1.18.2006

First Publication Rights, the giant squid of books

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds to me that magazine publishers are much more concerned with this (first publication rights) than book publishers currently are.

Every site I've seen telling writers that they've given up "first publication rights" by posting on the Net (and that's usually how they word it, Miss Snark) refers back to magazine and literary journal submission guidelines. I don't know if that means book publishers just haven't jumped to the conclusion that "on the web" = "published" yet, or if it's simply a difference between types of publications.


Book publishers buy the rights to publish in various forms, and languages, and geographies.

First North American rights is for a book sold in the geography of North America.
First serial are rights for magazines to print pieces of the book before publication of the book.

Electronic rights are the rights to publish in ebook form.
Notice there is no "first" in front of e-rights.

Book publishers mostly don't care if it's been on the web, as far as I can tell. They care if it's been in book form, or pieces of it have appeared in print in magazines.

Magazine editors who are competeing directly with the web care a lot more.

There are lots of reasons not to put your novel on the web but losing "first publication rights" for a book isn't even on the list.


as to the giant squid: pieces of giant squid wash up as debris so people talk about them all the time but no one has, as far as I know, ever seen one alive and zipping around in the darkest depths of the sea.

14 comments:

Molly said...

These photos weren't in the deepest dark of the ocean, but they are of a giant squid lured near some nets.

Holy Squid! Photos Offer First Glimpse of Live Deep-Sea Giant

Pat said...

Book publishers mostly don't care if it's been on the web, as far as I can tell. They care if it's been in book form, or pieces of it have appeared in print in magazines.

Does this mean that it's more difficult for an author to sell a novel that had its genesis as a short story? For example, something like Stephen King's The Gunslinger, or Michael Swanwick's In the Drift, both of which were originally published in SF magazines as short stories, then expanded and put together and published in novel form.

Bernita said...

Pat, an established writer like King can get away with all sorts of things a gonna-be cannot.
But I would think the key here is "expanded," which makes it a whole new thing.
It might even help, since the idea was considered interesting/good enough to hit print in the first place.
On the other hand, there's the "fresh" and "fish" factor.
Don't think there's an easy answer.

Maya said...

Molly: Thanks for the link.

I remember hearing and seeing several interviews this past spring about the Japanese photos. NPR did multiple pieces on the giant squid, including interviews with the Japanese scientist and Richard Ellis.

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark:

You said "there are lots of reasons not to put your novel on the web..."

What are they? Do these reasons include posting on a web-based critique group?

Mad Scientist Matt said...

I've sometimes heard that with nonfiction it can help your chances if part of the book first appeared in magazine articles that you wrote. Of course, this is unpublished author commentary and Miss Snark can probably give you a better and more complete answer.

Uisce said...

Thanks for asking that. I've put my novel on the web, hoping to get feedback from friends who don't seem to have the time to read it! :|

David Isaak said...

Expansions of short stories seems to be a fairly common practice--or was at one time.

JD Salinger wrote "Catcher in The Rye" as an expansion from an earlier short story.

The best part about the Salinger factoid is that The New Yorker rejected the story with the comment, "We don't feel that we know the protagonist well enough."

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Speaking of putting one's work on the web, this morning an email arrives from a writing friend. Guess what? Another site where you can pay to have your work read. http://www.thenextbigwriter.com/

The site is very professional looking. Maybe they are legit and maybe they just want to help, but I'll continue doing things the usual way, thankyouverymuch. I'm sure there are folks who get value out of this, but I think people should be aware of their choices before forking over their hard earned dollars.

You can join online critique groups for free. You may not get a Pulitzer-nominated reviewer to read your work, but you aren't necessarily going to get that on this site anyway. First, you have to be consistently rated high by the other members and then, if you're lucky, you get chosen for a review.

(I checked the Snarkives, didn't find that we'd talked about this one before, but I coulda missed it.)

Bella Stander said...

It's quite common for nonfiction magazine articles to be expanded into books. Just off the top of my head:
THE ISLAND OF LOST MAPS by Miles Harvey; SAVING MONTICELLO by Marc Leepson; THE PERFECT STORM (blanking on author--you know, the cute one); THE BALLAD OF THE WHISKEY ROBBER by Julian Rubinstein.

Can't think of any examples right now, but there are authors (not just A-listers like Stephen King) who've expanded short stories into novels.

If your prose--fiction or non--really sings, a book publisher won't much care whether it's been in a magazine or on the web. Actually, it's a plus if it has, because then you have an track record.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget. Brokeback Mountain started life as a short story. Shows you how far that particular format can go.

Anonymous said...

the Melbourne aquarium in Australia currently has a giant squid, almost whole, encased in ice, in case anyone feels like making the trip...

I said...

Umm ... Brokeback Mountain is still a short story ... those painfully thin copies of it you can now buy as a "book" at Barnes & Noble haven't been expanded, to the best of my knowledge. (Though I wouldn't be surprised if they've had an introduction or critical essay added.)

Mark said...

By "book form" I assume a POD nonfiction counts technically if not in market reality. Or maybe not?