I self published a book of short stories a few years back. (It seemed like a good idea at the time.) It got a few good reviews, everyone I knew bought it and a few strangers took a risk and bought it as well. Hooray me.
Fast forward and I would like to submit some of these stories for consideration in contests or to lit presses / online magazines etc. (Not all of them, some of them were very bad... I can see that now... but a few of them are things I am proud of.)
My problem is that they fall under the "already published" label since my little self published book has an ISBN and is available for purchase on Amazon etc.
I guess my question goes beyond a bit of "What can I do/"... to "Do I have to leave these little gems behind me for good? Can I rework them so that they are just new and different enough to count as "not previously published"? How much rework would that be?"
I'm frustrated and feeling very foolish. Any help you could provide would be wonderful.
Don't feel frustrated, and don't feel foolish. You haven't done anything stupid or wrong. You've written and published stories that people liked. Hint: that is A Very Good Thing.
However, if you want to give these stories a second shot at finding readers, well, that's a bit more troublesome.
The rules for contests and lit mags are pretty specific. Not previously published means just that. You'd be hard-pressed to rework a short story enough to make it something other than what it is now.
And you don't want to enter, get published and then find out you're on the wrong side of previously published. You very much do NOT want your name associated with that brouhaha.
Thankfully book publishing is not quite so rigid. Collections of previously published stories are common. Some of your stories (the good ones) could be the basis for an anthology.
And some anthologies don't require new material. Look for those to send your stories to.
This is more common in genre fiction than lit fic, but you didn't say what kind of stories you published.
The best idea though is to write more stories.