Dear OAbby is a new feature on Operation Awesome where we answer your questions! It's an advice column by writers, for writers, chock-full of information about writing, querying, the publication process, etc. If you have a question you'd like answered, just send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions may be edited for clarity and/or space, and will be posted anonymously, with no identifying information.
I've written the first two-and-a-half books of a YA fantasy series. The first book was published by a small press that went out of business under not so ideal circumstances. However, I really don’t want these books to go to waste, so I started a complete rewrite on the first. My question is, should I continue and let it make the rounds? Also, I wanted to know what’s your opinion on my submitting the second book first, like the Chronicles of Narnia?
Series of Frustrations
Dear Series of Frustrations,
This is a sticky wicket. Since the first book has already been published, I doubt an agent or publisher will want to pick up the rewrite, assuming it's got the same characters, plot, etc. as the original, published version. There may be some legal issues, too, since you'd be revising an already-published work, even though it's your own. At the very least, you need to reread your contract with the publisher to see what it says about reversion of rights, etc. Presumably, since they went out of business, the rights reverted to you, and the contract should speak to what you can and can't do with the book at that point. It's worth having a publishing attorney look over your contract and give you specific advice on this point.
Technically, you should be able to submit the second book, since it hasn't been published. Though, since it's based on the same plot and characters as the first book, you may run into some intellectual property rights issues here, too. Again, it comes down to how your contract was worded. I definitely recommend asking a publishing attorney to advise you on these questions, since they're specific to your particular situation.