Does Previously Published Blog Content Turn Away Publishers?

Can you blog a book or book a blog and get it sold to a traditional publisher?I get asked the same question over and over again. It relates to blogged books, previously published work and traditional publishers. Many aspiring authors considering blogging books feel concern over publishing their the work they intend to include in a book on their blogs. They feel sure a publisher will then consider it “previously published” and not want to offer them a book contract.

I planned on interviewing several publishers or acquisitions editors on this topic, and I will probably still do so. However, this issue was handily addressed for me yesterday—and in relation to my book by Michael Hyatt, chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, on his weekly podcast. So, I thought I’d share his answer to the question today.

One of Michael’s regular listeners asked the following question (which I’ve paraphrased):

If I turn existing blog content into the basis of or the early draft of a book for a publisher, are there any restraints on the fact that the content has already been published?

Michael responded:

“I can tell you as a publisher, it doesn’t matter if it’s been published somewhere else before as long as its not a book and as long as the rights are not encumbered. If it’s just been published on your blog, you’re fine. I think it’s a great way to field test content. It’s a way to get reader input. It’s a way to more carefully target and polish your content so it even more attractive to publishers.”

That’s basically what I’ve been repeating over and over again…

I met Michael at Blog World & New Media Expo in New York last week. Prior to that event, I attended to Book Expo America educational events. At the first, I ran into my publisher, Phil Sexton, from Writer’s Digest Books. I mentioned to him how often I’m asked about previously published content and blogging books. He told me that F & W Media, the parent company to Writer’s Digest Books, doesn’t mind at all. They’ve made several blog-to-book deals, including The Plot Whisperer, The Art of Manliness, and, of course, How to Blog a Book.

During the BEA Blogger event, I stood in line with two editors from Wiley. They were thrilled to hear about my book—one of them pocketed the copy I handed her, and told me what I already knew: Wiley loves to contact bloggers to write books based on their blogs. They probably make more blog-to-book deals per year than most other publishers.

I’ll post about this again when I land those interviews. In the meantime, I hope Michael’s response assuages some of your worries.

Listen to his whole podcast here.

Photo courtesy of Arenacreative.

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  1. Nina says

    You are welcome, Pilar. Sorry I didn’t meet you there! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  2. Nina says

    You are so very welcome, Tor, and thank you for your comment and for reading my blog. That’s what keeps me blogging…honestly! :~)

  3. S M Yuen says

    You are very helpful, Nina – and inspiring! I wish I could have your energy and dynamism, not only in writing and promoting books but also in helping aspiring authors.

  4. says

    I think I posted this incorrectly. Here it is again:

    Thank you for this and backing it up with those in the publishing business. However, I know as a writer of nonfiction essays, this is a bit more complicated. Many literary magazines consider a blog post of an essay as ‘previously published pieces.” Therefore, I have not posted essays I’m considering for those markets. I suppose the difference is that a complete essay posted on my blog would be considered a finished piece, whereas sections from a forthcoming book might be considered ‘partials.’ Comments.
    sarah corbett morgan recently posted..Corrupted Fridays

  5. Nina says

    The difference is that you are publishing short pieces–essays–in magazines, not books with publishers. I would not recommend publishing essays on a blog if you plan on submitting them to magazines. However, if you want to publish a series of your own essays on your blog with the intent of including them in a book or creating a book from them, I would say, “Go for it!”
    Good luck!

  6. says

    I think this is wrong! The authors should be allowed to share their concept on Blogs, as a reader it is a great thing for us, we would be able to decide which author is coming up with what kind of book.. We will be able to judge the books ourselves! Publishers should take an objection to it!
    Molly Groman recently posted..The first things to do

  7. Nina says

    I’m not sure I understand, Molly. Authors are allowed to blog books. Most publishers do not take objection to it. That is what Michael Hyatt is saying. And maybe your last sentence is missing a word (not)?

  8. says

    A very interesting and down to post Nina I could help but admire you that so many rears of writing you still trying to improve your own skills as well as helping to improve the skilld of others. I liked it.
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