Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Can I self-publish my ebook while pursuing a print deal?"

"I've recently undergone a mentorship with a well-respected Australian writer and critic. We worked on the manuscript for my first novel and the final draft is concise, edited and ready for publishing. It is now being considered by Penguin Books. I am feeling somewhat frustrated because I want people to be reading it now, particularly those in the US as it is relevant to elections. If I was to publish direct with Kindle in order to get it out there and circulating, would this lessen my chances of landing a traditional publishing deal? What are publishing houses' views on authors who self-publish their works digitally while pursuing a publishing deal?"

If you have representation by a legitimate U.S. agent who is aggressively shopping your work, then that submission process should typically (not always) play out within 8--12 weeks (depending on the length of your manuscript and whether it's fiction or non-fiction), and thus I would not self-publish in that scenario--I would wait 8 or 12 weeks and see what happens first. Because it's possible an editor might look you up on Amazon and find that exact title he is considering, and see that it has no (or bad) reviews and no sales, and it might give him pause.

If the submission is dead, though, then by all means, you have little to lose and a lot to potentially gain by self-publishing.

You always have the option of self-publishing under a pseudonym, too, to protect you--especially if it's fiction. You can even change the title temporarily. So hypothetically they wouldn't even make the connection to your work, and you can test both waters.

But again, if you are actively in the midst of seeking a print deal, then I would wait--assuming you are being shopped thoroughly by an agent.

Along these lines, you can also self publish while seeking an agent. Again, you might take a chance if the agent browses Amazon, but you can protect yourself with a name and title change. And if your agent search is not going well but your sales are, then you might just decide to keep things as they are.


  1. Dear Mr. Lukeman,
    I was wondering if it was legal to post sample chapters of a book on, say, Facebook? I have been trying to publish for a while and want to establish my career as an author, so wish to create a Facebook page for my work. However, I am not sure if posting sample chapters would deter agents from picking up my work or if I could not do that because, once published, I would have restricted rights to post material. Any help would be appreciated.

  2. Thank you for your response to my above query, Noah. It's very good of you to spend time answering these queries for us frustrated authors. All the best, Malcolm - or 'Anonymous' as per my original query.


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