I've been seeing comments on the tightening window/acceptance for debut authors with planned-series since December 2019, especially now with the economy contracting even more due to Covid19 for the whole of 2020.

Would it be wise to put my grand project on hold, and write a standalone novel to be published at a smaller press/self-publish just to remove the 'debut author' label from my head?

Or will that damage my chances at my planned series being published at a bigger publisher in the future?

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    Is the side project in the same setting/universe as the main project? From what I've heard, you don't publish part of a series self-published and part not.
    – DWKraus
    Dec 16, 2020 at 11:58
  • N0. Two, entirely different universes. No links whatsoever. Dec 16, 2020 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


Chasing the market is usually a bad idea. Unless you're an extremely fast writer, the trends may have changed again before you get there. In this case, the likely motivation is that the market is (currently!) saturated with series, and readers (and publishers) already have their hands full keeping up with the series they've already committed to.

There's no particular magic to not being a "debut writer" --in fact, having been published with an unsuccessful book can even hurt you. What they're really looking for is writers with proven appeal, or pre-existing fan bases. If you already have a strong manuscript ready, shopping it to a niche publisher instead of leading off with your series might not be a terrible idea (due to the saturation of the market). And if you haven't started work on either book, I might recommend going with the standalone. But I wouldn't advise writing a book solely for that purpose.

Your best bet is always to write the book you are most passionate about --to lead with the work you think is strongest. A strong book can buck the trends. A mediocre book is unlikely to succeed, even if it's on-trend.

  • Hmm. But the only way at the moment to have proven appeal/pre-existing fan bases is to be published. And on top of that, published with commercial success. Dec 17, 2020 at 0:55
  • Was giving it some more thought; would it be better to try pubbing this standalone under another pen name? But I don't know what a bigger publisher would think of it. Of course, the standalone fails, I won't bring it up to the bigger publisher. Dec 17, 2020 at 2:59
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    Oh, so you haven't written either book yet, and you want to know which one to start with? Right now the standalone does seem like a better bet, but again, chasing the market is usually a fool's errand. In other words, write the book you're most passionate about. Dec 17, 2020 at 14:19
  • Well, the series/Grand Project is on it's 3rd Draft/rewrite (100k words), While the standalone is barely written on it's 1st Draft (3k words). But yeah, I'm trying to chase the market for safety at this time--guess I'll stick to the grand project, the one I am most passionate about; even though the window is small. Dec 17, 2020 at 15:56

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