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Well, I can tell you that I have had rejection after rejection from agents on a 58,000 YA novel I wrote, and I realize I am probably just going to have to bite the bullet and self-publish.

The first thing any writer needs is honest feedback on a given work. The fact that agents have been rejecting your novel does not necessarily mean that the novel is unpublishable. The thing to understand about agents is that they are not investing themselves in a given work, per se, when they take on a new client, they're taking on a career.

The self-publishing route is a viable option. While legacy publishers bring both marketing expertise and a marketing budget to the table, more and more often writers are being asked to do more and more of this sort of work. Regardless of this, however, the best marketing tool is a well-written story.

So my recommendation would be, do all you can to ensure you have written a good novel. Friends and family can be honest, and it's easier to detect feigned enthusiasm from those you know, but I suggest you consider joining, an online writing critique group. Writing critiques yourself will give you an ear for possible problems with your own work, and while it can be hard to have people finding fault with your 'baby', better them than the reviewers, who may be even harsher.
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