There are certainly times when certain “types” of books are nearly impossible to sell. I’m not up on this subgrene so I can’t say if it’s hot or cold at the moment. That said, following trends or trying to time books isn’t really a thing to do, as even if you are signed today, your book is 12 - 18 months from release, and who knows what will be hot or cold then?
Oh, no, don’t get me wrong, this book is my life and has been for over two years and counting. I just mean that I just hope that by the time it’s finished and ready to be submitted that the hatred that Twilight formed for many vampire lovers has dissipated a bit and with the hulu series that I hope does well, novels like mine will not be so shunned upon. I’ve never aimed to write what was current, at least what is currently current.
You need to query agents first, and there is no “average” for how long you query before being offered representation. Some people query one book and receive offers quickly. Others might query multiple projects over several years and never receive an offer. Once you have successfully queried and been offered rep, the agent then sends the manuscript on submission to publishers. Again there is no average for how long that takes, it might sell quickly or it might not.
Traditional publishing is a long road and you need to be prepared for that. The upside is that it gives you time to continue workshopping the manuscript, write something else, hone your craft and with each book you will get better and your odds of being offered rep/selling, improve.
Offering a tip you didn’t ask for: on social media and Twitter don’t fully be yourself. I mean, you are some version of yourself, but you are also your Author Brand. This is important long term, many websites include advice about boundaries and branding but my key takeaway is: don’t put all parts of me out into the world, focus on what I want others to see. I call my social media identity Twitter Matt, because that’s where I spend the most social media time.
Twitter Matt is a characterization of myself. Twitter Matt is confident, he celebrates other writers, and if he starts feeling green with envy he squashes that and reminds himself every successful author is proof that Twitter Matt can ALSO be a successful author. I am genuinely a socially awkward person a lot of the time and have my own fair share of self-doubt and insecurity, but I can write a confident and personable character, so I can be personable as Twitter Matt quite easily if I simply disassociate myself a bit.
So, maybe you can’t fix your writer’s envy but fake it until you make it: be the person you want to be with your public-facing handles, and over time you might find yourself genuinely NOT intimidated by the writer community. I love the writers I’ve pseudo-met online, and occasionally I see struggles from even the most “successful” writers which has really helped me relate and calmed down my insecurities. We all have them.
You have to figure out what you want and what your are capable of doing. Self-publishing requires the ability to write well, market, and prepare your book for publication. If you don’t want to be bothered with the other aspects of publishing, self publishing isn’t for you.
Traditional publishing requires you to write well and to learn the specialized skill that is crafting a query that might work.
But before you do anything else I’d get feedback about your finished book. Wattpad is a start, though not very helpful. Find critique partners or beta readers. Make sure the book is ready for publication before you worry about the final step.
Okay, so first things first. I don’t think you should consider " just put it up on amazon and hope it sells well." – because it won’t. If you go self-publishing then you have to go “all in.” Be a publisher. Do exactly the same things publishers do. (Which is a lot of work by the way).
Now with regard to traditional publishing, you seem to indicate that your genre may be one that is small and as such your book won’t be accepted. That may mean that traditional is not a good fit for that title. So I also wouldn’t go that route.
Which seems to say, “You’re screwed.” But hear me out. What you did is write something you loved…which is great. Nothing wrong about writing for yourself. BUT…when you cross the line from “writing” to “publishing” you have to consider the readers. Because you are, after all, asking them to come on this journey with you and invest their time and money.
So, you need to have a real hard conversation with yourself. Do you want to write purely as a hobby…for enjoyment and nothing else…or do you want to write something that others will read. If the later, then you should start a new project and consider the “market” aspect of what you are writing. Then, you can decide which route would be better for THAT book, but I think for THIS book you may not have thought the “what comes after I’m done” part.
Now, I don’t know what you have written, so I may be totally off base…and feel free to elaborate, but those are my thoughts with the little bit of information I have right now.
How many books do you need before self publishing? I could work on one book for ten years and after getting all of it done, then publish and no one comments/etc. It’s just left there. Working on another book could take 2-3 years, especially if you have only one novel.