View Full Version : Privately self-publishing a work you'll later sell?

06-30-2007, 12:12 PM
Okay, this is just something I've been musing over. Let's say, upon finishing my book and the editing and so on, I go to Lulu or something similar and put together a very nice bound copy of it with some illustrations and a nice cover. I get a limited number of these--say, 25--and number and sign them all and give them to friends and family as gifts, but no sales and not to the public. This would be pre-submission stage, just something nice to do for the people who've supported me.

If I then submit them, does this count as prior publishing? How would it effect the submission process? Does it set me up for legal trouble if somehow I do end up "making it" and these get sold sometime in the future? I don't want that, obviously, so this is still in the toying-with stage, and will be until said book is actually finished, but after all this work I do rather like the idea of having a real hard copy of it in my hands even if it takes a few years (and more edits) to actually publish it.

Any thoughts? If I was only doing this for myself I know it wouldn't be a problem because I can control what I do with my copy, but I'm more concerned about what could happen with any copies I give away.

James D. Macdonald
06-30-2007, 05:09 PM
As far as I can see, no problem, and no, that doesn't count as self-publishing as the industry thinks of it (unless, later, your work gets to be famous and someone comes along and decides to make you a member of the Self-Publishing Hall of Fame based on that).

Keep it as a private link, one that only you can buy, and give 'em as presents. I wouldn't even bother to mention it. Publishers assume that everyone in your family has read your book. That isn't where they're going for sales.

06-30-2007, 07:31 PM
. . . Any thoughts? . . .
A thought: do not speak or think of it as "publishing." Think of it as privately printing copies for friends and family. No matter that Lulu will label the thing "published," what you described is not publishing in any meaningful sense. It is more in the nature of sharing your work for comment before approaching agent or publisher.

Having said that . . . I still have this nagging caution flag waving in the back of my mind. That nagging caution is over the risk of giving out copies of an unpublished work, as opposed to circulating a few copies--copies that are to be returned to you--for comment before pitching the book to agent or publisher. I think there is a risk that once copies have been printed and handed out, motivation to move forward in search of publication might be diminished. And somehow I have this itchy worry about having printed, bound copies of the manuscript in the hands of others to keep. It might require explaining away. So . . . my advice would be to share copies for comment, but get them back. Let your friends and family know that you will see they get autographed copies of your published book when the time comes.