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Monday, May 13, 2013



“I was wondering whether I could ask you an editorial/publishing-related question. (Of course!) As I get more organized in submitting my work to the speculative fiction markets, I realize I may have shot myself in the foot. A number of years ago, I self-published a short story (along with other people in my writing group) in a chapbook anthology. I want to submit it to anthologies and magazines, but I’m unsure whether I should be selling it as a reprint. The chapbook sold pretty well locally—about one or two hundred copies. In your opinion, does this count as being published for the purposes of selling first print rights? I’m assuming I can’t send it to anthologies unless they take reprints. But it wouldn’t affect first serial publishing rights for magazines, would it? I’d hate to think I made a bad decision by self-publishing my work before trying it in enough markets to get it published elsewhere first, but I’m afraid that's what I’ve done. Thanks for your time!”

First of all, I don't think self-publishing is necessarily a waste of your time. If you’re writing, you’re working on your technique, polishing and refining it. Self-publishing means you’re also learning how to promote your work—a requirement, no matter whether you’re self-publishing or working with an established publisher. The life of a writer is often frustrating. It can be good to create and celebrate your own successes.

According to Diane Walton, Managing Editor at On Spec, common wisdom says that if a writer makes his chapbook available privately online, say to his own critique group, it can still be a First North American Serial Rights story. The fact that it was published in a chapbook anthology and made available to the public means the story should only be sold for reprint rights. Unfortunately, First NA Serial Rights are affected. We won’t consider it at On Spec.

That said, we can’t speak for everyone. Your best bet is to query a specific publisher. Another option is to check out Douglas Smith’s website for his list of non-English markets around the world that take work published in English and translate it. Check it out here:

Good luck!

Next Post: Me, Myself and I - I answer my own questions about what grabs me, and what doesn't, from the On Spec slush pile.

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