by Allison Pang
I find myself in much the same boat as some of my fellow Word Whores this week, but for slightly different reasons.
Back in the early days of aspiring authorhood, I wrote my first Abby Sinclar story. In those days it looped the contest circuit as Shadow of the Incubus and was more of a paranormal romance. It even won a few of those contests- and I pitched it to several editors/agents at one of the RT or RWA cons.
And the thing is, agents and the like will tell you that you shouldn't pitch a series (at least aspiring writers, anyway.) You need to pitch or query a one-off book...with series potential. It's a rather frustrating line to walk sometimes. As writers, we have *plans*, dammit.
I had originally planned on seven books for Abby's series. Her Contract with Moria was supposed to be for seven years, and I figured that was a nice number to work with - but I only ever pitched it that way once or twice. Watching an editor's eyes glaze over made me realize it wasn't a selling point and I needed to change how I phrased things.
So I revamped it as more of a stand alone - it had an ending, but left the doors wide open for additional stories. I was already part-way through writing the second book when I sold the first...and two more.
This is where things got tricky. Like Jeffe mentioned in her post - having a series pre-written and be an awesome way to get things moving along, but you often don't know what the editor is going to have you change. In my case, the changes were substantial enough I had to scrap most of the 40k I'd already written and rework it entirely.
On top of that I had to come up with outlines for those next two mostly unwritten books for editorial approval. Making that first sale is a heady time - I was so incredibly grateful I'd sold anything, but for a panster like myself, the idea of having to actually plan out what I was going to do was very stressful.
But I'm a practical sort. My book deal was only for three books - and although I was excited about it, there was still a niggle in my brain going "What if they don't want any more after that?"
So I reworked the concept to fit into three books. I supposed on one hand it's short-sighted - you like to think that what you're writing is worth something. But on the other, I didn't want to leave things unfinished. (And all this was before self-pubbing had taken off - I might have done things very differently these days. But back then, there weren't really many options.)
So, my three books were written and published, and I did come up with a concept for an option books/continuation of the Abby series (mostly focused on Melanie.). And the publisher decided to pass on that. (Which I suspected they would.)
Now, I do get a few emails a week asking if there are any more books coming - like Linda, I'm not quite done playing in this particular sandbox. There are still stories I want to tell and characters that need a chance to shine - and now I have far more options than I did years ago. I'm taking a little break from Abby now and working on something new, but I left the last book with a slightly ambiguous ending. I've seen various opinions from people on just who she ended up with or who the father of her baby was, and that's actually pretty cool with me. (I had thought it was subtly obvious, but perhaps not.)
There's a good chance I'll self-pub those Melanie books - but if I don't, I like that people can decide for themselves how things worked out for that semi-happily ever after.
Carniepunk anthology drops on the 23rd (next week, huzzah!). For those of you missing Abby's world, you'll get a bit of a prequel to the series, involving Melanie and just how she got that magic violin of her. (Along with a cameo of a certain incubus and fallen angel, might I add.)