Sunday, June 14, 2009

To Post Or Not To Post

During a panel discussion at last month’s crime writing day, an attendee asked if she should post her unpublished work on the Net. The question launched a lively debate. One panelist believed that writers should post anything they’ve written on their websites and other places. The goal, this panelist said, is to build a following prior to publication, to create book-buying fans and possibly attract publishers or agents. Although it's not a strategy for me right now, I know of writers who've posted enough chapters of a new work to indeed build a fan base. Nearly all of these authors self-published the finished product to sell, which is fine if this was their choice. From what I've seen, only rare exceptions land a contract with a major publisher after doing this and always because they've done the hard work first.

If you read magazine or publishers’ guidelines regularly, you’ll notice that many of them consider even excerpts on the Net published work. If you have a market(s) in mind for your books, short stories, and articles, check the guidelines before posting your unpublished pieces. Keep in mind that I’m talking about venues open to the public. There are places with closed, private settings for specific groups. If you’re posting chapters to a closed forum for, say, critiquing purposes, then this doesn’t constitute published work.

The attendee also addressed her concern about internet piracy. After all, songs are pirated frequently and she wanted to know if the same happened to books. As far as I can tell, no one really knows for certain. The general consensus, though, is that piracy isn’t happening anywhere nearly as much as it is to songs. However, a new study is underway by Magellan Media Consulting Partners to examine this issue, so we should have a clearer idea about the rate of pirated books in a year or so. So far, Magellan’s findings indicate a low rate of piracy, but the study’s just begun and only time will tell.

For excerpts of Fatal Encryption and Taxed to Death, visit

No comments: