OK to seek publisher for previously published work?

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Neil Larkins
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OK to seek publisher for previously published work?

Post by Neil Larkins » July 2nd, 2012, 11:14 pm

Hi, Nathan--
Back in 2004 I naively submitted my only major work to an outfit that billed itself as a "traditional" publisher. (They were anything but that and I won't say what the firm's name is, though I believe you and most readers here know who.) Back then I knew next to nothing about the publishing world and contracts and it took a year for me to realize the extent of my mistake. Trouble was, I would not be able to do anything about it for seven years, the length of my contract. I never made many sales, less than 20 that I'm aware of, yet several of those who read the book and were able to contact me -- not all friends and family -- said they liked it a lot. One even hoped for a sequel, which I'm writing. Since I received back my rights in 2011 I've wanted to submit the book for "real" publication. I intend to do a little editing and tweaking, even change the book's name and character names. The story will remain the same. My question: When (if) I submit should I tell the agent/publisher that the book was once published by a POD firm under a different name? I don't want to be deceptive but am fearful that if I make this admission right off that the book will be rejected out of hand; no one will bother to even read my query. I had a great self-written promo for it and a detailed synopsis. All no good if no one even bothers to read it. What do you think?

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Nathan Bransford
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Re: OK to seek publisher for previously published work?

Post by Nathan Bransford » July 5th, 2012, 10:46 pm

Neil Larkins wrote:Hi, Nathan--
Back in 2004 I naively submitted my only major work to an outfit that billed itself as a "traditional" publisher. (They were anything but that and I won't say what the firm's name is, though I believe you and most readers here know who.) Back then I knew next to nothing about the publishing world and contracts and it took a year for me to realize the extent of my mistake. Trouble was, I would not be able to do anything about it for seven years, the length of my contract. I never made many sales, less than 20 that I'm aware of, yet several of those who read the book and were able to contact me -- not all friends and family -- said they liked it a lot. One even hoped for a sequel, which I'm writing. Since I received back my rights in 2011 I've wanted to submit the book for "real" publication. I intend to do a little editing and tweaking, even change the book's name and character names. The story will remain the same. My question: When (if) I submit should I tell the agent/publisher that the book was once published by a POD firm under a different name? I don't want to be deceptive but am fearful that if I make this admission right off that the book will be rejected out of hand; no one will bother to even read my query. I had a great self-written promo for it and a detailed synopsis. All no good if no one even bothers to read it. What do you think?
I would tell them up-front. But unless the sales were very good, regardless of the circumstances you may have a difficult time attracting an agent and publisher for something that has already been self-published, even if it has been edited some since.

You might focus instead on attracting an agent/publisher for your next work. Here's a post that explains the mindset agents/publishers will have: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2007/08 ... areer.html

Neil Larkins
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Joined: August 17th, 2010, 2:13 pm
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Re: OK to seek publisher for previously published work?

Post by Neil Larkins » July 6th, 2012, 10:24 pm

Greatly appreciated! :D This clears the way to revert to my fallback position, which was to publish it as an e-book. With two smaller works already on Smashwords, this will be a significant addition. And, should I decide to self-publish in paper, I can easily do that since I own the copyright.
Thanks again, Nathan. Good job as always.
Neil

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