Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My Space Opera Novel: What Should I Do Next?

Spaceship concept art by Viktor Titov
Okay, here's the deal. A little over a year ago I finished my YA space opera, had my trusted beta-readers help me pummel it into shape, then had it professionally proofread. I was all set to commission a cover and self-publish when a good friend of mine (who's very cool and also happens to be an author) asked if I'd be interested in a referral to the "Well-Respected Literary Agency" (not the agency's real name). "Heck, yeah!" sez me. I submitted my first chapter to the WRLA and politely waited for word on whether or not they were interested in reading the full manuscript.

They were not. Seven months later I get a "Thanks, but no thanks." email. Disappointing, but not wholly unexpected. Ultimately, I'm fine with it, only wishing they would've made their decision sooner.

So...here I am back at square one. I've got a novel that's close to being ready (I want to go through it one more time just for giggles), but now face some additional possibilities that occurred to me while waiting for the WRLA's decision.

Basically, I'm stuck in an indecision loop and am asking for your help to break out of it.

My options:
  • Proceed as originally planned. Commission e-book and paperback covers, then self-publish.
  • Submit manuscript to Amazon's Kindle Scout program. This is an option that requires minimal "documentation" and an e-book cover (supplied by the author). The idea is that the author submits a manuscript/cover and, if accepted, a "campaign" is launched wherein readers nominate the book for publication.  At the end of a successful campaign (45 days or less), "a publishing contract with Kindle Press" is issued. Paperback rights are retained by the author and a modest advance is awarded. The downside is that I think you have to have A LOT of readers nominate your book to get a contract. The amount of self-promotion required during this campaign has to be staggering.
  • Submit manuscript to TOR Forge. This publisher is one of a very few that has an open submissions policy, meaning you don't need an agent. That and the bonus of having the support of a real live publisher are the upside. The downside is that they are understandably awash in submissions and, unlike Kindle Scout, there's a fair amount of documentation that has to generated--full synopsis, cover letter--all paper, no digital submissions accepted. Then there's this: "If you do not receive a reply after six months, please resubmit. It’s likely that your project or our response disappeared in transit." Whaaat? Not sure if I can hold it together for another 6 months of waiting for a response that may or may not come. Am I being too impatient?
  • Query more literary agents. This one's purposely placed at the bottom of the list because I don't want to go through what will no doubt be multiple rounds of WRLA-style waiting. Is this unrealistic of me?
Anyhoo...that's where I am at this point. What should I do next? Let me know what you think of the above options and if any one of them is clearly superior to the others, or if you're able to see a positive aspect of an option that isn't currently clear to me. I'm also open to new suggestions.  Thank you in advance for your wise counsel. :)

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