Friday, 2 November 2012

How Do You Decide Which Novel Will Be Your Debut?

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?


Kyra Lennon said...

Well, usually I leave this kind of thing down to my gut instinct. The novel I thought would be my first was most definitely not, because I felt the timing wasn't right for it.

I've never queried so ... that is the best advice I have lol!

T.D. McFrost said...

My gut is teleling me YA but I dunno...I really love my MG too.

Angela Brown said...

Something to bear in mind is that querying both an get you options and you still have the option to say "No" to whom you choose. Also, some agents do not rep YA and MG so you never know how it may go. My debut YA novel didn't exactly become my debut YA because I chose it. In a way, it was chosen for me since it was in response to my A to Z blogging challenge. And I'm cool with that :-)

It seems your gut is telling you to go with your YA and I say go with it, and you can still tell your agent about the MG and see if both can go with imprints of the same house. Thinking positive here :-)

Esther Spurrill-Jones said...

This is a very good question. None I haven't considered before. Sorry I'm not any help. I'll have to ponder this awhile.

Barbara Kloss said...

First off - CONGRATS on finishing two by the end of the year!! *throws confetti* *HUGS*

I agree with Angela in that querying both would give you options. I wouldn't worry so much about the "what ifs" at this point. If anything, it'd give you an idea of which novel is more appealing to "them" and, as you said, gives you the better shot at capturing and audience. You can ALWAYS tell an interested agent that you're submitting another type of story and see if they're interested in it as well.

Interesting how you have to write a few books to figure out which is "the one," because each book represents a different stage in life. They all represent you in one shape or fashion.

Let us know what you decide!

Anonymous said...

It's a tough choice! Lots of factors play a role--the current market, how polished a manuscript is, what your instinct is telling you, what crit partners say, etc.

From what I've seen, it's best to query one book at a time. And remember, even though the book you're querying is your "baby" it may not be the one that snags an agent or gets sold to a publisher, but it is still viable as a backlist. I say this to lead me to my next point:



Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

My first book is actually my fifth one. I guess I decided to just go for it because I felt itwas time.

ryan field said...

My advice would be that if you're only looking for an agent at this point, query widely and query both books. But don't query both with the same agent at the same time. If you don't hear from an agent with one book, wait about three months and query with the other. I know that sounds like a vicious frustrating circle, but there's really no other way. Agents tend to focus on one project at a time unless you're established. You don't want to query agents with more than one book at a time, and in the same respect it's hard to predict which book will resonate with which agent. So query them both and keep track with good records of where you're sending them so you know where they've gone. And be patient :) And don't get frustrated. It really does take time.

"If your debut flops you'll be blacklisted and probably won't sell anything else in this climate."

I don't believe that. At least not if you're a serious writer and that's what you want to do for the rest of your life. No one has the power to blacklist you forever unless you do something so horrible you piss off readers on a grand scale...I'm talking major adultery or something on that order. If the first book doesn't sell like you wanted it to, write another, and then another. Like I said, it takes time and publishing is changing in ways now that make a lot of the old rules obsolete :)

I just shared a link on social media where an author got a dream publishing deal to write fanfic on Twilight. That wouldn't have happened five years ago.

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