TMSellers

Author in Residence
Mar 13, 2024
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saga.xpg.com
I recently started querying my fantasy novel trilogy. Or the first book in the series anyway. This is my first time querying a novel specifically. Honestly, it has been a mostly positive experience for me so far. I have gotten 3 rejections of the 20 I've submitted, but that has not gotten me down. In general, I have felt way more positive about this process than I ever did querying screenplays.

My real struggle has actually been finding publishers to query. As I don't have an agent, I'm looking at publishers willing to take unagented fantasy submissions. So many publishers that were recommended to me to try have closed their submissions. Then there are tons of walls to me personally. I have run into roadblocks because I'm the wrong gender, race, nationality, orientation, and so on. And, sadly, a lot of the publishers I had been recommended in the past have gone under since I started publishing.

I'm hoping to get to at least 100 query submissions, but I'm struggling to find them. I have used query tracker, but the number of open fantasy submission opportunities was very limited. I continue to believe there's room for me somewhere though, so I'll keep looking and submitting where I can.
 
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I recently started querying my fantasy novel trilogy. Or the first book in the series anyway. This is my first time querying a novel specifically. Honestly, it has been a mostly positive experience for me so far. I have gotten 3 rejections of the 20 I've submitted, but that has not gotten me down. In general, I have felt way more positive about this process than I ever did querying screenplays.

My real struggle has actually been finding publishers to query. As I don't have an agent, I'm looking at publishers willing to take unagented fantasy submissions. So many publishers that were recommended to me to try have closed their submissions. Then there are tons of walls to me personally. I have run into roadblocks because I'm the wrong gender, race, nationality, orientation, and so on. And, sadly, a lot of the publishers I had been recommended in the past have gone under since I started publishing.

I'm hoping to get to at least 100 query submissions, but I'm struggling to find them. I have used query tracker, but the number of open fantasy submission opportunities was very limited. I continue to believe there's room for me somewhere though, so I'll keep looking and submitting where I can.
We're hearing that a lot now. We've had some of our larger pubs drop out of Pitchfest because they are not open to querying at the moment. There was a great blog article about this...let me see if I can find it...ah, here it is. It's about what was disclosed about book sales and promo in the Penguin vs DoJ suit. Depressingly interesting reading that convinced me that my self-pubbing was the right way to do.
Love to know what you both think.
Leslie
 
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TMSellers
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This was a depressing, but not surprising read. Much of entertainment is starting to look like this. Games don't sell as much anymore, as companies like Microsoft have gotten everyone into subscription service based gaming. Obviously movies and TV have fallen to streaming for the most part as well. Music has been a wash for decades.
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Maybe depressing, but for me, it helped me shape a pub strategy. So, based on this, the platform is the most important thing. You can either plan on getting a contract and use the pub company platform, or go the self-pub route and build your own. It's also clear that you are more likely to get picked up if you have a platform. No matter what, building that platform is critical. I'm also the kind of person who learns by doing, so I have to know how to build that platform. And I won't pay anyone else to do this for me.

So!

Now, I am writing my very best book in my chosen genre and teaching myself how to market and platform-build. I'm also writing a side hustle set of books in a related genre using a pen name. I try out all my various strategies in the side genre. And I write as fast as possible and churn out content in that side hustle to build the backlist. I'm also writing with a team to do this. I don't consider this side project my main genre, and it's not associated with my name, so I can try out all kinds of things that I would not do with my name. LOL.

We are also launching Promo-Swaps at Savvy in the next month or so. It's a platform where you can trade promo opps with other writers. That's part of my strategy. :) I'm also looking into Kindle Velllum for my side hustle. Anything I can do to keep myself writing on a fixed schedule will help me treat my writing like a job and teach me promo skills.

Right now, the industry is in churn. The last section of the blog nailed it for me. Publishing has disintermediated for the most part. There will be some people who are traditionally published, but most of us will go the self-pub route in some way, either via platforms like KU or other Spotify or Vellum-like sites. So, I am figuring out what that means for me and my nascent publishing career. At Savvy we're looking for people who are also navigating this to teach classes on these topics. RJ, Dawn and I are all writers and are struggling right along with you.

Chin up! In chaos there is always opportunity! (And yes, I am a die-hard optimist. :cool:
 
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Querying publishers or agents is a numbers game; fantasy in particular has a high bar because it's a crowded genre and there's literally thousands a year for agents and publishers to choose from. 100 queries is a good metric to shoot for, but I'm not sure you'll even find 100 to query if you limit yourself to publishers.

May I suggest picking up a short-term subscription to Publishers Marketplace or QueryTracker or similar? You can use those tools to build out a spreadsheet of 100 agents and publishers to query and then start tracking how your query performs. If you send out 10, says, and get only form rejections or No Responses back in 90 days, that's a big clue that either your query needs work or your book isn't a fit for the current market. Batching it out like this keeps you sane and lets you narrow the amount of rejection you experience so you don't get totally demoralized by a wave of rejections/never-ending silence.
 
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May I suggest picking up a short-term subscription to Publishers Marketplace or QueryTracker or similar? You can use those tools to build out a spreadsheet of 100 agents and publishers to query and then start tracking how your query performs. If you send out 10, says, and get only form rejections or No Responses back in 90 days, that's a big clue that either your query needs work or your book isn't a fit for the current market. Batching it out like this keeps you sane and lets you narrow the amount of rejection you experience so you don't get totally demoralized by a wave of rejections/never-ending silence.
Excellent advice!
 
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I recently started querying my fantasy novel trilogy. Or the first book in the series anyway. This is my first time querying a novel specifically. Honestly, it has been a mostly positive experience for me so far. I have gotten 3 rejections of the 20 I've submitted, but that has not gotten me down. In general, I have felt way more positive about this process than I ever did querying screenplays.

My real struggle has actually been finding publishers to query. As I don't have an agent, I'm looking at publishers willing to take unagented fantasy submissions. So many publishers that were recommended to me to try have closed their submissions. Then there are tons of walls to me personally. I have run into roadblocks because I'm the wrong gender, race, nationality, orientation, and so on. And, sadly, a lot of the publishers I had been recommended in the past have gone under since I started publishing.

I'm hoping to get to at least 100 query submissions, but I'm struggling to find them. I have used query tracker, but the number of open fantasy submission opportunities was very limited. I continue to believe there's room for me somewhere though, so I'll keep looking and submitting where I can.
I went the small press route and it's turned out a mostly learning experience. I'm with four, a different book with each. One sold out to another publisher that I'm not happy with. Another tried to promote without spending any money resulting in zero sales, but there was a termination clause I'm taking and am self publishing. Was not my plan.

You won't find 100 publishers to query that will fit. Do the research on ten before submitting. When you get an offer have the contract reviewed by an expert. I didn't for that and where I errored.

Reedsy publishes a list of publishers that accept unagented queries. There is about 300 but it takes time to weed through them.

Good luck.
 
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I went the small press route and it's turned out a mostly learning experience. I'm with four, a different book with each. One sold out to another publisher that I'm not happy with. Another tried to promote without spending any money resulting in zero sales, but there was a termination clause I'm taking and am self publishing. Was not my plan.

You won't find 100 publishers to query that will fit. Do the research on ten before submitting. When you get an offer have the contract reviewed by an expert. I didn't for that and where I errored.

Reedsy publishes a list of publishers that accept unagented queries. There is about 300 but it takes time to weed through them.

Good luck.
In my experience, self-publishing is better than going with small presses. There are decently-sized "small" presses that are good springboards into the bigger leagues, but I'm a scarred old publishing battle horse now, and I learned the hard way not to give my work to "one person, one freelancer and a computer" outfits. Far too much risk - sometimes they melt down because the founder/main person burns out, or sometimes they run away with the money, or suffer major health and/or life issues leading to year-long delays and the whole thing getting abandoned - while you're still contractually bound.

Comparatively, building your own self-publishing team is less risky.
 
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