1. StuntMum
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    StuntMum New Member

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    does it count as 'published'?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by StuntMum, Nov 23, 2010.

    Hi everyone, I haven't been on here in a very long time and I just wanted to ask a question - so I hope I am not going over ground that has already been covered (over and over again?).
    I have recently started a blog that I use to share some of my short stories with friends (just for fun - to get feedback etc). I have been considering putting parts of my novels on there to share. - Just a chapter here and there.
    It is a public blog - accessible to anyone. My question is - if in the hypothetical long-term future, I actually finish any of these novels and try to sell them to an agent/publisher, would the parts on the blog be considered 'published' and could a publisher turn the novel down on the basis that it has been previously partially published?

    Or is that just a really stupid question?
     
  2. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    The answer varies by the publisher and length of story.

    Short stories posted online have been published, and the First North American Publication Rights have been lost to the author. This means you can sell those short stories to magazines or e-zines as reprints, but you can't sell them as "previously unpublished" works, not even if you take them off the blog after you've posted them.

    Brief novel excerpts don't mean that the novel overall was published. If long novel excerpts are published, though, that does mean a good portion of the novel has been published before. But this doesn't mean a book publisher won't be interested. As long as the book has not been published by another company, the book publisher likely won't care. Why should they? Your blog readership is probably only a few thousand people, maybe fewer than that, and since the whole book isn't available online it isn't possible for intellectual property thieves to just copy your blog and publish it.

    In the end, you probably don't need to worry about publishers rejecting your book because of the online excerpts. The sad truth is that some 60% of book manuscripts are rejected because the author sucks at basic writing, at stringing sentences together and spelling words correctly; another 20% of manuscripts are rejected because the story is flat -- the line-by-line writing is fine, but the characters are cardboard cutout mockeries of people and nothing happens and there isn't a satisfying ending, that sort of thing.

    If your novel is one of the few manuscripts that make the editor sit up and yodel -- and I mean in a good way -- they probably aren't going to change their mind just because a few excerpts are out there. So what? They're looking to publish a book for hundreds of thousands of readers in the wider world; they aren't worried that your blog has "spoiled" the book for those many readers. It may even get more of an early readership, since you can announce the book's publication date to your blog's audience, netting more sold books in the crucial early weeks when stores are still deciding how many copies of your book they want to set on the shelf for readers to see.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  3. StuntMum
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    StuntMum New Member

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    Thanks for your response. Yes, I know I was basing my concerns on the unlikely assumption that my novels are well-written and marketable, but you never know, so I thought it best to be sure before I blow my chances :)
     
  4. Whisp
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    Whisp Banned

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    Posting on a membership only site, such as this and work-shopping a story isn't usually considered as being published.
     
  5. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    It really depends on what HeinleinFan outlined. Even a membership only site isn't really protection, as you get all sorts of bots which could be archiving posts, and putting them somewhere not protected.
     
  6. Newfable
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    Newfable Senior Member

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    The long and short version: if it's online, then it's published, regardless of medium, regardless of length.

    This isn't always the case, but it's the rule of thumb to live by.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    which means that if you hope to have something published some day, you should never post any more than brief excerpts anywhere...
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with mammamaia. If you publish your short stories on your blog, then they're going to be considered "published" by most short story markets, particularly professional ones. You won't be able to sell "first" rights because you've already published the stories. There are markets that will take rights other than first rights, but you may not get as much.

    If you want to publish a work in the future, I wouldn't post very much of it at all on any internet site.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Better yet - If you plan to publish it, keep it to yourself until you do.
     
  10. StuntMum
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    StuntMum New Member

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    Thanks everyone. I see where you are all coming from. That just leaves me with the conundrum - if it doesn't ever get published, it would be great if I could share it online, however, if I share it online, it probably won't get published. Hmmm, I think it safe to assume that it is highly unlikely any of my novels will be published (or finished to a publishing standard for that matter), but it is nice to dream. Maybe I will revisit that option in the future.
     
  11. Newfable
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    Newfable Senior Member

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    Stop being so down on yourself!

    If you want it to be published, it'll be published. If you don't, then it won't. Simple as that.

    Sure, it takes a lot of work, and you'll be faced with lots of potential rejections, but if you want it, it'll happen.
     
  12. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    From those I've talked to don't care too much if you use an password protected online workshop (and will often explicitly state if it's not okay for their particularly guidelines). Just like they don't care if you send your story to a few dozen friends and family, or submit it to a workshop group, or if you left the manuscript in a box downtown for hobos to read.

    Posting an entire short story to a blog or non-workshop, non-password protected site is bad, though.

    The notion that anything posted online is automatically published is pretty silly when you consider Zoetrope has an online writing workshop, and many stories that go through it have been published in a variety of journals.

    And yes, it's possible for someone to bot/copy/steal your story from even a reputable online workshop like Zoetrope. But people could also steal it from online classes like Gotham, from in-person classes, from private writing groups, after being burgled. And if they were to post it online you'd have some issues, I suppose, but I still don't believe it's all that common to the point people should be afraid. Just be smart and don't 'share' your work without a bit of precaution.

    Has nobody ever emailed a story to themselves or kept them online with google docs? The notion that because someone COULD steal a story online means it's effectively 'published' is a bit silly. I've even heard of a few rare cases where a story was 'shared' online, but the viewership was shown to be so low it wasn't considered published, and was the equivalent of doing a public reading or sharing with friends/family (which also doesn't publish your story), and the stories were still able to be published for realsies.

    I'm not saying be loose with your manuscripts. Most places I won't post my work, but there are a few online workshops that are generally safe (from being considered published, unless someone tries to plagiarize you, of course, but that can happen in many ways, though rarely does).
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    don't know what you mean by that, pops, but neither method is legal proof you wrote it and won't be allowed as evidence in a us court action...

    the best way to prove authorship is to save all your first notes, the first draft and an intemediate one, along with your final draft... that shows how you developed the work from an idea to a completed ms and no one else will have that but you...
     
  14. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    You're right, you didn't know what I mean. :p

    Was addressing all the hysteria about people thinking that by simply having their story exist online it means it's somehow a) published or b) likely to be stolen and plagiarized.

    But what if you have email or google doc records of work developed from conception to a finalized form?

    From what I've heard, copyright disputes are pretty lose and there's no one 'must have this documentation source' to prove anything, and things like emailing a draft (especially to an instructor or someone who can corroborate) would certainly be considered as evidence, and fairly compelling.

    But, as will all matters of writing and law, it's all just opinions I suppose.
     

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