I read my novel aloud to my sons once, both because they were interested in hearing it and because I wanted to pick up any edits I could find by hearing it spoken aloud. When I purchased a couple of hard copy versions of the book from LuLu in order to edit that way, my youngest son snagged a copy and polished it off in two days. The other night I found out that he was nearly done with a third read-through. That made me secretly proud. I never prompted this, yet he found my book good enough to add to the Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and Wimpy Kid books that he rereads again and again. It made me feel that I am doing something right.
I wrote this first novel for myself, basically because publishers are not publishing the fantasy books that I really want to read. This is strange to me, since when they do publish Tolkienesque fantasy (see Sword of Shannara or the Iron Tower trilogy) it does very well, and I was under the apparently mistaken impression that publishing was about making money.
I read so much online about how derivative it is to dare to have Tolkien-style elves, dwarves, or wizards. Why do these people not understand that there are many of us out here who could care less about their 'artistic integrity'; we just want more fantasy books in the style we love best (but written well, of course!). Most of the readers I refer to grew up not just on Tolkien, but on Dungeons & Dragons (which clearly used Tolkien's fantasy as a strong baseline). Agents and publishers want to cast away anything with a hint of D&D attached to it. Why? There are hundreds of thousands of us who love D&D. True, the official D&D novels have been pretty unrealistic. So, why not try something new and provide us with gritty, realistic stories instead?
Publishers and agents who want to gag each time they see another elf, wizard or magical item should stop a moment and consider that book publishing is a money business. If there are a huge number of people who want good stories told within a comforting style of fantasy world, well then they should allow themselves to profit from that rather than denigrating our tastes.