I have a question that you’ve come close to answering in your posts, but not quite.
I have a manuscript that I have been working on for some time and after many, many rewrites I have decided once again to try to query. The problem I have is with the “previously published” status. Several years ago, when I was young and naive (okay, not young but younger), I found an article about Hulu, where you could upload and print copies of your work. I thought it would be fun to have a hard copy of my book, so I gave it a whirl.
Where I faltered was in following the steps, it asked if I wanted an ISBN, which in my naivety, I did not know and clicked yes. I also clicked on Trade Paper rather than the novel format. So, the book has an ISBN in Trade Paper format, but was never available to be purchased. How messed up have I made things?
Is this novel to be tabled for eternity? Or is there some way I can still market it as an unpublished piece of work?
Given that you did not make the novel available for purchase, and (I hope) no copies are circulating among your friends or beta readers, you do get a mulligan on this.
Simply change the title and you're fine. You will not need to reveal your sordid past to agent or publisher.
There's one exception to this:
Did you register the copyright with the copyright office? If you DID register the copyright, or it was registered for you, than you can't get a do-over.
If you want to query the manuscript, you'll simply explain to an agent who expresses serious interest what happened (much like you did in the question above). It will NOT get in the way of securing a publication deal since the book wasn't ever made available to readers.
You will need to file a different kind of copyright registration if you're amending one that's already been done.