Monday, July 03, 2017

Can you publish pieces of a novel, like you do short stories?

This is related to your post  from the person who wants to self-pub/post his short stories as a way of gaining presence and followers. My question for you is, could this be done in a comparable way with excerpts from a novel that hasn’t been published yet? How much could be posted as a teaser without the book being considered published and, therefore, tainted goods for any self-respecting shark or agent?


First, let's remember there's a standard for how to judge if a book has been published. Does it have an ISBN? Was it available for sale?

Excerpts from the novel do not have an ISBN.
Generally they're not sold; they're content in a magazine perhaps, or posted on a website, and that's a distinction that's important. The book isn't sold; excerpts were.

Excerpts before publication are covered under "first serial rights" in a publishing contract.  If you've published excerpts from your novel, and your agent sells your book, make SURE you tell her since publishers routinely scoop up first serial rights, and you don't want them to do that in this case.

Pieces of novels are often published in literary magazines before a book is sold.

There's no problem with doing this.

26 comments:

Lisa Bodenheim said...

ISBN. Ok, someday I'll get that straight in my head. Thank you for asking the question, Opie.

It's Monday. And it's sort-of-maybe-still-a-holiday. I hope you had a thrilling weekend away of reading, Janet.

Time for more caffeine here.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Ha, half my WIP has been previously published, not as excerpts but as entities on their own. My understanding(some contracts are over twenty years old and I haven't a clue where they are) is that newspapers and magazines held (one time) publishing rights and then the publishing rights reverted back to me after publication.

I believe I mentioned this a while ago, right here, and someone, maybe Janet said, there's no such thing.

Off to dig through records. Nice way to spend an extra day of holiday.
Oh yeh, Happy 4th, fellow citizens.

Karen McCoy said...

As a former librarian finding books by ISBN, I dream of one day getting my own.

They're super useful for findability. Googling an ISBN will get an exact title and author, as well as an indication whether the book is a hardcover versus a paperback because ISBNs are separate for each.

Fun fact: ISBNs are now all 13-digits. They used to be 10, but now have to accommodate a wider number of published books.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

No ISBN. Currently, my agent, whoever that ends up being, gets it all. First serial rights, second, third, and my damned little soul to boot.

I know a number of authors who do this publishing of novel excerpts in magazines. I would rather skip to the whole book so I tend to wait until the book is released. This is not a way I find new authors.

They need to be recommended by someone, hanging about The Reef, haunting a bookstore shelf, or standing out in Goodreads or Amazon. I am stingy that way.

Do others discover new authors from excerpts alone? I suppose it is possible, but I do wonder how most readers find new authors?

Lennon Faris said...

OP, just don't publish too much! Donna Everhart did something like what your post suggests with her novel, DIXIE DUPREE - she posted 'first sentence fridays' and put up the (you guessed it) first sentence of every chapter, once a week. Just a fun way to get people interested, without giving away too much.

Hope everyone in the States has a safe and happy Fourth.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey LENNON, Donna is doing the same thing with her new book, THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET. Check it out.

Amy Johnson said...

Not Opie, but this is something I have been wondering about. Thanks, Janet.

Hope everyone has a Happy Fourth of July. Now to add some fireworks to my manuscript. (Sorry.) ;)

Donnaeve said...

A belated congrats to Steve Forti! Dare I admit I've not watched The Wire? I still got it - sort of.

Some of those entries made me LOL. They really did!

Had I entered...it would have gone something like:

"Don't say it."

"Tastes like chicken."


Meh compared to the others!

As to today's topic du jour - an excerpt to THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET (a whole chapter plus part of the 2nd) are in the Publisher's Marketplace Fall/Winter Buzz Books catalog. And like Lennon and 2N's pointed out, yep, I'm doing First Sentence Friday's again! The publisher loves this idea - so it's all good.

Have a happy fourth, all!

kathy joyce said...

E.M. It's a sample of one, but I discover new authors mostly by word of mouth. My book group talks about new books we've read, and I make it a point to ask others what they've been reading.

I also peruse the library in person and online. Like most people, covers and titles pique my first interest. I do give myself better variety by starting my searches in random places. Same with bookstores, but there I always look for "Staff Pick" lists. I've read some great new books/authors from those lists. *lightbulb* I should ask my library to do this!

I've also found great reads from discussions here on Janet's blog. So many books, so little time!

Claire Bobrow said...

I love novel excerpts. They often entice me to buy a book when it's released.

Donna: "First Sentence Fridays" is a cool idea. Also, you should have entered the caption contest. "Tastes like chicken." That is hilarious!



kathy joyce said...

E.M. Just realized your post was about new authors, not authors new to me. Learning about querying and agents has been a boon for this. Following twitter or researching agents has unearthed many new authors for me.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Kathy I am always on the look out for the next amazing author but only so much time. Libraries are a good idea too and staff recommendations. And this blog has been full of great new authors for me to read.

I do love Donna's 1st sentence Fridays, but I would read her books regardless.

These posts are enlightening. I did not mean to veer off topic. I am much sleep deprived as I am now on one of my mad revision quests. And I need to shut up now before I pass out.

BJ Muntain said...

So, I was going to respond to 2Ns about contract wording, but I figured I should shore up my knowledge first. I've been gnawed on more than once about the contract language I learned from magazine contracts, which is often wrong, because many magazines subscribe to the same 'knowledge base' I did.

So I went searching for legal stuff... and RABBIT HOLE!

So, I'm sorry 2Ns, but I won't be able to help you. I've discovered the Columbia Law School website, and their section on copyrights...

To answer EM's question the best I can, most readers discover authors by word of mouth. But not all do. What exerpts do is get your work in front of new eyes. People may then recognize the book or the author's name when they next see it. Recognition is a big part of 'word of mouth'. Just like people tend to vote for politicians whose names are familiar, they also buy things they recognize from somewhere - television ads, product placement, magazines, something their friend said about it, mentioned in passing on the radio or television or even in conversation... or in magazines they skim over while in a doctor's waiting room.

Anyhoo, back to the Columbia Law School website. A wonderful way to spend the day before going for a leisurely coffee with a friend later on.

Happy 4th of July to all you American folks! For everyone who has today off, have a wonderful holiday Monday!

mythical one-eyed peace officer said...

"Generally they're not sold; they're content in a magazine perhaps, or posted on a website.....
Pieces of novels are often published in literary magazines before a book is sold."

That's interesting. I wonder how difficult it is for an unknown author to do that. At least so far as being published in print. I'm thinking it is not easy at all.

Barbara Etlin said...

I agree with BJ Muntain about recognition and word-of-mouth. That's why book reviews and interviews (even negative ones) are still important. I may recognize a title, cover, or author's name, even if I don't remember whether it was a good or bad review.

I've bought maybe 6 books from people I've met on Twitter in the 3 years I've been on it. And I buy books by others I know online, whether from their blogs or this blog or the SCBWI/Verla Kay writers' forum. I know a LOT of writers and I usually will try their books first before checking reviews and bestseller lists.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

BJ thanks for the link. Actually it's interesting.

Colin Smith said...

Just a short comment to say I have nothing useful to to say other than all the best to Opie! This is not a subject I have either platform or experience to address. And Janet does it so well, as usual, so you don't need my blather. :)

I'm taking the day off today, hence the late comment. Hope you're all having a lovely Monday!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin, I took today off too, so here's wishing you a lovely Monday as well.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Colin this is just to let you know, this is the first time I used the HTML bold tag and it worked for you name and I am hoping it works this time again.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Janet just want to thank you for letting me learn at your blog's expense. Oh wait, we do that everyday here.

Dena Pawling said...


I'm working today =(

But wanted to chime in that another way I've found new authors to try is by typing "authors similar to NAME" into google. I've found several wonderful authors this way. The one downside is my TBR pile now has its own zip code.

Happy fourth everyone!

Craig F said...

If you are going to do something like Donna, go for it. If someone makes you an offer to do something on their space, be careful. Make sure you read any contract they have carefully.

Most of those giving out such offers have an agenda of some sort. It is not necessarily nefarious but it is not , usually, to your advantage.

I had an offer to sell a short, for a whopping fifty bucks I could sign away the rights to it for longer than I will be around. I was lucky to catch it because the contract wasn't really clear.

Put you effort into writing a sox knocking query instead.

OT, somewhat: Congrats to the others who wrote a caption for the contest. Bigger congrats to those who garnered the Queen's attention and to the Forti for the win.

Time to get back to promoting and setting up the annual race around St. Pete beach. It has grown mightily since the first one with five paddlers. One hundred and thirty three signed up this years. Good charity money.

Lennon Faris said...

2Ns, thanks for the info! I will check it out :)

AJ Blythe said...

Can't add anything of use to OP, other than to say "Good luck".

I've been following Donna's First Sentence Friday which is a lot of fun.

I've given up reading excerpts of books because I've found they are more likely to turn me off. I much prefer blurbs. I've sometimes wondered if it's because the blurb provides a good hook? - so I want to read more, whereas I often find excerpts don't do that. Maybe they aren't finishing the excerpt in the right place? Or maybe it's because my brain is a strange and weird place? I have a strong suspicion it's the latter.

jaminord said...

So serialization sites, like Wattpad or Radish, would fall under those serialization rights, I assume. Is there a certain percentage below which it doesn't count, as such? If like, they post 10k out of a 90k novel, that's more like a preview, but if it's 35k out of 50k, that'd be more of an issue, potentially.

BJ Muntain said...

Good question, Jaminord. I'm not familiar with the policies/contracts for those sites. I do believe that Wattpad (I'm not familiar with Radish) is often used for earlier drafts, to get comments on them, almost like a critique group. At least, that's how authors I know have used Wattpad. One author I know was picked up by a small UK publisher that way - they liked what she posted on Wattpad, so they approached her. She's not rich and famous now, by any means, but that publisher has given her a lot of opportunities, not only for getting her publishing career started, but to develop other skills and knowledge useful for such a career. She now does a lot of work for the publisher behind the scenes, as well.

For her new series, though, she wants to get an agent and get published by a larger American publisher. I'm pretty sure she'll do it, too.