So, as the title of this post implies, I’m torn.
You see, I’ve spent a good few years working on a book series, of which I’m a little less than halfway through. Unless something new comes to me in the next months and years, I think it’ll be seven books long. Seven fairly hefty books, not the doorstop ‘Martin-esque’ type, but still a solid 150k-200k words a piece.
I write pretty fast (and edit very slow), but just to physically put that many words into a computer takes a while. It’s not a small investment of time.
I suppose the generic term for the genre I’m working in would be ‘fantasy’, although I cringe a little at the word. Not because I don’t love the genre. Not even because I think there’s a better word to describe the genre as a whole. It’s more to do with the fact that while my world is different than our own, and that things like swords and monsters feature prominently, I think calling it fantasy makes people think of something different than what I’m trying to write. I’m guessing most people would think of things like elves and dwarves and princesses.
Spoiler alert: there’s no elves. No dwarves either. Any princesses would be much more likely to run you through with a rusty knife than curtsey.
I’m not a fan of labels.
I suppose at the end of the day what I’m trying to write is fantasy as much as Steven Erikson’s work is, or Glen Cook’s. That’s the section of the bookstore that they’ll end up in, should I ever manage to get them published. I think a more accurate label might be a tragedy set in an alternate earth. A myth.
In any event, I digress. To recap: I’ve been writing a series of books. And I’m about halfway through. To finish it up - which I very much want to do - I’d need at least another few years. Maybe as many as 5 more years. Especially so as I’m writing ‘part time’, needing to keep my day job so I can pay the mortgage and buy food and diapers and gas for the car. That’s fine. I’m happy with that. Comes with the territory.
Here’s the problem though, at least as far as I’m imagining it. Someone tell me if I’m being an ‘authorial hypochondriac’.
If an agent or publisher expressed some interest in the series, there would be no issue. No case of me being torn. As it is though, after trying off and on for 18 months to get someone to reply to a query letter, I’m wondering (aside from how bad my query letter must suck) if perhaps I shouldn’t put the series aside and work on a stand alone novel for a while.
I have a great idea. I’ve got it mostly outlined. I think I could finish a first draft in 6 or 8 months, give or take.
Question: Are agents/publishers more likely to react to a stand alone novel, coming as it might from an unpublished writer? Or should I not get distracted with a new project until I’ve finished out the series?
What if no one cares either way?