Monday, May 11, 2020

Querying work you posted for free

I saw your recent post on a reader's three book deal, and how it was better for her to shelve a manuscript rather than posting it on her blog. Would Wattpad hold this same weight? I put my rejected manuscripts on there after six months in the trenches, but I've never mentioned them in a query letter. When you type in my name, my Wattpad stories are one of the first results (I am a featured author). Your 2015 and 2018 posts have answered another one of my questions, but is this a red flag for agents? How would I explain this in a query letter?

Yes it's a red flag.
A big one.
A lot of editors don't want things that have been previously published.

Wattpad counts.

You need hundreds of thousands of Wattpad "reads" to get any real interest in republishing something.

You explain just as you have here: "I published this on Wattpad and I'm now a featured author."

Under zero circumstances do you "forget" to mention this.
A publishing contract requires you to warrant that the material being licensed to the publisher is not previously published.

Yes, that can be negotiated but the time for that is NOT when you're at contract.
The time for that is when your agent is talking to prospective editors.

Any questions?


Mister Furkles said...

Giving something away for free or at a very low price can be good advertising but you can't typically come back and sell it later. So maybe short fiction to build up a name could help generate interest in a novel. And maybe not.

Do readers on Wattpad find a writer they like than go buy their books? If not, then giving away isn't good advertising.

You see in the backs of paperback books, that the publisher includes the opening to the author's next novel. But they are promoting to somebody--the reader--who buys books.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Patience is a big thing with publishing. I am querying on book and writing another now. I am stalled in the trenches because I need to work on my query a bit more, have some problems in the middle of the book that will have to be addressed, and do not feel inspired to revisit the book being queried at the moment. I will need to do that for what feels like the hundredth time.

I am enjoying working on the new book. I will get back to finished book for further revisions - query and book itself. It all takes time and patience. I hope things work out for you, OP.

Amy Johnson said...

OT: Thought I’d share something about this wonderful Reef Family of ours. I’m calling you out, John Davis Frain, and you likely have no idea what a kind thing you did.

Here’s what happened: A year ago, a very large branch of my non-Reef family was mourning the loss of our matriarch. At the funeral, many people commented that if you went to Aunt Di’s house, even if you were merely stopping by for a minute, she would insist on feeding you. That was one of the ways she showed she cared about people. Well, the day after the funeral, I must have made one of my comments here about making fudge for y’all. As I recall, John responded with a comment about how nice it would be to spend time on my front porch, smelling the good cooking. A lighthearted comment, I’m sure. But you might imagine how wonderful that was for me to read at that time. Thank you, John, for that kindness. And thank you, Janet, for your kindness in creating and maintaining this place.

For the record, and lest I be called out as a chef charlatan, I’m not actually all that good at cooking. When I do make fudge, I use the “Never Fail Fudge” recipe on the back of the Marshmallow Fluff container. The recipe makes for a really yummy fudge. But over the years, I’ve managed to once or twice prove the name wrong.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Do it for free or do it for money.

Many writers simply want to be read. What we do (learning and expressing) matters. Our efforts (time) should be appreciated. But sometimes getting coin for ability and effort is so far out on a limb that climbing that tree for its fruit seems pointless.
Do you write for free in order to be read?
Never do it?
Embrace it and hope for dollar signs later?
Why buy the cow if you get the milk for free.
Just don’t sell a glass of milk that’s been sitting on someone else’s nightstand for who knows how long.
Fresh is best.

Craig F said...

A couple of years ago Wattpad was a platform of its own. Agents went through it and picked out a couple of really hot Wattpadians to be published.

Andy Weir was one of those that became a wider hit.

Most did not.

Now Wattpad has a much smaller publishing footprint. Some writers want to think that a million Wattpad reads should get them published. It won't.

The readers on Wattpad are a different demographic than those who pay for what they read. It might not be a disconnect as much as a time-lag.

Best to write something else and query it. In housekeeping you can mention how big your other works are on Wattpad.

Trudy said...

I got the impression from the OP that they were consigning works to Wattpad if they got no love after 6 months of querying and moving on to a new book and querying that without mention of the older works on Wattpad, not that they were querying works already posted for free.

Would the answer be any different if the works being queried are new stories, not the works on Wattpad?

John Davis Frain said...

Well OT Amy Johnson, I'm not often accused of a kindness, so thank you. I do remember that conversation of people and porches. And I'm sure you've paid it forward many times over, as so many here have. Credit to Janet for creating this incredible neighborhood.

I love hanging out on this porch. You meet all the interesting people.

Adele said...

If you queried for 6 months and gave up (is it just me or does 6 months seem not long enough to give up?) then what you have is a trunk novel.

Here's where I have a logic problem: when you publish a novel that you couldn't sell - aren't you telling agents/publishers "this is what I write"? Would you walk up to them, bump elbows and say "Hi! I write unpublishable novels! Want to try to sell them?"

I can see how it would seem like a great idea to publish your trunk novels online, in the hope that all the agents were wrong and the public really will love them, but I think it's more likely that you're shooting yourself in the foot.

Or maybe I'm missing something here.

BJ Muntain said...

A friend of mine started posting her novels on Wattpad. She got a UK publisher, and had 3 books of a 4-book series published before she passed away far too young. It worked for her. From Craig's reply, I see that Wattpad is no longer as useful. I suppose it pays to keep up with things.

I, too, agree that 6 months is far too early to give up on a book. But perhaps this person has seen that some people have been successful there, so throws their books up to get some input. They seem proud of being a featured author, and maybe they should be (I have no idea what this entails, so it could mean they're very popular, developing a following). Maybe saying they're a featured author on Wattpad in their bio in their query for a new book might be worthwhile?

AJ Blythe said...

I've had to skim the comments (so sorry, Reifers), but I don't think anyone added this... OP, you might think those manuscripts have missed their chance, but when you do get an agent and a publisher, they will ask if you have anything else. I know so many authors who have dusted off those previously rejected manuscripts, given them a heavy edit and had them published. Never give up!

Gigi said...

Oof, six months is so fast! It took some agents more than six months to read my requested fulls. And the manuscript that landed me my agent was queried for over a year. This industry is a long game - definitely give your work more time to find a home.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I thought OP was asking about querying Novel B when they had published Novel A on Wattpad. I would think this follows the 'self-published on Amazon with limited success' rules: tell any offering agent, but don't mention it in a query. Did I miss something?