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Can an author contact agents with a query about a book (memoir) that has been self-published with a sequel following. I've got a good platform going. Has anyone done this before?


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Agents and publishers are not interested in previously self-published books unless they've sold thousands of copies (50,000 and up!) and that would be proof of the platform. But even then, it gets to be a Catch-22 because your work is already out there and in the public so this also becomes a disadvantage because agents and pubs want new work they can sell. Most SP authors who've gotten traditional deals based on their SP books have had sales of 100,000 copies or more before contacting agents. You have to sell A LOT to make an agent interested in your SP book. But, this has only been when a publisher felt there is an untapped market they can still reach. So they are more willing to take on a SP book that's packing sales, but still very selective BECAUSE they are selling well. See, Catch-22?

It also makes an agent's job harder. They already have a hard time convincing publishers to take on clients. Trying to push a previously SP book is very complicated and involves a lot of other things that an agent might not want to deal with. I'm not trying to discourage you but just letting you know that this is very difficult even with SP books that have become underground sellers.

Also, telling an agent about a sequel of any kind (fiction or nonfiction) if you are unpublished doesn't work in your favor. You tell them after you have landed an agent. Let them know of your plans for a sequel but most agents would prefer you just query them about a book without mentioning it's a sequel. Most times it's up to the publisher in the end who decides whether your book is worthy of being a sequel.

Authors sometimes find themselves between a rock and a hard place when they self-publish right off. It's best to try agents and pubs first if your goal is to ultimately publish traditionally. Self-publishing first makes things more complicated and even though it happens, it's rare that an author's SP book lands an agent let alone a traditional contract. Like I mentioned, it takes VERY outstanding sales for a SP book to get the attention of an agent and even that makes it a gamble because of it already being in the public.

Try making that "sequel" into a stand alone, or write a totally different book and then try to get an agent or pub. That's your best bet.

Best Wishes!
I guess you're right, Stacy. I can't make my book into anything but a sequel. It's already done. The memoir that is published is Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis. It was published June 19, 2009 by Infinity Publishing. It's about losing my husband to this disease. The sequel is Please, God, Not Two; This Killer Called Alcoholism. It's about losing my daughter in 2006 from the same. The first book is about my girls being young. The sequel continues with their teen years.

Guess I'll just continue to open door on my own. Thank you for your honesty.
I hope you're not discouraged, Al. Can you just market the sequel as a stand alone? What I mean is, just because it's about your daughters, doesn't necessarily make it a sequel. It can just be another book that happens to be about your daughters in their teens. I think that would work. You haven't submitted it anywhere, so you still have a chance to woo agents with it. Don't give up hope on it. I just wouldn't want you to waste your time and run into a brick wall with agents on the first one. But, I definitely think you can market the second one on its own. You don't have to say it's a sequel when you query an agent about it. If you really want to seek out an agent and traditional publisher with this second one then do it. Don't let go of that.

I do always give straight forward advice, but I don't want you to stop your idea. Sometimes things work out differently. I just wanted you to know the chances, doesn't mean it won't happen. I do believe you might be able to get someone for the second one though. Think about what you want to do in your heart. If it really means a lot for you to push the books with an agent now, then you do that. You should do what you feel. I don't want you to feel you shouldn't try.

I'm sorry for what your family is going through and I think you are very brave for showing this to the public. Do some thinking about this and you never know, you might see how you can push the second. Just because the first is self-published, doesn't mean the second one has to be. You can write anything as a stand alone. It can just be that these two books are about your family, but it doesn't have to mean it's a sequel. See what I mean?

I am working on novels now that star the same two detectives. I'm not marketing these as sequels, but as stand alones. A book is a stand alone as long as the previous one came to a conclusion despite having the same characters. A series or sequel is only when something is left hanging and others have to read the books in order. So, there is a difference and there might be a way you can do this for your other book.

Best Wishes!
Hi Stacy,

I already have a great following and everyone is a asking for the sequel. I guess if miracles happen and the book "moves" beyond my dreams, I can contact an agent.

Oct. 22nd, I have a public speaking engagement at a library in the area on "The Affects of Alcoholism on the Whole Family." I'm highly inviting teenagers to see the warning signs. It's advertised in the church bulletin and the other church affiliates, newspapers and radio show.

Oct. 23rd, I have a radio interview for the second time with Tony Lopes, and I'm waiting to go on a second time to the Cranberry Country Journal Cable TV and another second interview with Pete Braley from a different radio show.

So, you can see, I'm pushing. I've contacted corporate headquarters of Alcoholic and Al-Anon Centers in and out of the US introducing my book. I'm starting to write and call Universities to see if they would consider bringing in the book for a class project and use the topic as a discussion for the class. Offered my speaking also.

I've gone into rehabs and halfway home, spoken at the Magnificat, a Catholic Woman's Ministry last Feb. at the Providence, RI Marriott Hotel and got invited to talk at their Boston Chapter in Dec. Then I've had an invite to their retreat next year to talk about Alcoholism.

I didn't mean to make it long but that's where I'm at with promoting. This is why I went self-publishing because of my openings to talk. By next year, I hope to book a solid promoting plan with speaking.

Thanks for your support. The book really should be a sequel where the first ended with my daughter's teen years drinking in high school. So, the book will fall into her later years with her following her father's path.

I'm supposed to be retired, sitting on some beautiful, warm, tropical island, and God threw me a curve ball. Now I sit 8 hrs. by a computer writing, promoting and marketing. Who would think? Lucky I have an understanding husband who supports me.
Sounds like you'e on the right track, Al! At least you are out there promoting and not sitting on your butt. I know too many authors self-published and traditionally published who do not promote and expect sales to just come to them. It's even harder for SP authors because their books aren't in stores so they don't have the "browse" luxury of having folks "luck up on their books" that traditional authors have. It might not be fair but yes, SP authors have to work even harder and I am sure you know that. It makes no sense when an author doesn't make an effort.

There are tons of ways to promote. A lot of people can't travel, but they can do other things. They should at least try.

If you do contact an agent, don't forget to let them know all your efforts. They will be interested to see you're so active!

I wish you much success!
Stacy, you're right how hard it is to travel to promote, but I take advantage of it.
Every time we go on vacation, I schedule a book signing at the bookstores (Borders or B&N).

I may not sell many (traffic is never busy) but I get seen and my business cards are passed out. I try to give something free to the people passing by.


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