Oh Susanna – If It’s Been Posted On My Blog, Can I Still Submit To Publishers? And The August Pitch Pick Winner!

Happy Monday, my friends!  I hope you all had lovely, restful weekends and you’re rarin’ to go 🙂

Let’s start the high jinx and shenanigans this morning with the August Pitch Pick winner, shall we?

I must say, I’m really enjoying the new system whereby everyone gets a chance to improve their pitch.  Thanks to all the helpful reader comments, and diligent application by our steadfast pitchers, the pitches for the pitch pick are all significantly better, don’t you think?  Of course, it makes it even harder to choose a winner! 🙂

But the voters have spoken, and the winner of the August Pitch Pick is KIMBERLEY and her pitch for Saturdays With Fish!!!  Congratulations, Kimberley!  Your pitch has been sent to editor Erin Molta for a read, and you will no doubt hear from her soon 🙂  And congratulations to all who pitched – you all did an excellent job and pitched very interesting and creative stories!  Best of luck with them!

Phew!  That was a lot of excitement for first thing Monday morning!  I think a small sustaining snack is in order 🙂  Perhaps a wee nap 🙂

Alrighty then.  Everyone fortified?  Onward!

We haven’t had the chance for an Oh Susanna question for a while because the person in charge around here keeps bumping them for other things, like Short & Sweets, and contests, and other tomfoolery.  But today, we shall forge ahead with a question that has been waiting patiently since about June.

The question is, “Oh Susanna, I have a couple of poems that people have suggested would make good picture books. I’ve toyed with both of them and think they would indeed be fun PBs, but written in prose, and obviously very (though not completely) different from the poems. Do you think agents and publishers would have a problem with the fact that the manuscript is based on a poem already published on my blog, even if the ms is in prose and clearly fleshed out into a proper story?

This is a very interesting question…

It’s true that many agents and publishers do not like to accept material that has been previously published on a blog.  Their reasoning is, essentially, that if people have already seen it and read it for free, why would they now want to pay for it?  This is especially true of a work that has been published in its entirety.  (And by published, I don’t mean traditionally published, but any type of posting on the internet, or self-published, where a large number of people have had access to it.)

However, (as always :)), there are exceptions.  In the case of a longer work, like a novel, if only a small teaser or single chapter has been posted, it may give agents and editors a chance to glimpse the quality of your work and become interested without giving away the farm.  If you happen to be Amanda Hocking and self-publish and sell millions of copies, there will also probably be publishers willing to pick up your book 🙂

In a case such as you’re describing, you are probably safe for a couple reasons.

First, unless your blog has a huge readership, it’s very likely that your work has yet to be viewed by the entire English-reading population.  You can pull the posts that contain the material and no one else has to see it.

Second, you have not published them in the format a publisher would be trying to sell.  They were posted as poems but will be submitted to agents and publishers in prose.  The submitted version of the stories may be expanded or changed from the originals, so what you initially posted isn’t really the same.

Finally, if you intend them to be picture books, the stories will eventually be married to someone’s art, which will give it a whole other level and impact than the original unillustrated poem.  The publisher could well end up with something that bears little resemblance to the original post.

I think you could likely submit in this case without a problem. Just be sure to take down any posts that contain the material, or just remove that specific material from the posts if there are other things in them that you want to leave up.

I would very much love for other knowledgable readers out there to chime in on this issue, though.  Do you think this answer is right?  Or have you had specific experiences that lead you to believe otherwise?  Please share!  We may all have something to learn!

Have a wonderful day, everyone! 🙂

37 thoughts on “Oh Susanna – If It’s Been Posted On My Blog, Can I Still Submit To Publishers? And The August Pitch Pick Winner!

  1. Joanna Marple says:

    Congratulations to Kimberley, and, yes, a chance to improve the pitches is optimal.

    Great question and considering the transformation from poem to prose PB, I totally agree with Susanna. I have had several people suggest I submit my endangered species haiku. I do think it had potential to be a picture book, but I fear that having published them all on my blog, a publisher would ver very hesitant to take the manuscript.

  2. Renee LaTulippe says:

    Thanks for answering my question, Susanna! That advice seems reasonable to me…but I am an unreasonable sort and can only whine “but I don't wanna take the stuff off my site!” Haha.

    Wouldn't it be cool if a poem – anyone's poem – was read by “the entire English-speaking population”? Sigh.

    You are so level-headed and always think of angles I would have missed. Thank you, friend!!

  3. Janet Johnson says:

    Congrats to Kimberly! It was a tough vote this time. And I think you are spot on with your response (based on my limited knowledge). Have a wonderful Monday Susanna!

  4. iza trapani says:

    Your advice (as always) is right on, Susanna. And also the switch from poem to prose will yield a much different product. I would not be concerned about it at all.
    Congrats to Kimberly!

  5. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    That is just exactly how I think of you, Renee – whiny and unreasonable 🙂 Sometimes I say to myself, hmm, who do I know that's whiny and unreasonable that I'd like to chat with right now? Oh! Of course! Renee! 🙂 Seriously, glad if the answer was helpful. Now send those stories out!

  6. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    I think you're in the same boat, Joanna. If you get to the point of submitting, pull the haikus from your blog, and make sure the submission has some that were never published, different photos or illustrations, a glossary, some resources for further research for kids and ways kids can help/be involved… that kind of thing so there's more than what you put on your blog… and I STILL think it's a good idea 🙂

  7. Vivian Kirkfield says:

    Congratulations, Kimberly! And congratulations to all of the pitchers…this is a great team of creative writers. 🙂
    Susanna…I thank you for your answer regarding submissions…it sounds sensible to me!

  8. pennyklostermann says:

    Yea!!! Kimberly!!! Congrats!

    Awww, I have been traveling back from the wonderful Rocky Mountain SCBWI conference today!!! It was wonderful….Oh wait didn't I already say that it was wonderful????? I loved meeting some of our group! So awesome!

    Ok….I am definitely glad you had this question on Oh Susanna! today. I have actually done this and not changed to prose. As I have said before, I am pretty new to writing and still learning a lot! So I have put poems up and then decided if expanded, they would make good PB manuscripts. I have revised and revised from poem to PB. I guess I am thinking and hoping that it's just like posting an idea in a pitch contest or maybe on something like Short and Sweets and then moving it forward. My poems are no longer poems, but rhyming PBs. They are much longer and different. I did remove the posts, of course, as soon as I made the decision to make them into PBs.

    Also, Kenn Nesbitt addressed this during poetry month. I'll paste the link below.I do know that he is already “out there” so those of us that are still trying to get published may have to approach it differently…but it's still interesting to read what he said.
    http://www.nowaterriver.com/poetry-month-2012-kenn-nesbitt/

  9. Stina Lindenblatt says:

    I've never heard of that question before, but it is a good one. Great answer, Susanna.

    Congrats, Kimberly, for winning the pitch contest. Good luck with your book. 😀

  10. Peggy Eddleman says:

    That IS an interesting question! And I think you're right– most blogs don't have high enough readership for it to really be a problem. I do know that Brandon Sanderson posted an entire novel, a chapter at a time. For everyone that made suggestions, no matter how small, he included them in the acknowledgements. It was kind of cool. But I also think he got permission from his publisher first.

  11. Kirsten Larson says:

    I agree with you Susanna. I think the prohibition applies to submitting the exact same work. But, you could rewrite the same idea in multiple formats and submit them different places: a PB, a poem, a leveled reader. The key is to make sure you don't plagiarize yourself.

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