Should You Blog Your Novel?

Blogging a novelA blog reader wrote, “The topic of posting a rough draft of a novel has become a hot topic with my writing friends. Some of us do it and others don’t. I’ve heard different opinions on this when it comes to publishing. Some folks claim an agent wouldn’t touch the project, while others say having a blog with many followers is a feather in the cap. What is your perspective for writers seeking to be traditionally published?”

I receive this question rather frequently, so I decided to answer on the blog. Other agents or publishers would answer differently, but here are my thoughts, which only apply to those who want a publisher. If you’re going to self-publish your novel, then of course you may choose to put it on your blog or do whatever you like with it.

First, some thoughts on good reasons to blog your novel.

1. Immediate feedback. Some people want the validation of knowing people are reading their work on a regular basis, which might make it easier to keep going. It can also be a way of testing the commercial appeal of your work.

2. Accountability. Establishing a schedule of posting portions of your novel at regular intervals gives you deadlines and word-count goals. It can spur you to keep writing.

3. Building a readership. Of course, if you come to a publisher with a ready-made fan base, that can be a good thing. So blogging your novel and building an audience of devoted fans would be advantageous.

4. Just for fun. If you simply enjoy the idea of posting your novel in serial form on your blog, go for it! But be aware of the possible drawbacks.

Now here are the downsides, as I see them:

1. Immediate feedback. People on the Internet are often unhelpful at best, downright cruel at worst. Do you really need to hear people’s opinions on a chapter-by-chapter basis? You may be hoping for validation along the way, but you might not get it, and when you do, you’ll wonder if you can trust it. Additionally, it’s likely you’ll receive contradictory feedback, which can make things worse. Bottom line, I wonder if you want to be dealing with the random opinions of strangers while you’re in the process of trying to create your masterpiece. Crowd-sourcing may not be the best approach to novel-writing.

2. It’s really hard to build a readership. There are stories out there in Internetland of authors who have built a fan base by giving away their stories for free on their blog. But these situations are few and far between. It takes a tremendous effort and a significant investment of time to get people to come and read your blog on a regular basis. Plus, most people are not reading blogs and websites for “novels” but are looking for other kinds of information and entertainment on the web. It’s not true that “if you write it, they will come.” I would expect that after six months of blogging your novel, you’d be lucky to have 50 regular readers. That might be fun, but it’s not the kind of fan base that sells books.

3. Once it’s blogged, it’s “published.” There are varying perspectives on this, but technically, a blogged novel is already published which will make some publishers decline to consider it, which is why many agents would be hesitant. A way to overcome this would be to show spectacular blog stats, with several thousand visitors to every single post, and a growing audience over the course of the novel.

4. Creating a novel is not a linear process. As all novelists know, the creation of a novel usually involves going back to edit and rewrite portions that you previously wrote. It can involve cutting out sentences or pages or whole chapters; adding new scenes to earlier chapters; or rearranging sections for a better flow to the story. If you are blogging in rough draft, you’re limited to a linear process, and you’re not showing your best work to your readers.

5. It’s extremely annoying from the reader’s point of view. If you are able to gather an audience to read your blogged-novel from day one, then they can keep up with you and read each segment as you post it. But what about those coming in halfway through? If someone wants to go back and read your novel from the beginning, they have to keep clicking to open new pages to read each portion, which detracts from the continuity of the reading experience. Each time someone has to stop and open a new page, you’re risking them giving up on your novel.

Overall, whenever I hear of people blogging their novels, my first thought is “why?” I just can’t see a compelling enough reason to do it, unless you were getting paid for it like Charles Dickens and Mark Twain in the age of serialization. Or unless it’s just for fun and you’re not seeking publication.

What about you? Do you think blogging a novel is a good idea, or not? Have you tried it, or considered trying it?

Comment below or by clicking: HERE.

 

Tweetables

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“Once it’s blogged, it’s published.” Thoughts on blogging your novel. Click to Tweet.

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  • Larry_Shallenberger

    Point four, I think is the deal breaker. There’s also revisions to get the tone and theme correct and consistent. Unless you wrote and revised the novel in advance and then scheduled one-jillion posts at once, I think you are dooming yourself to “publish” an inferior product.

    • Jessie Gunderson

      I think if I was going to do it, this is exactly what I’d do. Wait until the book was done then schedule a year of posts. The only problem is by that point there is SO much time and heart in the book it would be really hard to give it away.

  • http://www.heatherdaygilbert.blogspot.com/ Heather Day Gilbert

    I will say that I blogged the first 13 chapters of my first novel, and quickly built a readership. The down side is that the novel hasn’t been published yet, and readers really wanted (still want!!!) to read the ending. It’s definitely something I keep on the back-burner of my mind–to revise it and self-pub it. I found it was a real blessing. Readers aren’t likely to tell you they hate something right there on your blog. I had people stumble into my blog, then go back and read those chapters straight through, even though they weren’t super-easily accessible (they weren’t all on a tab, etc.). So as I said, for me, the biggest drawback was that I wasn’t able to get the entire book to them. I actually blogged those chapters on the advice of my first agent!

    • http://www.heatherdaygilbert.blogspot.com/ Heather Day Gilbert

      (I should add that I felt I couldn’t blog the entire book b/c it was out on submission at the time). This was back in the early days of blogging, where fiction authors were stumbling around to figure out WHAT to blog about and just get their feet in the door. But honestly, I look back on the feedback I got from that imperfectly-edited novel, and it encourages me to keep writing. The readers will come.

    • Jessie Gunderson

      That’s awesome. What an encouragement to have such great feed back. Hoping you have something to put in their hands soon! :)

  • Kristi Colaizzi Lloyd

    For me, I think downside point #5 is well thought out. Most writers are big time readers. Just think to yourself how often you turned the page of a printed book by accident and kept reading even though you meant to stop with the last chapter. Now you’re half way through the next chapter and completely forgot about stopping. Before you know it, you’ve finished the book. But if you’re only allowed to read one section/chapter at a time, you may become frustrated, forget what happened before in the reading or just lose interest.

  • Cardinal Robbins

    I think blogging a novel is a bad idea, but that’s my personal opinion.

    While a blog is one necessary aspect of an author’s platform, instead of using it to blog your novel, using it to blog some short stories with your original characters is a much smarter way to go. Why? Because you can determine if there is interest in those characters, see how a potential readership reacts to them, if they’ll invest time in following them, and so forth.

    It’s pointless to try and write a novel on a blog when you know you’ll be getting negative feedback by people who are on the ‘net only to criticize and tear people down — and believe me, there is a *tremendous* amount of that out there. I’ve seen writer friends affected by it.

    A better idea? Use Google Drive to post your novel, chapter by chapter. This way you can control who reads it, who can comment, and — if you’re working with an editor — who can make edits on the document. I use this method and it’s a breeze. Those readers with whom I’m very close can see the work in progress, they can tell me if I’m really off-base with anything (which has been invaluable since the setting is in upstate New York and I’m…not), they can see the work that goes into revisions, and they can tell me if I’ve gone too far with my intensely gritty subject matter. It’s like having a focus group for your novel, but without the general internet mayhem. I limit my group to no more than 12 honest, open, dedicated readers who will be 100% honest with me.

    I also agree with publishers who feel that once your novel has hit the ‘blogoshpere,’ it’s published. Why would anyone buy it when they can search for it on the web and read it there? Sure, it would take a reader some time to sift back through all of your posts, but these are the same people who will watch a movie for free when it’s been broken into 16 parts on You Tube. It’s value has been diminished for a paying audience. The publisher needs a revenue stream from your work, and if you’ve already blogged your novel then why should they invest their time and resources in it after the fact?

    Also, I don’t know how other writers feel about this, but I think that blogging your novel could *possibly* compromise your copyright, as well as make your plot and characters a little easier to steal. I don’t know if this is true, but I wouldn’t take the chance. *sound of can opener releasing can of worms in the comments*

    I live in Southern California and I’m currently working on a couple of TV spec scripts, and the rule of thumb out here is that you *never* disclose too much in public until you have some sort of protection in place for your work. For me, that’s registering a script via Writers Guild of America, so I can prove later on that someone ripped off my idea(s). (I’m also writing a crime novel, which is why I’m commenting on this post.) For you, would you really want to have to defend a suit over similarities when your work is an ‘in-progress’ novel on your blog? That could get very, very sticky in the course of an intellectual property or copyright lawsuit.

    Those are just some of my thoughts on the issue. Your mileage may vary, of course. Thank you for your time.

  • Florence Cronin

    I have loved posting on my blog for four years. However, I would not post any work I plan to send for traditional consideration by an agent or a publisher.
    Since my blog features snippets of stories and flash fiction once a week … I am planning to publish some of those as a book. That would be amazon kindle and create space.
    During these changing times in publishing, I prefer to develop my career as a hybrid. I would self pub works from the blog, or shorts that I feel are not marketable in a traditional sense. At the same time, I will continue to query my novels.

    If writers read the fine print when subitting short stories or flash fiction to literary magazines and e-zines they will learn that anything that has been posted on their blog or someone else’s blog is considered “published.” In most instances they will not accept any work that has been previously published. If that happens with shorts, I imagine the stakes are higher and the odds greater that if someone posts chapters or whole parts of a novel it would not be seen as a good thing by those they might later query.

    And since I frequently read and rarely comment, I want thank you for being an agent who has taken great pains and hard work to teach us so much about the changing landscape of publishing. On our RWA-WF Chapter we often include links to your blogs in our Weekly News.

  • Kathryn Elliott

    I’m in the no pile on this one, however, it depends on the writer’s
    long term goal. I took a class on building an audience where the instructor
    suggested posting a chapter, but never the entire MS. He gave the “why buy the cow…” speech, made
    sense to me.

  • Cynthia Loveland

    Thank you for the insight. I have a friend who is always trying to get me to post short stories or chapters of a longer work on my blog, but I am painfully aware that once it’s out there, it’s out there for good in all of its edited or not-as-edited-as-you-thought glory.

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    I considered it, but only for a few minutes. The thought of ‘alternate’ versions of a novel that might one day be published, just floating around out there…ugh. I wasn’t comfortable with that.

    A big problem with the Internet is that anything and everything you post can potentially follow you around for years. Why take the risk with your writing reputation, by putting out a work that’s either immature or that blog readers find unsatisfying in the medium of its presentation, and thereby criticize unfairly?

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com

  • Cindy

    Thanks for the article!
    I would not recommend blogging a novel on first draft. For me, the first draft is a personal work. There is necessary internal work going on that can be disrupted if too many “voices” are involved. As an editor, I have seen good storylines and writing become a garbled mess due to too much feedback on first draft. Sometimes, the original story is not even recognizable after too much “my group said…” comes into play. I think a couple of trusted critique partners is much more effective. And with a little patience, once the first draft is done and revised, you still have the option of posting it on your blog if you want to do so.

  • Suzanne Lieurance

    Hi, Rachelle,

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to publish your entire unpublished book on your blog for a couple of reasons if you’re hoping to have it traditionally published. The main one is that you might create a following, but unless you get thousands of regular visitors (not just a handful) and comments it probably won’t impress an editor or agent enough to take on something that, in fact, has already been published.

    I do think it’s a good idea to post other things to your site that show your writing skills, style, voice, etc. to build a following. And, you can include snippets of your current work-in-progress to give visitors a preview of what you’re doing.

    Interesting to read other writers take on this, though. Thanks.

  • Mel

    I actually did this with a fan-fiction piece I wrote last year. I was nervous for the reasons you listed above, but when all was said and done, I received strong accolades from everyone who read it, I was able to get a good feel for what the readers liked and disliked, and, surprisingly enough, developed a strong following so that when I publish my novel this year, I should have a large enough fanbase to make the stories worth the time of both agent and publisher should I decide to go the traditional route in the future.

  • jmw_123

    It’s a horrible idea. I have posted excerpts of my WIPs from time to time, but as a rule I don’t like blogging a book and I generally don’t read them.

    1. I am very picky about which feedback I take to heart. I have narrowed it down to a few posse members who are familiar with my writing and voice so they spend time growing that instead of trying to rewrite my story as they would write it.

    I used to accept “advice” from anyone, but honing in on people who are brutally honest with my work and yet constructive has made a world of difference.

    I recall one “published” author posting an excerpt from her new novel on a site, asking for feedback. I noted that it is highly unlikely a beautiful, naked virgin could escape by throwing herself on a raging black stallion no one had ever been able to tame and racing to freedom across rain slick cobblestones. I, apparently, am unaware of the power of beautiful, naked virgins have over raging black stallions according to the response. Not to be mean, perhaps I am, but I think far too many people who post their novels on their blogs or other places really don’t want feedback. They want “attaboys”. That’s fine, just don’t do it under the pretense of asking for feedback.

    2. There are better ways to set goals. Install a word meter on your site and throw a party for every so many words or something.

    3. This is the biggie to me. I don’t mind posting some short stories as throwaways, knowing I will never try to publish them. I don’t ever want to hear an agent or publisher tell me the novel I just sweated blood over is just what they were looking for, unfortunately, it’s already published on my blog. Never. This isn’t even worth taking a chance on.

    4. Precisely. The beginning of my current WIP has evolved significantly to the point it bears little resemblance to the original opening. My style has refined. I really wouldn’t want an agent or publisher judging my work on the previous attempts. The story has changed dramatically, deleting entire arcs and characters and adding new ones or better defining previous ones. Some characters and arcs have been set aside for a completely different work. Plus, sometimes, I see a scene in my head and write it, not knowing where it fits in. The little guys behind the drapes know, but I don’t until I get to that point. It would be totally frustrating, I think, to pop a great scene on the blog and tell readers you have no idea if it connects or where.

    5. This is a valid point. If I sit down to read and get caught up in the story I don’t want to stop, be interrupted or be inconvenienced by looking for more. I suffer this from my writing partners, but I don’t want to suffer it from strangers.

    I am

  • Heather C Button

    In authors I follow, I prefer to see the world-building, interviews with characters, that kind of thing. But there is a key difference in blogging a non-fiction work vs. blogging a novel, right?

    • Teddi Deppner

      Yes, Heather, I agree! It’s a lot of fun to build interest in a story, and you don’t have to post the whole thing to do that. Nowadays, people love the whole “behind the scenes” thing. Like the “Special Features” on a movie DVD.

      I don’t know that there’s much of a different in blogging non-fiction vs. fiction in terms of the issues mentioned above (traditional publishers not wanting the content pre-published). But there are definitely differences in the approach and effectiveness of your blog when you’re a non-fiction author vs. fiction author.

      Non-fiction is pretty straight-forward. When you’re writing a non-fiction book about marriage, for instance, it’s easy to have a blog with marriage tips. You can find plenty to say that isn’t the actual content of your book word-for-word. You can link to other resources and help people find the info and help they’re looking for, while building your credibility as an expert source.

      It’s harder for fiction novelists. I’ve been seeing a ton of comments from authors in the past few months, as people are realizing that blogging as a fiction author is 1) difficult and 2) ineffective. It’s hard to know WHAT to blog about. And unless you find the right content to share, you won’t attract and grow your readership. Which makes a lot of folks conclude that blogging for fiction writers is a waste of time.

      I’m leaning towards the conclusion that IF you haven’t found something that really works for you and your audience, then yes — blogging for fiction writers is a waste of time… but IF you find the creative blogging approach that works for your niche, it will build your readership and create passionate and loyal fans!

      • Heather C Button

        yes, I have ideas for posts that will delve into my fictional world without giving away the story itself. just have to finish the story itself…

        • Teddi Deppner

          Cool! Have you considered starting blogging about the story before it’s finished, so you get a head start on building your readership?

          • Heather C Button

            i have, but since i am rewriting the entire thing (changed voice, ages, setting of characters – you know, small stuff…;-) ) i am holding off for now.

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    A bit more about protecting one’s reputation – it’s important even for the Big Dogs. Two examples –

    Tom Clancy’s early books were readable, and had a sly, unexpected humor. When he made it big he expanded his brand into computer games and, worse, lent his name to books written largely or entirely by others. They were very different from his ‘brand’, and were run-of-the-mill. A lot of his fan base drifted away.

    The late SF writer, Arthur C. Clarke, made the same mistake. He wrote the wonderful “Rendezvous With Rama” in the early 70s, and a couple of decades later put its sequels (originally unplanned) into the hands of a less capable craftsman. The books were horrible, and unfortunately it was Clarke’s reputation that suffered.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com

  • Teddi Deppner

    It’s tempting to write this idea off, for the reasons mentioned and the general fear that it provokes. The act of writing a novel is usually scary enough for new (and experienced) authors without doing it in a glass house.

    But I wouldn’t reject it wholesale. The publishing world is wide open right now. The Internet has given us more ways than ever to connect with our readers, our audience. Direct! I would encourage everyone to at least consider ways to leverage that opportunity.

    Maybe you don’t blog the whole novel. Maybe you don’t post the first draft (wait — DEFINITELY don’t post the first draft!). But if you’ve considered the pros and cons and feel that you have a way to attract and engage readers, then do it. If you’re concerned about undermining your chances with a traditional publisher, then do a little extra research to determine what you should and shouldn’t post. Maybe you can’t post any actual chapters and still attract the publisher you want. So do backstory. Do side stories. Release “deleted scenes”. Be creative.

    And if you aren’t sure you want a traditional publisher, if you just want to write a novel and interact with your audience, why not give this a try? You’ll grow, you’ll learn, and by the time you’ve finished blogging the novel, you may have gained enough support and encouragement and followers to feel confident in self-publishing. Despite all the negative talk online about low-quality self-published works, there are some writers who write entertainment that people enjoy and who are doing well. Even if it isn’t perfect.

    Know thyself. What’s your goal? Be creative, and leverage the Net to get there.

    If it works for you, go for it! If not, don’t bash or dismiss those who choose differently. There’s room for a lot of different paths to success. :-)

    • rich

      the best answer i’ve seen here. good job.

    • A Renfro

      Great answer.

    • Janna G. Noelle

      This is a great response. I’ve been pondering doing something of this sort when my novel is fully finished.

    • http://www.authorkellybyrne.com Kelly Byrne

      Terrific, well thought out, and reasoned response. Thanks for this. :)

  • Mike Poeltl

    The best idea I’ve heard of with actual results in this vein is joining a fan fiction site or two. You pick your favorite (or most popular) tv show or book series and start writing fiction based on those characters.

    There are literally thousands of ready made fans at your fingertips salivating to read something fresh based on the characters and world(s) they’ve grown to love.

    A friend of mine who is an accomplished writer went under a pen name and did exactly this. She ended up being approached by the head writer of the tv show she was basing her fan fiction on and given a job based on the responses she received from the fan site.

    You could even create a fan fiction thread about one of your own books or series and continue writing in the forums to drum up interest in your books. There is a wide variety of ‘worlds’ which exist in these fan fiction sites and no limit to where you can take characters.

    Something for every writer with the time to market themselves to think about.

    • Cecelia Dowdy

      I’ve done this. I wrote a Titanic fan fiction based upon the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. I posted it on the site fanfiction.net and wattpad. I did not use a pen name. I used my real name and I even created a separate page on my website where you can download the entire book. I received raving reviews and I hope my actions will increase my book sales. I was bored, so, I felt that writing my fan fiction might make readers who love Jack and Rose’s romance (on Titanic) – well, I thought those readers might like my romance novels. It’s too early to tell if any of these readers purchased my romance novels…

      • Mike Poeltl

        I hope it brings you lots of luck Cecelia! I’m considering it myself. Just have to find the time!

        • Cecelia Dowdy

          Yes, it’s best to choose something that’s really popular CURRENTLY – I just learned this myself. Although Titanic is popular, it’s old (about 15 years old). After going through the fan fiction site, I noticed that more current stuff (like Twilight) have more fan fics and more interaction. I’m also a fan of the Twilight books, I might try and do a Twilight fan fic (with a Christian twist)!

  • Leslie G Nelson

    Rachelle, would you consider discussing how this applies to non-fiction? There is some overlap, but a lot of differences as well. Thanks!

  • disqus_DcLRvD3tx9

    Hi,

    I agree that internet feedback may be feeble. And blogging the entire novel may raise publishing with a traditional publisher expections, beyond reasonable. But at the same time, blogging creates a platform which the writer can use. Test the waters in a sense.
    What I’ve done, which I’m no way saying it’s absolutely successful but I found it working for me is that I’m blogging posts using my published novel as inspiration. Basically, I’ve my novel out and in the process of promoting it, I’m creating side-stories, background stories, writing about issues which my character wants to deal with or speak to someone about. Some of these will be dealt with in the second instalment of the book. Fellow bloggers’ response on some of the issues the character writes about, gives me an indication of what may interest my audience.
    It works for me. I feel great having an outlet for my character (rather than having her say all of these to me and me having to listen to her, alone). I’m not saying it’ll grant me a deal with a traditional publisher for the 2nd instalment of the book -but it will increase my chances of writing a better book. And that will increase my chances.
    Thanks!

    Stella K.
    http://www.bellanars.wordpress.com

  • Krista Phillips

    I’ve posted a few snippets from time to time just for fun, but I’d never “blog” a book and never saw the point. I wouldn’t want to READ a book via a blog, so the idea of writing one just doesn’t appeal for that reason as well as all the ones you mentioned

  • Wendy Heuvel

    I posted my novel online, but I had a reason.

    It’s a middle grade fantasy novel – a Christian allegory. I did initially try to get published, but as it’s a hard genre to get published in, I decided not to pursue it extensively.

    My heart also wasn’t in the project enough to dedicate the next few years to editing, rewriting, and writing sequels to this story if I did get published.

    After praying about it, I felt it was time to give the project up and start something new. In the meantime, I had a number of friends who had asked to read it, and since my blog was no longer active, I posted it there so they could. :)

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    I blogged my first book, “A Train Called Forgiveness.” I barely had a readership at the time as I had just started my blog. But the few readers that followed inspired me to keep going and eventually to publish.

    Would I do it again? Maybe. I love the experimental nature of blogging a novel. I enjoy writing a story linearly, but there are always some unexpected curves, hills, and road blocks. That can hinder the process and confuse readers when you delete a whole chunk to rewrite. A Train Called Forgiveness is slightly different in book form than it was on the blog as I did some rewriting after blogging it.

    The reason I would not do it again is that it’s not what most blog readers/followers come to my blog for. They come for helpful articles that add value. Most of them would not follow a novel.

  • JeanneTakenaka

    I wouldn’t do this for a number of reasons, most of which have already been posted. In part, my rough draft is very . . . rough. When I share my novel with readers I want it to be the very best I have to offer. I also have heard that once it’s in a public forum, such as a blog, it’s published. This doesn’t line up with my goals as a writer.

  • Sam Beringer

    What about stuff relating to the novel? Like short stories focusing on other characters or, if it’s a sci-fi/fantasy novel, stuff about the world the story takes place in?

  • http://rmabry.com Richard Mabry

    Rachelle,

    Good question. To those who’ve done this and succeeded–congratulations. Whatever works.

    My response: No! Absolutely not! No way on earth!

    Reasons: you’ve given the best ones. No need to expound on them.

  • Alex J. Cavanaugh

    My publisher told me once something is posted online, they consider it published. So I never post any writing on my blog unless it’s an approved excerpt from one of my novels.

  • http://mistiwolanski.com Carradee

    What publication route you’re planning to take should influence your choice to blog or not to blog a particular story. I know it does me.

    My first self-published novel is available free on a blog I set up specifically for that story. It’s also sold more copies than any of my other stories, even when I account for it having been out longer. Coincidental? Maybe. Maybe not.

    I also recently started putting that novel and some of my related self-published work on Wattpad. I’ve been featured there since the end of last month. It’s garnered me a lot of readers, likes, followers…and fans who are asking me about what’s next.

    Which segues nicely into my “First Draft Fridays”, wherein I commit to posting at least one scene in a particular project every Friday until I complete its first draft—with the disclaimer that the posted version *is* a first draft and therefore may have typos, contradictions, etc., and it may or may not have any resemblance to the final product. I’m on my second “First Draft Friday” project now, a novel that’s the third book in the series of that first blogged novel.

    But my frist “First Draft Project” was a novelette. I intentionally picked a project I was planning to submit to a small press that I knew didn’t mind blogged rough drafts. (It’s under contract now, by the way. ^_^)

    I have another two projects that I would LOVE to blog—I think they’d do great to build an audience that way—but I know the publisher I plan to submit to prefers authors don’t do that, so I’m not. I can always blog them later.

    One factor to consider is that, if you get too few page views, many people won’t count something as “published”. But you also can’t exactly control how many page views you get, so it’s kind of roulette to try.

    Posting a story on your own self-hosted blog is easier to monetize, analyze, and control, but it can be harder to garner readers. There are, however, web fiction directories you can submit to, which can help.

  • jefritz4

    Yes, I can see why it’s a bad idea to blog a novel for the intention of feedback or to attract readers, but there are other reasons to blog a work of fiction. I’m working on one myself, not for the sake of critiques or fans, but because the medium fits the story I’m going for. There’s a nice-sized community of people who do things like this for the sake of creating a world, and it’s a great experience.

  • Annie

    I don’t think I would ever blog a novel. Sometimes I post my shorter, non-fix pieces, but they can stand alone. They are polished. I guess it’s really what each individual author deems best, but I’m far too anal for all that!!

  • Jo Murphey

    Initially, I blogged excerpts from my current nonfiction WIP. It did what I wanted it to do…it gained me the attention in an area I had not previously had an audience in…in fact three stroke organizations international and national picked up my blog for their readership and I gained about an additional thousand + hits per stroke blog. I made the readers aware that it was only a rough draft and subject to changes or deletion as I progressed.

    The main problem I faced was too much attention from sources I didn’t expect (from editors, agents, and publishers). Not that this is a particularly bad thing, but it put added pressure on me to create faster and messier which is a bad thing for a brain damaged person. That’s the downside.

    So I stopped posting excerpts, but instead just blogged about my experiences that backed up my stories and about my stroke recovery process. Some of these experiences will go into my WIP and some will not. I’m still building an audience, but in a different way. People were following my author’s blog before my blog and will continue after my stroke.

    As far as feedback goes, I’ve met some very interesting people who comment (blog & email, letters) on my blog because it has hit a similar thread with what I am going through, but none of them are authors, just survivors. From the authors I get comments from are encouraging. Hateful comments are ignored at this stage of my game because they don’t matter. The thing about writing is that it’s an evolving process. I don’t take anything to heart. I’ve got real life issues.

  • rich

    i’ve been posting chapters, and it’s been very helpful. my readers are giving me excellent feedback, including positives, negatives, and even typo’s and edits that seem needed. i have been lucky enough to have about ten very careful readers who seem to know their stuff.

    as for the risk that it’s already been “published,” i spoke with an editor who said that it’s not a problem. you can easily change names, the setting, and a few minor things, and you can also tell a publisher exactly what you did and why, and they are usually perfectly okay with it. in fact, the trend may be changing, according to a book review i know. he says that more publishers like the idea of something being “field tested.”

  • rich

    the positives are, of course, positive, and i’m enjoying the benefits of all of them. but let’s look at the negatives more carefully. forgive the formatting because i’m copying and pasting from your post.

    1. Immediate feedback. People on the Internet are often unhelpful at best, downright cruel at worst. – this is an unfair negative because it’s also a positive. we have to take the good with the bad. and we have to be smart enough to ignore those comments that we could tell are ingenuinely cruel.

    2. It’s really hard to build a readership. – yes, it is hard. it’s also hard to write a novel. but it’s not impossible. it’s better to try and fail than not try at all.

    3. Once it’s blogged, it’s “published.” – as you said, varying opinions, and as you might see in my other comment, the tide may be changing.

    4. Creating a novel is not a linear process. correct. so what? you post it when you’re ready. if you’re not ready, don’t post. and all the rewriting and editing and revising – i’m doing a lot of that now, and my readers are doing a great job of letting me know where they think i should do that. and if i disagree, then of course it’s up to me.

    5. It’s extremely annoying from the reader’s point of view. If they find it annoying, they won’t read, and that’s okay. and if a reader doesn’t like that, they won’t choose to do it. just as someone might pass up a book on a shelf because the cover or title was annoying to them. there’s nothing wrong with that.

    so these negatives are the same negative someone might face anywhere. blog or not.

    • Jessie Gunderson

      I tend to agree with you. However, I don’t think I’ve got the guts to do it. :)

  • A Renfro

    I am actually blogging my first novel one page at a time. It posts
    daily. I did it to not only gain an audience, but to also gain myself.
    The feedback I receive, the likes, the comments, push me on when the
    going gets rough. If you have avenues out there to use – then use
    them. I don’t know if it looks negative or not when it comes to agents
    or publishing houses, but I can’t sit on my hands. I have to do
    something to get my name out there. It has given me some great comments
    to add to my query letter. That way, an agent or publishing house, has
    some feedback on it already. I hope they might be willing to take a
    chance on mine since I’ve already done some ground work on it.

  • Stephen H. King

    Agree with you. Stephen King–the other one–ran an experiment several years ago where he posted a chapter at a time. Back then they were called “web sites” rather than “blogs” but his experiment proved fairly successful. Then again, he is such a good, experienced, writer that he could reasonably be expected to turn out what you rightfully say is a nonlinear product in a linear fashion. I certainly cannot. I do blog excerpts, but even with my efforts now to change a series of blog posts into a memoir, I find myself doing some serious editing and revising to make them flow as a story.

  • Anna L. Walls

    I had one of my books with very short chapters, and I posted it as a blog novel. Feedback was sporadic at best but good, though I will never know if anyone actually read the whole thing. After it was posted in its entirety, and thanks to a donation, I was able to buy a cover for it, and then shortly after that I published it though CreateSpace. Connection or otherwise, I will never know, but so far it has been one of my best selling books.

  • w j wirth

    Although I am currently blogging what might turn into a book, I am not crazy about the idea.
    1) Unless a reader is with you from the beginning, they have to read up, instead of the traditional down.
    2) I track hits on the blog. Frequently, a person or persons unknown will download the entire blog. I suppose this is a form of flattery but I seldom hear from the doer of such a deed and it leaves me uneasy.

  • Jeanette Andersen

    I posted the 1st chapter to my book a week ago. First I asked if anyone would want me to and would read it. I got some replies of ‘yes’, so I did. Only one comment back. (Which was good) I’m seeing now is to keep posting a brief summary to get people excited to read it when the/your book is out.

  • Sarah Tipton

    I am currently attempting this, though after reading everyone’s comments, I’m considering quitting. :-) J/K

    My biggest reason in choosing to do this was to have fun writing. I don’t like blogging. I have nothing to say, no advice to give, that anyone needs. I’d rather send people to other bloggers who do a much better job at tackling teen issues. I am not that person. I’m much more self-conscious about posting or promoting any thoughts I write in the normal blog style. Fiction, I’m comfortable with. The story I’m blogging has been running around my head for 20 years. It’s not a manuscript—though I do have a manuscript with these characters and some of the scenes in the episodes I post—but I’m not posting excerpts of a manuscript.

    I chose to tackle this as a cross between a novel and a TV series. Each episode has a clear goal/desire/problem that is achieved or failed by the end. There are on-going issues too. Each episode begins with a brief synopsis about what happened previously that matters to the current state of events. Eventually, there will be a synopsis that will be added to every few episodes and a cast of characters—the link will be available at the top of each post for anyone wishing to “catch up.” Though I aim to make each episode clear enough for new readers to enjoy the current state of events without needing too much background. It’s a practice in the right amount of backstory—enough for a new or forgetful reader, but not so much to bore a regular reader.

    I don’t know if my experiment will work, but I’m having fun. I’m writing a story I love, but one I’m not planning to seek publication for. It’s allowing me to strengthen some writing skills, such as writing tight and the aforementioned backstory weaving. I have each episode critiqued by a writing partner and professionally edited, so that what I am putting out there is well-written. I expect as some point I’ll face a challenge of wishing some plot point or event was different, but I’ll have to deal with how things are.

    So while I’m blogging a novel in a sense, perhaps it’s more accurate to say I’m blogging a series of short stories, building on each other, with the same POV character.

    • Jessie Gunderson

      I think your reasons for doing it are excellent. Gutsy! Hopefully you’ll get the desired result. If you never try, you’ll never know and if writing like this comes easy why not go for it. IMHO but hey, that’s just me.

      • Sarah Tipton

        Thanks, Jessie! I appreciate your encouragement :-)

  • rich

    here is the first chapter of my WIP. take a look at the comments that follow and then make a decision. and of course this is just one person’s experience, but that’s all anything is. you try something, and if your experience was good – then it was a good idea. but if your experience is bad, that doesn’t mean it was a bad idea. maybe the book one was writing was the bad idea, not the decision to post it.

    http://brainsnorts.com/2013/06/02/woodbury-avenue-ch-1/

  • Jessie Gunderson

    Sarah Tipton, Rich and Heather Day Gilbert have some very good points and a good argument for going ahead and “publishing” that novel on a blog. I agree with Sarah in that blogging can take the place of writing and for many authors it isn’t as enjoyable. At least this way authors are doing what they do best while blogging.

    Rich’s point about the tide changing is a valid one that keeps me wondering if there won’t be a time when that’s the only way to publish.

    If you’ve got a good, edited work then what Heather experienced is really encouraging. Way to go!

    As for me. I’m far too much of a perfectionist. I would have to complete a novel first, edit deeply and then consider whether or not to post. At that point I’ve spent years on a story I’m not sure I’m willing to give away so easily.

    However, this does bring up a point I’ve been struggling with. Who does an author blog TO? Most of the ones I read are blogging to other authors. In order to figure out what I should be blogging I’ve been looking at movie blogs. Followers like things like outtakes, deleted scenes, the making of, real life examples of characters or issues in the book etc. etc. Could this, should this include chapters, previews or the whole novel. Maybe.

    I wonder if time will tell. Will those gutsy enough to try it get the upper hand? It IS about the reader after all. Maybe some readers will be annoyed by having to click through a story but wouldn’t that be motivation for purchasing the book?

    Now I’m just thinking out loud but I believe if I were to consider it, I would have to have a published or nearly published work so that there was something to direct readers to who like what they are seeing but want it in hand.

    Great question! I like the discussion this brings up and I’ll be thinking more on this one.

  • Eveline Horelle Dailey

    I read the Gardner blog and gained a great deal from it. Still thinking of blogging “about” my next book, the working title of which is: “Of Becoming a Patriarch” I attempted on FB and was amazed by the responses both on FB and Emails. I am under the impression that young men are not sure of their masculinity, while the older ones see the world of their sons and grandsons falling apart. The women liked being goddesses and patriarchs. My intention was not publishing parts of the book on a blog and I am now convinced that one may gather valuable information from posting and reading a blog. Will I actually do it? I am still thinking knowing that ultimately the decision can only be mine.

  • Thomas Ryan

    From the research on marketing I have done thus far the underlying keynote is, that authors need to be oh so careful with whatever writing or whatever they have written that goes public. Whether it be social media or drafts of a novel you will be judged by it. In my opinion the danger of putting a draft up on a blog, at whatever stage it might be, is that it is not going to be read by a discerning public, rather it will be judged as an example of the writers ability. And this I believe will kill off a potential future buying reader. I guess there is also, ‘the why would I buy the finished book when I’ve already read the story and it wasn’t that well written anyway.’ My suggestion is that if you want to gain a following through written work, put up short stories. This way you might gain a following as you finish the novel and at the end of the process have enough stories to publish an eboook.

  • Christopher Long

    Wow, this topic has certainly ignited a lively and insightful dialog — good stuff! Although I practically “live” on my blog, I only use that platform to post excerpts from my books AFTER their publication — and merely as teasers to entice readers over to Amazon. For me, throwing that process into reverse seems counter-productive. However, I applaud those who have achieved positive results in this endeavor.

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  • Ryll Paul

    When purchasing a
    book either in hard cover or eBook you open the book to begin an adventure, if
    the book had been blogged it would take away the unknown journey you are taken
    on when beginning the read – that’s my slant on it :)

  • Pamela

    Without reading what others have said in their comments, I’ll just quickly say NO, I would never blog my novel, or even a chapter of it. I think that’s a great way to turn off readers. A blog should be short and sweet, first of all, giving a follower something fun to read that shows your strengths as a writer. Just giving them a little taste of your novel could be (should be) frustrating and not useful. No, no, no.

  • http://www.peterdehaan.com/ Peter DeHaan

    I wouldn’t blog a novel, but I would blog about things supporting or surrounding the novel. That seems like a great way to generate interest without giving my work away or ruining my chances for traditional publication.

  • Claudia DiSalvo

    “Time because it is so fleeting, time because it is beyond recall, is the most precious of human goods and to squander it is the most delicate form of dissipation in which man can indulge…W. Somerset Maugham

    Time is such a precious commodity and when one makes the decision to introduce their novel in an on-line blog, there is a huge responsibility to deliver feedback which may not be the most productive use of time given our busy schedules. And when ‘deadlines’ are always a moment away, time is always so scarce. I keep in my ‘mind’s eye’ the words of Fred Brooks as I am working with deadlines, “How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time.” And there you have it.

  • kathunsworth

    Thank you I once posted a paragraph of a novel I am writing on my site, then realised it is always changing and evolving. I decided I would prefer to share short stories and musings of my life as an aspiring writer. Your reader can see from what you write whether they like your style or not. I needed to read this today and glad that I have decided to keep it under wraps and save my novels for my beta readers that I have collected from my blog site. Very helpful post.

  • SandyPenny

    Currently, many famous authors are offering several chapters of an upcoming novel shortly before it publishes to build the buzz. Janet Evanovich, a very successful mystery novelist, just posted three chapters of her latest book that has not launched. The Heist. The companion novel to Castle TV show, Nikki Heat, offers you 8 chapters for free, enough to make you want to buy it and finish it. I think it’s a good marketing technique. It has a few issues, with the possibility of theft of the idea, but no two people would write it the same way anyway. I am in the yes category on this one. I am blogging chapters of my future novel, Sun Manor Sanctuary. It motivates me to keep writing. As soon as it is published, the blog becomes a marketing link to the novel.

  • Grace Linde

    What’s the rule about blogging your work–a short story, etc.–that’s been published in a journal or magazine? Should you give first-right credit to that publication, or avoid blogging it completely?

  • http://jumpingfromcliffs.wordpress.com/ Jon Simmonds

    In addition, the average attention span for reading a blog is pretty low. That’s why most effective blog posts are reasonable short and snappy. On the rare occasion when I’ve posted lengthy passages from the novel, they’ve received far less attention than my standard posts. It can be very powerful to let your blog followers see snippets from your WIP – you’ll get that immediate feedback (good or bad) and maybe even some much-needed inspiration. But I’d recommend making these posts exactly that – snippets. Put up a paragraph or two at the most, just enough to give a flavour and hopefully have people gagging for more.

  • Denise Hisey

    I like the idea of posting an excerpt or two to get some interest. After NaNoWriMo I posted a couple of excerpts of my novel as an experiment. I got encouraging feedback which has helped spur me on to continue editing. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to blog an entire book. As a reader I wouldn’t be able to get into it, and as a writer it would feel disjointed.

  • Seeley James

    Stephen King mentioned that he doesn’t even show rough drafts to his wife anymore. If it’s rough, you know it’s not ready. Why show people your WIP when it’s not ready?

    Peace, Seeley

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  • LJ Boothe

    Thank you for addressing this idea. I’ve been encouraged to start posting my children’s novel, but I’ve hung back. This post helps me see why: writing is not a linear process! Until I feel sure that the story is finished to the best of my ability, I want to remain open to surprise and improvement and revision!

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  • Ar Braun

    I would never give my novel away like that. I think authors have the right to be paid for their hard work. Different things work for different writers, though.

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  • Jackie Jones

    I post excerpts from WIPs sometimes, but generally I prefer to have fiction that is specifically for my blog posted. I think the same works if you decide to put a novel out there on a chapter by chapter basis.

    If you’re interested in doing so, why not choose a novel that you don’t mind being out there, that you’re not as worried about if publishers don’t want it because it’s been out there and one that maybe you had planned to self-publish either way. I’m not saying choose one of lesser quality, but maybe if there’s less worry about the process for the other reasons mentioned above and below my post, then you won’t be as much of a nervous wreck when you actually do it :).

  • Kate

    I have started blogging some stuff I am writing recently (Yafantasy.yolasite.com) and currently have no readers. It is incredibly hard to get any readers, period. But, I enjoy it and have a bit of hope that a few people will eventually read, so I am going to try and continue.

  • tee23

    I’m working on a novel just for fun and I got some good feedback from friends I have like 11 chapters done so if I post chapter by chapter it wouldn’t put much of a strain on my plus I have the sorry all mapped out I wonder if I should it sounds interesting and since I’m doing it purely for fun they can point out flaws in my novel so I can go back and rewrite it sounds like a win win

  • Aly

    I’m too paranoid about my ideas being taken or something going wrong with the publishing process later to do it, but what I’ve done in the past is write flash fictions from the perspectives of characters who are otherwise not given a chance to speak in first person that often. I also cultivate backstory at times in this way. So I do small segments that could be considered “bonus content” in blog posts, but keep the actual body of work to myself while I work.

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