My name is Ryan, and I'm brand new to this board. I just left a detailed post in the 'Introduce Yourself' forum, so I'll skip to the good part here: I am looking to build some web presence, both because it seems as though agents like this sort of thing as well as giving me a place to post some of my work. I am wondering what is customary to put on a blog. As of right now, it's pretty empty, and since the blog has to come after the writing, which comes after work, 3 kids, family, grocery shopping, and cooking supper, it might develop slowly. Very slowly. The address is: http://rekroom.wordpress.com/
I am becoming familiar with the copyright implications of posting much of anything I'm trying to shop to publishers, so I will not be posting anything there from the novel I've written. I did think that it might be worthwhile to post some story capsules, short glimpses into the lives of the characters in my novel, but in stand-alone stories not contained within the novel. I have also become addicted to Google Sketchup, and have begun creating 3D models of some of the items in my universe, namely the bridge and Combat Control Center of the ship the novel is based in, followed by one or two of the fighter designs based aboard. Is there any consensus on what I should be posting online? Would posting a 3D model that I've created or short stories about the characters in my novel do any harm? Would it, frankly, do any good? I'll head over to the novels forum and post the first 13 lines of my novel soon, but I wanted to get this question out first. Thanks to all, this forum looks like a rich resource for the budding writer in me!
Thanks for the reply. Actually, Meredith was the reason I started a blog. I saw her post and checked out her blog, then realized that was a pretty smart thing to do!
Posts: 7 | Registered: Feb 2010
| IP: Logged |
The consensus is that you probably don't want to put anything (fictional) on your blog that isn't good enough to be published. And, if it's good enough to be published, why aren't you doing that, instead? Now, if you had a story that had been published and the rights returned to you with time, why not put it on your blog/web page?
I'm not in that position, yet. But the story I put up on my blog was part of a character challenge here. As part of the challenge, it had been put up on Crank's web page. One of the characters wasn't even mine, so I never would have tried to publish it in the first place and the first publication rights had already been used up, anyway. I like the story pretty well and I think it gives a glimpse into my character Valeriah. So I put it up.
Personally, and there may be those who disagree, I don't see a problem with character extracts or similar materials that wouldn't normally be published anyway, even when I sell the novel. (Think positive, when not if.)
Basically, just blog about what comes to mind. How about a blog about using that SketchUp thing, with maybe an example of what you created with it?
Blogs, even writers' blogs, vary a great deal.
Tip: Take peek at Hatrackers' profiles and follow links to their Homepages. Many of this sites are actually blogs. From there, follow links to other blogs. You'll see that everyone does pretty much whatever he or she feels like doing. You might also gather ideas about what you do and do not want to do on your blog.
To prevent giving yourself grief later, I strongly recommend setting goals and expectations for yourself now. I slacked in that area, and I've suffered the consequences for more than a year.
How often can you post? What you post might depend on how often you can post. Some bloggers have an easier time writing 200-word posts every other day than a 600-word post once a week and so post on more specific topics or in a more personal way.
Who is your intended audience? I don't know what an editor would like to see on a writer's blog. However, I'd guess that the following would help.
a brief professional bio (written in third person),
a writing sample or few showing the writer's personality or range, and
visitor comments (showing connections)
. Another type of audience may prefer different material.
Are you more comfortable writing about your personal experiences or writing objective articles?
Gotta run! I hope this helps.
*Edited to clean up some of the poorly written sentences that resulted from writing in a rush.
[This message has been edited by aspirit (edited February 23, 2010).]
Published authors often have tidbits about their virtual worlds, bits of character bio/backstory that isn't specifically outlined in the book, images from current works, other nifty freebies like ringtones or wallpaper or whatever. Many also have a calendar of upcoming events, a place to join an email list for "notifications of future publications/events", and so on.
My issue is this makes perfect sense for a published author, but for an unpublished one it seems a bit...pretentious. So I think finding a middle ground where you can let some of your personality come through but without...er, too much personality, is the best bet.
I follow a number of authors (some famous, some only middling) on twitter and via facebook, and one thing I am getting loud and clear from all of them is that they keep the personal stuff to a minimum, so some of what I would normally put on my blog seems too far into the "personal" category, at least taking into consideration what these blogger authors do. I think I'm going to have to find my middle ground, though, because talking about my kids is just one of the things I do, and for some of what I want to write (non-fiction parenting things) it makes perfect sense. I may end up having to compromise with two "online presences" eventually - one for my fiction writing, and one for my non-fiction/more personal stuff. I have seen this with some authors as well, as it seems clear to me some have alternate ids on facebook or wherever that are more for family and friends (that would, for example, have photos from a family birthday party or thanksgiving dinner, whereas most authors I'm friended with don't get into that level of personal stuff with their facebook profiles.)
Not sure if I'm making sense, but it's something I'm giving a lot of thought to these days too, so I'm glad you brought it up!
So Meredith started something. I, too, was inspired to take up blogging. I started a short-lived one about a year ago, didn't like what I was doing so stopped. But I'm back at it. It's kinda fun. Reminds of my childhood attempts at creating a magazine using my mother's 1935 Smith Corona, only now I have better toys--I mean tools.
Does it surprise anyone that the publishing world has not yet caught up with technology? At least in as much as defining what are and are not electronic rights. Heck, they don't know.
I think I can help them figure it out. Nothing is published until it is bought. It is as simple as that. But, Edward, you're no authority on the subject, you say. No, but I cite the Copyright Act of 1976 "A public...display of a work does not of itself constitute publication."
Therefore, as I interpret this clause, your own website or blog, though a public display of your works, does not of itself constitute publication. Now if you charge people anything at all to read your online material, then you are self-published and first electronic rights are probably gone forever. I venture to say this would also mean that your FNASR (or world rights, or all other first rights conceived) are toast, too. Unless the work is really really good, then a publishing house may "overlook" your online past, but otherwise they are probably going to insist on reprint royalties.
But remember the publishing world has not caught up with technology. Evidenced by: the failing newspapers, higher cost of books and magazines (because less are being purchased), an insistence on their part to maintain outdated manuscript formatting and submissions standards. All for the sake of preserving what? The written word in the form of a book.
I enjoy sitting down with a good book as do most, but I do an awful lot of reading online, too. But I could get used to electronic hand held reading devices, once they become economical to do so. Audio books (back in the 70s they were frowned upon) have caught on quite well in recent years. I see more of those on shelves than I've ever seen before. Books will be around for years to come, but they will only get more expensive. I predict books (i.e., first rights) will eventually come in second to electronic rights and that electronic rights will end up paying more in royalties than books will. Books, if folks still want them, will have to be special ordered. But, that's not going to happen until Kirk's wearing glasses, right?
I say post your works online. Point prospective agents to your website. It is your work, you own all the rights to it, and they are yours to sell if a publisher is interested. Sharing your works -- whole or in part -- (either in person or online) does not constitute publication it only constitutes copyright.
As I see it, we are as protected by law with our online creations as we would be if someone stole our written works.
Here is my fresh new blog. Although I have taken a somewhat different approach than most. It is told throught the point of view of a fictional character. I do have a plan with where I am heading with this however. Eventually if I can find a working partner with some web design experience and who may also be willing to help me with putting together a few reference guides, it could develop into a somewhat lucrative venture. I have in mind several "Notebooks of..." that will be writers sources and creative tools to help them advance their writing. In the beginning I may have pay-per download PDF versions at a very reasonable rate and hope that they get picked up by a publisher or maybe even self publish them.
So check it out*Shameless Plug* I hope I don't get banned for soliciting here and help spread the word if you deem it worthy. Comments and suggestions are alo very welcome. I would like to design an interactive interface as the website progresses.
[This message has been edited by Bent Tree (edited February 24, 2010).]
quote:I think I can help them figure it out. Nothing is published until it is bought. It is as simple as that. But, Edward, you're no authority on the subject, you say. No, but I cite the Copyright Act of 1976 "A public...display of a work does not of itself constitute publication."
The problem is, you're confusing publishing in the legal sense, with publishing in the business sense. The United States Government can have as broad or narrow a definition of publishing as they want, and it's not going to change the fact that publishers will avoid works that are already freely available to the public.
Posts: 388 | Registered: Jan 2010
| IP: Logged |
I agree. Most publisher have in their submission guidlines, Previously published works including , blogs...
I don't understand the logic but while it is posted on the web it is considered published. I am not sure if is ok if it was up then taken down. There would be no way of knowing if it were on your blog then deleted. There are no real ways to archive everything ever posted.
quote:The problem is, you're confusing publishing in the legal sense, with publishing in the business sense.
Huh? Like, there's a difference. Who wrote that rule? Publishers aren't going to stay away from author's or their works because they've been made "freely" available to the public. Not if the work is good enough and they want it. In fact, if you put your work out on the web and sub to a publisher, chances are (unless you tell them) the publisher is not going to know about your web presence until they want to buy your book. By then, your web presence is immaterial to them. They may, however, ask you to remove any of your works they buy the rights to from your website. More than likely they will incorporate your web presence into a marketing tool, but only if they buy your electronic rights. Otherwise, they have no say so.
If an author posts his work online and does not charge for it he is not published at all. This is U.S. Copyright protection. To be published in either the "legal or business" sense, the rights to the work have to be bought up. Money has to change hands.
I'd dispute the notion that money has to change hands for publication to take effect---I can't read that meaning into the law (which is not in front of me as I type this), and it's always been my understanding that all rights to a work rest with the creator until and unless said creator releases some or all of them.
I've put my stuff on my website---I regard it as effectively publication, whatever the copyright status. If anybody wants to, say, reprint what I've put up, they can contact me and we can dicker.
Edward, your problem is that you think rules have to be written. They do not. Only if your work is very, very, very good will a publisher be willing to overlook the fact that any schmoo can get it online. And you can only take it down if you're rather lucky and it hasn't been cached somewhere else on the Internet, in which case it will always be out there.
I mean, how do you think this works? Do you think that if a publisher writes to you and says "While we'd love to publish your work, we don't accept stories that are freely available online," that you can turn around and sue them under some copyright act? The law has nothing to do with it. The ability to make a profit does.
So go ahead, put your work online in its entirety. Just be aware that you are raising the bar on yourself and that you've closed off a whole mess of publications to your work.
Yeah, as much as I respect your conceptual principles Edward, in this case everyone is right. The choice to purchase your work or not always lies with the purchaser and essentially all magazines, publications etc will not be interested in buying anything thats freely availble online.
I actually had a semi experience with this recently. The one story I've sold is on an online mag (Electric Spec.) I sent it out to another online mag, submitted as a reprint (they do accept reprints) and the editor emailed me and told me that while she enjoyed the story, they only accept reprints previously published in a different format...basically, because my story is still openly availble online, she wouldn't buy it despite liking it.
quote:I'd dispute the notion that money has to change hands for publication to take effect---I can't read that meaning into the law (which is not in front of me as I type this), and it's always been my understanding that all rights to a work rest with the creator until and unless said creator releases some or all of them.
Of course, I agree with you on this. My point that "money has to change hands" was intended toward "real" publication. The type of publication I believe Copyright law refers to. The type I think we are all seeking. To get paid for our work. Anyone can freely give their rights to their works away and that's their business. However, somehow, I don't see any of us going to the trouble to write short stories or novels without the express hope/desire to get paid for it.
I believe this is one reason why "respectable" anthologies like WOTF have to provide monetary compensation as prizes (to protect themselves by securing some type of initial rights, even if they release them back to the author after a period of time). Otherwise, the sheer fact that you sub your work at all could imply release of rights even if the work is not bought/published/whatever. But, to win an obscure contest with no monetary prize, I don't think them including it in their anthology is publishing if there is no compensation to the author or contract relinquishing first rights. Editors are very specific about what they consider previous works by an author, and while placing in WOTF may warrant a comment in your cover letter, "The We Take Anything from Anybody" contest winner isn't worth a mention. Any author has to be very careful when subing their works to those types of organizations, don't they? More so then if they post their works on the web, I think.
Unwritten rules don't hold up in court.
quote:So go ahead, put your work online in its entirety.
This really wasn't about me at all. Although, if I do post my work online, I will remain confident that my rights are secure. The poster started with "I am becoming familiar with the copyright implications of posting much of anything I'm trying to shop to publishers, so I will not be posting anything there from the novel I've written."
I was inserting my two cents worth (take it or leave it) that too many folks worry unnecessarily about what they should and should not post for fear one day a publisher will be mad at them and hold it against them if and when they want to buy any rights. Also, I was commenting primarily about "first electronic rights" and that the industry as a whole does not have a handle on how to deal with them, so IMHO, they blanket their concerns under an umbrella of "if you post online you may have forfeited your electronic rights" and I just happen to not agree, is all.
Otherwise, as conspiracy theories go, I better be very careful who I send my full edit to via a writers group for fear that person might post it online somewhere, or the sheer fact that I emailed it at all might be construed as forfeiting first rights. According to the consensus, a publisher won't care whether you posted it for all to see or someone you happened to share it with does.
quote:I was inserting my two cents worth (take it or leave it) that too many folks worry unnecessarily about what they should and should not post for fear one day a publisher will be mad at them and hold it against them if and when they want to buy any rights.
Except, they will be mad at them, and you don't see that because you seem to think that decisions on what will or will not be published are made in court.
Copyright laws only apply when someone takes your work and reproduces it without permission. No one is talking about that here. Instead, the OP's concern was whether anyone would WANT to reproduce his work at all if it was posted on line. See? It's a couple steps BEFORE we even get to the copyright issue. We are talking about a business decision; what stories will a publisher want the rights to. You cannot legislate something like that (you could try, but humans are clever animals and infinitely more adaptable than any bureaucracy). You will never be able to take this issue to the courts, so I have no idea why you are so obsessed with what will stand up in court and what won't.
quote:Also, I was commenting primarily about "first electronic rights" and that the industry as a whole does not have a handle on how to deal with them, so IMHO, they blanket their concerns under an umbrella of "if you post online you may have forfeited your electronic rights" and I just happen to not agree, is all.
No, you happen to lack understanding of what the word "first" means. Hint: it does not mean "second." People who put their work on their blogs before selling it have not forfeited their first electronic rights, they've EXERCISED them. Once that right has been exercised, it cannot be exercised again, as there's only one first time for anything (unless you invent a time machine).
quote:Otherwise, as conspiracy theories go, I better be very careful who I send my full edit to via a writers group for fear that person might post it online somewhere, or the sheer fact that I emailed it at all might be construed as forfeiting first rights. According to the consensus, a publisher won't care whether you posted it for all to see or someone you happened to share it with does.
The publisher might not care, but the law here actually does. See, THIS is where copyright law comes into force. The people you have shared it with privately would be VIOLATING your copyright, and you can most assuredly take them to court. Conversely, you cannot take a publisher to court for not publishing your story, as by definition it is impossible to violate copyright law by not publishing something you do not have the rights to.
Posts: 388 | Registered: Jan 2010
| IP: Logged |
I've said this before but it bears repeating. At Flash Fiction Online sometime in the last year the editor was planning to buy a story (that made it through our crazy insane editorial/winnowing/slushing process. We buy less than 3% of what is submitted...) and he discovered the work was freely available on the author's blog (the specific story the author was offering to FFO as a story for publication.)
Well, since FFO is an online electronic magazine, it didn't really make sense to spend the $50 to buy the first-time electronic publication rights. Firstly, because they were already used up (author had made the story available to the public for free on his blog - which was easy to find, btw.) Secondly, why pay for a story that's already out there for free?
The sad part is, we passed on this author, who would have received $50 for his story and a SWFA qualifying professional sale had he just waited for us to finish our process and get back to him. True, our process is not as quick as anyone would like it to be (turnaround can be 3 months for things we like, rejections happen more quickly in general.) However, it felt short-sighted, at least to me, for this author to bypass the whole get paid for his work thing and put the story up when it was still actively submitted. It sort of annoyed us, too, because we typically narrow down to three stories per issue which meant we had to go back in the pool for other stories. But editorial staff annoyance aside, be warned - if you're subbing something actively, I strongly encourage you to keep it off your blog.
quote:...why pay for a story that's already out there for free?
Oh, I don't know, maybe because FFO expects to make a return on its investment. Or does FFO just pay $50 so that it can be listed as a qualifying venue by SFWA?
The submission guidelines at FFO do not explicity inform authors that their work will not be considered if posted online, only that FFO doesn't accept simultaneous submissions (stories sent to other publications). While FFO has every right to "print" what it wants to, it doesn't have the right to include someones personal blog as an "other publication" without being previously specific about their definition. I think FFO was very unfair to the author.
As far as sympathy for having to return to the pool for a replacement story, FFO won't get any from me. As I see it FFO brought it on itself. I think the matter could have been handled fine if FFO just asked that author to remove his works from his website once FFO secured the rights. Then, and only then, would the author be liable if he reposted after the fact.
Does a publishing house demand all the notes and transcripts and drafts from an author when they buy the rights to his book? No, they trust that author to keep those things under lock and key. I don't see a difference, yet somehow posting online has become some huge affront to the professionals in the industry. It's like, how presumptuous of you to "publish" your works online instead of waiting for a legitimate publisher to come along and buy them!
See, this is my point. The industry doesn't have a clue about what to do with electronic rights, and as a result neither do prospective authors. Thus, the unwarranted fear about posting online. The industry, it seems to me, is more frantically upset and disgusted with online posters than it ever gets with those who self-publish in book form. Quite the double standard as I see it.
Watch out! Self-publishing via electronic media when it becomes more commonplace in the form of e-readers might just put electronic rights completely off the table, if not very expensive for a publishing house wishing to secure them. The newspaper industry failed to see the writing on the wall, in fact, the elites in that industry have a similar disdain for sites like Drudge and personal bloggers. Sorry, but more people are reading the ladder than are reading the NYT online. Same can happen to the publishing houses, they'll be obsolete if they don't get a handle on this electronic rights conundrum.
Ryan, it was not my intention to have your thread hijacked. Initially, I was only voicing my support of your venture and that I saw nothing wrong with posting online. Obviously, others have legitimately voiced an opposite perspective and that's fine. In the end you made your decision based really on what you wanted to do and I wish you all the luck with it.
This was written over a decade ago, when the internet was new, but somehow I don't think things have changed a whole lot.
The key word about your electronic rights is maybe. Maybe you'll lose them or maybe you'll be able to renegotiate them once someone takes an interest in publishing your works. I'm in the camp that you will be able to renegotiate.
A story is a product. If you give your product away for free, agencies who attempt (FFO is not self-supporting at this time) to make an income by virtue of paying product-makers (writers) for their product and making that product available to the public have a right to expect that you aren't currently giving it away for free.
I hope you know I wasn't expecting nor asking for sympathy for the poor (unpaid, volunteer) FFO editorial staff. But instead I mentioned it by way of helping others understand that side of the business. FFO sprang up from Hatrack members, so I feel like we're helping each other out by giving Hatrackers some view into processes. This situation annoyed us. You don't want to annoy editors, it's just bad business.
Edward, your point of view is really incomprehensible to me. I fear new writers will see your information and think that the industry is somehow being unfair to them by wanting/expecting exclusivity, at least in the specific domain the specific publication operates (e.g., FFO is an ONLINE pub, therefore electronic rights are of primary importance.)
Back to the topic originally posted - I'm a writer, too. I hope to make an income from my writing before too long here. I would never intentionally jeopardize my chances by publicly posting a story I am hoping to get paid for. And honestly, if the story's not good enough to get paid for, I wouldn't want it out there on my blog. My blog is a place for news and notes, personal reflections, and maybe some day when I'm hugely famous, some freebie fiction I've written with the fans in mind like backstories, a short story that precedes my novel, or fun character sketches.
We're going to have to agree to disagree on this, because I really can't understand your point of view at all.
>Huh? Like, there's a difference. Who wrote that rule?
Surely you jest. If the publisher says they don't buy work that has been posted online, then THEY wrote the rule. They can also state that they don't buy stories not written in their specified genre, that they don't buy stories they don't feel meet their needs or standards.
I'm moving my rebuttals to the Grist for the Mill so that Ryan's post can get the attention it deserves. I guess I should have expected things would escalate...
Posts: 133 | Registered: Nov 2009
| IP: Logged |
quote:Also, no unsolicited reprints. Like most magazines, we consider material that has appeared on publicly-accessible websites to be published, and therefore cannot consider it.
This was the first one I looked up. I don't understand the argument. Even if they don't say this specifically in their guidelines one of the editors googles the story, if for no other reason to make sure it hasn't been plagiarized or printed before. News flash, if it is printed on a website it is considered "Previously printed material" and none of the pro-rate magazines run reprints unless you have a Hugo or an extremely long time has past since it was in print. So There is no other advice really. If you want to sell it at some point don't put it on your blog. I don't make the rules I just follow them. I have no reason to swim upstream against publishers. It is hard enough to get out of a slushpile. The whole "Fight for our rights" attitude is nice and all, but...well, good luck with that.
I agree with Edward that the publishing industry is behind the times, that they don't (nor does anyone) fully understand the effect the internet has/is/will be having on it and also that eventually the way things work along with probably many aspects of copyright law and the publishing business will be changing drastically in the future.
On the other hand, as of right now it is what it is. Would it be nice if publishers would say instead "If you've put your story on the internet and we decide to accept it, you must take it down?" Yes it would. But they don't and for now, we must deal with things as they are.
Wow, this did escalate! :-) Actually, I wouldn't consider this a hijacked thread. We're still discussing (albeit with some intensity!) the benefits and drawbacks of posting material you have authored online. I can see there are many opinions, and if nothing else, it only reaffirmed my assumptions. I will not post anything from the story I have written. I plan to post a few small self contained short-short stories involving the characters, so as to showcase the people I've thought up. It also gives people a chance to sample my writing style. I also recently posted a short story I submitted long ago but had been declined. I am not actively shopping this, though I don't consider it 'unpublishable' or 'second tier' work. Personally, I am proud of it, and figure it might do me some good posted online instead of gathering the electronic equivalent of dust in a fragmented corner of my hard drive. Soon to come will be a few renders from Google Sketchup of the fighters, ships, and perhaps locations in my book. I often write a scene based on a visual that pops into my head, and am often annoyed by authors that only say something like "Jimmy walked onto a big spaceship." Well, what shape was it? How did it travel through space? Did it feel like a cruise ship or a battleship? Anyway, it's also doing me good because as I work on these 3D models, it makes me go back and want to see if what I described in my book looks like what I see on the screen. Thanks all for the feedback and lively discussion, every bit of input helps!
I posted this down in the Grist for the Mill section, then realize I'm talking a lot about copyright issues that probably are worth posting up here as well. So here it is again. Bear in mind I am in no wise a lawyer, but I'm slowly acquiring a decent grasp of contract language.
quote:be upfront about it. Tell prospective writers that their work will NOT be considered for publication if it's been posted online.
Most magazines post what they're buying in their submission guidelines. Here's a concrete example from IGMS.
quote:With this payment we buy exclusive rights in any language or any medium throughout the world for one year from date of first publication in the magazine, and nonexclusive electronic and/or online rights in any language in perpetuity.
If you've posted something on a blog (or FB or Myspace or where-ever) and it's been cached, then a bit of searching around will find a cache of it, even if you've taken it down. Thus the "exclusive" you've sold is no such thing and you'd be in violation of your contract.
Another key point to keep in mind is that posting something online is exercising BOTH your electronic rights (online posting) and your first world rights (first exposure to the public in any shape or form). The latter is particularly important because that's what people usually want to buy. E.g. from the Strange Horizons sub guidelines.
quote:We buy first-printing world exclusive rights for two months.
Another example from Clarkesworld, again of rights they wish to purchase which would have already been exercised by posting something to a blog.
quote:We claim first world electronic rights (text and audio), first print rights (author must be willing to sign 100+ chapbooks), and non-exclusive anthology rights for Realms, the yearly Clarkesworld anthology.
I'm sure more examples can be found online. But I think this is enough to substantiate my point, which is this: regardless of what we believe publishers should be doing, the current state of publishing means that any author who puts up their work online is exercising salable rights of a one-off nature. AKA once those rights are exercised, you can't turn around and sell them. And those rights are usually the rights people want to buy. So I, personally, will always try to err on the side of caution.
You have a legal right to exercise your story's various publishing rights. And publishers have a legal right to say, "No thanks, we only want to buy xyz rights, and you can't sell us those." (Or worse, "Hey, we paid you for xyz rights and you can't deliver - that's a breach of contract.")