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  • jacforsyth

Do I pitch Part One of a trilogy, or wait until the whole trilogy is finished?

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

Dandelion is full of seeds
They love me, they love me not

It started as a simple idea for a book, next minute you're at180k words and a romance is developing on the side quest team. Some stories are too big and too complex to fit into 80k words. Imagine trying to cram Lord of the Rings into a single book. So what happens when Part One is finished and the rest is still waiting to be written?

For me, writing a book is a huge commitment, it requires more than time, discipline and a lumbar supportive chair, it requires something I've robbed from the future. I'm not talking about fame, I'm talking about a finished product. A book that I can hold in my hand. A proximal goal, as it were, on the longer journey.

So do you pitch Part One of a trilogy? While this is a no brainer for any self-published author, if you've chosen the traditional agency applications route, it becomes a much harder question. We already know that a spelling error can put a potential agent off, what will Part One of an unfinished trilogy do?

Traditional publishing is an industry not a maid of honour. Unless Part One is a success, the rest of the trilogy is pretty much dead in the water. Which means you have to ask yourself some difficult questions:

1: Do I believe that Part One is strong enough to hook an agent?

The key word here is BELIEVE. Be honest with yourself. If you don't believe Part One has a strong enough hook to sell the whole trilogy, fine tune it until it does.

2: Is finishing the trilogy an avoidance strategy?

I've worked with gifted writers who have hidden in the writing of a trilogy for years. Absolutely fine if you're in it for the art, but be honest with yourself. What do you want from this process? If Part One isn't enough to hook an agent, what will a completed trilogy bring that's different?

3: Am I afraid that I can't finish the trilogy?

This is an insidious avoidance strategy which can hide in plain sight and pretend to be a multitude of other things. Again, you need to be honest with yourself. If it's a genuine fear, acknowledge it, respect it, create a solution. Take a look at my blog, Why Can't I Finish My Book? for ideas on how to do this.

Ultimately, it's a personal choice. What works for one person might not work for another. If you thrive on writing the whole trilogy without needing a proximal goal, then be honest with yourself about that. The story is the thing. Do what makes you happy.



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