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View Full Version : Downside of getting chapter published as stand-alone piece?



nadja1972
08-16-2016, 06:09 PM
Hey guys, I have a memoir I'm seeking representation for and I wonder is there any reason I shouldn't try to get the first chapter published in a journal/magazine as a stand-alone story? I've published a few essays that tie in to the memoir, but nothing that's an actual excerpt of the work. Obviously the upside would be to generate interest in the story, but is there a downside?

Any thoughts or experiences would be appreciated. Thanks!

NateSean
08-16-2016, 06:23 PM
Does the chapter stand on it's own well enough without the rest of the book? I would imagine there might be conflicts regarding first publication rights, depending on who you're working with.

nadja1972
08-16-2016, 07:43 PM
I think the first chapter does stand well enough on its own. Thanks for the point about first publication rights. I need to look into that.

Old Hack
08-16-2016, 09:55 PM
If you do get a trade deal for the book, your agent might well want to look into selling serial rights to the work. But if you've already published that part of it, it could scupper your chances for an extra bit of money and a great promotional opportunity.

nadja1972
08-16-2016, 10:01 PM
Thanks, Old Hack, that makes sense. I think I'll hold off in the hopes that I land an agent one of these days.

Laer Carroll
08-18-2016, 02:39 AM
Amazon and Barnes & Noble publish the first few chapters of most books as a ebook sample. When you finish reading them there is a final page which gives you the chance to buy the full book. Amz allows you to publish up to 10% of the book on your website or elsewhere. I don't recall B&N's restriction, but it seems to be about the same. Thus that first chunk of your book serves as an ad.

Your question is about a slightly different situation, publication in a magazine or newspaper or anthology or some such. If the mag/paper/whatever bought only first publication rights, I think you're OK legally, though you need to ask an agent or an IP attorney to be sure.

One complication is periodicals sometimes will buy country-limited rights, others world rights. Another reason why you need to consult an expert rather than readers in forums like this.

Old Hack
08-18-2016, 09:41 AM
Amazon and Barnes & Noble publish the first few chapters of most books as a ebook sample. When you finish reading them there is a final page which gives you the chance to buy the full book. Amz allows you to publish up to 10% of the book on your website or elsewhere. I don't recall B&N's restriction, but it seems to be about the same. Thus that first chunk of your book serves as an ad.

The extracts you read on Amazon and B&N aren't published by them. The books are published by the book's publishers; the booksellers display an extract of those published works in order to help sell them. Yes, I'm nitpicking. But yes, it's an important distinction.


Your question is about a slightly different situation, publication in a magazine or newspaper or anthology or some such. If the mag/paper/whatever bought only first publication rights, I think you're OK legally, though you need to ask an agent or an IP attorney to be sure.

One complication is periodicals sometimes will buy country-limited rights, others world rights. Another reason why you need to consult an expert rather than readers in forums like this.

I agree: asking for legal advice online is a foolish thing to do. And you're right that it's essential for writers to understand precisely what rights they've sold and what they retain. But a few of us (ahem!) have been buying and selling rights for a while, and can give general advice to general questions like this.

nadja1972
08-18-2016, 03:51 PM
I've gotten great advice from knowledgeable, experienced people on these forums. Of course I always follow up with my own due diligence, but folks here have done a fantastic job pointing me in the right direction.

Laer Carroll
08-19-2016, 09:30 PM
I agree: asking for legal advice online is a foolish thing to do. And you're right that it's essential for writers to understand precisely what rights they've sold and what they retain. But a few of us (ahem!) have been buying and selling rights for a while, and can give general advice to general questions like this.

And the advice you and a few others give is at the top of my list of people to listen to. I judge it by how well it seems to agree with reality as I understand it, and it's usually wise. Such advice from AWers is why I consider my time spent in AW essential to my growth as a professional writer.