Ah yes—you are expecting me to announce that I am self-publishing my book.
Now it is possible that I may decide to go the self-publishing route, but at this point I am not. Yes, my pursuit of an agent has failed so far, but that does not mean that I cannot find a publisher without an agent.
In fact, full-throttle literary agent Nathan Bransford says just that:
… there are some instances where submitting directly to editors makes sense … [such as when] you are working in a genre that is unlikely to attract an agent because it is a niche market, experimental, or otherwise is customary for editors and authors to deal with each other directly.
When I first read the above quote, I realized how true it was. Trying to get a fantasy published with CBA publishers is really difficult for the following reasons:
- The audience that the CBA publishers target is mostly women.
- Christian romance makes up a large part of that segment.
- The number of fantasy novels published per year, particularly epic fantasy novels, is very slim.
- The major publishers already have these few fantasy book slots filled.
- Agents already have their few fantasy client slots filled.
This is not to say it is impossible … it is not. It is just very, very difficult.
In my case, I am trying to figure out if I am being rejected because of my writing, or the fact that my novel is based on King Arthur. Clear feedback from agents is not forthcoming—and they don’t owe me an answer.
Can my writing be improved? Sure.
But this is where I agree with Chip MacGregor, who says “Every publisher is looking for a great idea, great writing, and a great platform.”
The question is this: Is a novel based upon the legends of King Arthur considered a “great idea” by the Christian publishers? Is any major Christian publisher willing to try a new angle on King Arthur that still deals with the legends in a serious way?
I’m not sure, and that’s the rub.
In fact, from my pressing hands with editors at the 2008 ACFW conference, I would say, no. They are looking for totally new ideas … something that has never been done before.
This is not to say that my angle on King Arthur has been done before … it hasn’t. I have a fresh take on these legends with what I consider an up to date writing style that focuses on suspense. You could almost call my novel a fantasy thriller.
But it is still based on King Arthur, which the publishers consider “done before”.
Ignoring the fact that I’m biased, , I consider it crazy not to publish novels based on King Arthur.
People always say “that’s been done before”—and it has—but the fact remains that novels based on the legends of King Arthur sell. They sell because people are fascinated by these legends, and their appetites show no sign of abating any time soon.
To me … the fact that my novel is based on King Arthur is what gives me “platform” … a certain number of guaranteed sales to help the publisher earn back their investment.
For crying out loud, Arthurian novels have their own sub-category at Barnes & Noble’s website! In fact, one in every 30 books of current published secular fantasy falls under the Arthurian sub-genre. This amounts to over 220 books currently in print!
Not only that, but according to Wikipedia, the last 100 years have seen 37 movies produced that attempt to stay somewhat close to the legends of King Arthur. Of these, half were made since 1980, and eight in the last ten years alone.
If anything, the interest has increased, not lessened.
(And this list does not count movies that revise the Arthurian legend in a major way. If these were included, then the number grows to nearly 70 films.)
The public is fascinated with King Arthur, and spend their money accordingly. If they didn’t, these films and novels would not exist.
But, barring my writing (which I think is either there or nearly there), I’m just not sure the major Christian publishers want another King Arthur series—or at least the agents might think so.
The only example of a serious treatment of King Arthur in the CBA was by Stephen Lawhead, and his series is STILL in print after twenty years. It is still selling!
Hmmmm … anyway, I’ll get off my warhorse here and sheathe Excalibur. To recap, I have a few agents left to hear from, and meanwhile I will begin the long process of sending queries and proposals to medium and small publishers.
Thanks for listening, and keep your eyes peeled for a make-over on our main page at www.EpicTales.org to reflect its new name: Epic Tales Press!
[ADDENDUM NOTE: we’re not taking submissions … this is primarily for our personally recorded Wren Song CDs.]