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unpublished novel vote

OK so I said a while back that if I have not heard from the publisher about Blind Spot (my old, fatally-flawed first novel; i have a newer one to shop around now) by the end of September, I would do something with it. Options:

1. make an audio version (maybe with some LibriVox friends) and podcast it (say a chap a week)
2. publish it in sections online – in serial format (say a chap a week)
3. do a print-on-demand version, for friends who want to buy a hard copy
*4. publish online in a wiki – so that either: people can easily copyedit for me (ha!), or, more radically, the text could be modified substantially (????)
5. a combo of the above


*Note: I have some hesitation about 2 & 3, because I will soon be shopping around a second novel to publishers – and I think maybe that publishing the other one online/with lulu might be considered poorly by publishing houses. Self-publishing still carries a stigma. So I don’t want to be tarred with a Vanity brush. Maybe that’s silly.

And maybe I should put my money where my distributed media mouth is, suck it up, and put it out there.


  1. Martine Martine 2007-10-02

    Good question…

    It does seem to make a lot of sense to put it on LibriVox, but I do like the idea of people being able to get a hard copy from Lulu or somewhere else. Perhaps you could do both?

    I wonder how much publishers really worry about signing an author who has done some self-publishing before… If it’s your first novel, maybe it doesn’t really have an impact for them, especially if it becomes more and more common. I do know one person who published a book (non-fiction) with a big company, then self-published a novel on the Web, then got another book deal (non-fiction) with the previous publisher. But maybe it worked for him because it was fiction/non-fiction.

  2. Hugh Hugh 2007-10-02

    it wouldn’t be librivox (that’s for published, public domain only)… i’d just stick it here or on its own site, plus probably

  3. Ella Ella 2007-10-02

    I think you’re probably right about tarring yourself with the Vanity brush if you want to shop it around to publishers. That being said, I personally think that publishing the first few chapters online as a teaser to get some feedback might be the most rewarding way to go. Either that or forget about getting that particular book published by the conventional route and put it out on the net in its entirety. If the book is then received well it might well actually improve your chances with conventional publishers for the next book. I think the riskiest idea would be to do the type thing, I think there’s more stigma in the publishing world towards self-publishing books in hard-copy than doing it purely online and making e.g. pdf downloads available à la Doctorow.

  4. Dan Parsons Dan Parsons 2007-10-02

    I like #2

  5. Hugh Hugh 2007-10-02

    the novel under discussion (blind spot) has been shopped around already. it’s finished shopping.

    i have another one tho, soon to be shopped. so the question is: am *I* tainted.

  6. julien julien 2007-10-03

    i like #1– i’ll help you read it.

  7. Chris Hughes Chris Hughes 2007-10-03

    Much as I would like to read it, it might be prudent to wait until you know about the second book. If the second book does really well, they may be interested in the first one.

  8. Sean McGaughey Sean McGaughey 2007-10-03

    Go for all of the above. People like Matthew Wayne Selznick, Cory Doctorow, JC Hutchins, Jim Munroe and Scott Sigler are all having some success with the DIY approach. I’m sure Evo Terra at podiobooks would be happy to talk to you about the pros and cons of putting a podiobook– Out there.

    I’m not a publisher and I know there is a stigma against self-publishing (largely due to the hucksters running old style vanity presses
    ). Lulu seems to be one of the companies that gets it… Applying the new media realities to an old kind of business. I think that the more you get your name out, and create a buzz around Hugh McGuire, the more attractive your second novel will be to publishers.

    The buzz could go something like… “Hey, the librivox guy has written a book and he’s podcasting it on the net…”

    And I agree– not a librivox book. When I recorded my brother-in-law’s unpublished novel, White Trash Land, we were very happy with releasing it on podiobooks. Podiobooks brings a built in audience eager to try out new stuff. Couple that with your librivox, podcasting and social media contacts and you could create a bit of a buzz from the start.

  9. Hugh Hugh 2007-10-03

    @julien: thanks.

    @chrishughes: i’m not worried about that scenario … if they really like the 2nd one, they’ll want the third more than the first. which would be ideal. and if they really want the 1st they won’t care that it was published online. and further: that’s too much of a “potential” – who knows what happens with #2.

    @sean: re: stigma, the problem is not so much hucksterism, but: “he couldn’t get it published, so he published it himself…” it’s a judgment on quality.

    the buzz, yes, it depends on how much buzz is created.

    another thing to note, #1 is VERY different from #2, and I’ve even thought of (self)publishing #1 under a different name.

  10. miette miette 2007-10-03

    Pull a Radiohead, and offer a pdf for sale-by-donation?

    The vanity attached to Lulu is in assuming people want to buy it. I think the assumption should be that maybe people want to read it. Why not put it up on your site, as a pdf, as a podcast, whichever (I’d be happy to contributare) and a donation button should people be interested?

    As I see it, this is less stigmatised as an approach: you’re building an audience on your own dime, while cultivating “new” publishing methodologies without the need to have something bound and ISBN’ed.

    The wiki idea is radical, and wondrous, but only if you’d be willing to live with the results of such an experiment.

    — Mtte.

  11. Hugh Hugh 2007-10-03

    re: wiki – well there can always be a “director’s cut.”

  12. miette miette 2007-10-03

    And then the Ridley Scott run of “The Real Director’s Cut,” the “I Mean It This Time Director’s Cut,” and “Honest Guys This Is The Director’s Cut.”

    You’ll make a mint!
    — Mtte.

  13. Hugh Hugh 2007-10-03

    exactly, each with it’s own line of blind spot lunch pails, action figures, special bonus features (interviews with cafe waitresses “he just seemed to sit there most of the time, occasionally he put his forehead on the table, but other than that, just sat, really, and then left eventually) … and so an empire becomes a twinkle in my eye.

  14. Dan Parsons Dan Parsons 2007-10-03

    Wil Wheaton (of star trek tng fame) wrote a book, a few years ago, that no one wanted to publish, so he published it himself. Since then he’s become quite a successful writer, making most of his income from it, etc. I don’t know if a real publisher ever picked him up, but at this point it doesn’t seem to matter for him. His site is

  15. Patrick Patrick 2007-10-03

    From your options I’d say #1 but I’d put in another vote for a PDF version, like Getting Real or Mobile Web Design, I think you would make more money and reach more people with a nicely formatted PDF than with Lulu.

  16. Hugh Hugh 2007-10-03

    Just to clarify … the question is less “what things should I do” and more: “if i do these things, will it hurt my chances of getting my other novel published?

    given that none of them has a cost – except effort – i figure if i do it, I might as well do it all! podcast, blog, pdf, lulu, wiki … what else? maybe act it out on youtube!

    i think i will just do this as an “experiment.”

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