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View Full Version : Can/Do publishers publish a book AFTER its been self-published?



Sid Hartha
01-15-2009, 10:26 PM
I recently self-published a book. I did not consider even attempting to get it published traditionally. In other words, I did not send it to any publishers for their consideration. I have quickly come to realize this was foolish and I should have at least tried because there is little possibility of me selling any on my own.

My question is, would the fact that I have already self published it make it less desirable to a publisher (assuming they would be interested at all, which is a whole different issue!). Or is it now considered used goods? Do self published books ever get picked up by a traditional publisher and "re-published" after self-publishing, or did I shoot myself in the foot?

veinglory
01-15-2009, 10:28 PM
It does occur, but generally with a self-published book that is selling well and often (although not always) one published by a one-person-press not through a self-publishing service.

In your situation it is probably wiser to concentrate on writing the next book?

cpickett
01-20-2009, 05:04 AM
Hi & Welcome Sid,
My concern for you is not how you published, but in saying that there's little possibility of selling your current book on your own. I'm wondering what you've tried and what didn't work.

First, to get most publishers interested in picking up a book at this time in the industry, you need to tell them what you plan to do to make your book sell. For example, do you have a following on a blog? Are you speaking on a topic within your book? If not, at the very least, what do you intend to do along those lines?

Next, it's true that one of the advantages traditional publishers have is distribution, which means they can get bookstores to order books. However, the selling cycle is very short. If your book hasn't sold steadily in just a few months time, the stores can return it and usually those books are not in salable condition so they're destroyed (a crazy practice that hopefully will change soon.) This also means they don't order any more.

Even though it's on the shelves, if no one knows it's there, no sales. They won't know it's there if you don't tell them. Generally, people aren't likely to buy on impulse. It happens, but not enough to make that the only business model you count on.

Many publishers will contact the media and that does help sell books for an intial period of time, but they won't be the ones giving presentations or networking with people via Facebook etc. to continue the momentum for months or years to come. That's all you.

Do traditional publishers pick up self-pubbed work, yes sometimes, but as Veinglory said, usually it is when they see they'll have a good promotional partner in the author, not just a good story or topic.

I'd say don't give up on this first one right away. If you haven't as of yet, get with someone who can help you with a marketing strategy or pick up some books, check out some blogs on the topic. There's lots of help available.

Sid Hartha
01-20-2009, 07:13 AM
Thanks for the replies...I appreciate it. :)

victoriastrauss
01-28-2009, 09:39 PM
First, to get most publishers interested in picking up a book at this time in the industry, you need to tell them what you plan to do to make your book sell. For example, do you have a following on a blog? Are you speaking on a topic within your book? If not, at the very least, what do you intend to do along those lines?

This is true for nonfiction, where publishers are increasingly unwilling to consider authors without platforms--but not yet, thankfully, for fiction, at least with the larger houses (smaller publishers, which rely on their authors as an unpaid sales force, may ask for this kind of info).


Next, it's true that one of the advantages traditional publishers have is distribution, which means they can get bookstores to order books. However, the selling cycle is very short. If your book hasn't sold steadily in just a few months time, the stores can return it and usually those books are not in salable condition so they're destroyed (a crazy practice that hopefully will change soon.) This also means they don't order any more.

This is much too broad a generalization. Sure, sometimes it happens this way, but often it doesn't. Returned books are not necessarily unsalable, and returning orders doesn't necessarily mean the bookseller won't re-order.

More important, while having books on bookstore shelves doesn't automatically guarantee huge sales, it does guarantee way more sales than self-publishing, simply because of wide exposure. It also gives your self-promotion efforts something to build on, since if you're successful in generating publicity for yourself, people can easily obtain your book. One of the brick walls self-pubbed or small press authors often run into is that because their books aren't easily obtainable, their successful publicity efforts don't generate very much in the way of sales.


Do traditional publishers pick up self-pubbed work, yes sometimes, but as Veinglory said, usually it is when they see they'll have a good promotional partner in the author, not just a good story or topic.

Generally when commercial publishers pick up self-pubbed books, it's because of strong sales--on the order of several thousand within the first year or so of release. That's very hard to achieve with a self-published book, which is why it's news when it happens.

- Victoria

ResearchGuy
01-28-2009, 11:44 PM
. . . would the fact that I have already self published it make it less desirable to a publisher . . .
Never assume anything is impossible.

See today's NY Times. A front-page article reports on the growth of
self-publishing/subsidy publishing (iUniverse and the like) -- and some success stories (rare but real).

The article is here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/28/books/28selfpub.html?_r=1&hp

--Ken

Team 2012
04-30-2009, 02:01 AM
Previous self-publishing has no effect on a book's desirability to a publisher.

There are many reasons to do this. One would be a sort of "shake-down" of the book. Learning about publishing, distribution, promotion first hand, etc.

davidlongfield
05-20-2009, 06:00 AM
Sid Harta, you're not the SH of the self-publishing company 'Sid Harta Publishing' are you?

veinglory
05-20-2009, 06:07 AM
Previous self-publishing may or may not effect its desirability for a publisher. Some publishers will be put off by the first publishing rights having been exploited.

ResearchGuy
05-20-2009, 06:56 AM
. . . Some publishers will be put off by the first publishing rights having been exploited.
Maybe. But I'd wager that for the large majority, the prospect of a profitable book trumps any such "exploitation."

--Ken

veinglory
05-20-2009, 07:06 AM
I just think it depends. Some aquiring editors just have an irrational hatred of self-published books, others seek them out. You can't say it will never be a disadvantage when some major acquiring editors are on record as auto-rejecting self-published books.

ResearchGuy
05-20-2009, 06:00 PM
I just think it depends. Some aquiring editors just have an irrational hatred of self-published books, others seek them out. You can't say it will never be a disadvantage when some major acquiring editors are on record as auto-rejecting self-published books.
Since the vast majority of self-published books have no commercial potential, that is probably an entirely understandable prejudice. Even the diamonds in the rough may be too far in the rough to be worth the effort for most, given how many queries and manuscripts come in via agents. (I suspect that previously self-published books coming to large commercial publishers via agents are rarer than hen's teeth.)

I can cite Stephanie Chandler's book on Web-based marketing for authors as an example of a book that went from self-published to commercially published. Her first version was via Lulu. Then she sold it to Quill Driver Press, which published it (with a new title that I can never remember).

--Ken