I have written two manuscripts set in the same universe/world. They do not share any major characters, settings, or plotlines; however a secondary character from the first story appears in brief but significant role in the second. Is it bad form to submit the two manuscripts to different publishers? I'm in the midst of the 'waiting to hear back' period for the first manuscript. I'd like to start the process for the second. Should it go to the first publisher as a second unrelated submission or can it go to another publisher?
Advice from our editors is to stay with the same publisher:
How long have you been waiting for a response on your first submission? If a long time, query to ask about status, and indicate you've written a related book. Does the publisher to whom you sent the first book permit simultaneous submissions? If so, you could submit that first book elsewhere.
I'd wait on feedback from the first book before submitting the second. If the first is accepted, you most definitely should give that publisher first option on the second book. And if the first is rejected, you may get advice that will help you improve the second book.
As an editor, I'd be worried about keeping up consistency within the world. What if one publisher decided to make a change to what certain things were called, and the other publisher didn't. It would make whoever released the second book look bad, and the author too.
Should both be accepted, the author is going to be in trouble about what to do next. And I'd be betting some pubs would not accept on the grounds that "their" character may end up with a competitor.
Having a series split between two publishers makes it more difficult for the author to promote, and makes the publisher less inclined to kick in marketing money or support.
An editor thinking of it from a reader's perspective:
Speaking as one who LOVES continuation stories, I’d say no. Nothing worse than trying to track down a story from another publisher when I’ve read the first one with publisher A. Publisher B may not have the book in print, but only ebook. Or it is a different size.
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