Pitch the whole kit and kaboodle! In paragraph 1, deliver your series hook, stating in a single sentence the main premise of the series (as in “a brother and sister use a magic tree house to travel through time”). In paragraph 2, position the series, comparing it to similar series for your audience but very clearly stating how yours is unique from the others. If your series has a main thread to be resolved over its course, describe here how you’ll address, sustain, and resolve that thread. Offer the manuscript for the entire first book (which must be written) and provide a page with synopses of two or three other adventures. Paragraph 3 is for your writing credentials. Voila! A series query.
Thanks for the great post! I had no idea how to pitch a series. 😀
This is very, very good to know. The second question is, is it harder to find an agent/editor for a series from an unpublished writer? I’ve wondered if it’s not better sometimes to present a query for the first book with indication that you are working on another with the same characters. A nuance perhaps, but the idea is to present it such that the first book can also be a stand alone. In case no one wants to take that much of a chance on you. Thoughts?
Yes, agents and publishers use extra caution on a new author when it comes to series. A series is a major financial commitment for them and for a store (lots of shelf space needed!). They want to know if you can meet all the deadlines, and they want to know if your books can sell. With no track record, publishers proceed carefully. So yes, if your 1st book can stand alone, your chances are better if you submit as a single novel and indicate in the 2nd or 3rd paragraph of your query that it can stand alone but is designed to be the first in a series should that opportunity arise. In that case, don’t supply the synopses; if the ed/agent likes the first book, you can talks series then.
I first heard about Deborah Halverson’s new book, Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies, at a San Diego chapter SCBWI meeting where she spoke. Purchased it for my Nook at the Barns and Nobel website shortly after it came out, and all I can say is WOW! Read lots of ‘how to’ books on writing. This one knocks the socks of most of them. Within a few days of reading it, I found myself leaving her book open on my Nook next to my netbook (say that ten times fast), using the navigable table of contents to go to chapters that are specific to what I’m working on at the moment. Halverson’s simple, clear, and–d are I say–genius advice has helped me to narrow my seventy word hook down to under forty (and it looks so much better), to weed out the areas of my novel where I am telling (the infamous ‘show don’t tell’ issue) and strengthen my character arc. Where has this book been all my life (it is really helping, but . . . does that make me a dummy?:o). Anyways, I just wanted to say thanks Deborah Halverson.
Goodness, Neil, you are so kind to stop in to let me know the book is working for you. And how! Wow, I’m just blown away. You just made my day. I’m thrilled to hear it’s made such an impact on your writing. Picture me skipping about my living room now.