Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Web Content

Hello Rejecter,

I just found your blog today and am hoping you can answer a question that I have been trying to find an answer to for a while. I've heard many writers mention recently that they have been asked by agents and publishers to have a blog and an established web presence before submitting for publication. I assume this is because you then have a pool of people who are already interested in your book.

My question is where does the line fall between developing a web presence and self publishing? Could having a blog and posting some of your work end up hurting a writer's chances of publishing their first book?

Harlan Ellison is very against this, but publishing today involves giving away a lot of things for free. He went on about this for five minutes or so in the documentary on him, Dreams with Sharp Teeth, but Harlan lives in a world of his own - specifically, the world of a well-published, extremely well-established and respected sci-fi writer who can demand money for things the rest of us give away for free.

Aside from Harlan's rant, I've never heard anything bad about publishing online first. I did it, and even kept the stuff up when it was published. I have heard a lot of great things about web presence, so that's something you should get behind. Web presence. Media presence. Facebook. Other words that sound important and justify blowing an afternoon on Facebook instead of getting work done. Hopefully my Farmville friends will start buying my books soon.

The only problem that comes along is when you sell the book to a publisher. The publisher then has the right, if they've bought digital rights, to ask you to take down you content. See, they own it. That's what you sold them - the right to copy and distribute your own work - and that's why they gave you money. Until the contract lapses, it has to stay down so that they can distribute it for a profit instead. My experience with publishers, though, is that they're not necessarily strict on enforcing this, depending on the publisher and the nature of the content. And the fact that some people plain old don't like to read books on computers.

14 comments:

Barbara Martin said...

This is encouraging and insightful.

Nicole MacDonald said...

Thanks for this! Just the post I've been hanging out for. Am slowly establishing myself on the net and considering more and more the e-book option.. once i have 1-2k followers ..*giggle*

Kali said...

Thank you for this post. It's always helpful to hear more about developing a web presence. I'm in your boat with the Farmville friends.

J.V. Altharas said...

Great post, as a first-time novelist I've been considering exactly this issue recently as I begin my search for an agent. I have work other than my novel that I can publish online, but I've been very leery about posting anything at all from my manuscript.

Chuck said...

I'm with you on this. Ellison had a good point in that oft-watched video, but he can only afford to be that way because of who he is. It is not realistic to adopt his approach if you're a new writer.

Thomas said...

Does it matter if the writing on a blog resembles that which is published? Some works lend themselves to the blog-style format and others to the printed page.

The Rejecter said...

There is totally a difference from having a blog and having a book (even an e-book) that you got a contract for, had professional editing done free of charge by the publishing company for, and get money for because people buy it.

LM Preston said...

I believe when you are in a contract with a publisher, if you make a great argument in support of increasing sales numbers, they may allow you to post snippits of your work. Communication is key.

Janet said...

Thanks for the post - and valuable information. I've been searching for a while now, trying to get a definitive answer to the question 'Should I post my fiction on my blog?'. I ended up creating a story specifically for my blog to showcase my writing AND not worry about whether it's considered 'published' or not!

Gives me hope that one day my blog story just might find a home in the publishing world :)

Fawn Neun said...

Harlan comes from the days of yore when magazines were hungry for fresh sci-fi and only a handful were creating it, and they argued down to the penny per word. These days of yore lasted longer than you'd think, even I recall them in the 80's, when I was a kid and thinking about writing for a living. In fact, that drilled into me for all those years had a really crippling effect on my writing career.

error7zero said...

Many blogs lack focus. They become free fall ramblings skipping from topic to topic. I suspect few publishers would be interested in such content, unless the writer is a celebrity or notorious.
Can't wait for the first book of someone's collected tweets.
That said, you do have to hone your craft, and a blog can be useful.

Ken Honeywell said...

Thanks, Rejecter. I'm in the process of finishing a blog novel that's been very well received on a big blog site, and have wondered whether blogging it would hinder my chances of selling it. I've always thought that it seemed like a big, diverse focus group: if a big blog audience likes it, it's a good sign.

Chris Wood said...

It's difficult to know how well you're doing. I've sold nearly 400 books from two titles over about a year and a half. I doubt this'll make me rich, but it's something.

I've heard the magic figure is 5,000, so the next one will have to do well.

Good post, as it's an unusual area.

Jess Stork said...

Darn. I don't have any farmville friends. <> another thing I'm doing wrong in the publishing world. Thanks Rejector, this post has been helpful. I had thought I could get around posting parts of my novel by talking about the research I did... But maybe I can also put up one of my short stories to showcase my writing...