Big question for you: If my chapter book series about, well, let’s call them “fuzzywuts,” is not so unique because there’s a movie franchise about fuzzywuts, should I make major changes to my series (I’ve written Book 1 and am writing Book 2 for a two-book submission), or maybe start fresh with a new topic that agents may find more unique? Your brutally honest opinion would be greatly appreciated.
Well. *deep breath* That is a Big Question. How about this? Write part of the second book, with a summary of the full story. Then go out on a limited submission with Book 1’s full ms and Book 2’s partial+summary to see how the fuzzywut topic is received. Best case scenario: You’ll get agent interest. Not best-case but helpful: You’ll see if the declinations mention the fuzzywut movie as a problem. Declinations don’t stop agents from considering your future projects, so there’s nothing lost in giving this a go. Normally with a chapter book series, authors submit manuscripts for two books to show their ability to go long on a series. But here I think the partial+summary strategy will be fine. Interested agents will almost certainly require you to finish Book 2 before they’d commit to you—which you’ll gladly do because you’ve determined the fuzzywuts aren’t a deal-breaker.
While submitting, begin a new project with a new topic. If the fuzzywuts series doesn’t sell—which happens, sadly—you’ll have your next project in the works. Maybe that one will be your publishing debut, opening doors for unsold projects you’d tucked away. That happens, too. Often the first book written is the second, third, fourth book sold.
If this project doesn’t sell in your limited submission, you could be better informed to decide about overhauling to a new topic while keeping your themes and message. Again, you wouldn’t be the first writer to do that.
The Editor, Deborah Halverson, has been editing books for over 25 years and specializes in Middle Grade/Young Adult fiction and nonfiction, New Adult fiction, and picture books. For her editorial guidance in making your manuscript ready for submission to agents and publishers or for self-publishing, click Editorial services. Learn more in her books: Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies and Writing New Adult Fiction.