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, Craphound.com, 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For a new, unpublished writer like myself, is giving away a couple of short stories on a Web site a good idea?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.