Wednesday, July 11

Should You Post Your Writing Online?

It used to cost an arm and a leg to share your writing with someone long-distance. Now, with the aide of the internet, all it takes is some general knowledge.

Very little time and energy is spent uploading your writing to the internet. Once posted, it is available to be read online by whomever can gain access t it. Yes, it is a simple enough task to post your writing online but the question remains, 'Should you do it?'

That is a question which evokes many opinions:

'Posting your writing online will hinder your chances at being professionally published.'

'Is it good way to gain feedback from readers and improve.'

'It's a gateway to embarrassment and ridicule.'

'Unforeseen opportunities might come of it.'

Questions beget contemplation.

I'll admit to being slightly paranoid about posting my writing online...but it's not as though I've never done it. Back when I was a youngling, I tried my hand at writing Harry Potter fan fiction. Cringing? So am I. Despite my obvious butchering of the magical world and the characters in it, I was motivated to write more frequently.

At the end of '09, I joined the deviantART literary community, where Quill Café first came into existence. There, I posted several short stories and even slaughtered the odd poem. This was the first time I really put my writing out there for people to read and critique, though I'll admit I received more immediate and helpful advice when I was chatting with a group, all of us giving feedback on each other's work.

'Wait if you post something online, doesn't that mean it can't be published?'

Ah, the ultimate question of the aspiring professional. Yes, if you post your poem online then you can no longer give a publisher "first publishing rights" which are pretty darn necessary most of the time.

'Most of the time?'

Yes, while there is the odd writing competition that will allow you to submit previously published work, there are also a few circumstances where authors have uploaded their writing online, only to later have it professionally published.

These days the most famous example is the erotic 50 Shades trilogy. I've not read E.L. James' books - and have no desire to - but the story behind their publication is fascinating.

50 Shades began as a Twilight fan fiction, with the title 'Master of the Universe', posting it on fanfic sites and then later on the author's own website. Not only did she manage to have her story professionally published after already being available online but she'd already secured herself a massive following. Impressive.

James isn't the only one to prove that fan fiction isn't just an amateur flight of fancy. Emma Michaels informed me that the author Nancy Holder began writing fan fiction for Buffy, only later to have her work published in the Buffy novel series.

Another tale of a novel posted online that then gained professional representation is the soon-to-be-published 'Throne of Glass' by Sarah J. Maas. Unlike James, Maas' work was not fan fiction based but original, posted on Fiction Press. Like 50 Shades, it had a different title - 'Queen of Glass' - and gained an avid readership.

While these stories are inspirational, it is important to remember that they are the exception to the rule. Posting a complete work of fiction - such as a novel - online is something to take into great consideration if you want to be published professionally.

'What about posting your writing where only certain people can access it?'

This is an interesting thought. There are plenty of people who share their writing on LiveJournal, Blogger, Google Docs, Facebook but keep their settings private, choosing whom to show it to. This seems like an excellent scheme but for the more paranoid folks - like myself - it comes with the nagging question, 'Just how private is this?'

The answer to that boggles down to your comfort and trust in the security of your chosen platform and the people you're sharing with. It's akin to emailing your writing to someone else. Plenty of us will remember the fiasco that was 'Midnight Sun', where several chapters of Meyer's first draft were leaked onto the internet.

Ultimately, it boils down to your ambitions, priorities and how skittish you are. Posting your writing online can open you up to new opportunities and growth but it could also scar you. It's like posting nude shots of your baby on the internet. Sure, it seems cute now but it might come back to haunt the kid in future.

Do you post any of your writing online?

1 comment:

Amanda Japanda said...

From my understanding, you can post a draft of a novel or other work of writing online, but not the final product. I can imagine that if you post something, it can be taken down just as easily and submitted to a publisher. And as for the "first publishing rights" thing, does posting something online really take away from that? I thought that meant that another publisher previously published the work, not just posting it online.