This is something not many writers talk about but it's a very hard decision for some. By the end of the year I will have completed 2 novels, the first is a MG and the other is a YA. I had always wanted my MG to be my debut but my YA is really breathtaking and I have a strong feeling it will strike a chord with readers. On the otherhand, my MG has that "it" factor boy readers love (magic, cool pets, intense battles, a fun card game, world tournaments...) and the fact that the MC is a mobster who becomes a powerful superhero isn't too shabby either. However, my YA is a Romantic Fantasy that features an MC who rises from poverty and despair to become an immensley powerful hero. I haven't seen this type of hero in YA as of late; most of the heroines deal with conflicts centered around their own little universe, as opposed to defeating an immense evil and saving the world--like male MCs usually do. Double standard, anyone? Or perhaps the female writers of these books have a different perspective on what a female heroine is and should do? Ack, I dunno... The point is, I have two great novels and no idea which I should query first.
Some of you might say query them both and see which sticks, but what if I get representation by two seperate agents for two seperate projects? What if they both sell to two different houses? Then what? I don't think that's right, or doable. Besides, I'm pretty sure the houses will not let that happen, 'cause they like to brand authors under their imprint, so that's out of the question. I know some people look at the financial aspect of a debut: in some cases you get a bigger advance for YA, it's easier to catch on, no need for school visits, little to no marketing on your behalf, magazine coverage, blah blah blah... but I really don't care about that. I'm willing to put in the hard work it'll take to "push" my MG if it so happens it's my debut. For me, it's more about which one is going to give me the best shot at capturing an audience and building that fan base. It's a business--a very tough, dig out your eyes, business--and as much as my heart wants to say "be happy that you got published and just keep writing," eh... it doesn't work that way in the real world. If your debut flops you'll be blacklisted and probably won't sell anything else in this climate. You have to be smart, you have to be knowledgable, you must have timing and you simply must know the market and it's flow.
I had always thought the very first novel I wrote would be "the one", and I had an argument with a writer on a message board over this fact some years ago. He said the first novel you write isn't your first, I said it is. Boy was I ever wrong. Writers write so many books in so many different genres it can be hard to pick which one best represents you. I have a tough decision to make, so I need some advice on this.
How did/do you decide which novel will be your debut?