As some of you may know, I completed a new sci-fi novel early last year titled Bound by the Sky. It began as Mass Effect fan fiction, but I saw potential in it early on, and scrapped that idea to focus on creating an original IP instead. And I’m so glad I did. I can safely say that it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.
Unfortunately, I’ve been unsuccessful in attracting an agent to champion the novel on my behalf. Nearly one hundred agents have passed on it, which is a common experience for every unknown author. There are many reasons why an agent may choose to pass on a book, but it all boils down to one essential truth: they only take on the books they feel confident they can sell.
So, why is my book unsellable in the eyes of a hundred agents? It’s got a good story. Good character development. Good world building. A satisfying conclusion with room to expand the novel into a series. What’s the problem?
At first, I thought it was because the book is too “old school.” In today’s culture, simply having a good story isn’t good enough. It needs to make a statement. Essentially, it needs to be woke. And I think it’s absolutely wonderful that the industry has shifted, because it’s opened the doors for so many talented writers who wouldn’t have had the same opportunities even a few years ago. The #ownvoices movement is long overdue. But where does that leave a sci-fi writer without a political angle? Is my writing style too outdated by today’s standards?
As I pondered these questions, I came to realize that perhaps that wasn’t the reason agents weren’t interested in my book. I recently heard a line of dialogue from a TV show in which the character, an aspiring writer, says, “I don’t worry about being a good writer. I worry about being an unremarkable one.”
That’s it. It clicked the second I heard it. The missing piece to explain why my book hasn’t even gotten a nibble. My writing is good… it’s just not remarkable. Thousands upon thousands of writers submit their latest works every month, and to stand apart takes something truly special. An “X” factor.
I don’t have “it,” and that’s okay. It’s better to know than to continue frustrating myself and agonizing over what I’m doing “wrong.” So, where do I go from here? The way I see it, I have three options:
- Accept that I’m unremarkable and keep writing my books anyway.
- Accept that I’m unremarkable and devote as much time as I can to studying better writers, absorbing their magical prose and using it to strengthen my own.
- Accept that I’m unremarkable and simply walk away, proud of what I’ve accomplished and content.
I’ve decided on option three. Sure, I could continue to write my books, but it requires a lot of time and money, and when I’m writing for an audience of one, it’s hard to justify any longer.
It’s okay. I’m okay. This is not a sad day. I wrote some fucking killer books, and nothing can change that. The reality is that I’m not good enough to make a living from it, and again, that’s okay.
So, what happens to Bound by the Sky? I’m glad you asked! I worked too hard for it to not be set out into the wild, so I’ll be self-publishing it sometime within the next few months. One final adventure before riding off into the sunset.
Before I hang up my writing pen, I want to say a genuine and heartfelt thank you to all the amazing people who have supported my journey over the last ten years. There are far too many people to name, and I’m afraid of leaving anyone out, but you know who you are. If you’ve ever taken the time to read my work, you’re included.
All my love,