Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Doomed. DOOMED!

(This video clip used for commentary purposes under the fair use doctrine. And I’m also advertising FedEx.)

Yes, part of me thinks I’m doomed. I have – against all common sense and decency, it appears – used up my first rights of publication, never to be resurrected, by posting the bits and pieces that make up the first draft of my novels on this very blog.

This is what the landscape of the doomed looks like: Deleted pages. Soon-to-be-deleted posts. And what’s left? The shallow shell of a man doomed – doomed, I say – never to publish, or at least never to publish the drivel that has been published here.

At least at premium prices.


Here’s some advice from a fellow in the publishing business (emphasis his):
"This is a good place to mention the hazards of e-publishing. Publishing is a lot like buying a car. First-time rights are the most valuable rights you have--just as a new car drops significantly in value the moment it's driven off the lot by a new owner.
If you publish ANY part of your manuscript on the Internet--even a private blog--and the publisher finds out about it, you are considered to have used up your first rights and they can cut the value of your manuscript by a ton.
Obviously this is a contentious area but I've seen it over and over again. I strongly recommend that if you are planning to submit something for publication you do not publish it on the Internet even for review by your writing group. Send it as a Word attachment in e-mail. Do not even put up snippets on your blog or FB."
Help this author! For he is doomed.

Or maybe not.

Here’s another perspective:
Many posts have been written about whether or not to share samples of your unpublished work on your site. Here’s my take on it. I believe it’s okay to post something you’re revising if you’re looking for feedback as long as it’s clear that’s what you’re doing. You don’t want anyone to think that jumble of words represents a final product. This includes query letters and a chapter here and there. However, I wouldn’t post a synopsis or a large chunk of one manuscript on your site unless it’s a part of your promotional material from your published novel (and your publisher has given you permission to do so.)

[From a comment on said post] Unfortunately, I haven't read an actual explanation as to why publishers won't touch something that's been "published" on a blog. I have a few guess[es] though. Editors want writers to have an online presence because they believe your followers will buy your book. Now, if these same followers have already been exposed to parts of the book, maybe they wouldn't buy it because the "new book factor" isn't there. Of course, you can flip the coin and say maybe they would buy the book because they are excited to see how it ends or they enjoyed what they'd read so far.
So, what could it be then? Is it that publishers simply want to control what material their authors put out there because it not only affects the author's brand, but the publisher's as well? I'm really not sure.

So perhaps I’m only semi-doomed?

Part of me has to wonder if this isn’t a knee-jerk reaction on the part of publishers, feeling threatened by the Internet age, as are many traditional word outlets. Because surely this kind of situation can’t be unique to the Internet. True, the Internet does make it painfully easy to be published – and thus become doomed – than any other publishing method, but surely authors have passed around unpublished excerpts and manuscripts in the hopes of getting feedback without running into the loss of first use publication. And that’s the primary goal of me putting my stuff on this blog: I’d like input from others on how to make it better.

As I have mentioned, the manuscript to “Considering How to Run” has been severely edited, and none of that edited material has been “published” on this blog. Am I to lose out on first publication use of my novel because I put the first draft of it up, in installments, on this blog, in the hopes of finishing it first of all, second of all, getting outside help to make it better?

And I have to wonder: What’s all the fuss? I feel like Dr. Johnny Fever from WKRP when stereo store owner Del asks out loud how the radio station can afford to do a remote at his store for such a cheap price. Johnny responds: “You’ll understand when you see the response you get.” It’s quite possible people have read the manuscripts and postings I’ve put here. But Google Analytics tells me only on random occasions are the visits to my blog prompted by my writerly postings, and most of the visits to the excerpt and manuscript posts and pages are bouncers anyway. Perhaps analytics can be the author’s friend (and foe) if a publisher demurs at publishing because the first rights have been used. The doomed one could show, through analytics, that the posts weren’t all that popular. And then the publisher can use that as more evidence to pass on the manuscript as well.

Doomed it is. Doomed!

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