Writing Fiction and Blogging

What follows was meant to be a guest post on the One Cool Site blog, but as she decided to pursue other interests, it was never published. 

By the way, the site, and especially the section HERE, is a must read for any new bloggers. The lady gave much to the community, and while I’m sad to see her go, she does leave behind a heck of a legacy. I am happy, however, that she is pursuing other interests that bring her more joy in life.

Anyway, since she is obviously not going to use it, I decided to post it here (I’m lazy that way). I’ve written about this before, but it won’t hurt to repeat it.

Writing Fiction and Blogging

Many people yearn to become authors while others, whether they know it or not, just want to be writers.

Writers blog their fiction.

I’m sorry I have to put it so harshly, but it was like a slap in the face for me when the realization hit.

Authors do blog, but they do not blog their fiction; they blog in support of their job, being authors. Authors blog about writing, they blog about life, they blog about their pets and families. But they don’t blog their fiction.

 “Why not?” . . . the answer is FNASR.

“Gesundheit!”

No, I mean First North American Serial Rights.

Basically, it means the following:

. . . most publishers are not about to make a big investment in an unknown author if the story is available for free. There’s no profit to be made, and an initial investment to be lost.

Also, once something is on the Internet, it’s there to stay. Copies propagate without the author’s knowledge or consent. Removing the story from your blog won’t impress the publisher much.

So most publishers will consider that you no longer have first publication rights to sell. You’ve already squandered them.

Timethief has touched on losing control of one’s content by way of reblogging HERE and HERE. When you put content out onto the Internet you lose some control, and sometimes all control.

Be it opinions or fiction, writing is uniquely personal. It’s not the underlying idea, you see, it’s the style, the choice of words, the pacing . . . all of it combines to produce something that is unique, and hence valuable. Not all, of course, but there is a lot of talent out there in the wild.

I don’t know how good I am, or if I’m good at all, but I had given some thought to submitting for publication some of the stuff I’ve already written.

BUT . . . FNASR.

“Gesundheit!”

You see, I’ve been dumping my fiction into my blog ever since March of 2010. Some stories are fanciful flights of fancy; short pieces that are not publishable. But I could have submitted the others instead of posting them. The only way they are now likely to see publication is if I self-publish. 

Well, there is one other way . . . I could become famous for something, then die tragically, and then someone will maybe try to make a buck or two by publishing my stuff postumeously.

The trick, then, is to get famous for something, preferably something good, before dying.

Meanwhile, what can a writer do to ease their travel on the road to becoming an author?  Well, this writer asked an author.

I e-mailed Mary Robinette Kowal, and she graciously answered.

Dear Emilio,

Blogging your work gives up your first rights. Some publishers will buy it anyway.

My suggestion is to post the first three chapters in the clear and then go to password protection.

As for {what} should you {do}? It depends on why you are doing it. If you work better with a feedback loop, which I do, then blog away. If it’s because you think you might snare a publisher that way? It’s so unlikely to happen that’s it’s not worth it.

I did that with my NaNoWriMo novel. I put a password on all but the first four chapters, and I put a password on the complete novel.

That’s what I plan to do with future stuff . . . but be forewarned, there is a downside to doing that.

My readers dropped from an unknown number (hard to estimate if “likes” translate into readers) to six confirmed readers (meaning, they asked for the password). Six hundred followers, hundreds of ‘likes’ . . . six readers.  Of those, I think only three commented.

So, if I wanted to be brutal about it, adding the passwords brought my 50-60 views per chapter down to six readers per chapter, only three of which are confirmed.

My advice? If you want to be an author, if you like what you write, forget the blog; try to publish it first. Once you know your story won’t sell, there is always the option to still blog it. But if you blog it first, you greatly decrease the chance anyone will buy it from you.

To that end, RALAN.COM is a great resource. It lists different markets (I linked to the pro-market, but you can click on the others once there) accepting material.

So, perhaps, instead of blogging your next masterpiece, you might first consider sending it off to an appropriate market, at least trying to eventually become an author. 

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

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Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
This entry was posted in Creative, Opinion, Writing Stuff and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Writing Fiction and Blogging

  1. oneowner says:

    This sounds perfectly reasonable. Words of wisdom, Lloyd. It’s important that anyone seriously considering getting published needs to put some thought into this.

    Like

  2. AnnMarie says:

    If you’ll take your own advice, l look forward to hearing that you’ve sent a novel to a publisher and perhaps, even get an email that it’ll be published. Next time I’m out I’ll get a champagne bottle, just in case.

    Like

  3. Thanks for sharing this post! GREAT advice! This is actually something I’ve wondered about, because I’ve heard of people getting a book published AFTER putting it online. But, don’t think it happens often.
    Thanks for the link, too.
    Let us know when you get something published. I’d love to buy it.
    HUGS!!! :-)

    Like

    • disperser says:

      In the early days of blogging (often combined with podcasts) one could build enough of an audience to have publishers take notice (of course, the stuff had to be at least decent, if not outright good).

      Here’s the sobering numbers . . . there are roughly 672 million websites for an average of 4 users per website. Of course, some draw more than others.

      As far as blogging, in 2003 there were about 1,000,000 blogs; 36,000,000 by 2006 . . . at the end of 2011 there were 181,000,000 blogs and growing.

      In october 2011 there were 46,000,000 unique visitors for Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr combined (keep in mind Twitter and FaceBook were still growing).

      Assuming wordpress has half of them (the upward estimate, but likely it’s lower), that’s 23,000,000 unique readers. Let’s assume they are really consistent, and read everything they can, and that’s still the number of active readers per month right now.

      There were 61.8 million new posts and 55.4 million new comments in September 2014

      For the sake of math, lets ignore the comments as I don’t know how many people actually read and/or write comments.

      What we have is (23M readers) divided by (62M posts), or roughly 0.4 readers per blog post per month.

      Now, throw in the fact that some blogs get tens of thousands of actual readers (thereby diminishing the readership for other blogs) . . .

      As you can see the numbers don’t look good . . . in 2003 there were likely multiple number of readers per blog (I don’t have the number, but I’m pretty sure it was well over 0.4 reader per blog post).

      Finally, add to that the fact many readers of those early blogs are still reading those blogs, and people are reluctant to subscribe to new stuff . . . dismal; if one is starting a blog, the most likely people to subscribe are people who are also starting at the same time; those are going to be your loyal readers, and you theirs.

      You might pick up a few more, but actual readers, people who comment . . . very few.

      Bottom line, no publisher is going to “discover” an author with even 500 active readers (those book deals you heard about? readership in the 10K+).

      For perspective, 500 readers would be (optimistically) 100 times the number of readers I have right now (actual multiple is probably higher).

      Let’s go a step further . . . the cost of self-publishing an e-book can be as little as $0 (no editing, no artwork, no promotion . . . you just throw it out there), but more realistically – if you want to do a good job, between $350 and $700.

      The average number of sales for self-published e-books is less than 250 copies. That average comes about from including the likes of Hillary Clinton publishing her book . . . someone like me would be lucky to get 10 copies sold . . . at $70/copy, I would break even.

      BUT . . . it takes me a month or so to write a book, another few weeks to edit, convert, proof . . . say a book every two months . . . six books a year for an breakeven income of . . . let me do the math . . . carry the zero . . . $0.00/per year.

      So, other than for an ego boost (and my ego is already boosted past the stratosphere) I don’t see me publishing anytime soon.

      Like

  4. badfish says:

    thanks for giving me the link to this…but now…poop…what to do, eh?! Did you have the same result? When I saw the password protect on your blog, I didn’t even know I could ask for a password. And…don’t know I would have…one more hassle! So…poop. And thanks!

    Like

    • disperser says:

      I try to dissuade people asking for passwords unless they are really serious about reading stuff. I rather have one serious reader than one hundred asking for passwords thinking they are stroking my ego.

      As for what to do . . . first, always poop. It’s natural and necessary. Second, decide what is more important: publishing or the blog? Given my experiences, I can tell you few people read my stuff on the blog – – – out of 900 subscribers, I’m lucky if i average 10 actual visitors a day. Twelve if I include a photograph.

      My fiction posts are my least read posts . . . consistently.

      Liked by 1 person

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