Publishing a Book on the Web for Free in Installments

What's going on in your writing world? Connect with the writing community here and talk about whatever's on your mind.
Norman P. Jones
Private E-1
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:56 am

Publishing a Book on the Web for Free in Installments

Postby Norman P. Jones » Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:19 am

Hello Everyone,

I hope you’ll excuse me for stumbling in on you like this, but perhaps you can help me with some advice.

I am not a professional author, nor will I ever be, but I do enjoy writing. So I feel that I cannot possibly keep up with anyone of you hopefully reading this.

My problem is the following: I have completed a suspense novel of just over 200 000 words (I know, I know), and it’s been rejected by a fairly large number of agents and publishers. Probably because it’s a dud, I couldn’t say, it’s hard to judge. Most of them (bar one) were very nice about it.

Now there are two possibilities, as far as I can see: one would be to just have it vanish in a desk drawer forever, or, and this leads to my question, just chuck it out on the web for free. Perhaps there’ll be someone out there who’ll enjoy it. You never know, it takes all sorts.

The ideal way to do this would be, of course, to find a site that would enable me to just upload the manuscript in weekly installments. To me it would feel like getting rid of the sodding (I’m British) thing at last and have done with it.

At the same time it would be a shame if I placed it on some obscure site where it would sink like a stone or set up some author’s blog site where the work necessary to get it known would take more effort than the book itself. Some feedback now and again would also be appreciated, perhaps even a timid request for the next installment? I can dream.

Anyway, my question is: does anyone know of such a site and point me in the right direction? That would be very much appreciated.

Regards
Norman

User avatar
pls
Site Admin
 
Posts: 9274
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2008 6:52 am

Re: Publishing a Book on the Web for Free in Installments

Postby pls » Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:00 pm

I'll move this to the proper forum.
Facebook page (Friend me!): http://www.facebook.com/TheHighSchoolNovels

ChaoticTheorem
Private E-1
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2015 9:27 pm

Re: Publishing a Book on the Web for Free in Installments

Postby ChaoticTheorem » Wed Sep 07, 2016 1:41 pm

Don't get ahead of yourself: there's a third option.

Instead of just chucking the thing in a bin, why don't you revise the ms? Take a second read through and try to locate problems in the prose or story etc. Another option is to get a beta-reader. Either pay for one or find a trusted friend who you think might be of some help. Trust me, paying a fee for a beta-reader or taking the extra time to revise your ms will be well worth the effort if an agent/publisher does decide to represent you.

If that doesn't seem appealing, you can still upload the ms online.

One option is to self-publish through amazonKDP or smashwords. Another option is a service like wattpad where you can upload your ms in intervals for people to read.

I wish you the best of luck.

Norman P. Jones
Private E-1
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:56 am

Re: Publishing a Book on the Web for Free in Installments

Postby Norman P. Jones » Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:40 pm

Hi ChaoticTheorem, thank you for your reply,

In principle I would agree that that would be a viable option, but in my case it there are several reasons why this would be unsatisfying. Please let me explain:

Since I wrote the book, I’ve moved on to another one (well two in parallel, actually). I’m done with this one that I want to post online, and it seems a waist of effort to go back and fiddle around with it. The effort and time it took to write was more than sufficient. It would be moving backwards instead of forwards.

The effort of trying to immerse myself into a quite complicated plot, of which I’ve forgotten a lot of details about in the meantime, isn’t something that I feel would pay off, especially considering my next point below:

Since I don’t know what’s so wrong with the book that it seems unpublishable (it might be mainly a market thing, I don’t know), I might be tweaking all the irrelevant points, and perhaps even making it worse. If I could get some feedback from readers on the net, this option would appear far more constructive and help with the books that I’m working on at this time.

I should mention that during the writing process I was in contact with a British book club (I personally know some of the members), and it was originally down to their encouragement that I decided to try and get the book published in the first place. It wasn’t even my idea.

Your suggestion concerning a paid beta reader would be an option of course, but I don’t intend to spend money on this, it’s just not worth it, I find. I’ve had offers from vanity publishers that took me completely by surprise, and I didn’t throw cash at them either. I didn’t even know such a ridiculous thing exists.

Anyway, to be honest, I myself am quite happy with the way it is. Details could always be changed, of course, but even small changes would probably require massive rewrites, because everything is so tightly interconnected. One small change on page 192 might require large rewrites in four to five other places so as not to destroy the logic and cause massive plot holes. Perhaps it would help if I explained that the book in question, ‘Marniss’, is a seething mass of red herrings (school of red herrings?), and I have gone to an enormous effort to make sure that the book is plot hole free. The whole story is a very delicately balanced house of cards.

The plot hole aspect is extremely important to me. I can still enjoy a book with questionable prose or style etc., but if a story suddenly logically falls apart for no explained reason, then that finishes it for me. Just a 'thing' of mine. If someone were to find a plot hole in my story that I hadn't thought of, I would find that extremely embarrassing.

But the good news is: I’ve found a website called booksie.com that does exactly what I was looking for. I already published the prologue there yesterday, and the rest will follow in weekly installments.

I would be grateful, by the way, if anyone here would have a look at my book on that site (shameless self promotion here) and perhaps leave a comment. That would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you again for your reply.

Regards
Norman

User avatar
Oldtimer
Colonel
 
Posts: 2769
Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2007 3:26 am
Location: New Hampshire

Re: Publishing a Book on the Web for Free in Installments

Postby Oldtimer » Thu Sep 08, 2016 9:09 am

Speaking as a self-published writer, I would say that your main obstacle to being traditionally published is the length of your manuscript. That's an awfully long story you have there. Can you whittle it down? Look for favorite padding words (I keep using 'all' and 'just'). Removing them could cut the length without damaging the content. On the other hand, as long as it's free, there seems no harm in offering your novel chunk by chunk on that web site you found if you intend to abandon traditional publishing. Once your book is out there for free, agents usually won't touch it with a barge pole. (I'm also British.)
Read samples of my Martian series (by Dorothy Piper) and two romances (by Joni Havel) on Smashwords.
Hard copies of all are on Amazon.

User avatar
cynicalwanderer
Sergeant Major of the Army
 
Posts: 416
Joined: Tue May 03, 2016 8:44 am
Location: London, UK

Re: Publishing a Book on the Web for Free in Installments

Postby cynicalwanderer » Thu Sep 08, 2016 9:41 am

I can totally understand that if you've moved on mentally into your new projects, you won't feel like going back and rehashing over old ground. I myself have a 238,000 word draft of an absolute piece of garbage that will never, ever be escaping from its prison in my computer-filing equivalent of the bottom desk drawer. But I'd suggest you should at least try your best to learn from what went wrong, what bad habits you might have that need to be overcome in your next book, and so on. At least then it'll serve to have a new purpose as educational value for your skills to improve.

I popped over to booksie and skimmed through your piece. What stood out the most was the use of characters talking exposition at each other, so that you could pump out things you felt the reader would need to know immediately, such as the female char having fought in Afghanistan. Presumably this is laying the ground to explain some later ass-kicking prowess, but by forcing that bit of exposition in (as well as the other chattiness/flirting) during a scene where the chars are supposedly in danger and being chased, it comes off feeling out of place. Instead, you might be better off cutting out all that backfill and character development entirely, and just focus on the action, and give hints here and there about deeper revelations to come, and then trickle in needed info much more sparingly as the book goes on.

As it is, the blurb for your story does sound like an interesting concept that - if I'd seen it on Amazon, say - would draw my interest and have me checking user reviews next, but the execution in the first part seems a bit unfocused and meandering, and it may have been rejected for that reason. Your prose itself is of good enough quality, so I think if you concentrate on tightening up your structure and work at reducing the tendency for padding and exposition-dumping and out-of-place character reactions, you'll soon be able to rise to the next level. Another possible source of feedback is to post excerpts in various places online. The critique pool on this site is fairly small, so perhaps try somewhere like Scribophile which can score you a lot of ruthlessly honest feedback pretty quickly. Anyway, don't be discouraged - every writer has one or more first-time duds they'd rather cut out of their will, so learn from your mistakes, improve over time, and keep on keeping at it.
"I've stopped giving advice. Even when people ask for it, they resent getting it." -Ross Macdonald.

Norman P. Jones
Private E-1
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:56 am

Re: Publishing a Book on the Web for Free in Installments

Postby Norman P. Jones » Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:35 pm

Thank you very much for your comments. I had a closer look at the manuscript and it made me realize
that your points are very valid and I would have to correct those shortcomings, if I ever decide to go back to it.

When I think back to the time I was writing it, I remember that at the time the out of context reactions
were deliberate, because I was trying to give the narrative a slightly light-hearted angle even during
the more intensive scenes. I was probably trying to avoid taking myself and the story too seriously,
and this seems to have back fired. Oh well, I've learnt now not to try and do that.

(Later): I had another think and a look at the manuscript and the memory came back (it's been a long while I've
even thought about it): the light-hearted approach turns up all over the story, so if it's out of place
there, it's also out of place all over the book. While I was writing the story I was conscious of the fact that
I was spoofing what I was writing while trying not to make it obvious. There are also plenty of scenes that
are intentionally over-the-top. I still like that idea, but I'll have to try and find a way to make the general
atmosphere more obvious. I obviously tripped over my own intentions there.

The trouble is that when I’m writing, it puts me in a good mood and I transfer that to paper (or screen). I’ll
have to find a way to stop that. :D

Oh, one more thing: the passage about Afghanistan and ass-kicking prowess - sorry, not even close :)
Last edited by Norman P. Jones on Thu Sep 08, 2016 3:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
DrG2
Colonel
 
Posts: 2728
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:13 pm

Re: Publishing a Book on the Web for Free in Installments

Postby DrG2 » Thu Sep 08, 2016 2:35 pm

I looked at the prologue, too, and the writing is clean and clear, though there were some minor issues. At least you don't need to learn grammar like most unpublished writers I see. I don't know the story, but it seems like something that could be worked on and improved.

The biggest problem for me was where you started the story, requiring the characters to talk about the action that had just happened, rather than showing the reader that action. Getting rear-ended on the highway seems like something that should be dramatized, not told in exposition.

If you just want to get it out so you can stamp "done" on the issue, it doesn't really matter what you do. Post chapters on a blog, or upload the whole thing to be sold on Amazon, or post it on one of the unprotected free writers sites. If you think it might attract many readers, post it on a blog. If you think it might make some money, sell ebooks on Amazon (and elsewhere). If you just want to put it out there, post it where readers can see it for free. If you don't want potential future readers to be influenced by this work, post it under a pen name.

Depends on your objectives.

Norman P. Jones
Private E-1
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:56 am

Re: Publishing a Book on the Web for Free in Installments

Postby Norman P. Jones » Thu Sep 08, 2016 4:09 pm

Hi DrG2, thank you for taken the time to look at the prologue (and parts of chapter 1, apparently) and taking the time to write your comments. Much appreciated.

In return I’d like to reply by explaining a few details about the story and my reasons for choosing some of the approaches I used.

First of all, I intentionally strayed from the conventions here and there, one of these (in fact, the first) being the description of the chase instead of the chase itself. In general, the further the story progresses, the more it becomes dialogue driven, and the part you mention is only the beginning of this kind of thing. A car chase is a car chase is a car chase, and everyone and his mum writes one, and they’re always the same. In a word: boring, like 70s TV detective series. So my intention was to stray from the admittedly proven path and use another approach. Probably not very wise, but I had fun with it anyway.

Another thing, and this is also in reply to Cynincalwanderer’s post above, from what I gathered by some of the feedback I had, everyone I spoke to seems to be so used to conventional plot development that it seems difficult to accept that a mechanism that has been used a thousand times to produce a certain effect, might not be used the same way as everyone's more or less accustomed to. It’s almost like battling an inbred reflex obtained through repetition. It’s a bit difficult to describe.

Cynincalwanderer’s Afghanistan comment above is a case in point. Now, while I was writing the book, I took some time and analyzed the way red herrings and plot pointers work in other stories. Stripped down to their bare bones, there don’t seem to be very many basic variations and even less basic principles, and if used correctly, they work wonderfully.

Now, with this in mind, I wondered if they could be twisted into something unexpected, i.e. use them in an unexpected way; negate them, even. This happens several times later on in the story though, and will be released in the coming weeks.

I took some of these mechanisms and twisted them so that they worked against themselves. This means that there are some red herrings in the story that do exactly the opposite of what they’re normally intended to do. Of course this only works if the reader is aware of the function of red herrings and is always, sometimes even subconsciously, on the lookout for them.

The problem, I find now, is that what I intended to be a trip up the garden path for the reader, now works against the story, because the reader thinks he knows what he can expect from such a ruse and dismisses it. I hope I’m not being too unclear here; I admit I find it a bit hard to explain off the top of my head.

So what is apparently happening, is that the reader comes across a passage that contains a mechanism he thinks he knows, and then dismisses it because he thinks he knows it. If he carries on reading, he’ll be in for a surprise further down the line, though. But I’m wondering whether at this point too much damage has already been done.

If this is how it works, my story doesn’t have a chance, because a lot of these twisted herrings inside other red herrings only come to light too late because by that time damage has already been done. By that time, it’s quite possible that the reader will have lost interest because he (wrongly) assumes that he knows what's going on. On the other hand I can’t reveal them sooner, because that would effectively destroy the plot flow.

From some of these comments, I feel that my story is facing an uphíll battle against preconceptions and ingrained reading routine.

Later on, you would find that not only did I misuse the red herring tool, but another thing I did (and I’m very doubtful about this now) was to deliberately throw in a number of plot inconsistencies that will get resolved further along the line.

Now if this was to work the same way as the red herring ruses, it’s quite possible that the reader will stop reading because he feels that I’ve messed up, while in fact the structure of the story leads towards resolving these inconsistencies.

I think I might be straining the reader’s patience a bit too much. Oh well, live and learn.

Sorry for going on a bit, and please don’t hesitate to ask, if you feel I should be a bit clearer on some of these points. Re-reading this, I know that I would .

Anyway, thanks again,
Regards
Norman

User avatar
cynicalwanderer
Sergeant Major of the Army
 
Posts: 416
Joined: Tue May 03, 2016 8:44 am
Location: London, UK

Re: Publishing a Book on the Web for Free in Installments

Postby cynicalwanderer » Fri Sep 09, 2016 4:02 am

Hi Norman,

There's nothing wrong with writing a good satire or parody, and having fun with subverting genre expectations. Fooling the reader with red herrings can work in that style, as long as you're fair about it - even with a spoof, the principle of Chekhov's Gun (if you show a gun in act one, it should get fired by act three) still applies as far as not cheating the reader goes; the difference being that an alternate, funny explanation for the red herring turns out to overthrow the assumption the reader made - that's the essence of parody humour writing in a nutshell.

So it's not necessarily your stylistic choices holding the story back - there is certainly a market for genre deconstruction wordplay. Perhaps in this case though, you've been too obtuse about letting the reader in on the joke. Reading it as straight, it jars as feeling unfocused and full of out of context info-dumps; even after you've explained your intentions here (and any piece that only works once an author has explained it first is, unfortunately, not working) the point still remains that even if you're breaking the rules, you still need to retain a satisfying story structure overall. It's one thing to try to buck the tired cliches of writing Generic Car Chase #453, but not by plumping for the far worse of sin of putting it in an offstage chunk of exposition instead. I do get what you're trying to do, and I'm sure some of those red herring chains do unfold beautifully further down the track, but as you've feared, a lot of readers will likely drop off out of confusion before reaching that point.

It's certainly salvageable. If you were to rewrite it, I'd suggest a tonal shift to ramp up the comedic aspect more overtly. Make it clear from the outset that this is a parody/satire/spoof, play more with the absurdity of the genre conventions you're spoofing, and make it clearer that you're here to tease the reader. If for example, the Afghanistan red herring is that she was the camp cook or something and can't actually fight, then pull that out of the bag right away as they're running away. Get the reader locked into the fact that this is a parody early on, put them in the right mindset to appreciate subtle jokes and genre overthrows, and you can make it work. Whereas if you try for a bait-and-switch where they think it's a generic thriller and only later find out it's a parody, you're likely to just give readers the wrong impression and lose their interest.

So basically, I'm saying that it's fine to subvert a genre, but don't subvert the idea of solid story structure. An info-dump description of a car chase is always going to smell, no matter how cleverly it spoofs the idea that car chases are ubiquitous. Similarly, having chars chat and flirt in an off-topic way while they're in the midst of being pursued is going to strike readers as being unrealistic, even if your intentions were to show up the absurdity of doing so, as some sort of genre-defying meta joke. Overall, I think if this was rewritten more tightly so as to clue the reader in as to what they're getting, and if you ruthlessly chop it down to about half of its length, you'll have something pretty good.
"I've stopped giving advice. Even when people ask for it, they resent getting it." -Ross Macdonald.

Next

Return to Writers' Block Party

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 24 guests

cron