Niche Self Publishing & Trade Publishing

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Eddyz Aquila

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Hello to all,

I've got a bit of a situation where I would need some advice, some agent opinions (if applicable) and how to proceed forward. So any ideas / help is definitely appreciated. :)

I've finalised some projects (novels), one of which was a writing exercise of sorts for me, which I've published on some niche web forums. While the subject is not niche at all (historical fiction pre-WW2), the publishing mediums are quite small, but to my surprise, they're getting a good, consistent number of views and even feedback / impressions. This has been going on for some time as I had published it in a serial manner, one chapter every month / every 2 months, and after 4 years, it racked up about 100.000 views on a website that does not even get 1% of the traffic Wattpad gets. My other published projects are getting traction as well (smaller of course) and I would like to see whether I can turn this finished project into something of a real, published book.

I would like to self-publish this project, after some significant edits, and maybe use Amazon self-publishing and go for it.

But how far would this affect my chances of getting traditionally published? I'm working on other projects, which I intend to submit to agents, but at the same time, I want to still fully publish this project since it's getting a good number of reads.

My final goal / dream is to work with a major traditional publisher. But given the fact that this niche historical project was already published, and only edits would be done to a final "book" that would go on a Amazon, would this affect my chances of getting an agent & a traditional contract?

Thank you!
 
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Paul Lamb

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I'm no authority, but I believe the conventional wisdom is that the kind of self publishing you described will effectively prohibit the works being taken by a traditional publisher.

Having said that I can add that these works still might give you some credentials when you approach a traditional publisher about a different project you have. Also, most but not all publishers will decline something already self published. I have seen some traditional publishers whose submission guidelines say they will consider previously self-published works.

I hope this helps.
 
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Maryn

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I, too, am no expert, but my understanding is that commercial ("trade," not "traditional") publishers are highly reluctant to publisher manuscripts that have appeared online, even if they've been heavily edited and revised. The presumption is that the views you've enjoyed are likely to be most of the readership this book is going to get.

So I say edit it to your liking and self-publish it. If the platform where you posted it chapter by chapter allows, promote it gently, and/or consider removing it to translate future views into sales.

That said, agents and publishers will not hold against you the fact that you self-published a book that had 100,000 views online when you submit a new, completely different book. It could even be a selling point in your query letter.

Maryn, knowing 100K ain't nothing
 

lizmonster

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Not an agent.

I assume you're not talking about trade (not "traditional") publishing this book you self-published. I assume you're considering bundling it to sell on Amazon/other etailers. Given that it's already published, I wouldn't think taking this extra step would be a huge issue. That said, I don't know anything about the historical fiction market, so take that with a grain of salt.

To be clear, as the others have said: you're vanishingly unlikely to be able to trade publish this particular book (whether or not you formalize it for sale).

As I read your question, though, you're asking about future work.

In general, I don't think your self-publishing history will affect the chances of future work, unless your self-published work does extremely well (a good thing), or unless the self-published work has serious quality issues. I'll leave it to others to say whether you should mention this previous work in your query letter, but IME interested agents will google the daylights out of you, and will find it no matter what you do.

Essentially, though: the cat's already out of the bag here. Publishing chapter-by-chapter on a display site is publishing. Trade publishers, I've found, are sometimes a little squishy about who they'll designate a "debut author," but that's going to be out of your hands.
 

Eddyz Aquila

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Essentially, though: the cat's already out of the bag here. Publishing chapter-by-chapter on a display site is publishing. Trade publishers, I've found, are sometimes a little squishy about who they'll designate a "debut author," but that's going to be out of your hands.
That's exactly the type of thinking I was concerned about - my existing, already published work will not be submitted to agents, it's just my own personal work that I want to publish and make it as an eBook for the readers who perhaps enjoyed the book and want it in a different format.

And maybe it's nice to get a check for writing something :)

I'm only focused on the future work when it comes to traditional publishing / querying an agent. I have projects that will not be self-published, these are "for traditional publishing" only, so my worry was whether it would be detrimental to any possible future career if I self publish on Amazon.

Sure, if it sells extremely well, then that problem is solved, but 100.000 views does not translate automatically into sales.
 

lizmonster

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That's exactly the type of thinking I was concerned about - my existing, already published work will not be submitted to agents, it's just my own personal work that I want to publish and make it as an eBook for the readers who perhaps enjoyed the book and want it in a different format.

And maybe it's nice to get a check for writing something :)

I'm only focused on the future work when it comes to traditional publishing / querying an agent. I have projects that will not be self-published, these are "for traditional publishing" only, so my worry was whether it would be detrimental to any possible future career if I self publish on Amazon.

Sure, if it sells extremely well, then that problem is solved, but 100.000 views does not translate automatically into sales.

I honestly can't tell you whether or not this is a bad idea. I'd be fence-sitting too, in your shoes.

I do think we're past the point where any previous self-publishing experience is an automatic negative unless you sell 20,000 copies. I also think there's still a bias against self-published work, although less so than there has been.

In your case, you've already self-published, but publishing on Amazon is certainly going to be higher-profile than putting up chapters on a web site. I can only suggest that if you choose to do this, you make your product as professional as you possibly can - make it indistinguishable from its trade-published neighbors. (Note from someone who's been there: this is not free, and it may indeed eat up any profits you make from sales, and then some.)

I do understand this is a thing you're thinking of throwing together as a convenience for your fans. But I'm a big proponent of Doing It Properly, especially if you're going to be asking for money. It'll be a more complicated exercise than you think it will, but you may, as I did, find it's kind of fun. :)

As for the future? When you have a book to query, query it. You may or may not get traction on it. I do think it's unlikely that an agent who falls in love with your book will turn around and reject you because you self-published something that did well on a web site. I might be absolutely incorrect about that - but (IME, again) there's so much variability in agents and publishers I'd be surprised if this one publication torpedoes your chances with a good book.
 
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Eddyz Aquila

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I do understand this is a thing you're thinking of throwing together as a convenience for your fans. But I'm a big proponent of Doing It Properly, especially if you're going to be asking for money. It'll be a more complicated exercise than you think it will, but you may, as I did, find it's kind of fun. :)
Oh of course, the final published book on Amazon will be significantly edited, added and polished. It will be done properly and very carefully put together - after all, it's no longer on a niche website (even though it gets views), it's my birth name on it.

I'll give it a think, it's definitely something that has been on my mind for a couple of months now and I still don't know which way is the most sensible one.

On one hand, even 100K views is flattering, shows that there's some quality / promise to it. On the other hand, nothing is guaranteed so I'm trying to have the best chances possible.
 
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