I had something that was sort of a short (very short) version of my memoir published on a well-traveled website. When I finally got a contract, my publisher had no problem with that. Timing is important though. I don't know if I'd want to pub my best writing on the subject out there until it can be used for the promotion of the about-to-be-published book. Does that make sense? That's just me though.

I've also heard of people getting published in Guideposts or Reader's Digest and having a publisher or agent contact them after reading the article. So, I guess, like everything in this biz -- there are many ways to go about it. ~Karen