Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Lit mag subs before querying or publication

 I've seen a lot of literary magazines and journals that take submissions for novel excerpts. Are those typically published novels only, or is it okay to send in an excerpt from a finished, but currently being queried novel?

Also, if the excerpt was accepted for publication (likely with rights reverting to the author on pub), could that then be added to the query bio?
Generally excerpts are from UNpubbed novels. Check the submission guidelines for the magazines in question about what they take. It varies widely.

If the excerpt is published, even if the rights don't revert to you, you're fine. In fact, most short story
collections include previously published stories.

How to query for this: write "excerpts from this novel have been accepted for publication by The Good Taste Review" or "excerpts from this novel have appeared in The Better Taste Review and The Carkoon Review."

And yes, you really should include those with your publishing credits in a query.

When your book is sold, you'll include "an excerpt from this novel in a different form appeared in The Good Taste Review" on the copyright page.

You'll also make sure your publishing contract acknowledges that excerpts have been previously published. 
Your agent will know what to do.


Having excerpts already published is something I view as a plus. It means someone else looked at your writing and found it publishable. That's almost always a good thing to see in a query.

Any questions?
 

46 comments:

DLM said...

Honest truth all I can think is, "Why is there a business in publishing excerpts from novels?" I can't imagine wanting to read excerpts, never mind pay for them. What is the function of excerpt publication?

It is likely that, in my pre-caffeinated and naive pre-published state, this is a very stupid question. But I don't think that, even with my wee and paltry brain as fully functional as it ever gets, this is something I would fully understand. What's the market for excerpts?

Lisa Bodenheim said...

My thought too DLM. I wonder if it's to give a small taste of several author's writing styles and then creating fans? And Opie did say literary magazines and journals.

Janet Reid said...

Excerpts are published like short stories. For example, I had the first chapter of a novel published as a short story in CrimeSpree magazine a couple years back.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Yes boys and girls, do not let excerpt publication constipate your efforts. It certainly has loosened mine.

As the titular head of Latrine Duty on Carkoon, an excerpt of my book, Carkoon Latrine Diaries, appeared in The Carkoon Review. Since its appearance in the Review is considered a plus, and should be added to my query, it is very exciting.

Colin, the Review’s Editor in absentia, stated that my pages were the ones most removed from the magazine which hangs on the wall of every stall. And, he promised that when Latrine Diaries is published, each stall will be supplied it's own, one-thousand page, copy.

Colin Smith said...

To Diane's point, assuming you buy the magazine for all the stories, not just the novel excerpts, this would be a good way to advertise your work. Not quite the same as putting a chapter of your forthcoming novel on your website, since you can't guarantee the novel from which the excerpt comes will be published. But I imagine, should the novel sell, the magazine that printed the excerpt would be happy to inform its readership of the fact.

Having excerpts already published is something I view as a plus. It means someone else looked at your writing and found it publishable. That's almost always a good thing to see in a query.

Once again, this is one of the main reasons I'm trying to sell some shorts at the moment: to convince people like Janet that I'm publishable. The other reason is to convince me that I'm publishable! :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Huh? A new thing learmed. Again. It's almost like I know nothing. I will make a note of this. Publish an excerpt prior to publication. Interesting.

kathy joyce said...

Mornin' all!

Janet, your comment suggests you write novels. I never knew that. Where do you find the time?

Does this assume that the excerpt must be a story in itself? Or, is it really just an excerpt?

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

It's a terrific way to entice readers to purchase your book(s). I've pulled excerpts from all three of my titles for publication in various glossy print magazines - animal/equine mags, not literary. After getting permission from my (now former) publisher, I do a bit of rewriting so the stories stand alone, and my books are always referenced at the end in a "if you'd like to read more" kind of way.

Janet Reid said...

Clarification: I don't write novels. The excerpt I sold was for a client. (sorry for the confusion)

Colin Smith said...

Kathy: I believe Janet was speaking in her capacity as an agent. That is, she had one of her client's first chapters published as a novel excerpt. I could be wrong, in which case we all want to know details...! :)

My understanding is that your agent will handle magazine submissions too--though I don't think that's a given. And, of course, she wouldn't submit your work without your consent. Am I correct, those who know for sure?

kathy joyce said...

Thanks Colin and Janet. Some days, I'm so easily confused! ;)

Robert Ceres said...

Many of my favorite authors’ novel chapters could stand alone as a short story. This post is making me think…
Chapter one, nope, too many loose ends. Nope.
Chapter two, recap to a character introduced in chapter one and mass confusion as the protagonist is introduced to too many friends. Nope.
Chapter three, two main characters and a conflict that stands on its own. Hmmmm.

Susan Pogorzelski said...

Slightly off-topic, but this reminds me of the days when novels were serialized in newspapers. Didn't Dickens start out that way before going on to publish full novels in book form?

Granted, different times, different methods... But I kind of like the idea of people eagerly opening up a newspaper or magazine to devour the latest installment. I know some authors have done that through their blogs, but it would be a neat callback to early publishing to try an experiment like this in a newspaper or weekly magazine--especially when attention spans are now geared towards shorter works. Then the author can publish the book as a whole with some additional content to satisfy the masses (and cost).

Alas. These are but ideas with no such grounding in reality. What is a writer if not a dreamer, after all?

Susan Pogorzelski said...

Hey! I have a last name today! The day is looking up already. ;)

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Ah, yes. I quite enjoyed 2NNs excellent story. Her rich and compact writing style meant more words on the page. More words meant more ink. More ink meant more solvent, which helped to soften the paper, rendering it almost usable for my intended purpose.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

While I once saw a plot-based genre excerpt published (the excerpt was able to stand alone as a short story), I've seen this thing more often with character-based literary novels in literary magazines, where voice is the driving factor.

Nearly all the excerpts I've read were able to stand alone. They satisfied. That's what magazine editors are looking for. They are looking to satisfy their readers, not show off samples of authors in hopes that the authors sell more books.

If you wish to get an excerpt pubbed in a lit mag, select your sub with an eye toward what will satisfy a reader of it stands alone.

John Davis Frain said...

If you're an unpubbed author, my guess would be that you don't even mention you're submitting a novel excerpt when you send your story to Clever Stories Lit Mag.

They want good stories. They might consider a novel excerpt from a known entity because that person could sell issues, but an unpubbed author isn't brining readers with her to the newsstand.

So unless you've got a contract and a pub date in hand, my thinking says don't mention this is an excerpt. Now, having said that, once they buy your story it becomes a PERFECT time to mention that this is chapter 1 of The Next Best Thing and you'd be pleased to add that to your author bio.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Aha! Now I know a good use for my early pitiful attempts at novel writing. Cannibalize them for parts and create standalone short stories.
My darlings will rise from the ashes. Woo-hoo!

kathy joyce said...

Totally OT, but I want this to be my third post for today.

Dog takes off after squirrel, so I trudge through soaked grass to retrieve her from neighbor's yard. Sit on couch, pissy because my shoes and socks are soggy and uncomfortable. Open twitter to black-and-white picture.

Heavily-equipped infantrymen exit landing craft, chest-deep in the chilly, rough English Channel. Seeing the beach, swallowing terror, thinking of loved ones, feeling death approach, they soldier on for nothing but the promise of greater good for others.

I'm ashamed for complaining about my wet shoes, thankful that I have shoes, but mostly humbled and grateful for the courage and sacrifice of those young men 73 years ago.

Colin Smith said...

John: I dunno... if the mag likes the story, they may like to know that it's from an as-yet unpublished novel. That way they get bragging rights when it hits the top of the NYT list. And while you don't bring a big following to the mag, they know you'll be directing agents and future readers to that piece. Also, full disclosure--it seems like the right thing to do to mention the source.

You want to duke it out? Back of the bikesheds at noon. Bring an AC unit. ;)

Cecilia: Absolutely! Don't let good idea babies get thrown out with the novel bathwater. ;)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Kathy Every boy in my grandmother's high school graduating class died on that beach. 12 boys made men before their time. Dead before they could live. Courage and love beyond comprehension.

Sherry Howard said...

I love when I learn something new. I would have thought this (a chapter published) would be a problem, not an asset. Good to know. Hmm. Research beginning.

kathy joyce said...

Oh, this gives me shivers. Such great loss!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Her Grace....exactly.
Regarding my earlier comment. The truth is actually out. I am not a columnist, but a potty-mouth middle schooler.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Hey there, Sir Colin Sixoffsprings!

DLM said...

There are plenty of scenes I've written that would make fine standalone vignettes, though I'm not sure there are stories I'd consider complete just because - I mean, that's why I'm writing a *novel*, after all. And honestly, I am often tempted to put bits of my writing up on my blog. I really like certain pieces of my work.

But, at the end of the day, I'm not an excerpt READER - I just don't have the patience for other writers doing exactly what I get so tempted to do. Even if something stands as a shorter work, there is a neurotic "completist" in my brain, that can't read parts dismembered from a whole. This is all jut me. I either want to read an entire work, or I don't want to. Parts is parts, but they isn't a whole.

Colin Smith said...

Hey there, Lady Cecilia Multilingualis! :)

Speaking of Sixoffsprings... #6 turns 13 in a couple of weeks. *sigh*

Sorry... back to the topic! :)

Claire Bobrow said...

E.M.'s comments gave me the shivers, too. It's difficult to comprehend so much loss in one small group. I've stood on that beach, and first you feel the immensity of the beach itself (when the tide is out it's huge). Then you try and picture the scene on D-Day and it's almost impossible to reconcile with the peaceful scene of today. If you visit Pointe du Hoc up on the bluffs, though, you're surrounded by bomb craters and fortifications and it is chilling. Why do we humans do this stuff to each other?

Back to the topic at hand, I really enjoy reading novel excerpts when I stumble across them and I've definitely purchased books after getting "a preview of coming attractions." Novel serialization is a great way to get people hooked, as Susan mentioned wrt Charles Dickens. A more recent example would be Tales of the City, by Armistead Maupin. The original books were serialized in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

OT, Claire, "...why do we humans do this stuff to each other?"
THAT my dear is the question for all ages.

BJ Muntain said...

The local publishers' group used to put out free anthologies of first chapters from various books so people could sample a number of local books, in the hope that readers will find a book or two to buy. They were free. I haven't seen these lately, though, and I think that's due to the internet, and to Amazon's putting the first chapter online, making the printing of these anthologies unnecessary.

What's in it for the magazine? Let's see. If the novel gets published and does well, there will always be a little note in the copyright section - and possibly the acknowledgements - saying excerpts of this novel were published in My Literary Journal. So people who enjoy the novel might see the Journal's name, and realize that the Journal publishes stories the reader might enjoy, too. It's advertising for the magazine. And if it's an enjoyable chapter, it will entertain the readers as much as a short story.

Susan Pogorzelski: Congrats on the last name! I think the problem with serials in newspapers today is that newspapers are no longer well-edited, for the most part. Rather than gearing towards journalistic excellence, it seems they're mostly interesting in just filling up paper/online space with things that will upset people and create the most commotion. More and more people are giving up their subscriptions to newspapers because they can get all their news online without having to recycle all that newsprint. Of course, who knows. Maybe serializing a novel would get more readers. But I think most newspapers have become too commercial to think about 'artsy-fartsy' things like that. (Yes, I'm trying to get into the mind of a commercial newspaper. That is not MY opinion.)

That said, some magazines do run serials. Often they're requested by the magazine from authors the magazine is aware of (in many sub guidelines for these magazines, they'll say 'no unsolicited serializations' or words to that effect). This is why I'm thinking the literary magazines noted by the OP are not large magazines. Larger magazines have more resources to pull from than smaller ones.

Lennon Faris said...

Never thought about this either. Good to know!

EM - that is overwhelming about your grandmother. Cannot imagine. My father did not have to fight in combat but he was in the AF for 20 years. When he visited Europe with my mom, that was the one place he wanted to go. Needed to pay his respects.

Claire - "Why do we humans do this stuff to each other?" I often wonder the same thing.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

OT- to Carolynn and Claire Man has long fallen from grace but it is that spark of divinity in each of us that makes us cry out "how can we do these things to each other?" When we stop asking, Hell has finally won.

I get a bit maudlin on D-Day. I remember visiting my grandmother in Florida as a kid. My grandfather, Captain Jack, was long dead. He fought in both Europe and Africa in WWII

There was a secret passage in my grandmother's house that connected her bedroom to my grandfather's study. I discovered his old military uniform one day in a closet inside that passage. I was around 12 or 13- real moody adolescent hiding as I often did.

For reasons I can't know, I pulled his uniform out of the plastic it was so carefully wrapped in. In the pocket of his jacket was a stash of letters written by the men in his command to be delivered in the event of their deaths. There were four - the four who survived the war which is why they were still in his pocket I suppose. I confess I opened those letters. They were so intimate, each so full of love for what each young man left behind in order to save that which he held so dear.

One from New Jersey, one boy from Kentucky, one from New Orleans, one from West Virginia. The one from West Virginia lost his daddy to a mining accident and had a score of younger siblings he felt such responsibility. They all had such hopes for their loved ones, and all seemed to believe God watched over them and if they died, it was their sacred duty to do so. And they were afraid but with great courage marched into that valley of death.

I shouldn't have read those letters. My mother was so furious at me. I never saw her so enraged that her little brat teen should open such private letters. She returned the letters to these men's families I think although it was 35 years later.

Still, those men, though returned to their families, have haunted me my whole life with the words they so carefully wrote to bring comfort to those they would have left behind.

To all who serve now and before, it is by your grace I live so well. No words can express the gratitude owed.

Joseph Snoe said...

Sports Illustrated published the first chapter of John Grisham's "Calico Joe." I don't think they changed it at all for the magazine.

P.S. - I read it in my dentist's waiting room. Who says visits to the dentist office are bad.

Julie Weathers said...

I've read several excerpts that were excellent and enough to entice me to buy the book. One I read yesterday posted by a publisher had the opposite effect. It was painfully obvious the author had an agenda and I could even forgive that if he hadn't skewed facts to try to prove his case. So, no. I will never buy anything by that author, but I'm glad the publisher gave me a chance to read.

Excerpts can be wonderful sales tools.

Regarding D-Day, yes, I've spent much of the day reading their stories. I don't think people have any idea how devastating and hard that was.

Colin Smith said...

Has anyone read an excerpt of a novel by an unpublished writer in a magazine? I'm sure there are similar advantages to having a chapter published in a magazine prior to getting an agent as for the established author. But how often does that actually happen? I'm sure it's much easier for a John Grisham or a Donna Andrews to get a chapter of their latest pre-published novel published. But what of that author who doesn't even have an agent yet? As I read it, this was more the point of Opie's question.

Susan said...

BJ: You're right, of course. It's a different age which means different people, different ways of consuming content, and different content to consume. In the end, we're a consumer society instead of a creator society, and commercialism rules. That's not always a bad thing, don't get me wrong, but when I think of the meaning art used to hold for the collective, it makes me a little nostalgic and wishful. I wish we could slow down a little and find the meaning in art--in everything--again.

EM: That's a breathtaking story! And how powerful that the memory has lasted with you. While I can certainly understand your mother's anger at the invasion of privacy, I think it's wonderful that you read the letters--because now someone else knows these soldiers' stories, someone else remembers them and can honor them. And look, now you've shared with us. So we can remember them and honor them, too. Maybe the best legacy we can ever hope to leave behind is the knowledge that someone will remember us even indirectly, even through a story.

Susan said...

Drats. Lost my last name again. Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

I have my grandfather's Word War 1 journal. A few times he almost didn't make it and I wouldn't be here as me.
makes you think and grateful for what we have.

Claire Bobrow said...

Good point, Colin. I'm guessing the answer is "no," but it would be interesting to find out if that ever happens.

BJ Muntain said...

Colin and Claire: I believe smaller magazines are more likely to post excerpts from unpublished writers, as they don't have the access to published writers that the big magazines have. I also don't believe they pay as much for the excerpts from unpublished authors as they pay for stories... but I've never tried to sell an excerpt, as such, so I don't know this for sure.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

My grandfather and five of his brothers served in WWII at the same time. Luckily, all survived.

John Davis Frain said...

EM,
Such an incredible story. I completely understand how you had to open those letters and read them. At the same time, I also understand how your mother had to get screaming mad about it.

Reminds me of a great story where the writer can manage to have a great protagonist, but also have an antagonist who is also a good person. Tough to pull off, but you did in your terrific tale.

And it makes me think of many things in my own life. Thanks for those memories.

AJ Blythe said...

Great question, OP. I had no idea you could publish excerpts, and if I'd been asked I'd have thought you shouldn't publish part of an unpublished work.

BJ Muntain said...

Over the past 25 years, I've heard time and again that you should never publish any part of your work. When the World Wide Web appeared, that extended to blogs. "You'll use up all your readers!" they say. "Publishers won't publish it if it's been published elsewhere."

One reason I love Janet's blog is because you hear the TRUTH here. Agents and publishers don't care if part of the novel has been seen by others, because it's rarely a substantial portion. Short stories are different - if you publish an entire short story on your website or in a magazine, then any other magazine will see it as published, and will consider it only as a reprint, if they consider it at all.

One of my friends even posted her entire novel in a publich online forum. Now, this can be problematic, but she was approached by a small publisher who has not only published her entire series, but has also hired her to do covers and marketing. She's now looking for an agent for her new series, and would like to publish with a large publisher.

Once I read here - right here, on Janet's blog - that publishing a small amount of your novel isn't a problem, I put 'never publish part of your novel' into the rubbish advice bin along with 'hissed is only to be used with sibilants' and 'don't use semicolons or -ly adverbs, or editors will immediately reject you'.

BJ Muntain said...

Umm... 'publich' should be 'public'. My German heritage is showing.

Joseph Snoe said...

E.M. Goldsmith, Thank you for your two comments. So much said is so few words.