How much of a writer’s work should be shared online? Is it giving away too much if you post whole scenes or chapters? Would there be any benefit to posting an entire novel for free? There is always the risk of theft, but there is also the benefit of attracting new readers and future fans. This is an author’s personal choice, and I’ve heard many arguments on both sides, but I’m going to tell you where I stand on this—at least for now.
All that I’ve posted here stands apart from my books—I don’t want to give anything away, but I do want to reach out to other writers and readers by offering up my characters, my voice, and my ideas. I have a couple reasons for taking this approach.
To a small degree I’m afraid of my ideas being stolen—especially my concept for The Hollywood Effect—but I’ve already shared that concept, so I guess I’m not too worried about thieves. As an unpublished, unproven author I realize how hard it is to get a normal, mainstream concept published and to try for something so unusual to debut with will scare away a lot of agents, editors, and publishers, no matter how well I wrote it. I’m not giving up on trying to publish it, but I recognize that there’s an extra challenge involved.
So at this point, if you want to steal this concept then go ahead, but please be successful so I can show in my future submissions that readers actually do want to read that sort of thing.
Another reason I hold back at sharing is just simple privacy. I know I’m not the only writer who likes to keep things to myself. I don’t really like to share my work until it’s perfect, and even then I’m hesitant to put it out there. Even if it’s about aliens it’s part of me—and could reveal things about me even I’m unaware of.
I’m not trying to get published because I’m desperate to share something with the world or teach some kind of lesson or even make anyone think.
These are the reasons I’m seeking publication rather than locking all my work away in a safe until I die:
- The selfish reason: I’m pretty sure I’m a damn good writer, and I’d like someone to officially validate that belief.
- Legacy: I love reading, and I’d like to positively contribute to that (warning: horrible metaphor coming) fountain of literature that I drink from (wince). Here’s a better metaphor: Like if you join a club you really like, at some point you’d want to become more involved, like run for an office, help make decisions, or at least bake cookies for the meeting. If my books are the cookies for the club of literature I’d be fine with that.
- The natural course: I’ve been writing books since I was seven. In second grade I was in a creative writing club with sixth graders. If you enjoy running then you do races even if you don’t aim to win. If you get bestowed with superpowers, you either become a super hero or super villain. You have to do something with whatever talents you’ve developed or they’re wasted, so I have to keep trying.
I apologize if some of the things I share—like characters and stories that don’t make sense without having read whichever of my unpublished books they’ve come from. I doubt I’ll ever put whole books on here, just tastes of them, but I will try to balance those posts out with other writing ideas I have.