I've been dithering on seeking an agent. Okay, part of it is that I'm not completely satisfied with the editing process. There is some true work to be done to make it just right, but I have a feeling that I will be thinking this way for another year, perhaps longer.
I am afraid to seek an agent. I followed all the 'rules' about writing what I myself want to read, but I am afraid that agents will say that my story is derivative. True, it certainly incorporates many of the traditional fantasy elements so brilliantly done by Tolkien, but how many other novels have done that sort of fantasy well? People say they have read too many novels with these elements, but I would ask them how? I have read tons of fantasy, but few that did the traditional elements anywhere near as well as Tolkien did. I loved Tolkien so much I never wanted it to end, so naturally what I want to read is more that echoes Tolkien's vision.
Now, I don't want to duplicate Tolkien. I prefer a grittier feel to my stories, more realistic. That's why I love George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. I created my own world and over twenty years thought about it until I felt I knew it. Only then did I begin to write. I wrote to fulfill my own dreams of what I love to read, so I aimed at making a world with the traditional flavorings of Tolkien, but with the grittier feel of a Martin story.
What kills me is that I think agents will automatically reject such a book, saying it is derivative, yet I believe there is a vast, hungry audience that loves this type of traditional fantasy. I think other people than me want to read books like this. The LOTR movies weren't so successful just because Peter Jackson did a great job with them. They were successful in part because that story has such tremendous appeal. I think the Hobbit movies will do the same as long as the director does a decent job.
I'll just go on editing it until I can convince myself that I can do no more to make myself happy with it. Then I'll see if I have the nerve to seek an agent, or if I'll just write another book.