Fiction Writers: Why Hitting the Publish Button on a Post isn’t Always a Good Thing

Hey writers, want to know something crazy? When you hit the publish button on your post, you are actually publishing that post. What does that have to do with anything? Turns out, quite a bit if you are writing fiction that you might want to sell some day.

When you hit the publish button and post a writing sample on your blog, you are actually publishing that sample. That’s right, some agents and editors will then consider that work published, especially if you post the entire thing.

What if you only post a sample of a larger work, like the first chapter of your novel? Well, that can still present a variety of difficulties. To have the entire problem explained in all its gory detail, check out literary agent Mary Kole’s post on it here.

Writer’s Digest writer Brian Klems has a different view on whether or not you should post writing samples. Check his article out here.

I am a little leery about publishing samples of my work online. I thank everyone who’s asked to see a sample, but at this time, I’m not sure that is the right move for me. What about you? What do you guys think? Have you posted any samples of your work online?

10 thoughts on “Fiction Writers: Why Hitting the Publish Button on a Post isn’t Always a Good Thing

  1. I have actually been told by a few agents and publishers that it’s okay to put a ‘sample’ of your MS in your blog. Nowadays, you can privatize the post so only those you want to see it, can. The way it was explained to me is if you are putting it up for ‘review’ on a review site, then it’s not considered ‘published’. You are basically looking for critiques and beta readers. It’s totally different than publishing chapters on your blog or website to show people what you’ve written.

    I posted mine in a couple of online critique forums, only to find out those forums weren’t ‘private’ like they said. Thankfully, they were only snippets. I have since removed my posts from all sites that I know of, but there may be some that still show up in a cache. Whatever does exist is nothing like the way my MS starts out now, so I don’t think that will hurt me (at least, I’ve been told it won’t hurt me). We’ll see.

  2. Aside from one brief post of a short story, everything I’ve published on my blog was written for practice or not to make any money off of in the future. Like kford2007 mentioned, I did post a couple excerpts when I was writing my first story and looking for beta readers, and I’ve left them up as excerpts now since my first story is available online for purchase; only the excerpts and not the full story. For a future book that I plan to get published in the future, I’ll keep it private. Thanks for those article links btw 🙂

  3. This is why you won’t find much of my actual fiction writing online. The daily prompts I use are mostly turned into short stories that I want to sub to magazines or competitions.

    As you say, editors want “previously unpublished” work, for most, it’s a condition, and you could find yourself getting sued if you lie and they find out!


  4. Thanks for the heads up. The more you learn, the less you know. Gosh, there is just so much to blogging and writing. But, if we waited to know everything there is to know before beginning, we’d never begin. This has been very helpful, though. Thanks!

  5. I don’t think I would put something from a larger work on my blog, but I’m considering putting up a short story or two. I figure if I put it up on the blog then I’m not expecting to submit it anywhere else.

  6. I don’t post anything from my novel, but I do post flash fiction and sometimes short stories. Mainly because I see them as writing exercises and not portals to publication.

  7. I’m fairly new to the blogging world and had thought that enticing readers with snippets of my work was a good thing. I hadn’t considered that the ‘published’ aspect of doing this might discourage publishers from considering a full manuscript if it had been ‘previously published’ on a simple blog site. Thanks for the information. 🙂

  8. Pingback: Great Links for Writers « C.B. Wentworth

  9. I’m unsure about it — I had a copy of my major plays on my blog but I decided to take it down for copyright reasons as well. Right now, I’m engaged in a tarot writing challenge and, while it was supposed to be just a challenge, I’m planning to do major revisions on the projects and have it published. Or something, hope someone picks it up, if ever it pushes through.

  10. At first, I was opposed to posting anything–even a single quote. But I’ve relaxed my view a bit. I did the Luck 7 Meme recently and posted a few lines (7 from pg 77) of one of my WIPs. I doubt it’ll be a problem. I’m leaning toward self- or indie-publishing anyway.

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