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Thread: Blogs and Published Material
October 3rd, 2012, 12:42 AM #1
Blogs and Published Material
Had a question pop up while I was working on a blog setup. I've very obviously never been published, but I'm hoping to change that one of these days. I'm building a blog site that is related to a planned novel and possible series. I planned for the blog to contain small short stories and background that related to the world and characters that I've come up with. If I take small excerpts from the novel, but rework them, will this interfere with any publishing matters?
I'm not a novice to writing, but I am absolutely raw when it comes to the world of publishing, so I didn't want to put anything on the planned blog that might interfere with my works being published in some form. I hadn't thought of it until someone mentioned putting an anthology story on their blog.
Thoughts on this? Suggestions?
October 3rd, 2012, 08:18 AM #2
- Join Date
- Mar 2010
Generally publishers are okay with having 5-10% of your book available to read online, anymore than that and you might have trouble. If it's a 60k novel I wouldn't put up anymore than 6000 words (1-2 chapters) on your blog.
October 3rd, 2012, 09:05 AM #3
Well, didn't Fifty Shades start out as a fan blog according to the hearsay?
In any case, my own take is that I wouldn't want to water down a prospective sale by having it already in the public domain, so to speak. More than that, there are other pitfalls such as putting stuff up that isn't written well because you're still learning the ropes. People start equating the bad writing to your name and presto - you damaged yourself.
So, my thoughts would be not to put up anything you were planing on selling, and make sure everything you do put up is groomed to as close to perfection as you can get it (hint...have a reader or two go over it).
October 3rd, 2012, 12:16 PM #4
Given that every ebook available on Amazon can be officially dipped into as a download, I can't imagine that publishers would object to a similar "taster" text appearing in a place where a potential audience might gather. I plan to do something similar once I complete the first draft of my WIP; the only reason I don't do so now is that I don't want to interest a publisher (or an audience) before I can realistically deliver on the finished product.
October 3rd, 2012, 01:16 PM #5
The other side of the coin is, if you're really good, you'll catch people's attention.
October 3rd, 2012, 04:07 PM #6
- Join Date
- Mar 2009
- Los Angeles
It's never too early to begin thinking about all aspects of your career as a pro writer. Creating a Web site is one of them.
NOT a blog. That is an online diary. Most people use it to blather on about their personal lives, attracting no one, not even their mothers. Others use them to recount progress on favorite interests, and those are more successful, but not very. Few of us are Scalzis or Strosses - or Lindsay Lohans!
A Web site CAN include a blog if you select the right platform. But it's best to have two sites: one personal, the other professional. The blog part of your professional site should be restricted to announcements of books which have now been published, with links to where they can be bought. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble put up the first 10% of your books for readers to sample.
You can also post excerpts of your works on your site. The blog part can then include links to those - but not the excerpts themselves. Remember that only the most recent announcements will be visible in the blog part. If you've included five important posts in it you want readers to see all five of them, and if they have to scroll down to see them most readers won't.
Remember an important fact about ANY Web site. MOST READERS WILL ONLY GIVE YOU TEN SECONDS. And if you bore them or force them to work they will skip on to another site.
As for platforms, WordPress.com is far and away superior to all the others FOR WRITERS. The next closest is Blogger, far behind WordPress. Here is why.
I should mention that I'm a software engineer of many years experience, including creating and keeping up Web sites both professionally (at Boeing) and personally. The advice you're getting in this post reflects that.
Here are the links to two of my Web sites, one pro the other personal. Both are intended to support my writing career.
Notice that even in my personal site the blog entries are short.
Finally, remember that sites are supposed to be reflections of YOU. Look at other writers' sites and decide what would work for YOU - or would not.
Here are several sites for SF/F writers. Those in Bold are WordPress sites. Notice how varied they are. Each presumably suits the unique needs of the individual writer.
http://www.theonering.net/ - J. R. R. Tolkien
http://www.keystothekingdom.com.au/ - Garth Nix
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/ - Charles Stross
http://www.dendarii.com/ - Lois McMaster Bujold
http://www.cheysuli.com/author/Index.html - Jennifer Roberson
http://www.varley.net/ - John Varley
October 3rd, 2012, 05:17 PM #7
Novel excerpts are not a problem. Short stories may be if you're planning to try to also sell them to a magazine or anthology that needs first serial rights (first published appearance.) I would suggest you only put up short stories that you are planning to self-publish or just use for promotion, not ones you're trying to sell rights to.
October 4th, 2012, 11:06 AM #8
Thanks for the advice and recommendations, everyone, much appreciated!
The story blog will be private until I have a finished draft, I just wanted to get the ball rolling. It seemed to me that seeing my work on a website served as further inspiration. The story blog would only function as background and additional small stories to highlight the world of my novel.
As an example, right now my test story blog has a few select short fiction entries in it, but I have linked their entries in the sidebar, rather than force readers to go through the blog posts looking for content. These entries also have older dates attached to them, with years that are closer to the time period my story is set in. I'm not sure that I will actually post any type of 'diary' content to it, but it's all a work in progress at the moment.
I have my own site, but for now that site is also private until I have a better idea of how I want to organize it.
The idea for the story blog (I'm sure it's not a new idea, I'm sure others have done it, but I've not seen many) came from a planned story myself and a friend were going to do. It was going to be post-apocalyptic, with two viewpoints. We would basically tell a story through the blog, with future dates, and each of us would be the other opposing character. So one blog post would be from the protagonist, who my friend would write, and then the next blog post would be from my antagonist. We wouldn't always necessarily go in that order. It ended up dying (for now!) when my friend realized he wasn't sure he really wanted to write.
October 4th, 2012, 12:19 PM #9
To play Devil's advocate:
Does anyone actually read the blogs of people they've never heard of? Why would they? Do you?
How do you even make people aware that it's there, much less give them a reason to go and look at it?
Your writing might be superb (it is actually rather good, from what Iíve read of it), but if weíre honest most peopleís isnít so the chances of me bothering to read an unpublished authorís blog areÖ well, zero to be honest. Unless you give me a reason to want to.
How are you going to do that?
October 4th, 2012, 02:43 PM #10
To answer Pete:
Well, you mostly read blogs by people you don't know. That's the beauty of the Internet. Now, you come across sites, you read, and some make you stay or come to visit again.
If it's good, it will stick.
The initial breakout to critical core audience might take time, but if you're good and consistent, you will come on top.
October 4th, 2012, 03:00 PM #11
Excellent questions Pete, and your Devil is my Devil: doubt.
I ask myself that question all the time while I'm writing. Why on Earth would anyone want to read this? How will I get this out there? How will I get people to not only take a look, but come back?
To be honest, some of those questions I can't answer, not yet. Igor is right, that if anything is good, it will reach an audience, and it's good enough, that audience will grow. I would also say that I have a large assortment of family and friends that I hope will help with getting that word out, if the content is worth it. I'm not sure I can get honest feedback from many of them (you guys are great at that!), but they're generally good with wanting to be helpful, so I'm counting on that. Like everything else, it will start small, and hopefully grow from there.
And if the content isn't good enough? Well then I'll have to prove my Devil wrong and keep working at it.
October 5th, 2012, 05:16 AM #12
- Join Date
- Mar 2009
- Los Angeles
Some of us do it deliberately as part of PR, but that's a small motivation compared to the big one: we are fascinated by some topic or area and share that with others who feel the same way.