Monday, December 21, 2015
Wants to Sell Sequel to Well-Known Novel
We don't think pitching your idea to the rights holder for the book (it may not be the publisher) is a good idea. The book upon which your sequel is based is already the subject of TV and movie deals and we strongly doubt whether an unauthorized sequel would be welcomed. Further, pitching your idea eliminates any hopes that your book -- should you self-publish it -- can fly under the radar, unnoticed by the copyright owner.
The horror! The horror! We can't say whether your work qualifies as a fair use. That's always a crapshoot. It's possible you may be able to legally justify your sequel -- for example, the author of the Wind Done Gone survived an expensive lawsuit and was able to publish a book derived from Gone With the Wind. That author renamed the major characters and avoided much of the plot from the original, and told the story from the point of view of a slave, supposedly Scarlett O'Hara's half-sister. At the same time, the author of 60 Years Later, an unauthorized sequel to Catcher in the Rye, lost his expensive court case against author J.D. Salinger, though he was eventually permitted to publish his book in the U.S. Win or lose (and we think the latter is more likely), you will likely face an expensive lawsuit if you proceed with publication of a book intended as a"continuation" of a best-selling author's novel.
P.S. Have you considered writing the sequel to a book in the public domain?