What Writers Should NOT Post on Their Blogs

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No I’m not talking about personal information that shouldn’t be posted anywhere on the internet. That’s just common sense. I’m talking specifically about writers. I’ll give you a second to think about it before I continue to see if you can go ahead and guess it.

Didn’t think of anything, okay. I’m talking about excerpts from their work.This rule does not apply to those who plan on self-publishing because CreateSpace or Lulu or whichever company you use does not care about this. BUT for those of us who are crazy enough to think we can actually secure an agent and publishing deal with a traditional publisher, I AM talking to you.

Now I’ve never started querying agents or anything like that yet, but it is my understanding that agents and publishers don’t care if it’s on your blog or self-published or what, published is published. If parts of your story can be read for free online or by reading your self-published book, then I can’t imagine either wanting to touch that story. Why? Because it’s been published already.

Just think about if J.K. Rowling or James Patterson or (insert well-known author here) were to release the first half of their books on their websites or blogs. What if their readers read the excerpt and decided against buying the rest. It’d be a bad deal for the author, right? Now think of an agent or publisher who is considering your manuscript for representation or publication. If parts of your story can be read, then parts of your story have likely been read, right? Which means some people would go ahead and buy the rest and others wouldn’t. Makes no sense for either of them to really consider the work if potential readers have already been lost.

Actually, Patterson usually does something like this, but I’ve only ever seen it on Amazon and it’s usually less than 20 pages. I think.

So tell me, have you gotten to the stage of querying agents and ever been asked about what has or hasn’t been posted on your blog or website?

Lastly, I wrote my first ever guest post yesterday! It’s over on Kathy’s blog and it pertains to author stigma. Give it a read!

41 thoughts on “What Writers Should NOT Post on Their Blogs

  1. Surprisingly, I’ve never given this much thought, but then, I’m so protective of most of my writing, excluding the poetry and bits of ‘flash fiction’ even it it might be from one of my books, that I never think of posting it for the world to see. It makes perfect sense to me if one plans to publish with an agent.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I self-publish, so I’m not too worried 😀 But what a clever thought, it’s certainly something I would never have thought of! And you’re exactly right.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s exactly why I never post any novel excepts online. I nearly had an agent with my first novel but they couldn’t represent me after finding out I posted a section of it online.

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  4. Interesting post. I have never thought about this actually. I am no where near the stage of sending out my work to be published but I will have to keep this in mind for when I do!

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  5. I knew you couldn’t publish complete works on a blog, but I didn’t know you could not post a short excerpt. About five years ago, I had a story published on an online website that was up for only about a year. The magazine folded and the stories were not archived. I’ve recently begun to try to place the story again. I actually sent an email to one well-paying online market and explained about the magazine and etc. The editor wrote back and said, “I’m sorry, but published is published.” Even though the piece cannot be found anywhere on the internet, I can’t sub it again. I’m looking for a market that will take reprints or an anthology.

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  6. Seeing as I’m not an author (maybe someday) I wouldn’t have put any thought into. It seems pretty believable to me at least. I know I judge books pretty quickly.

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  7. As a freelance writer I know once my article has been posted online I can’t sell the rights again no matter what, but if it gets published in a paper copy then I could sell the secondary rights. Its probably similar for fiction writers.

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  8. This doesn’t always apply. There are plenty of authors who have gotten publishing deals only because they posted their material online and got a following there, which got them the attention of traditional publishing. Also, there is a difference between “excerpts” and the entire first half of a novel. Publishing excerpts is a thing all authors do. A single chapter online will not discourage publishers from publishing you, especially if it was very well received. Publishers usually tell authors to post the first chapter or two online before the book is available for sale to add to the hype of the release. In fact, lots of books on amazon come with a preview of at least the first chapter. I’m sure there are publishers who’ve said “Oh, no, published is published,” but that just means that the story wasn’t very good in the first place. If they think it will make them money, they’ll sign you, even if you had the entire novel up online…. and, say, it was originally a fanfic of a very well known YA series….

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    • Sample chapters on Amazon are from authors with publishing deals.

      I’d like to know the name of an author who got a publishing deal, not after experiencing ridiculous self-publishing success, but after posting their work online. I know of no such authors. But I’m okay with being proven wrong.

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      • Both E. L. James (now a millionaire for one of the shittiest books ever written) and the author of a One Direction fanfic called “After” which you can google. I’m sure there are smaller cases of this as well. I believe one of the bloggers I’m following was talking about self-publishing (and was about to follow through with it) when a small publisher found out about the story and signed her, and she’s had things posted up on her blog.

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  9. Yeah, I agree. I so want to put stuff online because I’m proud of my work, but I never do it. The most I’ve done is written a SHORT blurb about it in my interview and a post a couple weeks ago about my WIPs. Other than that, I stay away from putting too much info online. I’m paranoid enough as it is. No need to set myself up for failure.

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  10. Hey John, what about if your blog has less than 100 followers, and you post something just for feedback. What do you think? I see so many people doing this.

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    • And none of them have publishing deals.

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      • A few are self published, but instagram has a lot of people putting their work out. Really good stuff, but I feel like maybe that’s not a great idea. I understand what they are doing, but likes are different than obtaining a deal.

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      • If they want feedback, that’s what email is for. Can you even imagine a well-known author posting his or her work online for feedback? Nope. Cause then one realizes how crazy it is.

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      • Great info, I will pass it on. I appreciate you and your knowledge. I think a lot of times people mean well, but have no resources and friends that have great info such as yourself.

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  11. This definitely makes sense and I’m glad you wrote about it. As you mentioned, if you are self publishing it’s okay to share excerpts because it can be a form of advertising/marketing, but if you want any publisher to pick up your story (even if its poetry for magazine, newspaper, or web), it has to be completely unknown. Any work published online is basically seen as public domain.

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  12. Light’s out by David Crawford started out as a series of forum posts that got published. I think you’re correct in saying that publishers may shy away from a work without a following, but putting your work out and getting a following is what MANY authors have done to get a publishing deal. E.L. James, Bella Andre, etc.
    That said, the world is changing, even big writers are starting to self publish their own books or turn down offers to keep self publishing.
    The important thing is to have a following, regardless of whether you post it on a blog or whatever. This is what turned many bloggers into authors.

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  13. Pingback: Something New | Write me a book, John!

  14. Pingback: Ursula Le Guin is Clueless | Write me a book, John!

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