Novel excerpts

What do you know about novel excerpts and getting them published? I’ve seen a number of listings for magazines that will consider publishing chapters from novels. (Duotrope’s Digest even offers it as a search filter.)

I suppose having a chapter from your unpublished novel appear in a magazine does not disqualify the whole novel from acceptance later because it was “previously published.” Yet I can’t seem to find a reference anywhere that confirms this. Does anyone know this for sure?

Also, I’m looking at a hunk of The Sleep of Reason with an eye to shopping it around as a novel excerpt, but it would need some modification at its beginning so it could stand on its own. The change I would have to make is not something I would then keep in the novel as a whole. Is that okay? It wouldn’t be profoundly different, but it would be different. Is that kosher?

I actually have a chapter of Larger than Life, the great, unfinished novel that is consuming my consciousness, out for consideration at one magazine. I may have mentioned before that I started writing the chapters of that work as more or less stand-alone units, so the chapter I have submitted does work as its own coherent and whole short story.

And would getting an excerpt published make the whole novel more marketable? Common sense would suggest that, but if the excerpt winds up in some obscure ezine, couldn’t that convince a potential agent or editor that the work isn’t strong enough to merit a higher profile?

Do you have any experience with this kind of thing? Is there some resource I can go to?

Explore posts in the same categories: Rants and ruminations

2 Comments on “Novel excerpts”

  1. Pete Says:

    No experience here (that would, you know, require me to actual finish writing a book) but I can’t imagine a publisher would disqualify a manuscript for that reason. In fact, you’ve already done some of their job for them, generating some pre-publication exposure – so publishers should actually appreciate your doing so.

  2. Brian Keaney Says:

    I don’t know the answers to any of those questions but I would be careful, checking the copyright position before submitting anything online that you might subsequently want to submit to a commercial publisher i.e. make sure copyright remains yours and you’re simply granting the online publisher a limited license to publish the material (licence can be limited by time, territory, form of media etc.) Otherwise you may find that you are trying to sell to a print publisher something that you have already sold to someone else

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