Hi Miss Snark
I would like to self-publish POD a book through lulu and at a later point query agents with the manuscript for that same book with a view to representation and publication the traditional route.
I realise this is unconventional. But regardless of the actual 'point' in this, I want to check that by PODing the book, I am not damaging my chances of representation for a traditional publishing deal.
I have asked this question elsewhere, and have got replies saying yes I am, and no I'm not. When I've asked 'how' I'm damaging my chances, I haven't got any convincing reason. I don't see why an agent or a publisher who liked the manuscript would reject it on the basis that I had previously self-published it.
I wanted to check with you.
It's hardly unconventional. I see this stuff all the time. There's an entire blog devoted t0 the stuff that rolls off the POD presses. Take a look at her stats about how much of it is readable.
Mostly we don't reject stuff because it's been published POD. Mostly we reject POD stuff because it sux.
There are cases of people who have gotten picked up by agents and publishers after going the POD route. It's the equivilent of being discovered at the Automat by Woody Allen. Yea it's happened but he also finds 99.99% of his actors through a casting agent named Juliet Taylor.
As to the damage part of your question, publishers are interested in work they can sell. If you have a book that's sold 2000 in POD form to your friends and neighbors and publishers think you can sell a lot more by expanding the scope of your neighborhood to Fargo North Dakota, they'll be interested. There's no problem with selling those rights at all.
The problem comes because most people who publish novels on POD presses and sell them to their 20 friends and neighbors have maxed out the sales reach. Publishers aren't going to invest any money or time in a project that only sold 20 copies, unless there is an Act of God betwixt those sales and the present. Like you marry the Pope or something. Given you are a man, this would qualify as two Acts of God.
All of the above applies ONLY to Lulu and CafePress which essentially act as printers. If you get snared up by those snake oil salesfrauds describing themselves as publishers, but are in fact POD vanity mills, you better look at the contract to see if you actually have any rights left after you pay them a wad of money. THAT is the path to madness and will damge your chances of having that book published.