Fiction Online

In this age of electronic media, digitized books, Webzines, novels on Twitter, and so on, is it perhaps time to consider posting some fiction online?

Cory Doctorow has famously stated that “…my biggest threat as an author isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity.” He posts his own novels, free for the taking, on his Web site,, with the blessing of his publisher, Tor Books.

For a new, unpublished writer like myself, is giving away a couple of short stories on a Web site a good idea? It would give people a taste of my writing style, see if they’d be interested in coming back for more. And while these stories would of course be considered ‘published’ and therefore I’d be losing the ability to sell FNASR, is that such a problem with short stories these days? True, it won’t garner me any publishing credits, nor advance my goal of someday being a member of the SFWA. However, John Scalzi used the internet to his advantage in building a fan-base, and getting his work out there, and ultimately landed a book contract.

J.A. Konrath (whose rejections, and subsequent triumph over, I talked about here) does the same, posting free e-books on his site. And his last blog post of 2009 is a distillation of the last five years of his writing advice, and a very good read. I particularly liked this bit:

You can’t ever compare yourself to any other writer. EVER. This isn’t like the business world, where certain positions have a salary range. You can make $100 a year, or $5,000,000 a year, with no discernible difference in your output or your quality.

If you want to compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to yourself. Monitor your successes. Learn from your failures (and if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying hard enough.)

Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I compared what I set down to the words of Edith Wharton, or Virginia Woolf. But, in one sense I guess that’s a good thing. If I couldn’t tell the difference between their writing and my own, that truly would spell doom for me as a writer. I like to think I can tell the good stuff when I read it, and maybe someday I’ll be able to write it.

In the meantime, I think I will start posting some stories on my D.D. Syrdal site, and with luck start seeing some interest. I’ve posted the first ‘chapter’ of a short story titled “Kyrielle”, and will be adding the rest shortly.

15 thoughts on “Fiction Online

  1. I happened to hop over to your website before I read this post. I’m glad you put your story up and think it’s a clever way to get people interested in the main character of the novel you’re working on.


  2. Thanks, Tasha! I’ve been working on the novel more, adding, deleting, cleaning up…

    Now if I could only get the comment boxes functioning over there. I’ve been tearing my hair out this morning trying to figure out why the subpages will not show a comment box. I’ve got comments enabled on all pages, and I don’t think it’s the theme (I tried a couple of others this morning, just to see. Made no difference). Grrrr, very frustrating.


  3. Well since the comment boxes aren’t up & running over there, I will tell you that I read the story and it fulfills the #1 rule of good storytelling: I can’t wait to find out what happens next! Is that the same Andrzej who will be in the full-length novel? (I’m still seeing Goran Visnijc – that whole gentle melancholy sex appeal thing, y’know?)


    1. Comments are now enabled on all the other site’s subpages. Turned out it was the theme I was using. Apparently some of them are designed to allow comments at sub-levels, and some are not… Depends on the designer, I guess. Too bad, I really liked that other theme.


  4. Hehe, thanks, MJ! 😀

    Yes, this is the same Andrej (can you tell I’m a little obsessed with this character these days?? 😉 ). It’s kind of fun writing these little stories about his earlier life. The novel is set far into the future (by about 300 years) so there’s lots of backstory I can play with. And now that I’ve introduced a new character (Gaston, who as yet has not made an appearance in the novel) there’s a whole ‘nother angle to explore.


  5. Hi Dame, long time no read! I’ve always loved your posts, but I’ve been remiss in blog-surfing for quite some time. Today’s is definitely food for thought. I can’t write shorts, but several of my writing buddies do and this idea/marketing concept is something they should seriously consider.

    Thanks for including that Konrath quote–it’s excellent!



    1. Hi Lis’Anne!

      Nice to see you again! Hope things are going well for you.

      I’m enjoying doing the shorts on this character, I expect I’ll do more just for the fun of it. 🙂

      Konrath is a hoot. If you have time read through his blog, he’s got some great stuff there.

      Happy New Year to you!


      1. Things are going great and I hope they are for you, too. Happy New Year! I hope 2010 brings you all your heart desires. 🙂

        I’m adding Konrath to my feeds. I can use all the pep talks and wisdom I can get.

        Your characters sound fascinating, and I’m sending your link to said buddies. They write paranormal/sci-fi romance. I’m a historical chick to the bone, but slowly broadening my reading tastes–I can’t stay a one-track genre reader forever.

        Happy writing!


      1. Thanks! I changed it to my WordPress profile. It must take a bit for the change to be reflected because GoDaddy is still showing. Some day I should actually finish creating my Web pages and upload them. It’s not so pressing until I’m actually published.

        HAGN, Dame!


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