re: Can Self-Publishing Trigger a Book Deal?

in Publishing Biz/Self-publishing/Submissions by

Dear Editor…

How likely is it these days for someone to self-publish a novel, only for it to be picked up soon after and re-published by a big publishing house?

Thanks,
R.

Dear R….

If your reason for self-publishing is to catch an editor’s eye, you’re betting on a long shot. The self-pubbed books that cross editors’ radars do so because of notably high sales numbers—which those authors earned by promoting the heck out of the books. They didn’t pub then wait for offers to roll in. Those cases make news because they’re rare. More likely: You’ll self-pub your book but continue to submit it to publishers. If you can report you’ve sold 30,000 or 40,000 on your own, then the self-pubbing will help make the deal. The editor will note the exceptional performance, figure you’re a good self-promotion bet, and see an eager audience for this and future books. If you don’t sell in high numbers, the self-pubbing becomes irrelevant to your submission and editors will judge the book as they would any unpubbed manuscript. They’ll sign it because they like it and believe their resources will yield preferred sales. A career strategy that banks on triggering traditional publication through self-publication is shaky.

Happy writing!
The Editor

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