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You Can’t Hide a Self-Published Book

In the age of Google, you can’t hide. You can’t hide those old prom photos, your Twitter account, or your self-published book. And I’m not sure why you’d want to.

You self-published a book for a reason. Presumably, you were proud enough to want readers to find and read it. So why do I get so many questions about authors wondering if they should include that information in a query?

Of course, you should. You published it, now you need to market it to readers. You need to let people know it exists and you need to accept the idea that agents will find it anyway and wonder why you didn’t tell them.

Previously self-publishing a book, unless you have tens-of-thousands of readers will not likely help you find an agent. It will also not likely hurt your chances of finding an agent. It is what it is.

That being said, once a book is self-published finding an agent and publisher for that book is difficult. Extremely difficult. We don’t want to see a book you’ve already published. We want to see your next work.

Tell us you self-published a previous book and pitch the heck out of the next one.

Category: Blog



  1. What if the book was an anthology of short stories that was dedicated to a critique partner who passed away? It was only up for a year, but you can still find old links on Google and Amazon, but it’s not available. It’s not the genre I would be seeking an agent for representation. And it’s not even listed on my website anymore.

    1. I’ve actually completed a course on writing a successful query letter quite recently and a recommended edit was to remove the part indicating book was self published. Very confusing getting conflicting advice but understand both points of view. So, what if the book was the first in a series? Wait to query until you finish book two and then reference the first book as self published?

      1. From what I have gathered from reading here and on Janet Reid’s blog and other agents’ hangouts, you never query a self-published book and you should always tell an agent if you have anything published previously, be it self- or otherwise. Apparently it’s enough to say “I have self-published three books so far” or something. If they are interested, they will google you, and you better mention your exes. 😉

        As for series, if you have self-published the first book, it’s very, very unlikely that an agent/publisher will take on any later books. That’s because the first book in a series usually sells best, and publishers like their roi… You can definitely keep self-publishing the other books in that series, but as for querying, you should write something totally new.

        As I said, I’m not an agent or publisher, just somebody who hangs out where they do. 😉

  2. This is so good to know. I was preparing to query my first book which I self-published. I’m glad I saw this article.
    So, I shall prepare a query for my next book.
    Thanks for the great advice!

  3. Yvonne, you still wrote and published that book. And if there are still links floating, I’m going to guess sold copies.
    Changing genre doesn’t change your core abilities as an author.
    I can see reasons why an author might not want their future readership to know about certain types of older books especially if you’re moving to writing for kids. But, your agent will know this and she would also be better armed, with the information ahead of time.
    Never regret what you have done only what you have not done.

    Jessica, thank you so much for this little bit of normal in my life you have no idea how much it means. My asthma has got progressively worse over the winter making me “vulnerable”. I’ve been in isolation for almost 4 weeks, hubby and son with me for a week. Your blog is about the only ‘normal’ email I get at the moment. Even if I don’t comment as often I am very grateful.

    Stay safe and virtually hug your loved ones

  4. Thank you, Hollie!

    This is good to know, since I’m in the process of querying. It wasn’t a matter of being ashamed of that book. And it’s not a change of genres. I write short story mysteries for Woman’s World Magazine. These were all stories from my critique group after one of us passed away. The book was dedicated to her, so very special to all of us. It wasn’t intended to sell a lot to anyone outside the Woman’s World writers.

    My question had more to do with adding it to my credentials, since it’s out of print. I’m just figuring out how to navigate the query process. I suppose I should add it back to my website, a d the dedication to the blurb, and say it’s out of print.

    Thanks again for your reply.


  5. Just the answer I’ve been looking for. However, I was wondering another thing. What if I’ve got plans to turn my self-published e-book into a series, while at the same time an agent accepts my other novel and I start my career in the traditional waters? Would the agent accept my self-published work at one point and try to push for paperback edition? Or just sequels? Or, in case he or she simply felt the book isn’t for them, could I still self-publish the sequels even though I’m under the contract? It would suck if a potential series got drown and forgotten just because the first book has been self-published.

    Thank you

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