On Sequels and Really Long Books

I remember once reading that Tolkien wanted The Lord of the Rings to be all one book because it was all one story. I can understand this. As I am editing my sequel to “The Creation of Jack,” I have difficulty thinking of it as a sequel. It me it is not just the extension of the original story, it is the completion, the fulfillment, the clarification of the original story. Together they are one. I think this second volume makes the original story stronger. It makes me want to combine them into a single book. Which makes me question, “what is the value of a sequel?”

I understand why publishers love sequels. Readers are more likely to buy a book in a series; they know the author, they know the story. And I can understand the thrill of sequels for the fans. If a story is really good, who wouldn’t want it to continue? Who wouldn’t want new adventures and revelations? But each book is an entity of its own. Between its covers lies a very specific journey. What the author chooses to include or exclude in the book can have great impact.

Another advantage of series is that the reader can have time to think. It’s like priming a canvas before painting the picture, especially if your reader decides to journey through the book again.

I don’t really have a problem with creating a new edition of my book and tacking on a whole “second half.” But I did realize something else: right now my two books are about equal length separated and although I don’t have concrete plans for a third book, I do have some ideas. But if I did combine them, any additional book would have to match in length and that is intimidating.

Any thoughts?

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