My first book has zombies in it. I knew it would be a hard sell because of them, but I didn't imagine just how difficult it really is. I'm confident in my query and pages, but I've had a ton of agents reject based on the zombies alone. I got a rejection the other day that said she really liked my pages, but couldn't sell it. So now I'm thinking about trying to find a more zombie-friendly option, like small press or even self-publishing.
BUT I also have another book. It's way more marketable than my zombie one, and I think with some work, I could make it shine. So my question is, should I wait on searching for small presses and query this second book when it's ready? Is it better to wait and see if I can get an agent with the second book and see if they want to try selling the zombie book too? The zombie one is important to me, and I definitely want to publish it in some form, some way. How important is a debut book to a brand new author?
Under ZERO circumstances should you self-publish a book unless you are willing to become a publisher. Finding an audience for a self-published book is a big job and what I hear you saying is you want to be a writer, not a publicist, marketer, salesperson, returns manager, bean counter.
And while small presses are terrific, and I've sold to more than a few, they're not more likely to take on a book with a dwindling market than a larger publisher.
Pay attention to what that last agent said: she can't sell the book. And it's not cause she's a twit. Zombies are a hard sell right now because of market saturation.
Even Stringer Bell knows about market saturation!
The good thing about market saturation? It's not set in stone. One of these days zombies will be back. And you'll be ready. In the meantime, polish up that second novel and query on it.
When you have an agent, tell her about the zombie novel. She's going to throw her hands in the air and rend her garments as she wails, but assuage her pain by saying you don't expect her to sell it NOW. It's part of your inventory.
And I've had authors dusting off inventory left and right lately.
The best thing about zombie books? They're never really dead.