The Impact of a Previously Self-Published Book

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Mar 03 2020

I get a lot of questions on what happens next if you self-published first. There are a lot of variables depending on what you’re looking for.

Moving a Self-Published Book to a Traditional House

Once you’ve self-published consider your book published. Just as it’s difficult to move a published book from one house to another, it’s extremely difficult to find a traditional publisher who will want to take on a previously self-published book. When the sales are made there are made. You can’t make them a second time.

Certainly, there are stories of publishers taking on self-published books, but that is typically an anomaly and, except in rare cases, didn’t always work out as people had hoped.

Unless your self-published book is a break-out phenomenon most publishers and agents consider it published and would prefer to see your next book.

Moving a Self-Published Series to a Traditional House

Moving a series, whether self-published or traditionally published is almost as difficult as moving a previously published book. There are a number of reasons a publisher doesn’t want to take something in the middle, most have to do with sales.

As a series continues it’s common for sales to decline with each book. It’s the first book, the one another publisher already did, that will do the best.

Instead of looking for a new home for an old series, I would always advise you instead start something fresh to pitch to agents and publishers.

Getting an Agent After You’ve Self-Published

Having previously self-published is not necessarily a negative mark on your career. Except, possibly, for sales.

Sales do matter, even with self-published books, and publishers will take that into consideration when offering.

For the most part, self-publishing is looked at neutrally and your next book will likely be considered in the same light as any book that comes through our query inbox.

4 responses to “The Impact of a Previously Self-Published Book”

  1. Avatar Terry Lafargue says:

    What about a self published children’s Christmas book that is designed to become a Christmas evergreen property.

    Example: Polar Express

    I seems to me a traditional publisher would like to take a book like this on.

    The book is designed to produce at least 3 sequels and has story related Christmas products

    The work is titled, The Very First Christmas Stocking And The Gifts of The Seven Coins

  2. Avatar Susan from Spokane,Wa says:

    I am a new author and on disability. I have written a Christian workbook and don’t know how to find an agent. How do I find one that will help me find the right publisher who will not charge me up front?

  3. […] Agent Jessica Faust assesses the importance of a previously self-published book when you’re querying. […]

  4. Avatar Neil Larkins says:

    I self-published a fantasy-adventure novel in 2007 and sold 50 copies, mostly to family and friends. (I only had 100 printed.) I’ve contemplated rewriting it with the same plot but rename all the characters and give it a new title and submit it as an original book. Is such a move considered cheating or (?) and not recommended? It’s my book, always has been. Your thoughts.