Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Sequel ... to go back for seconds or not?

Those who've read my books (and thanks for doing that) know that I don't write a series. I'm not a series kind of guy. This is not to say anything against those who do write a good series. Heck, that Reacher fellow has a lot more readers than I do. But it's just not for me. When I sit down to write a novel, I like knowing I can do anything I want with the cast of characters. I can use them up. Nobody needs to survive for further installments. And then I have a nice clean slate for the next book. New characters, new situations. I don't have to go back to earlier books to maintain continuity. Clear sailing.

Recently, I got an e-mail from a dude named Scott who suggested I stop jacking around and get to work on a a sequel to Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse since he liked it so much. Scott is not alone in this sentiment. I have gotten a lot of requests for a sequel. Dare I say a shitload? Yes, I dare. Some of these requests came in the form of e-mails, others in person when I went around doing some signing events last summer. It seemed like the first question out of everyone's mouth was "when are we going to see more adventures with Mortimer?"

Here's the thing: For the first time ever I was actually excited about the idea of writing a sequel. I even went as far as thinking up additional characters, a general plot and strategies for avoiding what I consider to be common pitfalls with sequels. I pitched the idea for a sequel to my publisher.

My publisher said this: "You should shove that idea straight up your ass, Gischler."

Okay, they were more professional and polite than that. They explained that traditionally sequels only sell half as well as the first novel. They were not hip to a sequel. (Although calling my next novel Vampire A Go-GO sort of makes it sound like a sequel.)

So there you have it, people. I anticipate I will still have readers requesting a sequel, and I wish I could have better news for them. But until my publisher (or some other publisher?) comes demanding I get writing the next apocalypse book, it looks like a NO-GO instead of a GO-GO.

15 comments:

Bill Crider said...

Ah, publishers. So I guess if they'd had their way, there'd be no Jack Reacher or Dave Robicheaux or James Bond or, well, why go on. Maybe they were talking about SF series, which would explain why George R. R. Martin is probably living in a refrigerator box somewhere. Oh, wait. He's not, is he. Not that it matters. I'm not about to question the wisdom of publishers.

Victor Gischler said...

In fairness, Bill, Go-Go hasn't sold as many copies as Reacher or Bond ... but the reader requests for a sequel really have been steady ... even relentless.

And Sheriff Dan seems to keep on trucking.

VG

Ray Latiolais said...

Is electronic self-publication out of the question? Through Lulu (which would provide a hard or electronic copy option), or just converting it to a secure electronic format and selling it on this excellent blog? Perhaps proven sales would convince a publisher to re-issue the book.

All of your other opii are available as ebooks. This allows one to carry all of your excellent works with one wherever one goes.

Craig Zablo said...

I'd love a sequel and would snap it up in a minute.

On another note, or at least half note, have you ever thought of a comic series based on the novel? Just wondering.

Keith Rawson said...

I'm kind of glad you're not writing a squeal. I love Go-Go girls and all, but one of the main reasons I read your books (and enjoy the Hell out of them.) is that you don't write series fiction. I tend to think it keeps your ideas fresh and fun to read.

Jay W said...

I'm with Keith - GO GO seemed perfectly self-contained to me. Adding more would just seem like window dressing, and I would worry that it might overwhelm the already nice house that you've built. Leave it at the one book and move on to something else.

Actually, I'm hoping you'll do another crime novel...

Victor Gischler said...

Keith, Jay:

I generally agree .... which is why I don't write a series. However, my idea was not to write a "direct" sequel, but rather to set a story in the same world as GO-GO but with a new story and a new cast of characters, with characters from the old book only making guest appearences. I suppose I was going for the best of both worlds, a "sequel" but with the fresh feeling of a stand alone.

And, Jay, I have a new crime novel called THE DEPUTY coming from Bleak House Books this August.

VG

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Gun Monkeys II: Massacre in Mexico.

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

Shotgun Opera II: The Fat Lady Sings.

Sorry, I'll stop now.

I admit to being one of the people fooled by the title of VAMPIRE A GO-GO into thinking it was a sequel to GGGOTA. I was looking forward to following the Mortimer and company on their quest for coffee. Knowing now that it isn't a sequel my enthusiasm for the new book remains as high as ever.

While I'd love to see more novels about Mortimer or Charlie or Conner, I'm happy to get new Gischler books on a regular basis. All this is by way of saying you keep writin' 'em and I'll keep readin' 'em whether or not the books are part of a series.

Victor Gischler said...

PSB,

The Vampire A Go-Go title remains a problem for me, but it is what it is. Sigh.

I'm of the mind that I write better if I'm enthusiastic about a project. I'd be willing to wager most authors feel the same way. And for the first time, I was 100% enthusiastic about the idea of a sequel. Alas ...

VG

Jim said...

Yeah, Gun Monkeys is the only one that ever seemed sequel-eligible for me, just because the main character is so compelling. But any new story wouldn't feel right. Let the man live in peace.
Go-Go is definitely complete, finished. As for a new story in the same world... seems like it would lack that edge, that feeling of a real person emerging in bizarro world. But if you write it, we'll read it. What about the comic idea? Graphic novel a go-go?

Craig Zablo said...

Why not write Vampires A Go-Go (since it sounds like you really want to) and then see what happens?

Victor Gischler said...

Craig,

Vampire A Go-Go (originally titled Bad Alchemy) has been written for a while anc will be published by Simon & Schuster this September.

VG

Craig Zablo said...

Excellent!

FITZ! said...

I'm in the "Mortimer's story has been told" camp. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and everything has been packaged up with a neat little bow. Still, I was intrigued by the idea of a Go-Go Universe Comic/Graphic Novel (even though I've never read a graphic novel in my life). I feel like someone is bound to stumble upon that stash of goods in the mountain eventually...