When the Third Book in a Series Gets Rejected by Your Publisher


Dear Y.…

Typically, each book in a trilogy or series sells fewer copies than the one preceding it. A publisher choosing not to continue the series is almost certainly making a sales decision. In a way, that works in your favor because then they may be willing to revert the rights for the first two books back to you, freeing you up to shop the full set to other publishers. (Those others won’t buy the third book when the first two are on someone else’s list.) Request the reversion so you can try this. If you get no bites because publishers are skittish about the books’ sales record, consider self-publishing. You’ve done all the writing work, and the first two stories are surely strong, they just didn’t sell. It happens. Hire a freelance editor for the final book to make sure it’s as strong as the other edited books, perhaps repackage the series with new, professionally designed covers, and then, when you promote, make a big deal about this being the complete series.

Happy writing!
The Editor


    • Indeed, these days, this kind of situation is no longer “new publisher or nothing.” Great to have more options on the table!

  1. Y.

    You got some good advice and while I can’t speak to the business side of this (I’m just getting started with my debut middle grade novel), but speaking to you FIRST as one author to another, if you HAD to write this book no matter what your publisher did or didn’t do, I APPLAUD YOU.

    I respect my work too much to let it i. Plus, though its HARD for me to say, sometimes its really not the specific book, but not the right time in the market. Paranormal (romance or not) was in the boat in the late 80s and throughout the 90s, and now the market can’t get enough! (Even if some agents or editors can…LOL)

    While I do see my writing as a business, it’s simply not the same as selling cosmetics or pipe cleaners, and those who say it is either aren’t happy with their line of work (and do it because they need to support themselves) or are kidding themselves.

    In this day and age, where writers have options we didn’t have before (though some of us with tight budgets can’t always take advantage of them…) publishers in general need to understand and remember that we’re taking a risk with them, too.

    Whether we’re talking art or commerce, we as authors don’t want to fail anymore than our publishers (or agents if we have them) do.

    I urge any publisher or agent to remember that and all serious authors will thank you. (If only on the inside at first)

    Even if you don’t publish our work, or agents who turn down authors as potential clients.

    Sometimes just acknowledging we gave you our best at the time, even if it wasn’t enough for your needs, is more than enough.

    You never know, one day we might be compatibile with , so please do your best to give the respect you ask of us, publishing has always been about teamwork, just reminding those farther up than me right now to make sure to keep “Team” in teamwork with the authors and/or illustrators you work with.

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