Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

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Down the well
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Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by Down the well » November 6th, 2010, 2:06 pm

So what do you all think? Is it a good idea to post a first chapter of a finished novel on your blog or website when seeking representation? Or is it just asking for trouble? **

What would be some of the pros and cons of doing this?



** I don't know what kind of trouble, but I have an active imagination. :)

Moni12
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Re: Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by Moni12 » November 6th, 2010, 3:12 pm

I've wondered this myself and have considered doing it. For now I've only posted some poetry and short stories. My biggest fear of posting something online, though, is someone stealing the idea. I think it'd be a good way to get more attention for you finished work, but there's also the chance that something may go wrong.

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cheekychook
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Re: Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by cheekychook » November 6th, 2010, 4:02 pm

My understanding is that it's perfectly safe and acceptable to post a first chapter pretty much anywhere---it goes out with practically all your queries, and it's not a big deal at all. I wouldn't post the whole thing because some agents will ask for exclusive reads and like to know that relatively few people have read the complete work---having the whole thing posted on your site might be a negative in that case. "Stealing" is another issue altogether. If you're clear about the fact that it's yours, that you're querying, that it's been read by groups/professors/betas/etc then it's pretty obvious that you and several other people would have complete electronic records of your work that would date back for months/years---anyone attempting to "steal" it would be in for a tremendous losing battle.
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Re: Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by Margo » November 6th, 2010, 4:24 pm

Careful, Judith Griggs of Cooks Source would consider that public domain and free for the taking! :P
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Re: Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by Down the well » November 6th, 2010, 4:37 pm

Moni12 wrote:My biggest fear of posting something online, though, is someone stealing the idea.
That's probably every writer's fear, though I understand that a novel is pretty much protected by copyright when it is created. Still, plagiarism does happen, and I think it is a legitimate worry. Although, as cheekychook said, they'd get a helluva fight.
cheekychook wrote:My understanding is that it's perfectly safe and acceptable to post a first chapter pretty much anywhere---it goes out with practically all your queries, and it's not a big deal at all.
I was thinking it might be a good idea to have the opening chapter of the novel available online for those cases where only a query is sent. Not in lieu of a query, of course, but just to have the website address in the contact information so they can find it if they are interested.

I don't know. I thought I read somewhere that some editors/publishers don't like to see any potential novel they might acquire posted online (in part or whole), but I can't remember where I read it. Or if it's true. *shrugs*

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Re: Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by Down the well » November 6th, 2010, 4:38 pm

Margo wrote:Careful, Judith Griggs of Cooks Source would consider that public domain and free for the taking! :P
Yeah, crank up the paranoia factor.

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Re: Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by kans_007 » November 6th, 2010, 5:44 pm

I think it is pretty safe for you to post your first chapter if your intention is to get some comments and critique. However, If the intention is to send the link to an agent, perhaps its not a very good idea IMO for two reasons: 1. (like cheekychook already mentioned) some agents might be looking for exclusivity for some time after they request to read your manuscript, and posting it on a public webpage does not give them that exclusivity 2. They don't like getting links that redirect them to someother site in the query (I read this in some agent's submission guidelines and etiquette, they are afraid of spamware and it's distracting).

As far as worring about other people stealing your idea, I think that should be the least of your concerns. Most people are too proud of their own work/idea to steal from others. The only ones who I can imagine stealing are already established authors with celebrity platform; they are the only ones who could take a good idea (from a single chapter)and make it their own into a great novel. As the saying goes "unknown artists imitate, known artists steal!" But you don't have to worry about that either, as most well known writers write in a special genre; and the likeliness of them to run into your website and read your work and have a bad ethic, all at the same time is very very minimal. Also like cheekychook and some others mentioned, even if someone does steal it, you will have solid evidence and copyright to file a plagiarism lawsuit against them.

Good luck!

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Re: Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by Down the well » November 6th, 2010, 8:07 pm

kans_007 wrote:The only ones who I can imagine stealing are already established authors with celebrity platform; they are the only ones who could take a good idea (from a single chapter)and make it their own into a great novel.
Exactly! What if Stephen King sees my website and takes my idea? He'll go spit that novel out in six months and sell it for a gazillion dollars before I even snag me an agent. Damn you Stephen King!!


Ha! No, I'm not really worried about anyone taking my story idea, just wondering if posting the first chapter is the professional thing to do or not. :)

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Re: Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by charlotte49ers » November 6th, 2010, 9:28 pm

I dunno what's right or wrong, but this is how I do it:

Public:

Summary and first 250ish words.

Password protected (which I give out if I someone wants it):

First chapter

I'm not worried about people stealing my ideas, I just don't want to put too much raw material out there.

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Re: Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by Guardian » November 7th, 2010, 10:21 am

cheekychook wrote:"Stealing" is another issue altogether. If you're clear about the fact that it's yours, that you're querying, that it's been read by groups/professors/betas/etc then it's pretty obvious that you and several other people would have complete electronic records of your work that would date back for months/years---anyone attempting to "steal" it would be in for a tremendous losing battle.
Exactly. First of all the timeline can prove the idea, that work, those characters are yours. If someone is intending to steal the idea, good luck with it as that's a lost battle if you can look after who is the original author of that work. i.e. the first draft of my franchise has 7 years of records here and there, including Writer's Guild of American registrations which is also a very helpful thing to prove the basic concept, the characters are yours and only yours.
I'm not worried about people stealing my ideas, I just don't want to put too much raw material out there.
Until it's not published, everything can be considered as a raw material, even if it's finished. You may upload your first chapter, but personally I wouldn't do that as in many cases you'll include last minute changes before your work will be published. So the present work and the final work will be already different and if you change one key element in the first chapter what many people already read, when the novel will be published the ones whose already read the first chapter may not going to understand the rest of the story because of that change (As they usually skipping the chapter what they read already.).

So yes, you may publish and present your first chapter or the first ten pages (This one is better if you have longer chapters), but if you plan at least one more revision, some change, don't do it.

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Re: Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by Margo » November 7th, 2010, 11:45 am

Down the well wrote:
Margo wrote:Careful, Judith Griggs of Cooks Source would consider that public domain and free for the taking! :P
Yeah, crank up the paranoia factor.
I don't actually believe a plagarizing cooking magazine is going to steal someone's fiction. Hmm, cooking related fiction...maybe.

I have to admit, though, after years of telling other people not to worry about someone stealing your idea, that I'm intentionally keeping mum about several aspects of my current WIP. In some genres, the hook or twist is so important that if several people beat you to it, you can't use it anymore or it becomes very very difficult at the very least. Which is to say, some genres are hypersensative to the idea that if a type of character, for instance, has been done before, anyone else using it is ripping off the previous author. In a case like that, it's not a plagarism issue, but readers aren't necesssarily going to stop and check to see if the fourth or fifth author to use that idea was actually the first one to come up with it before dismissing them as a copycat.
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Re: Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by Down the well » November 7th, 2010, 1:13 pm

Margo wrote: have to admit, though, after years of telling other people not to worry about someone stealing your idea, that I'm intentionally keeping mum about several aspects of my current WIP. In some genres, the hook or twist is so important that if several people beat you to it, you can't use it anymore or it becomes very very difficult at the very least. Which is to say, some genres are hypersensative to the idea that if a type of character, for instance, has been done before, anyone else using it is ripping off the previous author. In a case like that, it's not a plagarism issue, but readers aren't necesssarily going to stop and check to see if the fourth or fifth author to use that idea was actually the first one to come up with it before dismissing them as a copycat.
I can definitely see this being the case in certain genres. Don't think it would apply to my first chapter, though. Whenever I tell people what my story is about they usually cross their eyes and walk away. It's kind of a niche thing. But you're right, I'm still very protective of the idea.

I think Charlotte49ers example of making only the summary and first page or two public might work for me. It would be enough to show the writing style without giving anything away. So thanks! I think I found something I can live with.

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Re: Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by Down the well » December 20th, 2010, 11:01 am

I saw this post by agent Mary Kole (Andrea Brown Agency), and thought it was an important opinion to add to this thread. Her basic take is that posting even portions of your work on-line is probably not the best idea. Something I kind of suspected.


http://kidlit.com/2010/12/20/should-i-p ... ng-online/

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Re: Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by Guardian » December 20th, 2010, 12:09 pm

As Mary's post mentioned, that with I agree in every point, posting samples to get critiques from fellow writers is in the green line. So we're safe here, on Nathan's site. It's good to know.

EDIT: Wait. Excerpts should be in the password protected forum. Maybe we should mention this to Nathan.

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Re: Opinions On Posting First Chapters Online

Post by steve » December 20th, 2010, 1:02 pm

Down the well wrote:I saw this post by agent Mary Kole (Andrea Brown Agency), and thought it was an important opinion to add to this thread. Her basic take is that posting even portions of your work on-line is probably not the best idea. Something I kind of suspected.


http://kidlit.com/2010/12/20/should-i-p ... ng-online/
That post was full of paranoid nonsense.

And no one is stealing your idea. If you think you can write, it's a good idea to let people see your writing. Get used to it.

I like chapters online; lets me know if a writer is any good without having to read blog posts about their zany cats.

Take the tinfoil hat off and publish a chapter or two.
Read one of the best stories by Borges.

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