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downtherabbithole
10-23-2009, 09:17 PM
Can you self-publish a title and retain the rights to it so you can continue to query it for regular publication?

veinglory
10-23-2009, 09:27 PM
The act of publishing (self- or otherwise) exploits first publication rights.

Parametric
10-23-2009, 09:29 PM
Can you self-publish a title and retain the rights to it so you can continue to query it for regular publication?

Short answer: No.

Long answer:

When you publish your novel in any format, including self-publishing, you use up your first publication rights (literally, the right to first publish) for that novel. These rights are the rights a commercial publisher buys, and by extension, they're the rights an agent wants to sell to the aforesaid commercial publishers. No first publication rights, no agent, no commercial publication. A self-published novel is dead. Period. Finished.

If you self-publish your novel and sell 5000 copies (somehow), it's theoretically possible that your novel may become of interest to commercial publishers, because it has proven value in the marketplace. (Assuming the commercial publisher doesn't think that your novel has already sold as many copies as it ever will.) But selling 5000 copies of a self-published novel is so difficult as to verge on impossible. It's certainly not feasible for this to be your main plan.

Self-publishing and commercial publication are really mutually exclusive. If you self-publish, you are closing off that avenue forever for that novel.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Parametric

MickRooney
10-25-2009, 04:10 AM
Short answer: No.

Long answer:

When you publish your novel in any format, including self-publishing, you use up your first publication rights (literally, the right to first publish) for that novel. These rights are the rights a commercial publisher buys, and by extension, they're the rights an agent wants to sell to the aforesaid commercial publishers. No first publication rights, no agent, no commercial publication. A self-published novel is dead. Period. Finished.

If you self-publish your novel and sell 5000 copies (somehow), it's theoretically possible that your novel may become of interest to commercial publishers, because it has proven value in the marketplace. (Assuming the commercial publisher doesn't think that your novel has already sold as many copies as it ever will.) But selling 5000 copies of a self-published novel is so difficult as to verge on impossible. It's certainly not feasible for this to be your main plan.

Self-publishing and commercial publication are really mutually exclusive. If you self-publish, you are closing off that avenue forever for that novel.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Parametric

Parametric,

Dear me, your comments are awash with misleading, and frankly, bias information. More of a concern that you are here offering it as advice!

Self-publishing and commercial publication are really mutually exclusive. If you self-publish, you are closing off that avenue forever for that novel.

Definitions of mutually

1. in a mutual or shared manner

Definition of Exclusive

1. Not taking into the account; excluding from consideration; opposed to inclusive; as, five thousand troops, exclusive of artillery.

I have no idea what you mean by 'mutually exclusive' in regards to self and mainstream publishing. The term is akin to 'fiction novels' used by publishers who don't have an iota about the publishing business. If you live in the world of absolute, then fine, but suggesting that self-publishing authors are closing off the avenue of commercial publication for good is entirely misleading and suggests someone who understands the water in the bottom of the bucket, but has no concept of an ocean.

No first publication rights, no agent, no commercial publication. A self-published novel is dead. Period. Finished.

Oh my God. This is like Bush's 'War on terrorism - they're all out to get us'. Step back from the platform and have a good hard think about what you are saying.

So it's all off if an author 'wastes' (seems to be your analogy) their first publication rights on a self-published edition? No agent. No commercial publication. What an extraordinary linear and precise universe you seem to exist in!

Actually, ask most agents and they will tell you much of their time is not taken up by dealing with 'first publication rights issues' but actually looking after the rights they already have signed over to publishers for their existing authors and profiting on the secondary rights which might occur from film, tv, stage, territorial, translation rights etc. In fact, agents are most adept at spotting and negotiating opportunities arising from subsequent rights, be that from a book which has sold well as a self-published endeavor, or an already existing book series by one of their authors which is 'flavour of the month' and can be revived.

A self-published novel is dead? No, it is not. I do agree that self-publishing is not the best platform to success for fiction. Non-fiction lends itself far better. Bottom line is that if a novel is self-published and has has some modicum of success, then, yes, it has strength to sell to a commercial publisher or through an agent. I don't buy the line that the novel has 'used' up its selling ability by being self-published. The nature of self-publishing is that the author is limited to the reach/sales they can hit. A commercial publisher will always provide better reach and sales.

But you see, the mistake is to pit self-publishing against mainstream publishing, and anyone who engages in those kinds of analogies, frankly, understands neither.

LovetoWrite
10-25-2009, 04:42 AM
downtherabbithole - I posted this on another thread, but there was something to this story that might be of interest to you. The author put it up as an ebook on Kindle because his agent could not get a publisher to take it on. Note that he did have an agent already.

After the self-publishing route took off, the agent then sent it off to publishers a second time. Due to the self-publishing, the book was picked up.

http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/2009/07/14/a-kindle-success-story-how-to-promote-a-kindle-ebook/

Vespertilion
10-25-2009, 04:57 AM
I do agree that self-publishing is not the best platform to success for fiction. Non-fiction lends itself far better. Bottom line is that if a novel is self-published and has has some modicum of success, then, yes, it has strength to sell to a commercial publisher or through an agent. I don't buy the line that the novel has 'used' up its selling ability by being self-published. The nature of self-publishing is that the author is limited to the reach/sales they can hit. A commercial publisher will always provide better reach and sales.

But you see, the mistake is to pit self-publishing against mainstream publishing, and anyone who engages in those kinds of analogies, frankly, understands neither.

As someone who admits to understanding neither, I have to say, it seems like you just said pretty much the same thing Parametric did, only more abrasively.

Parametric said that it was theoretically possible to sell a self-published novel well enough to attract the interest of a commercial publisher, but that it was not likely. Not the basket to put all your eggs in.

You said it was possible if the novel has the strength to sell, but not the best platform. Or, basket for all your eggs.

You can (and will, I'm sure) disagree with that, but to this observer, that's how it reads.

thothguard51
10-25-2009, 05:45 AM
Mick,

Not that I have anything against self publishing, but the fact that you have writen a book on it sort of skews your reply as biased. IMHO

There are exceptions to every rule, but the exception should never be considered the rule.

As to self publishing, I think Publisher Weekly reported that there has been a rise in self-publishing by over 700% since 2005. Wow...no other business I have read about has that kind of take off in just 4 short years. But to understand the problme visit the below link and it will give a clue as to why new this wave of publishing is making it hard for writers to earn a decent salary. The link if from the Black Book series on myspace and its called Bernards Letter. Very interesting and if one thinks about publishing as a business, there is a lot of truth to this letter...

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=3202920

LovetoWrite
10-25-2009, 07:59 AM
thothguard51 - I see what you mean. I read both posts again. I see the similarities.

If I may, I think what MickRooney did not agree with were these phrases from Parametric below. Which to some, these statements could sound harsh and final.


A self-published novel is dead. Period. Finished.


Self-publishing and commercial publication are really mutually exclusive. If you self-publish, you are closing off that avenue forever for that novel.

downtherabbithole- I think you will get many varied opinions. Take the time to do the research. What is good for one person is not always good for another.

thothguard51
10-25-2009, 08:24 AM
Lovetowrite,

Not disagreeing with you at all. I too agree the first quote responded too was not 100%accurate and a matter of opinion.

Visit the link I posted if you have not already ... its very telling about what this new wave of publishing is doing to writers already.

Vespertilion
10-25-2009, 08:40 AM
thothguard51 - I see what you mean. I read both posts again. I see the similarities.

If I may, I think what MickRooney did not agree with were these phrases from Parametric below. Which to some, these statements could sound harsh and final.

Oh, I think you may have meant me, LovetoWrite. It can sound harsh and final. I think one of the problems on AW is that we're so used to the same subjects coming up again and again, that sometimes we tend to lay it out a bit bluntly for newcomers.

I just didn't feel like MickRooney stated his disagreement effectively, because all I got out of it was that he was offended by Parametric's opinion.

valeriec80
10-25-2009, 08:50 AM
Visit the link I posted if you have not already ... its very telling about what this new wave of publishing is doing to writers already.

I don't get it.

Authors have been getting rejected and feeling pissed about since the dawn of the publishing industry.

What's this got to do with self-publishing?

LovetoWrite
10-25-2009, 09:14 AM
Sorry, your absolutely right Clovia. I did read into the offended part also. Its a sensitive subject to many.

thothguard51- I did check out the video and I loved it. I laughed at the response by the writer. Wish I knew if he mailed it or not. That being said, I agree with valeriec80. I really didn't see anything in that video that related to self-publishing.

Its been around forever and a day. I really found the link below informative from another post. If people did not self-publish through the ages then we would have missed out on some great works. If we can all agree on that. :)


Pros and Cons aside, people have to do what they believe is best for them. Thats IMHO.


This is the post by Art Edwards #12 in Report from the WD Conference: Indie Cheering!


I was pleased when, while reading the forward to the Oxford Modern Library's edition of Sense and Sensibility, I came across this little tidbit.

Scroll down to the bottom of page 88, top of 89.

http://books.google.com/books?id=SkC...lished&f=false

Go, Jane!

StephenJSweeney
10-25-2009, 01:39 PM
A self-published novel is dead. Period. Finished.

Absolutely right. Once a novel has been self published, it will never see any interest from a commercial publisher. This has never happened and never will happen.

waylander
10-25-2009, 03:54 PM
Absolutely right. Once a novel has been self published, it will never see any interest from a commercial publisher. This has never happened and never will happen.

This strikes me as too much of an absolute.
It is not totally true; there are exceptions to this and will continue to be - GP Taylor's Shadowmancer is a prominent example.
However the gist of the statement is accurate; if you self-publish your novel is is very difficult to get a commercial publisher to take it on.

StephenJSweeney
10-25-2009, 06:30 PM
I was actually being sarcastic, though with an air of truth :)

MickRooney
10-26-2009, 03:01 AM
Let's not all fall out over this.

Firstly, let me apologize if my original response was brash, in particular to Parametric. I do agree with one of the comments above. Sometimes on AW when we discuss topics we have all become familiar with, a new poster comes along looking for advice, and we can come across as a little brash and offhand. Mea Culpa!

I have no basic problem with Parametric's view that self-publishing has the potential to tarnish a book (using up first publication rights) and that makes it so much harder to sell it to a mainstream publisher, if it wasn't already hard enough. Where I take issue, and was irked yesterday, was the fact that Parametric was dealing in a world of absolutes (no pun intended). Publishing is not a world of absolutes - that I have learned. It is simply not true to say a book is done and dusted if it is self-published. Self-published books continue to be picked up by mainstream publishers. What perhaps added to my 'irkdom' yesterday was that I had just completed a blog article on A. J. Healy, author of Tommy Storm, who self-published his children's novel in 2006, sold 3000 copies, and got picked up by Quercus UK. Quercus, in spite of Healy 'using up first publication rights' went ahead and re-published their own edition of Tommy Storm (http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=tommy+storm&x=0&y=0). Last month, Quercus published the sequel book.

Is this an exception to the rule? Of course it is, but that rule still gets broken and publishers are becoming a lot more open to self-published books which prove to be sucesses. When Quercus took on Healy, they didn't go, 'sod you Healy - thats 3000 books we're not going to be able to sell'. Instead, they took the view if Healy on his own can shift 3000 - imagine what we could sell.

As it stands, mainstream publishing is, and should be, the first port of call for any author. I am entirely committed to that view and I do not carry a bias in favour of self-publishing. That doesn't mean authors are not going to try self-publishing. The first question I ask any author who contacts me and asks me for advice on self-publishing is - why have you decided to self-publish? If they have not engaged with the tried and trusted channels of mainstream publishing first, then of course I will strongly advise them against going the self-publishing route.

The advice for downtherabbithole should be:

1. DO NOT self-publish and then think its ok to submit to mainstream publishers. It is not a good idea, and books already published (by whatever means) are normally sold to publishers by skilled and experienced literary agents who do sell subsequent publishing rights.

2. For the most part - self-publishing provides only very modest financial rewards at best, even when an author can place books into stores. The personal rewards will most always outweight the financial rewards.

3. Fiction is the hardest kind of self-published book to sell and does not best suit this type of publishing. Fiction is ephemeral and just doesn't sit still like non-fiction which you can better nail down with a good marketing plan.

4. There are self-publishing successes, though there are some who don't like to focus nor highlight attention on these. These successes are the exception to the rule. There are some very common denominators with authors of self-publishing successes. The books, if non-fiction, already have a known and reachable audience, and most often, the author has a very high degree of business acumen and entrepreneurial skills. They have usually worked building up their own business and know a great deal about marketing. Fiction, yes, can also find self-publishing success - but far less often than non-fiction, though, in my experience, I have found the same set of skills in business acumen, as well as bucket loads of determination and resilience with the authors of those fiction successes.

4. Exhaust every conceivable avenue of mainstream publishing before you consider self-publishing. You must understand and take on board any feedback which helps and guides you to perfect your book, rather than running to the self-publishing hills after a few rejections.

5. There is nothing wrong with self-publishing provided you have followed the above and understand why you are considering self-publishing and crucially you know what it entails and tailor your expectations to a reasonable and realistic level.

Parametric
10-26-2009, 04:24 AM
Firstly, let me apologize if my original response was brash, in particular to Parametric. I do agree with one of the comments above. Sometimes on AW when we discuss topics we have all become familiar with, a new poster comes along looking for advice, and we can come across as a little brash and offhand. Mea Culpa!

Thanks for the apology, Mick. I think we have very similar views here - I agree entirely with your points in this post, which were pretty much what I was (perhaps clumsily) trying to communicate in the first place. My apologies if my initial post came off as dismissive or insulting. :)

MickRooney
10-26-2009, 04:40 AM
:) Yes, I think maybe we were thrashing around to find subtle differences in the same hymn sheet!

StephenJSweeney
10-26-2009, 01:49 PM
The personal rewards will most always outweight the financial rewards.

We should frame that quote.

ResearchGuy
10-26-2009, 05:32 PM
Let's not all fall out over this.

. . .
4. Exhaust every conceivable avenue of mainstream publishing before you consider self-publishing. . . . .
That is a SUPERB post. I agree with all of it, with one caveat. That is, for those who WANT to run a business of publishing (and specifically of publishing their own writing), who seek to be entrepreneurs (or who already are entrepreneurs and seek to branch out in that direction), then going straight to self-publishing is the correct choice. It is a matter of how one wishes to be employed: as writer per se or as entrepreneur. For some folks, self-publishing is a business opportunity, not fundamentally different from self-employment/entrepreneurship in any other field (CPA, running restaurants, landscape maintenance, lawyer, chiropractic, auto repair, convenience store, computer support services, interior design, dry cleaning, and on and on and on). If you don't seek first and foremost to be an entrepreneur, but want to write for publication, then of course pursue commercial publishing first and foremost.

That said, this is brilliantly on point:


Originally Posted by MickRooney http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4187911#post4187911)
The first question I ask any author who contacts me and asks me for advice on self-publishing is - why have you decided to self-publish? If they have not engaged with the tried and trusted channels of mainstream publishing first, then of course I will strongly advise them against going the self-publishing route.


--Ken

ResearchGuy
10-26-2009, 05:46 PM
. . . if you self-publish your novel is is very difficult to get a commercial publisher to take it on.
Some novelists explicitly reject commercial publishing in order to pursue better profits (Naida West, for one) and to retain creative control. That is, they don't WANT a commercial publisher to "take it on." (They are exceptional cases, of course.)

Anyway, most commercially published novels (and nonfiction, for that matter) disappear without a trace after a modest first and only printing. I recently saw hundreds of linear feet of shelf space of such books, remaindered in a large downscale discount store -- one after another left from the first (and only) printing, on offer for a few dollars (and not sellling rapidly at that). Or look at a site like this (http://www.edwardrhamilton.com/subject1/fi.html).

--Ken

LovetoWrite
10-27-2009, 05:54 AM
ResearchGuy- I like to shop at Ollies Discount Store. I picked three YA novels up for my daughter at $1.50 each. I can get a $14.99 trade paperback for $2.99. They have thousands of books from all the big NYC publishers. I never want for a good book when I stop in there.

Until coming here to AW, I never gave it a second thought as to how and why they were there and being sold so cheap. I'm learning alot from AW.

http://www.olliesbargainoutlet.com/flyer/flyer.aspx

KTC
10-27-2009, 06:00 AM
Absolutely right. Once a novel has been self published, it will never see any interest from a commercial publisher. This has never happened and never will happen.

You are wrong. Terry Fallis self-published in Canada. His self-published book went on to win a little thing called the STEPHEN LEACOCK AWARD FOR HUMOUR. Then McClelland & Stewart went on to (re)publish the same book. Never say never. You are misinformed.

TERRY FALLIS (http://terryfallis.com/about/)


ETA: Wow...you do sarcasm well. I didn't pick up on it. (-;

Everything is possible.

StephenJSweeney
10-27-2009, 04:45 PM
ETA: Wow...you do sarcasm well. I didn't pick up on it. (-; Everything is possible.

I know, I really should behave myself :)

The books that sprang to mind were THE SHACK, STILL ALICE and (this one remains to be seen) MAX QUICK by Mark Jeffrey, recently picked up by HarperCollins. It was originally a Lulu book and Harper will publish it in 2012. Will keep an eye on that to see what happens, since that'll be interesting.

http://markjeffrey.typepad.com/mark_jeffrey/2009/08/big-news-harpercollins-buys-max-quick-1-the-pocket-and-the-pendant.html

cwfgal
10-27-2009, 07:50 PM
Absolutely right. Once a novel has been self published, it will never see any interest from a commercial publisher. This has never happened and never will happen.

It happened for me, with the book below. (ETA: But I wouldn't recommend it)

Beth (aka Annelise Ryan)

Art Edwards
10-28-2009, 04:24 AM
It's happened many times, and will happen many times again, is my hunch.