My self-published novel is quite popular. Can I approach a traditional publisher with it?

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Blackwell

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Hello friends, my name is Felix Blackwell. I'm a horror author.
I apologize if this question has been asked before!

My novel Stolen Tongues, as well as the short story series that preceded it, have become extraordinarily popular among internet horror readers and horror narration fans. It won a NoSleep contest and has become one of the most popular stories ever submitted to Reddit. Its many narrations have garnered millions of cumulative views on YouTube, along with some of my other writing. Some of my work has gone viral internationally, including Stolen Tongues in India. Another one of my stories became so sensational in China that the Chinese national government issued a decree (original story here).

One of my readers approached me recently and encouraged me to speak to a traditional publisher about getting Stolen Tongues properly represented / published. The truth is, I had never even considered this idea before, and I don't know if it's an option to me.

Is the notoriety of this book advantageous or detrimental to my effort to get a publisher to look at it?

Or otherwise, should I just try to get my forthcoming novel published instead?

thanks for the insights!
 
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lorna_w

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congratulations! They'll come to you, agents and publishers both. Think carefully about any offers, and get an entertainment attorney before you sign anything.
 
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stephenf

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I'm no expert, but most publishers will want you to be the sole owner of the publishing rights. You will also need to stop the current method of publication. You have done all the hard work on your novel and you seem to have a successful product. Can you not write another novel?
 
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lizmonster

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I am tangentially acquainted with a book in a similar situation,

I have to say, I was surprised, because it flew in the face of "agents won't touch anything already published." But despite the fact that the ebook was available on Amazon US (it was with a trade publisher in another country and had done well), it acquired a publisher here fairly quickly. AFAIK the original ebook was pulled, some light edits were made, and it will go out with a new title.

I don't know if that writer queried agents, or of they approached the writer, but the book sold pretty quickly once it was on offer.
 
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The Marked Tree

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It might be an option for you to seek traditional publication.

Conventional wisdom says that once you've self-published something, agents/publishers aren't interested, and this is true in the majority of cases, but publishers and agents are actually interested in things they can sell. That may include your book - make sure you have a website with either a contact form or an address on it so if somebody is interested in approaching you, they can.

Otherwise, you could query your existing novel now, or you could wait until you are ready to query your next one and mention Stolen Tongues and your other successes in your query letter. It's entirely up to you.

(In your post you talk about getting a publisher to look at it, so I'll mention that most traditional publishing involves getting a literary agent first - very few publishers accept submissions from writers. In the event you are approached by a publisher off the back of your success, consider finding an agent to negotiate that deal for you - the publisher may be able to help with that.)
 

waylander

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Some of the books that have done well in SPFBO (self-published fantasy blog off) have subsequently been picked up by trad publishers (e.g. The Grey Bastards) so it can happen if the publishers think they can expand the market.
 
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waylander

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I would also note that the horror market is somewhat separate from the rest of SF/F and there are some independent publishers who sell a lot of books. I think it possible that you can approach some of these without an agent.