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Spent a long career making lots of money for other people. Now it's my turn. _____________________________ Email:

Monday, February 20, 2006

What's Under the Help Icon?

A relative newbie on the block in the community of blog, I'm curious as to what a newbie's expectations should be for general help with writing product.

I have already discovered the blogs of the myriad of writers here to be educational for sure. In addition, I often find answers to questions that concern industry specific information, organization techniques for plot development, contract considerations, marketing and the like. What I have not found much discussion about, however, is what one should, or should not, post-up of work product which is intended by the writer for eventual publication. So, today I'll ask.

1). Is it appropriate to post work product generally that is intended for eventual publication?

2). If yes, is it appropriate to do so on a regular basis---once or more per week for example?

3). Should a writer post his/her material with the expectation of "free" editing and scene improvement suggestions from other writers in the blog community?

Thank you.


Blogger Bernita said...

Perhaps you should only expect editing suggestions if you request them specifically, Erik.
Otherwise posters might fear they are being rude to offer them.
It seems there is no definitive answer to your other questions. Some claim absolutely not, other say the work will have been so altered by revision that no problem insued with a potential publisher.
We've all chewed over those ones.

2:21 PM EST  
Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

I'm planning a post on editing for tonight, Erik. You might find it of interest.

3:40 PM EST  
Blogger jason evans said...

Posting constitutes "publication," so if you intend to submit a piece later, be careful. Publishers want to be the first. Contracts will contain a representation that the work has not been published before.

It appears that most of the time, the situation can be remedied by pulling the material off the internet before signing a contract. Novel excerpts seem to be handled that way. Posting whole short stories, though, might be more a problem, since the entire product is floating in the virtual world.

As for critiques, just ask. I'm sure folks would be happy to give their views!

5:49 PM EST  
Blogger R.J. Baker said...

There seems to be a lot of gray and murky areas when it comes to online publication.

I have submitted work to a few online ezines and even printed magazines that consider any online publication as prior original first time publication.

Anything that is posted online in raw form will likely be revised many times prior to actual publication and herein lies the rub.

Most ezines pay either very little of mnothing at all. The few larger markets pay pretty well.

For me if I think the story does not market well to paying markets then I will post a portion otr maybe all of the story because all I have to lose is a possible story pub. credit.

Any story, scene, or chapter that I am angling for paid publication either in novel or magazine does not get posted online.

That being said, I do post experimental or developmental writing on my blog for comment. I hope this helps.

6:20 PM EST  
Blogger Lisa S. said...

I wouldn't be comfortable with putting much of anything of the book length "works in progress" in my blog. And even the short-short I've submitted to a couple of e-zines & another I'm working on; I'm not posting those in my blog.

I'd prefer to keep previews and crit out of the blogisphere.

I'm agreeing with jason on the contractual stuff but also, I'm going to take it further since pages can be cached or in the extreme, found archived in the Internet Wayback Machine.

If you're going to post on your blog ANY of your writing, make sure you contact the Wayback Machine and specifically request that they do not spider your site.

11:33 PM EST  
Anonymous jamie ford said...

It's my understanding that you can post up to 10% of a novel, or non-fiction book for that matter. Beyond that and you risk it being considered "published".

11:37 PM EST  
Blogger Shesawriter said...

I think if you want crits you should ask for them. Most people are a bit tentative about posting nits on another author's work. As for posting your work, it's all up to you.


12:34 AM EST  
Blogger Dana Y. T. Lin said...

I'd stick with finding a good writers group.

1:57 AM EST  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

I don't think I'd go with critiques off the blog. As nice as we all surely are, you don't have a mechanism for establishing the value of the advice - just anyone can stoll along and say whatever and maybe all they do is play at writing, have no particular skill and don't know what they're talking about.

And Jason is dead right about posting being "publication". It is in my contract that my work can't be posted - and I had to assert it hadn't been posted before signing. So if you want to use something and you're putting it up on the internet, be warned that some publishers aren't going to even consider a re-write on it.

6:50 AM EST  
Blogger Erik Ivan James said...

jamie ford: Thanks for visiting. I'm honored.

the rest: Your comments are meaningful and appreciated. I'll leave this post up for a few days. It seems to be an important subject.

7:46 AM EST  
Blogger S. R. Hatcher said...

I wouldn't publish over a few brief excerpts. Leaves the rest for your critique group and keep you WIP out of the blogosphere. There are several good reasons the main one being, your ideas can be easily viewed and used somewhere else.

8:57 AM EST  
Blogger Adam Hurtubise said...

Great post and great comments.

I always err on the side of caution.

Failing that, I always do what my agents tell me to do.

So far, they've said, "Don't share your work with anybody but us."

"Us" means my agents, my wife and a couple of trusted readers.

Anyway, that's why I don't post my work. I don't even post the topic of my work.

Great post.


11:05 AM EST  
Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

If you have something really unique, Eric, I wouldn't put it up. Try and find a critique group.

11:06 AM EST  
Blogger Jaye Wells said...

I wouldn't post something I am planning on publishing. Anything I do post is usually just for fun. It's a risky proposition to put your work out there. Especially on the Internet where you have no control over who sees it. There are some people who thrive on tearing other people down.

Another caveat, I think some people post stuff in the hopes that readers will sing their praises and thus build up the writer's confidence. I don't think anyone should trust strangers for that kind of affirmation.

But all that aside, I will say that sometimes it's fun to get a peek into what other writer's do.

11:34 AM EST  
Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

I want to address something RJ said:

"For me if I think the story does not market well to paying markets then I will post a portion otr maybe all of the story because all I have to lose is a possible story pub. credit."

Actually, you lose something else too.

You aren't eligible to enter that, and there's a decent cash prize involved, unless you submit to an ezine with an editorial process.

Plenty of ezines pay garbage, because ezines like Spinetingler, for example, have ad revenue. Actually, essentially no revenue at all. Expenses come entirely out of the editor's pockets.

But they offer writers validation that someone committed to promoting short fiction finds merit in their work. And agents and publishers have all asked me for online publishing credit references because they can check out my work at the press of a button instead of driving around to stores trying to find some obscure Canadian magazine.

So I don't think it's a waste at all to submit to ezines, but that's me, personally. I actually believe I am exactly where I am in my career because of online work...but that's another story.

11:53 AM EST  
Blogger M. G. Tarquini said...

The money isn't in the ezines, but it's where fellow writers read your work. There's a lot to be said for that.

2:21 PM EST  
Anonymous kathie said...

Hey, I've been thinking about this topic, too. I've been toying with the notion of doing fun writes, that invite commenters to build on a story, just for fun. Maybe come up with an aspect of writing to focus on (such as character) and see what comes of such a story. Maybe too immature, but I'd like to put stuff out there, though not my next novel. Great questions. I've heard that putting something on the web doesn't constitute published...but maybe it's like the whole "if a tree falls in the forest and no one's there to hear it..." thing. I'll check back to get your final thoughts!

8:06 PM EST  
Blogger JA Konrath said...

Post whatever you like.

My publisher allows me to use up to 5000 words from my novels for promotional reasons (website excerpts, chapbooks, etc.)

They would not have cared if parts of the book were published prior to publication.

Magazines and anthologies don't care either. I've sold many stories that i had up for free on my website, and I just bought two stories for an anthology I'm editing that I first read on the Internet.

Publication means print.

My advice, if you're worried about it: post what you want, but don't announce it in query letters.

9:26 PM EST  
Blogger JA Konrath said...

They would not have cared if parts of the book were published prior to publication.

That should have read web published.

9:27 PM EST  
Blogger Erik Ivan James said...

Wow! It certainly is a first class group of people that travel this blog community. Your taking the time to add your valuable input here is greatly appreciated.

Adam, Kathie and JA; thank you for stopping by. The door will always be open to you.

8:09 AM EST  

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