What’s the point in writing sequels?

Here’s a question for Saturday morning.

What’s the point in writing sequels, if nobody ever reads the first part?

This is a question that’s been bothering me for quite some time. As it stands, I currently have about seven, yes seven sequels in progress and no ideas for new work.

I wonder why I seem to be developing into a writer that only adds to his existing work, instead of coming up with new ideas. Before you ask, I’m pretty sure that it’s not because I didn’t finish the first stories off properly. The novels that I’m talking about are complete and each one ends in a logical place.

The thing is, I have other ideas for further adventures for the characters in these books, mostly unconnected to their present one. The ideas turn up as I’m writing the story. It’s almost as if; now that I’ve shared part of the character’s lives, they want to show me more.

With the exception of my Andorra Pett books,

which seem to attract a reasonable number of read-through purchases, the first parts of my other series, those featuring Dave Travise,

the Balcom Saga,

and the Steampunk adventures of Horis Strongman; well they all suffer from slow sales and few reviews.

This poses the obvious question, what’s the point in writing any more if nobody’s starting on the journey?

Even my stand-alone novels like Survive, Life and Other Dreams, The Sensaurum and the Lexis and the yet to be released The Hitman and the Thief have sequels planned. They were never intended, it was just that I realised that more could be said after I had finished what I thought was the story.

Logically, there are several possible ways to proceed,

I could spend my time writing new material. Of course, that requires inspiration and I currently have none.

I could spend more time and effort advertising the parts I have already written, emphasising that there is more on the way.

I could write the sequels anyway, start making boxsets and advertise them instead.

If I was feeling particularly enthusiastic, I suppose I could do all three.

What do you think my priority should be?

Incidentally, you can find details of all my series HERE

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6 Responses

  1. sally cronin

    I have read every Jack Reacher book by Lee Childs as I love the character the same with Bosch by Michael Connelly. I have also read every series by Wilbur Smith on the Courtneys. I do think that series are character driven and if you get people hooked in the first couple of stories then more will be looked for.

    I also think their comes a time when because of the limits of the character whether through age, occupation, environment, stories can become formulaic. This is why I have switched off some authors with long running series and also television series which seem to run out of steam after four or five years. Hope that helps.

    • Richard Dee

      Thank you for commenting. I am looking for signs that Andorra Pett is going that way, the fourth book is proving harder to write than the others were. I think you need to take the hint and be prepared to pull the plug when that happens. You can always bring them back later in another guise.

      • Chris L Adams

        Robert E. Howard said of his Conan tales that it was as tho the Cimmerian stood at his shoulder, narrating the tale, they came so fast and natural and unforced. It’s also how he explained that he didn’t write them in chronological order, but more like when someone tells stories from their past, and narrating them–not in the order that they occurred–but as they come to mind. REH said that when the tales ceased to come to him like that, that he would walk away from the character.

        • Richard Dee

          I think you have to be brave and realistic enough to know when to walk away; before you lose any goodwill you might have from when the series was young and the books were easy to write. Certainly, writing the fourth Andorra Pett story feels a lot harder than the first three did. Maybe that’s a message?

          • Chris L Adams

            Only you can make that determination, Richard. I’ll try those Andora’s sometime. Really enjoying this Life novel! Your quaint UK phrasing is endearing to an old American guy. Cath just boxed Dan’s ears real good and he’s gone four days without dreaming of the other world. I find myself really looking forward to bedtime (when I read).

          • Richard Dee

            My writing has never been called that before!! It’s nice to know you’re enjoying it.

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