Why My Debut Novel Will Never Be Traditionally Published

…or, why I’m self-publishing it without even trying to find an agent/publisher to begin with.

Ever since declaring last year that I would be self-publishing my debut novel CROSS//Rebirth sometime in the near future (you know, when that whole editing thing is done with) I’ve been thinking more and more about the reasons why I’ve decided to go this route. I’ve written a post before about the pros of me self-publishing my novel – but now I would like to talk about why, well, my novel just doesn’t stand a chance with traditional publishing with nothing to back it up.

Save for an awesome hello-thar miracle, the CROSS// series will never be picked up for traditional publishing without maybe seeing large success in the “indies” market. Why? Because the today’s “traditional” market doesn’t want it.

Here’s why.

1. Not only is Rebirth the first part of a series, but the final draft will probably come to be about 325k words. Definitely over 300k, without a doubt. The first draft was near 350k. It took me three completed Nanowrimos and a lot of off-season writing to complete, and this isn’t including all the discarded prologues I had before finally settling on a set that I really liked. And although I write science-fiction/fantasy (in this case, contemporary/urban fantasy) and am given a lot of leeway in terms of high word count, both of these things majorly count against me. Most “tips” I see online from agents and established authors suggest that debut authors keep their writing to under 200k. Oops. Yeah, not happening. Also, in this market, most agents/publishers aren’t willing to gamble on series and want to see stand-alone stories from unknowns. Well, my novels will always be really, really long. And I will always be working on some big series. That’s just how I’ve always been as a writer.

2. There is a lot of cursing. Like, a shitton. I joked at the end of the final draft that there were 135 “fucks’ and even more “damns” and “shits”. Guess what – I actually wasn’t joking. And most of those haven’t been cut out in subsequent edits (unless the whole chunk/scene was deleted) because it’s in dialogue. My characters curse a lot. And they curse even more with the words we know and love since the series takes place in contemporary America and they all mostly speak American English.  This really isn’t up for debate in my mind. However, I have deleted a lot of old “bitches” and a couple other victim-filled words that make me uneasy to see now. My way of thinking is…if it makes ME stop and look at it, it must be unnecessary. The gendered/sexuality slurs have been saved for making somebody look horrible ~just like in real life~.

3. So many queers the whole series looks like what you find at the end of the rainbow. Sexuality is a MAJOR theme of the series. Most characters should be considered queer until expressed otherwise. Boys love boys and girls love girls, although sometimes the girls love the boys too and the boys get put into a female body and boys are angsting about other boys because that’s just not done andddd *huge breath*, guess what! Don’t assume that the two MCs, while opposite sexes and genders, are going to end up together! Odds are higher that the FMC will end up with another woman and that the MMC will be ~forever alone~ (that’s what happens when you’re straight in this world, I guess.)

And after the recent debacle of authors being asked by prospective agents to either delete the queer characters or straighten them up ugh, no.  Not happening in a million years. Like, my head hurts just thinking about it.

4. There’s occasionally “graphic” sex…and it ain’t always sexy. Even just assuming that all of the sex in the series is of the heteronormative variety (hint: it’s not), it’s still probably too risque for most traditional places…especially when you consider that some of the sex scenes are purposefully just awkward as hell and even depressing at times. Now, the only sex that makes the final cut in any of my drafts are those that have something plot related happen in them, but in Rebirth that amounts to one actual graphic scene, one scene where sex is going on in the background (and heavily referenced to, because damnit, those characters are busy) one where a woman is giving herself a hand (see what I did there?) and, sadly, one that is assault. Only one of these scenes are explicit in the sense that the reader gets a play by play of what is happening, but it all leads up to the the part where somebody totally screws up and there is a lot of resentment for the rest of the book. But sex is sex to a lot of people. I may not be writing erotica or sex for the sake of sex (I save that for nano tbh~) but any sex is too much sex for some markets. And since it’s plot related and related to one of the major themes (sexuality) it will be a hot day in Antarctica before those scenes get deleted or, save me, “fade to black”.

5. If you couldn’t tell, it’s a really “adult” series. Then again I’ve never said that I write YA or below, and my target audience has always been adults with anything I write. But the market is very pointed towards YA at the moment and some agents I once looked at even two years ago are now calling only for YA. Plus, the term “adult” tends to turn a lot of people off – I mean, all that cursing and sex! Stuff that adults do! For shame amirite. Oh, and there’s occasional drug use. And a lot of smoking. Not that much violence in comparison, actually. (Minus some abuse and guns.) But if there’s anything that living in America has taught me, it’s that sex is WAY MORE EVIL!!! than violence.

6. Finally, the POV is icky icky omniscient. I only got this memo this year, but apparently omniscient is so two centuries ago, you guys. Everything has to be third-person limited or MAYBE first-person on a good day. But omniscient? Apparently people turn their noses up at omniscient now. Which, like I said, was news to me. But if I go on and on about this point I’ll have a completely different blog post I am saving for the future.


I think if I only had one, maybe two of these points going on I could risk going traditional without too much damage. But as it is, CROSS// is just not traditional publishing friendly. And I am okay with that. I don’t mind alienating potential readers for the story I want to tell in the way I want to tell it. I mean, I could still try, but what’s the point when I don’t really care and it would probably just be a bigger pain in the ass than it’s worth? I’d have to wait a few months for a proper rejection, and in those few months in which I’m not allowed to do anything publicly with my MS I could be moving forward with self-publishing and getting my name out there.

Yeah, I like that one.

Anyone else got a story doomed in traditional publishing but has a good shot at being self-published? And furthermore…why is that? I bet it’s all the gay sex, isn’t it.