previously published and contests

Our writing club is self publishing a book an anthology this summer. It does not have an ISBN number. Are these short stories considered published? Some of us would like to submit our stories to contests that say “no previously published” stories.

Your thoughts are appreciated.

Contests that say "no previously published" stories pretty much mean no stories that have seen the light of day: no blogs, no websites, no ezines, and no anthologies published on Lulu.

The industry standards on this are not exact, they're in flux.

You may be confused because I've previously said that publishing things on the web or at Lulu doesn't count as "published" as far as book publishers are concerned. That still holds.

The answer to "is this published" really depends on who's making the rules. In this instance the contest is writing the rules for material they will consider and yours doesn't qualify.


Dave said...

Many e-zines and internet publications want the writer to bring readers with him or her. They consider a blog or website as competition. And therefore, they consider posted on a website as published.
Even if only 200 people read your website a month, that's 200 less customers for an e-zine or internet publication.

A Paperback Writer said...

In my many years of entering poetry contests (having fun and earning enough money to go out to lunch now and then), I have found that the consensus in such groups is that 20 or so photocopies passed around to beta readers or friends is not "published." More than about 30 people seeing it in printed form (or on a screen) is "published."
I'm guessing this would also be true of short stories.

McKoala said...

How about putting stories on blogs for critique? I vaguely thought that was OK if they were up short term. But with rules in flux...

C.E. Petit said...

Neither the US Copyright Act nor the Berne Convention on Copyright defines when a textual work has been "published," even though whether a work has been "previously published" has some significant (ok, significant to hairsplitting lawyers) effects on rights, responsibilities, statutes of limitations, etc. Really.

If one wished to go with the historical definition, one would get a nasty surprise: for purposes of libel, a work is "published" if it is shown to as many as one other person. (That's yet another reason that "publishing industry" is such an oxymoron... and inapt/inept term.)

kitty said...

This is how Glimmer Train would draw the distinction with the book:
The question of what is considered “published” can be a tough one. If you’ve made 50 copies of your manuscript for classmates and friends, for instance, we'd call that piece unpublished. Heck, even if you had Kinko's bind them, we'd go for that. But if someone else put it out--say the school newspaper, or your writing group, we would look at that as published, especially if more than one piece of work (all yours, or yours and someone else's) were included in the pages. (Fifty copies of a collection of people’s writing in it just about qualifies as a “litmag” these days.) And if there is ANY advertising, no matter the number of copies printed, it will be considered “previously published” by anyone I know.