Which One?

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I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to diving back in and submitting queries to agents again. I’m ready to have other writers look over my query letter and after that feels tight and polished, putting my neck on the block. Rejections sucks, but not as much as I anticipated. It was easy enough to separate rejection of my writing from rejection of me as a person, which was surprising. I expected to be deeply hurt. Maybe I had already set myself up for failure. Maybe I thought no agent would be interested in the story I was selling. I’m not sure I was confident in my own work, which makes it very difficult to convince others to take a chance on it.

I feel I have moved past that fear, finally fully behind my own writing, which makes me ready to expect someone else to be as well. Instead of looking at my writing and only seeing the weaknesses, I am able to see the strengths, the things I do quite well. The issue this time won’t be confidence, it will be which book to submit.

I have two novels ready for submission and they are vastly different types of stories. The first is more “literary” to loosely use that term. It is about relationships and memory, how we create them, preserver them, and how we easily misread them. It is a great story, but by no means a page turner. The second is all action with elements of science fiction. It is much longer as well. They are both my writing style, and strangely enough, I like them equally. If I had my way, they’d both get a chance to be read.

Sadly, unless I’m going to self publish, I have to chose what kind of writing style I want to put forward to agents. Do I want to be seen as a serious, literary writer or someone who writes more speculative fiction? It matters. It dictates the course of my life from this moment forward (at least in a professional sense). So few professional writers have successfully changed direction and not sunk in the effort. I know it is foolish to act as if my “future” in writing is even a possibility at this moment, but…

Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated.



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About Ryan Carty

There are some who call me, Tim?

12 responses to “Which One?”

  1. Crystal Collier says :

    To thine own self be true. Ideally you want someone who can represent both types of work. If they can’t, they’re probably the wrong agent for you. So, with that in mind, I say query either one and when they contact you for more, show them both sides of your writing spectrum.

    • fenster says :

      And there you have it! I would want an agent who could represent both sides of my writing. I do worry that being all over the place would make me a hard sell to a publisher, but then again, this is all hypothetical.

  2. jennienzor says :

    That’s a hard one. I wonder if you could use a pen name for one of your books, although that might come later when you get closer to publishing. I know in kidlit that some people use a pen name if they write for adults. You might also try querying and see which one gets the most interest. I’ve also heard to put your best commercial one first and then try more literary (which is usually a harder sell). I also write in different genres, but I’ve never had two books ready at the same time. Keep us posted on how things go!

    • fenster says :

      I guess the real key here is to actually query someone, right? I also feel like the commercial novel has more chance of being picked up, but who knows, really. It almost feels arrogant to call the other book, ‘literary’. It’s just not a page turning, what happens next, sort of read. I will post if anything good happens or any agent shows interest.

  3. mad_cat says :

    This is why I am focusing on my writing now and not concerning myself with a publisher or an agent. I am an indie publisher, but it is my hope that when it comes time for an Agent, they see the whole package, rather than just one sample of my work.

    I respect what you’re trying to do however. A good agent is a relationship. You’ve got to feel good about who you’re with. Don’t be so quick to go with someone, do your homework and shop around until you can find what will be your best option.

  4. Alex J. Cavanaugh (@AlexJCavanaugh) says :

    Science fiction! Very cool.
    Neither are huge sellers, but science fiction probably does better between the two.
    If you go through your list of agents, try publishers who accept submissions. That’s how I found mine.

  5. Damyanti Biswas says :

    I have no answers but I do wish you all the best. I write literary short stories, but my novel is upmarket commercial. I understand the challenge you’re facing.

    • fenster says :

      That whole “what sort of writer do I want to be” has never been an issue before this second novel. Most of my stuff fell into the same ‘genre’. I’m finding I like the variety.

  6. Beth Camp says :

    Interesting post and discussion. As others have pointed out, many factors go into deciding to go with an agent and traditional publishing or indie publishing, which is more respectable these days. I went through a traditional publishing house for a writing textbook but the industry contracted — and has continued to contract, with traditional publishers eager to sign writers who are very viable commercially and with a long career ahead. This is a glittering generality, and you may find exactly the right fit with an agent who believes in you. After two years of shopping my fiction around, I went indie/self publishing. The biggest challenge remains not the writing but the ancillary support that’s needed in marketing to get the word out. May you find success.

    • fenster says :

      You’ve hit on something here. I am absolutely awful at marketing myself. That reason alone makes me wary of the indie/self publishing route. I have skills that I need to develop, it seems. Thanks for the advice. I will take it to heart.

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