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Publishing Fiction on a Blog

Categories: blogs and online writing.
Hi Writers,
One of the questions that came up when I originally posted my 20 tips for good blogging was the issue of whether or not it makes sense to post your fiction online.

And the answer is, well, it depends. It’s important to think hard about what your writing and publishing goals are before you decide to post your original fiction online.

A few points worth considering:
• Are you hoping to get your piece published elsewhere? If so, it’s wise to reconsider posting a full story on your blog, since many editors will consider this previously published content, and therefore won’t accept it for publication. Put yourself in an editor’s shoes: if a story is available in full online already, what’s the point of including it in a book or literary journal (online or print).

• Yes, a blog can help you develop a readership, or perhaps even snag the attention of an editor or agent. But again, consider the consequences of publishing full stories or novel chapters online. A better tactic might be to publish excerpts to give readers a taste of your work.

• If you’re posting your work online as a means of creative expression or simply to get feedback, sure, go ahead and post your fiction on your blog—just know that you might be giving up the chance to get it traditionally published later.    

For a thorough read on the topic of what’s considered published and what isn’t, go to
Shades of Gray by Jordan E. Rosenfeld

Here’s a brief excerpt:
Perhaps the grayest area of all is the blog. In the beginning, bloggers were seen as little more than confessional diarists posting their ramblings on the Internet for anyone to stumble across. Because numerous bloggers are prolific and even respected now, however, the issue of blog publishing leaves a lot of editors uneasy. Most agree that content that appeared on a personal blog doesn’t count as being published—as it hasn’t gone through a committee process—but some still prefer not to publish it. If you aspire to publish in a particular journal, you’re better off keeping prospective pieces off the blogosphere altogether.

Do you publish your original fiction on your blog? If so, how’s that working out?

Keep Writing,
Maria

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15 Responses to Publishing Fiction on a Blog

  1. KATY NESTOR says:

    I’m publishing LE PUZZLE DE LA VERITE since August 2006, the testimony of the dramatic consequences mariage without a contract can have in order to draw attention of the public to this legal abuse which can destroy your life. With about 2000 visitors/month, I have the impression people are not very fond of being confronted with serious topics on the Internet, but it is an opportunity to speak out loudly. That’s why you should go on, with or without a tangible result.
    http://attentiondanger.over-blog.com

  2. Duane Lanham says:

    I try to post a 500 word short-short story a day based on writing prompts. Not only does it help my writing, but it gives me added motivation since I know that someone out there might actually read it. I’m quite proud of these actually.
    http://www.stuffedpocket.blogspot.com. Please visit.

  3. Lisa Abeyta says:

    I would never publish something on my blog that I wanted to sell. It’s counterintuitive. On the other hand, I’ve developed previous blog entries into new pieces which I later sold. My diet blog has original entries going back over a year, and it has definitely helped build readership and loyalty, and I’ve received very positive feedback from them when they read an article in my column based on a previous entry – it’s kind of an insider thing. And when I pitch something based on a blog entry, I am always up front with the publication and editor in question. It’s never lost me a sale yet.

  4. Lipna says:

    Great suggestions…I think beginners should keep writing online more and get more and more sugestion from others…once they reach a stage and are confident enough and you really want to publish somethign professionally, online publishing should be reconsidered…

  5. Chris says:

    My first thought is to be cautious when publishing anything original, fiction or not. When I’m not writing, I’m painting. I’ve known several artists who have had works copied after publishing images to the web. Sometimes an email is sufficient to get a copied artwork removed. Other times, it has not. The Internet isn’t necessarily the safest place.

  6. Lynn Emery says:

    I’m publishing a serial mystery using a blog. I started it just to stretch and tell a story that spins off from an earlier novel (Night Magic, released in 1995). I had no intention of selling this story. Of course I’m taking my time because I’m working on a murder mystery that I plan to send out. I love writing short episodes and posting them. Designing the layout of the blog was a lot of fun as well. Will it increase sales when my next book is released? I have no idea. But I’m having a great time with it.

  7. Kelley says:

    I have two flash pieces on my blog. Both are nonserious, silly pieces that fit with its theme, and are throwaways. I mean this in the sense that like my blog posts, they are written specifically for the blog, never for submittal and publication.

    They both serve specific purposes-one, again, for theme, the other was part of a blog fiction blitz. That one still attracts traffic. The other got me a writing assignment, someone enjoyed it enough. So, even though they’re throwaways, they’ve been effective.

    I think fiction on a blog can be effective, even necessary to a successful blog. But I would never post any fiction I was writing for publication, save a line or two. Eventually I hope to have an author website and a book excerpt would go there, but that’s it.

  8. Not my own story, but Cory Doctorow also provides his work online, and he says that it has improved his sales. Baen books does the same thing with their Free Library, and the editor there says that both he and all the writers involved in it have seen their sales increase.

    The difference, of course, is that these are established authors who already have books published traditionally, using the Internet or their blogs as promotional tools. It remains to be seen if an unknown can do this.

  9. Phil Lanuto says:

    I’m putting my whole novel online at my site on booksie. It’s gotten thousands of reads and I’ve received feedback to improve it. I do plan to publish it, self-publish and then I’ll give readers the option of reading it online for free or buying it, or some combination of both.

    I can’t stomach the thought of going through the traditional publishing process. After all, the average published book sells about 2,000 copies and earns very little if any money. The economics for short stories and poems are even worse.

    The Web gives us all the opportunity to control our own destiny and go directly to readers. And if our novel is a hit online, I guarantee the money will come.

    Phil

  10. Hi Maria-
    Shades of Grey indeed… I do include snippets of my novel, as well as poems and micro-flash IN PROCESS, but never the complete or final version. I find I get some interesting feedback, as well ‘see’ my writing in a different light (much as printing and editing in a different font than courier). When posting, I keep an eye to attracting readership and gaining enthusiasm for my work and, as I am in the querying stage, to demonstrate versatility to potential agents and/or editors.

    Great posts lately on blogging… thanks! Peace, Linda

  11. Karla says:

    Hi, Maria,

    I agree with the idea that some readers would not want to buy anything in book form if it’s already available online, but I also believe that there’s a certain demographic that prefers reading something they can hold in their hands.

    Just thinking aloud: What if I compiled some profiles from a Website, had it published in coffee table book form with new and sharp photos that are not available online?

    I think I would buy that book. No other feeling comes close to the act of flipping through the pages of a book or bringing its pages to your nose and inhaling the aroma of printed paper. Or maybe I’m just old-fashioned because I can’t seem to finish reading a novel in e-book form!

    But you do have a point. Allow me to say how I appreciate your posts, and how helpful they are. More power!

    Cheers,
    K

  12. I had an old website, Today in Alternate History, (http://althistory.blogspot.com, now run by a protege), where I published a lot of snippets of story ideas. I’ve since used them to write a couple of novels, so I think it can be very useful as a brainstorming tool. TIAH also had quite a few readers and got me some good press, so it was good as exposure, too. I do fear that some of the longer pieces I published on it will give me problems when I try to expand and publish them traditionally, but that’s a hurdle I’ll have to leap when I get to it.

  13. Maria Schneider says:

    Hi Cheryl,
    Although I did specifically address this as a fiction topic, yes, I’d definitely have the same considerations about publishing nonfiction. I wouldn’t post a work in full that I hoped to later publish, although excerpts are great.

  14. Maria, what about non-fiction — essays, etc? Should we have the same concerns about publishing our non-fiction on blogs?

    Cheryl

  15. Scott B. says:

    Thank You so much Maria,

    The answer to this question came as expected.

    Your blog ispired me to start my very first wordpress blog, and I daresay, I love this since it allows me to observe how much editing is needed to make my words presentable to the public. I didn’t leave a link, yet, as I still haven’t found a voice, haha, too embarrassing at the moment. I mean, what am I writing about, my daily nonsense?

    I stumbled into a blog where a guy dishes out about 300 words a week on the ongoing life of a vampire, and though I probably wouldn’t include such a saguine character, I thought maybe this type of writing would give me a sense of purpose–the thrill of instant publishing is rather intriguing. I suspected, as you have clarified, that the story would be pretty much dust in the wind (and thank you so much for addressing this because I read your blog religiously!), but I was also thinking that if I submitted a query to a prospective agent or editor (for my real book), I would provide a link to the blog-story for an added taste of what I can do.

    Thanx again,
    Scott

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