Over the past two years, I have been embarked on a voyage to publication. It’s been a voyage of discovery, of learning and excitement. Unfortunately, it’s also been a voyage of disillusionment and rejection, and I’ve grown tired of it. I’m now mostly convinced that it’s time for the voyage to swerve in a different direction.
During this time, I have written two books, a YA fantasy/sci-fi hybrid, and an adult epic fantasy. I’m proud of both of them, and my readers so far seem impressed. Both have series potential.
But this has not translated to any type of success in the traditional publishing realm. Between the two books, I have now received over one hundred rejections from literary agents. Of those one hundred, NINETY-FIVE were nothing more than form letters. Four had a couple of extra sentences added. One, just a month ago, requested a partial manuscript, then rejected it two days later. None of them offered any real advice for improvement. None offered any solid reasons for the rejection beyond vague subjective things like the standard “I’m not the right fit for this one.”
Do I believe the books could be improved? Absolutely. In fact, virtually all books could be improved, even after publication. But lacking any substantive advice, I have no basis for tampering further with my books. However, I am beginning to work with an editor, so we’ll see what comes of that.
I have followed all the rules. Every week, I see a new article from an agent with a list of “what not to do” or something like that. Since my earliest attempts at querying, none of those lists have applied to me. I’ve done nothing on any of their lists that would immediately lead to rejection. I’ve even kept my public social media banal and avoided any subject matter (politics, etc.) that would offend anyone at all.
Is it the subject matter of the books themselves? One agent did hint on my first book that it seemed dystopian and the market had become pretty full of that lately. That’s fair, I suppose, but it’s not really a dystopian novel. And that’s not the issue with the epic fantasy, but it’s been rejected in the same way, from many of the same agents.
I have three choices:
- Give up. Abandon writing.
- Set yet another book aside. Write another new one and start the process all over again.
- Consider independent publishing.
Number one is not really an option. Number two is one that I know many writers have taken, and experienced success eventually. However, the thought of doing that right now feels incredibly depressing. Number three is the choice I’m leaning toward. I know other people who have had great success in self-publishing, and I’m hoping that I can do even a fraction as well as they have done.
This is not a process that I will undertake lightly. It’s going to require a lot of work. I already mentioned that I’m beginning work with an editor. At the same time, I’m writing a short story that will be available as a giveaway on this website and through a mailing list I’ll be starting soon. I will be looking into other marketing methods and deciding on the exact best course moving forward.
The voyage is changing courses, but the ultimate goal remains the same. Actual publication is now closer than it’s ever been, though not in the original fashion I desired. Please continue to follow me on this journey. I can promise some excitement to come…