I have finally completed my first novel, and I've gotten some very positive reviews from my beta readers. I'm afraid though that I may not be able to break out into mainstream publishing and/or get an agent.
It's a New Adult LGBT novel and the advice from a friend is that I may have to go to publishing sites such as Dreamspinner, Carina, or TotallyBound. I really feel that it can be more than just a M/M novel because of the different issues that are presented. Unfortunately, I may have lost my chance because I've tried querying with agents that are LGBT accepting but my query might not have been strong enough to get their attention.
I don't even know how hard it might be for an agent to sell that kind of genre. Should I go with one of the aforementioned publishing sites or stick with self-publishing and spread the word myself? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
Confronted with this dilemma, the first thing you want to do is make a list of questions:
1. Is your query strong enough to entice an agent to read your book?
2. Is your book strong enough to entice an agent to take it on and send it on submission?
3. Is it hard for an agent to sell LGBT books that are M/M themed?
4. Do you want to self-publish?
When you have the list, look at each question and ask yourself if you have enough information to answer the questions with FACTS, not fears, suppositions or someone else's opinions.
And from what you've written here, you do NOT have enough facts to answer any of these questions, and thus what you need to be doing is getting more facts, not making decisions.
How do you get facts? First, you need to know how strong your query is.
You can visit query revising sites (Absolute Write runs one and there are others) or you can attend a writing conference. Take your query letter to a pitch session. Ask the agent for her opinion on your query. You might be making some very-readily-fixable errors. You might be using a word or phrase that's a red flag. Use that information to answer your first question.
If you find an agent who requests your full manuscript, generally you're going to get some kind of feedback that will help you on Question #2.
And a writing conference, with panels presented by agents on various topics, is a great way to learn more about Question #3.
And of course, you'll want to do a LOT of research to answer Question #4.
Bottom line: don't flail around wondering what to do. Assemble facts, analyze them, do research, invest in your career, and make decisions based on information not fear. Fear will kill your writing career faster than a bad agent.