will publishing an ebook of your book hurt your chances of getting tradtionally published?


since it is so easy to publish on amazon, the temptation will always be there.

some people claim that self publisher is much better today since u have control over your own books but does it hurt your chances of getting tradtionally published?

i have read many differing opinions.
some people claim that if you can achieve good sales on amazon, it will actually help your chances of getting traditionally published since they will realize that your book is marketable.

but recently i also heard of another different view, that publishers will not or seldom take your book if you have self published since they want the ebook rights.

so can anyone shine some light if we should actually self publish before trying to get traditionally published?


Sales large enough to attract a major publisher would be up in the tens of thousands. At that point you’re making a lot of money so you would need to look at the deal on offer closely. It does still happen; “The Grey Bastards” won the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off last year and the author accepted a deal with Orbit. @AlecHutson could chime in here as “The Crimson Queen” came second in SPFBO this year and tell us what interest this has resulted in. If you sell a lot of books after self-publishing it will go a long way to convincing agents/publishers that you have a following and so subsequent books/series may get picked up.


Queen actually got a bit of interest before the competition ended, after I was selected as a finalist but without the majority of the final scores in. A senior editor at Tor contacted me and asked if I would be open to sending my next book or series to her first - she said she’d read Queen, and loved it, but never offered to publish it traditionally. Perhaps that’s because she didn’t think it would fit the current market (for the last several years traditional high fantasy has been out of favor, though I’m seeing signs of that changing now), or perhaps she thought it would be too expensive to acquire (given the sales Queen had its first year it would have cost a lot).

I’m actually not sure if she found me through the contest or not. I think Data Guy is working with Tor and feeding them insider info about what indie books are selling well on Amazon - in the span of a few months Tor reached out to me, Phil Tucker, Duncan M. Hamilton, and Kel Kade, and signed several other indies including Brian D. Anderson.

So no offers to re-publish Queen trad. But Queen’s success did give me an in with one of the (the?) biggest fantasy publishers.


If they didn’t think they could afford your first book, why did they think they might be able to afford your next? Or is this some well-intentioned policy of not paying more than $X for anyone’s first book?


Well, Queen sold around 28k copies and made almost 70k USD its first year without any sequels out. Each sequel would cause a sales spike - I would be foolish to give up all my rights going forward for less than a quarter million dollars or so, I’d say, and I’ll still probably make more than that over the life of the series than that, unless I screw things up royally. Books are indefinite passive income so long as you keep marketing them, and with my reviews / ratings it shouldn’t be too hard to keep selling. Maybe Tor just didn’t want to invest that much.

But I’d be willing to sell a new series or book to Tor or another house for a lot less. Not a 10k dollar advance, but high five-figures, certainly. My goal is to eventually become a hybrid author, and if I have to make less than I possibly could with one book or series that’s fine.

Oh, also I’d already made an audio book with Queen and am locked into a 7-year contract. So that probably affects whether they want to acquire or not.

But anyway, long story short I don’t know. I’m just guessing.


Ah, yes, that policy of “we must have the audio rights” that Michael (I think) keeps grumbling about. Thanks.


As noted, the interest is usually in the NEXT book, not the book that’s out. And they won’t be interested in the book that’s out unless it has sold a lot of copies.

In another thread you asked about a series. They won’t pick up book 2, if they didn’t sell book 1.


Not a policy thing, but in general most publishers want to “start fresh” so they are more interested in “next works” then taking over one that already doing well in self-publishing. Best thing to do in Alec’s case is to (a) finish out his existing series (b) prepare a document that explains how it has sold © approach the editor who expressed interest with (b) and see what number they come back with.


Yep, that’s me. It’s a really bad practice that is making it even harder for authors…and something to be aware of. In Alec’s case he should “shop” his next project to both an audio producer and his Tor editor who has expressed interest. It’s quite possible the audio will come in with a HIGHER advance then Tor, but then he could leverage that to get Tor to pony up more money…and it would also provide them with some subsidiary income to offset their risk. Or…it could be that he should just take the audio offer and continue to self-publish. In any case, he’s got many options available, which is always a good thing.


Let’s put it this way:

  • Would you be willing to wait out the next 20-30 years–because the mainstream is super picky about who they want and who they don’t care for?


  • Is self-publishing your ebook on Amazon going to change their intransigent minds any?

Because let me tell you something: I already spent 14 years trying to get through the front door of the publishing world because they don’t take fiction. (And their querying models are a fucking hot mess to begin with anyways.)

So instead of waiting another 14 years and another 14 and another 14 years on top of that (I think I’ll be dead by then), why not just save yourself the trouble and aggravation and self-publish your ebook?

I mean, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration by cutting them out and doing it yourself.

And the odds that the industry will pick you up after you “self-publish” through Amazon is virtually non-existent.

But look at it this way: You’ll have your own book and industry will end up with nothing. As it should be.


Bookmarks to reference later :eyes:


If you were querying agents/publishers who didn’t take fiction that’s on you for not doing your research.

Agents/publisher usually have very clear guidelines about what they are looking for and even if it is ambiguous, it only takes a bit of research to see the types of books they rep/publish. Submission guidelines are often used as a way to do the first cull of the slush pile - if you can’t read guidelines it’s an auto reject. During the 20 year period you claim “publishers didn’t take fiction” thousands of other writers managed to do their research, target their queries and land publishing deals for FICTION.

There are plenty of examples where people queried and received an offer of rep and a trad deal that did NOT take 20-30 years. Telling new writers that it takes decades is disingenuous and another example of you spreading false information. Personally I queried for 2 years before receiving an offer.

I would also point out to new writers reading this thread that SchuylerThorpe has no industry experience and has never published anything. He has been talking about self publishing for 4 years but hasn’t produced anything (apparently his “editor” takes years to edit one book). Self publishing is indeed a viable alternative to trad publishing (depending on the writers goals and objectives) but don’t fall for over priced and unnecessary services. Do your research. It should only take a few months to polish a book to self publish, not years and years.


my book isn’t just “fantasy” or “fiction”

my book is xianxia, which is a spin off from wuxia.

wuxia is already something unusual for traditional publishing, so since my book is xianxia, it will be much, much more difficult to for publisher to pick it up.


Have you drilled through retailer sites for examples of wuxia/xianxia and who is publishing it? I think you will find it’s on the rise. I’m seeing wuxia books popping up in fantasy reader groups I belong to and I’ve seen some cover artists post progress works of some jaw dropping gorgeous wuxia covers. There’s obviously authors out there writing it and even though yours is a spinoff of wuxia, I would be targeting the larger category.


yes that is correct. wuxia is trying to enter the US market right now.
Jin Yong novels are all going to be translated into english officially and will be released in bookstores soon.

however there is a vast difference between these books and every wuxia book i know about/vast majority.

perhaps the most important difference is that the majority of these books are first released in china as a webnovel and then they get published and get comics drawn upon being successful.

the second is webnovel/qidian’s contract for all their authors. you may google about it and some of the authors here have recieved an offer…if you think english publishers are bad, you should really check out their contract…

for the older and more established writers like jin yong, they’re playing in a different field all together so theres no point talking about them


can you please talk about if posting the novel on several sites would be bad for your novel?

i have mine of two different sites right now, and a pirate site has put some some of my stuff there as well.

i also uploaded a few chapters here and there to help promote it

also thanks everyone for taking time out to answer our questions.


I think we’re talking about 2 different things. I don’t know anything about Jin Yong or Qidian (who I assume is a Chinese publisher?) I’m seeing wuxia books published on Amazon by US/UK-based authors. That’s why I think you need to do more research, it is definitely on the rise and its not translated works.


umm i took a look at amazon’s best seller, asian category (top 100) and the majority of the books there are translated webnovels.

there are like 1-5? japanese novels there

but yes there are a few original wuxia author there, but no xianxia from anyone outside of china.

also yes qidian is a publisher.

it is actually a web platform but they have somehow become publishers now since they kinda, take all the rights away from their authors…

umm maybe you should give me book (rebel) a try? read like 2-3 chapters and you might understand why i seem to think that i have a very low chance of getting published…

thank you for your time replying me thou!


Publishing is slow, but it’s not THAT slow. During my second attempt at publishing I got a pre-empt offer in less than a week, and 6 months to 1 year is pretty common. Now, I can say that I, too, spent 20 years getting nowhere (during my first attempt) but that’s because the work I was submitting back then wasn’t good enough.

If you were submitting a novel to agents/editors who don’t work in fiction that’s on you, not the industry. You gotta do your research. It’s easy to do, especially these days with the Internet.

Because it’s not just a matter of uploading and then instant success. If the reason you were turned down (by those that did represent fiction) was because the writing wasn’t up to snuff, then your self-publishing endeavor is going to end in failure as well. Self-publishing “well” is very hard and takes a lot of education. It could take years to learn all you need to know, so it’s not really a short cut.


Posting your stuff on sites like Wattpad (and similar ones) isn’t a problem. You may want to take them down before querying…but it’s highly unlikely that anyone you query will go “looking” to see what you have posted where. They don’t have that kind of time.