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View Full Version : Self-publishing novellas for free: Does it Hurt Chances with an Agent



Lhowling
03-25-2015, 04:52 PM
Under a different pseudonym, I self-published a couple of books on Amazon and set them for free. They shot up the list instantly to Best "selling" list #1 (Erotica genre, so I don't think that's surprising).

I'm currently revising a book that will be ready to pitch by May. In the meantime, I've thought of different ways to get my work out there to test the waters and see how it's received by my potential readers. It's kind of a different genre than I've worked in before (Erotic thriller, crime fiction) so I was thinking of putting novellas on Amazon for free (When I was on KDP you could only set a limited time for free promo days, so I was thinking of pricing it at $0.99).

I'm looking at literary magazines, too. (I have two other short stories going through submissions but they're in different genres).

I've read and been told that agents aren't interested in prior self-published books if they have poor sales (among other factors). But what about work given away from free? If I get positive reviews or tons of downloads, does that still count for something or should I not mention it at all either?

Thanks!

mayqueen
03-25-2015, 05:21 PM
Are the novellas excerpts of the novel itself or companion pieces? If they're excerpts, then my understanding is that published is published, no matter the price. But I'm not sure how the excerpt to novel thing works, tbh. I know that people do submit short stories derived from material from their novels to literary magazines and contests, and are able to get agents' attention that way. But I'm not sure about the self-publishing a novella part. I'm sure someone smart and knowledgeable like Old Hack will come along and correct me.

Lhowling
03-25-2015, 05:50 PM
Are the novellas excerpts of the novel itself or companion pieces? If they're excerpts, then my understanding is that published is published, no matter the price. But I'm not sure how the excerpt to novel thing works, tbh. I know that people do submit short stories derived from material from their novels to literary magazines and contests, and are able to get agents' attention that way. But I'm not sure about the self-publishing a novella part. I'm sure someone smart and knowledgeable like Old Hack will come along and correct me.

Thank you, mayqueen. The novellas are not part of excerpts. I agree with you about Old Hack's advice as well, I know they've been helpful to me in the past.

I've been reading and looking at books within the same genre to try and see where my work would fit. I like the idea of self-publishing a polished novella to see if it my stories have commercial appeal. But I'm not sure if the self-publishing route is the smart way to go.

Old Hack
03-25-2015, 06:48 PM
If you self publish you're not going to impress an agent unless you sell a huge number of copies of the books concerned. I don't think it's likely to put them off your work if you fail to sell, although some agents can find this off-putting.

Don't, though, self-publish a book and then submit that same book to agents for possible representation. While some authors have had success with this route, most who try it find out the hard way that few agents or publishers are willing to work with previously-published books.

To summarise, if you want to self publish, that's great: but it's not the best route into a career in trade publishing.

Also, thank you both for the kind words. I talk a good talk. Ha!

mayqueen
03-25-2015, 09:52 PM
My sense is that if it's exposure you're looking for, why not try lit mags and contests? It will give you publishing credits for your query letter and it's possible you'll catch an agent's attention.

Lhowling
03-25-2015, 11:48 PM
Thanks to the both of you for your advice and questions!

@mayqueen I'm currently reading lit mags that I could submit to so that's always been part of the plan. I just wanted to see if with self-publishing my own work for free (novellas, not excerpts or manuscripts that I want to query for later), I could attract readers that might not be reading those lit mags, particularly given the genre.

Alpha Ralpha Blvd
05-30-2015, 05:00 AM
I hadn't thought of doing that. I wonder if it would hurt to publish a novella under the same pen name as the novel I hope to publish conventionally. Anyone have any thoughts?

Aggy B.
05-31-2015, 04:49 AM
My thoughts (as an author) are that self-publishing shorter stuff won't hurt. IF you put the effort into it to get a good cover, get it edited and make sure the formatting is, at the very least, clean. (I've seen books heavily promo'd that had horrendous formatting - typos, random changes in font mid-sentence, extra lines, lack of tabs, etc.) While lack of sales on your work (again, not the thing you're querying but another work) may not deter an agent, if you publish something that is very poorly put together it will just make you and your judgment of quality look bad.

An agent will want to see that you are putting your best foot forward, so to speak. Whether that's with the MS you are querying or stories/novellas you have published yourself. Just my two cents. YMMV.

Fruitbat
05-31-2015, 05:27 AM
I don't quite understand the question. If your goal is to write a novel and try to have it accepted by an agent, why not just do that? Preliminary publications of other things aren't necessary and take effort that could be going towards writing and polishing your novel.