Sunday, September 18, 2005

Publishing On-line

Does anyone have a definitive answer about the feasibility of publishing parts or all of a WIP on -line? Not stuff you've consigned to the box under the bed, not the odd essay or poem or old short story, but a proper WIP?
I suppose not.
Obviously, some writers do it in a sincere desire for feed-back. They wonder if this works or if that works. Edit-on-line.
Others, perhaps in the painfully innocent hope of being "discovered," like a Holywood waitress, by some editor or agent passing by.
Some just to share. A gift of sorts. Hey, I wrote this. You might like it.
The reasons may be multitude.
Perhaps the worst reason I have seen - and this is just my opinion - is the suggestion that hurling one's work out into the void like that is excellent training for the slings and arrows department, practice for the time when one stands naked as in a dream before reviewers and the reading public.
Now it's one thing to accept rejection and criticism from editors and agents. We presume they know what they are doing. It is quite another to put unpublished works up to the world without the comfort of an existing contract stuffed down one's left bra cup.
Seems to me this is akin to cursing and otherwise abusing your kids to get them used to the kind of cruelty they may encounter outside the home.
Casting aside a number of legitimate anxieties a writer may have regarding the wisdom of this route, in the long term, is it A Good Thing to blog your novel? How do editors and agents view the buyability of blog material so presented? To me, if one is a serious writer, intent on becoming published, that is the final and only criteria.

7 comments:

jason evans said...

Bernita,

Publishing contracts always include a representation and warranty from the author that the work has not been published elsewhere. Posting on the internet constitutes publishing. Therefore, it's not a good idea to blog your novel. Andrew Zack, literary agent, over at the absolutewrite forums, stated that he has authors quietly remove any postings of their novels from the internet when a publishing contract is negotiated. Probably better not to do it in the first place.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Jason. Very much. That was what I suspected, logically, but did not know.
I assume that the odd short scene does not violate this proscription, as a work in toto, and described as such, would.

jason evans said...

You'd probably be okay with a short scene, especially as a work in progress that might be tweaked later. I've thought about doing it too, actually. So far, however, I've decided to write special material for my blog, material which will never be sold.

Angela James said...

I've seen authors blog unpublished excerpts and I think some of them are even uncontracted. But, like Jason, I believe that one or two short scenes from a book is much different than whole chapters from the work itself.

The authors that I know and have worked with are very careful about where they post excerpts such as these and most of them have a publisher in mind and know that publisher's standard for this type of situation.

Bernita said...

Since most prose is WIP until the last galley is sunk off the Peloponnese, it appears that short scenes are permissible then.
Or first pages for critique.
With care.

nessili said...

Thanks for asking this question. I'd considered doing the same thing, and even putting whole chapters of my finished manuscript up on my blog, but I think I shan't now.
For the record, do you think this would apply to the NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month www.nanowrimo.org )project?

Bernita said...

The challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in within a certain period of time?
It's published on-line.
So the same thing might apply.
Seems to me the real question is would this attempt/win bring you to the attention of agents and/or publishers, who then might be interested in what else you've written.
Are there examples of that?
Is it a contest that impresses those same agents/editors as a publishing credit?
BTW, Nessili, I liked what you said about "inhaling" books.