As those who have been following my post are aware, I have been in a quandary for some time about whether or not I should posts parts of my epic fantasy/science fiction series, Gods Among Men, onto the wild and wacky world wide web. I have dithered and dallied about whether I should post at all, or if I should only post out of context vignettes, or if I should post on a different blog or website than this, and so forth.
I sought the advice of friends and searched the web for the opinions of those more professional than myself. In the process, I stumbled across Jane Friedman.
Who the Heck is Jane Friedman?
Jane Friedman is the publisher and editorial director of the Writer’s Digest brand community at F+W Media. She oversees Writer’s Digest magazine, Writer’s Digest Books, and the Writer’s Market series.
For those who don’t know, Writer’s Digest is one of, if not the best, resource and community for writers. For almost 90 years they have published the best-selling annual reference guide, Writer’s Market.
Jane herself is the author of Beginning Writer’s Answer Book and maintains a blog on the industry as part of the Writer’s Digest community, called There Are No Rules.
So What Does She Have to Do With Anything?
Jane’s blog posts contain a wealth of information, and I was impressed with how clearly she covered complex topics. I wrote to her asking for advice, and she was kind enough to reply. What she said deeply affected my internal debate, and I thought it would benefit others like myself. I asked her if I could include her reply in a blog post. She agreed, and so I shall. To give her answer context, I shall also include my original missive to her first.
Here is What I Wrote
I am an amateur writer with delusions of grandeur. I am working on a very long, very complicated story that I hope to have published some day. I have a public blog at http://magiccitywriters.blogspot.com/ where I post regularly. The blog is ostensibly for my writers’ group, and others do post there on occasion, but the vast majority of posts are written by me.
Recently I have been considering posting parts of the first draft of my story as I write it. I believe doing so would motivate me to complete my first draft faster. Also, I think I can organize my work better by assigning appropriate search tags to my posts. As a side benefit, I might be able to generate interest for my story among those who stumble across my blog and read the sections of the story that I post.
I am concerned, however, that by putting parts of my work in a public blog that I will harm my chances of later having my story accepted by a publisher. I fear that I might be rejected simply because significant portions of my story are in a blog, either public or private. And I am uncertain what effects such post would have on my rights and copyrights concerning my story.
I have tried to find information that could offer guidance on this issue, but have not had much success. In the process I stumbled across your blog, “There Are No Rules“, and was impressed by the quality of your posts. This in turn prompted me to ask for your advice on this subject.
I understand, of course, that your advice would simply reflect your opinion. That said, you are a professional writer with significantly more knowledge and experience than I have. Any help or insight you care to offer would be much appreciated. I would also be interested in any web sites, books, or other materials you know of that might enlighten me on this subject.
Thank you in advance for your you time and consideration.
And Here is Her Reply
Thanks so much for writing.
I hear from many writers who are concerned about making their work available online before publication, but you really have no need to worry.
On my blog, I’ve touched on this topic, e.g.,:
Always keep in mind that the online world (and the audience you might find there) is often a good start to developing a fan base, but it’s a very different audience than what a traditional publisher would typically reach through bookstore channels, and rarely will a publisher see your online following as a detriment. In fact, it’s often a big plus.
Scott Sigler (www.scottsigler.com) is an excellent example of someone who has made his work available for free (as podcasts) and used it to succeed and land a traditional publishing deal.
By posting your work online, you are not relinquishing any rights to it (you still hold copyright), and you can always take it down later if it becomes advantageous to do so.
Hope this helps. For new writers trying to get established, the more exposure, the better.
And My Final Decision Is…
It is hard to imagine someone more authoritative giving advice that is more clear. The post she links to is even more explicit and addresses exactly the questions I have been wrestling with. I recommend all aspiring writers read it.
Ergo, I have decided to make parts of my story available online in the very near future.
In the process of making this decision, I have also concluded that this blog is not the right venue for me to post my story. It would be impossible to organize Gods Among Men in a way that would make it easy to follow here. Plus, I just don’t feel right about co-opting this forum to that degree. This blog is supposed to be about science fiction and fantasy writing in general, with a focus on the Magic City Writers, plural. It is about the challenges commonly faced by writers, not a soapbox dedicated to my personal self-indulgent preening.
The posts I have written about whether or not to make my story available online do raise legitimate topics for discussion here. The choices I have faced reflect decisions all writer’s must grapple with at some point. But if I were to post my stories themselves here it would dilute the purpose of this blog more than I believe is acceptable.
I could start another blog and force it to reflect my story’s structure, but that isn’t terribly easy to do, nor does it address longer term needs that might arise.
Instead, I have decided to create a web-site dedicated solely to Gods Among Men. I have purchased a domain, Gods-Among-Men.com, and have begun developing a place designed to host my story appropriately. Right now the site is nothing to look at, just a few lines of text that I scribbled out to create a home page and a WordPress hosted blog. I have published my first post on that blog, but that is all I’ve had time to do so far.
I will organize the site so that it is easy to follow Gods Among Men in sequential order, or jump to specific chapters. I will start with posting my most finished chapters, then later post first drafts and even partial drafts of scenes and chapters. I shall label each accordingly, so those who decide to follow the development of my story can see the transition from drivel to final version. I shall make blog posts there as well as here on a regular basis. On the new site I will focus my post at that site on the details of my story (such as the background mythology and my insights into the plot and characters), while here I shall focus on the problems faced by writers in general.
Fear not, I shall keep you informed as my new site develops. I will, no doubt, face many challenges common to other writers in my position. Such problems are topics worth discussing here and may well be valuable to others.
I will let you know when the new site is ready for visitors. I hope you will come and visit it often. Until next time, have fun.