Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Posting Your Book Online

I have started my own blog for the purpose of posting a new project as I write it. My plan is to post the entire first draft bit by bit and, hopefully, get some feedback/critiquing along the way. [Someone] alerted me to possible problems. But I wanted to get your take. If I post an entire first draft online, am I killing the chance of a final version ever being published via traditional means?

I think I have done a post on this before, but since it seems I can’t keep track of anything I’m writing anymore, I hope you all feel the same way and don’t mind getting some repeat information now and again. What I can tell you is that I agree with everything Moonrat said on this subject and would implore you, if you have any concerns, to read her post from May.

I really have nothing additional to add to her genius other than to say I don’t think this is a problem. I’m not sure I would advise you to simply go ahead and post the entire novel at once, but posting a teaser chapter or pieces at a time for critique will be unlikely to do any damage to a future sale or career.

All that being said, if you’re doing this simply for a critique you might be better off joining a critique group rather than asking random strangers who stumble upon your site for their opinion. One reason is I think you can learn just as much by critiquing the work of others as you can from having your own work critiqued.



Sarah J. MacManus said...

My only comment is re: short stories. If you are looking to sell a short story to either a print or online magazine, don't post it online. Online magazines don't want the ding of duplicate pages being indexed by search engines and print magazines don't want subscribers complaining that they could have read it for free online.

I can't see where excerpts from a novel would hurt, it may even help. I do agree with moonrat that it's probably a good idea to take it down after a while.

Anonymous said...

Other than ego don't know what the point of posting your book would be. Can't help with making it more publishable...and getting critique on it this way? Kinda dumb. Much better and safer ways to approach her stated reason for doing such. I think she just wants to see her book publicly available somewhere. Ego, I'm thinking

MeganRebekah said...

I learn more from critiquing other people's work than I do from reading books on the craft. Definitely join a group! And if you can't find one, then start one - that's what I did and it's fabulous!

Stephanie said...

I am part of a writers group that meets in person...I've known these people for 2 1/2 years. I trust them and I know when to take their advice and when not to. With strangers giving don't know them, they don't know you.... If true, honest feedback is what you're looking for, as I believe this is what you want, not ego as the anonymous poster claims, try and find a group of writers you trust for critique.

Anonymous said...

A horrible idea. Any time you create a digitial copy, you've surrendered the material. Realistically, there is zero way to protect yourself.

Mira said...

Oh! Thank you for this post. I've wondered about this, and it's stopped me from starting a blog of my writing.

I heard once that if you post something online, you've signed away first publishing rights. After reading your comment and moonrat's, I guess that's not such a concern.

Re. the critique group, I have one that meets weekly. I can not even imagine what it would be like to write without one. The support and the feedback is invaluable. That said, I will add that I went through about 3 groups before I finally hand-picked this one. I had horrible experiences in some of the other groups, so it's really important to find the right one. The wrong group can be damaging. You'll know it's the right group, when you leave the group armed with encouragement and ideas and the desire to write more that week.

Anonymous said...

I've never done this, but I do follow one blogger from the UK who posts about a book he's writing and it's fascinating. He writes so well, and so naturally, I've actually linked him to my blog and I read his posts regularly. I'm eventually going to recommend him to my agent, and I never do this. Whether or not she likes him is up to her, but if he hadn't started a blog and posted parts of his book no one would ever know how wonderful he is. And I wouldn't have been able to recommend him.

Vivi Anna said...

I'm with everyone else, join a crtique group. You will get more construction criticism then you will on your blog where any random person can comment and rip you apart if they so wish.

After you get some critiquing done, if you want to start a blog and talk about your process and share snippets of your work, knock yourself out. But for the sole purpose of getting feedback, I think you'd be setting yourself up for a lot of emotional pain.

People can be cruel and they will be, especially if you give them a forum to play in.

Jamie D. said...

I post serial novels to my blog (just started the second). I'm under no illusions though...I do it for personal writing practice, and because people seem to enjoy reading them (I enjoy reading free stories on other sites). If it somehow turns into paying readers once I get something published, so much the better. I consider it an investment in a potential fan base, however small.

But I don't post anything I plan to submit eventually. My blog serials are written solely with the purpose of giving them away for free - I draft them on the blog, and plan to edit and give the final copies away as free ebooks.

Aimlesswriter said...

Good advice. Also, not all critique partners are equal. You have to fine one that good at it and will be honest with you. So some random stranger on the net might not have the skills you want in a critique partner.

Arianna Skye said...

Would this be the same for excerpts? I have excerpts to some of my unpublished manuscripts on my website, and an author friend of mine told me I shouldn't because editors would see this as having been published and could turn me down because they wouldn't have first rights. I even explained it was only an excerpt, but she remained adamant that even posting just an excerpt could pose problems.

Arianna Skye

Rebecca Knight said...

Thank you for this post--I love Moonrat Advice, too :).

I've been confused about this, too, and have refrained from posting anything more than a page or two as a "teaser" on my blog.

This backs up my thinking, and I appreciate the wisdom!


Alex said...

Far from being mean, I have found that sites on which the author posts his own prose or poetry(versus soemthing like Evil Editor where the point is critique) tend to elicit in hyperbolic, effusive praise--even when the writing, frankly, is pretty awful. I think with a blog, regulars feel like friends, and no one wants to hurt anyone's feelings, so every comment is "amazing" or "God, you are so talented" etc. So if the real reason is HONEST feedback, good luck.

Alex said...

Should say elicit with no "in"

But if it were on my own blog, someone would tell me that was a novel, innovative phrasing.

Anonymous said...


Thank you very much for answering my question!

I did start the blog on June 1 and have posted several chapters thus far. It has gone well and I do have a couple of followers. The feedback I've gotten from them has been very helpful and constructive. No one has been cruel to this point.

In terms of joining a critique group, I was going to a group for about a year before going on-line with my blog. I enjoyed it, but it got to the point where I was spending the bulk of my free time (which isn't much) reading and reviewing other folks' work and not writing myself.

I've kept this post anonymous because I am still pondering whether to take the blog private or to take down posts ater a few weeks. I'm not sure what the best course of action is at this point.

Thank you, all, for your thoughts. Thank you, again, Jessica for the post. I really appreciate it.

Sheila Deeth said...

Thanks. I've often wondered about this. Interesting to know the difference between posting novel chapters and short stories too.

Ailsa said...

I am posting my first draft of a novel on a fairly well known site as I go along, in order to 1) get some (very basic) feedback & 2) give me some encouragement to keep writing.
I feel comfortable doing this for several reasons.
1. I don't have many people reading it, despite (or because of) the size of the website.
2. It's only going up a chapter at a time.
3. It's going to change very drastically as soon as I've finished this first draft and start editing.
4. I'm only going to leave it up for a short amount of time once the whole thing has gone up

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