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Can I send a self-published book to a mainstream publisher?

edited July 2017 in Writing
I’ve found an illustrator to work on a book I’ve written. She’s a wonderful illustrator and our working relationship is very good. We’ve agreed an amount of money for her illustrations – most of which she’s already completed – which, of course, I will pay her.

My question is:

Can I have self-publish a book which is illustrated by an illustrator and send the same book, without the illustrations, to mainstream publishers?


  • I'm not sure why you'd want to. If you've gone to the expense of self-publishing a book, why are you trying to place it with an agent/publisher? It would be better to submit it to agents as a manuscript. If you're unsuccessful in finding an agent/publisher, self-publish it, market it to death and reap the benefits.
  • I don't think you could - it's a different thing if a book does superbly well as a self-pub and then a mainstream publisher decides to publish it on the strength of that.

    But to self-pub and then send to a mainstream publisher - what does that say to the publisher? For a start, no book stays the way it is written, it will have editor input, and will change. so then there would be two versions out there, the edited one and one the publisher would consider sub-standard, and the self-pub book would be in direct contention with the mainstream one - no publisher would consider it.
  • Thank you very much for your replies, Baggy Books and Liz.

    I wouldn't mind losing money. I would be self-publishing with a book on demand publisher. If a publisher liked my book, can't I just cancel my book on demand account and offer the rights to them?

    Also, if the illustrator has been paid for the sketches and has their name in the book, what rights do they have, if a mainstream publisher likes the book and wants to publish using their illustator?
  • No rights at all. You pay them a fee, if the book is never published it doesn't make a difference to their rights.

    Send the book to publishers in the first instance if you have confidence in it. but without the illustrations.
  • Why not send publishers your next manuscript and you may have some self publishing success then to back you up. It's unlikely they will be interested in a book that's already out there, unfortunately.
  • I reckon it would be akin to sending a tin of Tesco Baked Beans to Heinz and asking them to can them.

    Sorry, but that's the best analogy I 'can' come up with.
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