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View Full Version : Memoir - From Self-Pub to Pub



thumbelindy
02-08-2013, 04:06 AM
I self-pubbed a novelette/collection of essays written as a quirky, laugh-out-loud "lessons from my mother" meant to celebrate the special bond between a mother and daughter. I wrote/pubbed this as a "mother's day gift" to my own mother, but it sold THOUSANDS of copies and event hit some top selling lists for Kindle - and is currently a 5-star on Amazon.

Given the success (and fun) of that project, I'd like to take the project, RETIRE it off the market, revise and rewrite to take it up to a full length (maybe 60k-ish words) and try to pitch it as a memoir later this year.

Does anyone have advice, guidance, suggestions? Is it ok to take a self-pub project, retire it from the market, rewrite into a full-length collection, and try to pitch to an agent? Do the numbers/reviews from Amazon sales mean anything?

Wisteria Vine
02-08-2013, 05:06 AM
I'm not sure an agent would want to represent something that's already been sold to the public. It's already out there, it's already available for sale, right?

I could be wrong, though. I'm sure others have more insight than I do.

thumbelindy
02-08-2013, 05:14 AM
Well it is being removed from public now and overhauled from 20k to a fuller 60k manuscript that's revised and rewritten. So, the original project would effectively no longer exist. My thought was...how would this be different from novels in which portions of previous versions may have been published as stories in other outlets? What is out has done very well, so it seemed worthwhile since there's already been interest and market for the concept...

Meems
02-08-2013, 05:22 AM
Well it is being removed from public now and overhauled from 20k to a fuller 60k manuscript that's revised and rewritten. So, the original project would effectively no longer exist. My thought was...how would this be different from novels in which portions of previous versions may have been published as stories in other outlets? What is out has done very well, so it seemed worthwhile since there's already been interest and market for the concept...

I believe that once it's self-published, even if you remove it later, it's published and that's that. And once you've used up those rights, it's very difficult to find an agent willing to take it on, almost impossible in fact.

Kerosene
02-08-2013, 05:32 AM
There have been self-published works change hands to trade publishing. Off the top of my head, Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan. Picked up by Orbits books.

I don't know the procedures, but you would have to remove it from the market(like you have). Then query for an agent/publisher from there, and they would lead you through more.

But I have to say. Thousands of sales? If at any point you put it up for free, its quite common for them to hit the lists. If THOUSANDS of sale meant that you got THOUSANDS of dollars, as in you made money from each sale, that's nice, but doesn't make you a self-published star, like Sullivan was/is.

And memoirs... I've never heard of one going self to trade at all.

quicklime
02-08-2013, 05:43 AM
I hope they Serve Beer in Hell was semi-autobiographical I believe...but sold millions, and even at thousands, as Will said, "sold" is very different than "downloaded" so if most of those were freebies they may not count for much

waylander
02-08-2013, 02:12 PM
If you have impressive sales numbers (and it certainly sounds that way) then agents and publishers will be interested. Your query needs to concentrate on the the hard numbers and emphasise the further potential of the work.

MandyHubbard
02-08-2013, 09:22 PM
Firstly, the whole "using up those rights" that meems mentions isn't an issue-- there are other issues inherant in self-pubbing first, but 'first publishing rights' is no longer problematic.

Secondly, what does 'thousands' mean? 3,000, 30,000, 300,000? And were they all at 99cents?

Selling 10,000 or 20,000 copies at 99cents isn't enough. I've got a client that has sold 50,000 at 3.99 and it's still not impressing publishers.

The problem then, becomes that you've proven a market for your project-- which means you may have proven it's not a very big market.

Memoirs are VERY difficult to sell without a platform. You could do two things

1) Pull the bite-sized version, write the whole shebang, query it and at the end of the query, mention a bite-sized version was for sale and sold X copies (provided the # is impressive)

2) If sales are steady or increasing, leave it up and query the full size version anda gain mention it sold X copies.

if the sales aren't actually impressive, you're in a bind.