March 8, 2009

WRITING ADVICE: “We interrupt Lin Oliver’s Wisdom to Bring You These Thoughts From Guy”

I discovered something interesting recently: my writing here is considered “published”.

Did you know that?

I sure didn’t.

In a non-scientific survey of some editors, a friend of mine found out that two out of three of the editors he polled agree: Editor #1 “responded immediately, saying he considers posting a work online to be publication…‘if something has been made available to the public online, then I consider it published.’" Editor #2 “responded a week later, saying that posting a story on a public website ‘definitely constitutes prior publication and would normally disqualify the story" from being considered for publication.’” For those who absolutely MUST know who said what, I will direct you to the site I got the stats from – but I have published with one of the editors and respect one of them and hugely respect the other’s reputation. What they say to me goes.

So the whole purpose of my writing here is in vain! It was supposed to be a way to “field test” my novels in the form of flash fiction pieces. If I’d known that they would be considered published by someone, I might not have done this.

On the other hand, the short pieces have allowed me to develop character in a way I’ve never done before. I understand Emerald and Pastor Jeremiah and Jalaya, the Blind Angel as I never could have understood them by just outlining them and then writing them. I’ve been able to play with ideas. The character interactions and most of the settings of HEIRS changed dramatically from when I began the book five or six years ago.

The practice has made me a more consistently fast writer and given me a harder grasp on plot and scene. Each piece is a complete story – which I never thought I could do. Yet they all fit into an overarching story line. Rather than “stringing together a bunch of flash fiction stories”, I can now begin to use them as a framework on which to grow a…heart: ( )

The question now remains, “Will I include the story as I’ve developed it?” The answer is, “Obviously!” I can’t abandon what’s happened in any of the series of flash fictions. But I may leave out some (RING SCOOP 17, for example) and include other things (the Puppeteer for another example).

The ideas are great, the plots are grand and the work has NOT been in vain!

Maybe you should try it?


Anonymous said...

So does that mean you can claim these "published" pieces as publishing credits on your resume or in communication with possible publishers??? Or is it better to stay incognito????

Anonymous said...

So is it best to claim these "published" pieces as published credits???? Or to remain incognito-catch me if you can when dealing with publishers????

Leah Mooney said...

Where is the line drawn between posting rough drafts and excerpts that most likely will not resemble the final product and considering the work already published? Is it merely the concept?

I've been doing a lot of the get a feel for how people would respond to the idea. But the final work never goes up.

Not your Grandmother's social quandry, this interweb stuff. heh.

Hope you and the family are well.


Bill T. said...

The really unfair thing (but who said life was fair?) is, the same editors probably would decline to recognize posted pieces as actual publishing credits. The publishing industry seems to have a rough time coming to terms with the computer age--Ebenezer Scratchquill searching his laptop in vain for the inkwell.

Steven Brandt said...

I recently read that Eragon was originally self-published. After selling 5000 copies, the author was able to use that number to help land a contract.

I've been wondering how much it matters whether something has been published before. I would kind of like to be able to sell copies of my book via Lulu while I wait to see if a regular publisher is interested. Obviously it worked for Eragon, but is it normally problematic?

GuyStewart said...

Mary: Both SCBWI and SFFWA (the only two writer's organizations I have experience with) base their "professional publication" criteria on CIRCULATION of the magazine (paper), AMOUNT YOU WERE PAID PER WORD, and HOW LONG THE MAGAZINE HAS BEEN AROUND. Few online venues can pay, few have been around long and circulation is a tough thing to count online. The spirit of the "rule" is that they don't want to pay good money for something "everyone has seen". As far a claiming it, I just sent a query to a major agent. Looking at his query letter examples, I copied the one that said, "my website" and included the address.

Leah: From what I understand, the material submitted has to be more than 50% new to qualify as a "new work". So rough drafts on the net are long as when you submit more than half of the material is "new". (PS -- the family is crazy right now as Josh graduates from college in May, Mary from HS in June then off to college in Mankato in August...)

William: You can say THAT again! You should see the chatter on Nathan Bransford's and on my online writer's group CODEX! Plenty of discussion!


GuyStewart said...

Steve: In an article in an issue of the St. Paul PIONEER PRESS (I'd have to search a bit for the reference -- but I'll do it if you'd like!), Paolini points out that he was selling the book at a bookstore in Montana where his family lived and where he was homeschooled. A publisher from Random House -- purely by chance --happened into the store. His daughter was NOT enjoying the "countryside" and was desperate for something to do. The book was sitting there and there were no B&Ns or BORDERS nearby. He bought the book, gave it to his daughter...and the rest became publishing history. So, unless we can repeat THAT story, there's no chance of it happening again soon. The standing rule is still to seek a publisher and while that protocol is changing -- it hasn't finished yet and the end result will be something we can't see right now. Until the rules firm up a bit, I think we still have to play by them.