I am almost finished up writing my first novel--a fiction-- and I am considering posting it on sites like fictionpress to see if I get any advice and constructive criticism on things to fix. I really would like to present it to a publishing house and get it in print though.

My question is whether any publishers will consider it "previously published" if I do indeed post my story, and if so, is that usually a deal breaker to publishers in general?

  • 2
    You can post portions of it for feedback to see if you are on the right wavelength for the average reader, and some publishers, e.g. angry robot, say there is no penalty for this. If your manuscript is 80,000 words and you post 1000 words to see if your style needs attention, you shouldn't run into problems with a publisher later. But the whole thing>? That's a different kettle of fish.
    – SFWriter
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 2:26

1 Answer 1


I don't know how that specific site works, but technically I would consider it published, you have made it available to the public.

By doing so, you have potentially damaged their sales and their marketing. Consider for a moment if your work is excellent and compelling, and the free availability makes it read by hundreds of people. Wonderful, right?

No, it isn't wonderful. See This Article on Publishing statistics. The average book sells about three thousand copies in a lifetime, and may sell only hundreds in its first year. First books are likely even less. So by making it publicly available and free you may have given your book away to most of your audience that might have bought it. You've poisoned the well.

"Previously Published" is about its availability to the public, not whether you got paid for it. It is not published (available to the public) if you give paper or electronic copies to people you trust to not send it around. If you post it on a website for strangers to read it, talk about it, praise it, or condemn it, you should tell any agent or publisher or you are lying to them, and they will then be influenced by what happened there, and neither outcome is good.

If people loved your book and told everyone, their sales are diminished and your "newness" factor is gone. If people called your book amateurish and poorly written, the agent or publisher may change their enthusiasm for it.

My suggestion would be to write something else, a short story or scene or something that has nothing to do with your story, but is written in your style with your style of dialogue and exposition. Ask people to review that, and try to apply their criticisms to your book. I should think people are more likely to review a shorter piece anyway, and then you give away a week or two of work, not a year or more.

  • Thank you. I had the same train of thought, I just thought I'd check. Also, thanks for the suggestion about writing something separate in my style. Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 21:14
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    Something similar but different. Excellent idea. I hadn't really thought of that angle. If it is received poorly, there would be minimal effect on the selling point of your actual work because it is not the same and you could incorporate any changes in your novel to address the flaws. If it received well, this could be a selling point of your novel to publishers due to the reflective nature of the two.
    – TribeOfOne
    Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 13:34

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