistence is the key to getting publishing, so is growth and improvement. With each book, you should be growing and that’s how you’ll get an agent.

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8 comments

  1. Thank you for posting this. Your posts are so timely and helpful. I’m amazed at how you seem to write exactly what I’m needing to hear as I’m navigating the road to publishing in children’s lit. Often times, you’re answering a question I’m struggling with or the next step I think I should make. Your words are like stepping stones along the way and very much appreciated.

  2. Jessica:

    Thanks again for all the work you do on these posts to give writers good advice and direction. Your efforts on our behalf are appreciated. I hope I get the chance to thank you in person someday – perhaps at Book Expo in New York next summer. My publisher is going to have a presence there. Because I write full-time, I’m available and have volunteered to help staff the booth. In any case, I hope you and your team stay safe and well. Best wishes from Iowa!

  3. I apologize in advance for the newbie question.
    I have just completed my first book and am currently working on the submission process. (Coming your way soon!)
    A second book idea is already percolating in my mind. It involves an existing (albeit, secondary) character from book one.
    Here are my three questions:
    1) Is the potential for a “series” a positive for a literary agent (and ultimately a publisher) at the time of a first submission?
    2) Is it legitimately a series if the main character of book two was not the protagonist of book one?
    3) Should I go back and beef up the secondary character’s role in the first book?
    I realize the important element of the first submission is that the product be good (a second book as a follow up to a lousy first book has limited appeal!), but I am curious if this is something I should continue to explore.
    So sorry to clog your in-box, but your videos have been extremely helpful to me.

    1. Gordon, I can only answer in a general sense as a fellow writer. Some genres are expected to be a series, while for others it isn’t essential. Make sure you read widely in what you write so you know what others are doing.

      For secondary characters again it can depend on the genre. For example, in romance it is common for a secondary character to be the main character in book 2, but in a cozy it would be expected following books have the same protagonist.

      My suggestion would be to write a synopsis for your idea. That way it is there ready when you get representation for the first book. The nstart writing something different. As you say, if you don’t sell book one, it will be much harder to sell book two.

      Good luck!

  4. “I want the book that will launch a career, not just any book and definitely not every book.”

    What every querying writer needs to know down deep in their soul. Print, frame and comprehend daily.

  5. Great advice! A writer’s first book is very special and it can be hard to tuck it away, but like anything writing is an apprenticeship. That very special first book can be dusted off one day, edited and sent out into the world with the hindsight of experience.

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