Publishing elsewhere for early feedback and self-marketing...Shameful?

by Hana
(Canada)

Question: I have a story that I'm considering serializing on a quick and free publishing site for original fiction (i.e. Wattpad, Booksie, Fictionpress, etc.).


However, my mid-term goal would be to publish said story, and I believe that these sites would help me: a) analyze whether there's a market for the story (i.e. reader demand for updates); b) finish the story (motivation), and c) continually edit and implement balanced plot structure via direct interaction with readers.

So, is this shameful?

As in I don't want to offer a story for free, and then yank that opportunity away from readers.

I am even thinking that I can reconcile my dilemma by putting up a few chapters to determine whether I want to continue to complete it through these above sites, or whether I'll leave that part up as a marketing tool and self-publish, or take the chapters down and query agents.

On another note, a great example of this type of marketing would be how publishers sometimes release longer excerpts of stories (from both established authors with established stories or new stories, and from debut authors with new stories or a new story in a new field).

For instance, I just finished reading Laini Taylor's free 7-chapter excerpt of her upcoming release "Days of Blood and Starlight" (a "gift" from her publisher). And I recall reading the first 100 pages of (then first time author) Veronica Roth's Divergent, her 2011 debut novel (which I believe is still available through her blog). And of course, there's E.L. James--the difference being her work was completed originally as fan fiction--and her lucrative Fifty Shades Trilogy (which I have as the original fan fiction in .pdf format).

But that didn't stop me from comparing James' now-published, now-original novels with her then-published, then-fan fiction version and realizing that the two stories are virtually identical (which has been felt by some readers to be a little miserly on the author's part when sometimes only the names of the hero and heroine have been altered). For this comparison, check out Jane Little's DearAuthour blog: http://dearauthor.com/features/industry-news/master-of-the-universe-versus-fifty-shades-by-e-l-james-comparison/

I know it seems I'm ranting while trying to rationalize my happiness, but I want the facts (as they stand currently) to be laid out there before I get answer(s).

BTW, thank you again for that fast reply to my question yesterday!

It was a pleasant surprise to wake up at 1:30 this morning--tired as I was--only to see that my question had already been answered! (less than 24 hours! As a matter of fact, less than 12 hours! 8D)

It definitely eases up one of the many problems I have as I'm pushing through the plotting stage.

Answer: A lot of budding writers are using this type of online self-publishing or pre-publishing for the same reasons you describe.

Part of the motivation is also the fact that it's extremely difficult to get a publishing contract. Even if you have a great book, it can seem like the odds are against you. Publishers seem to want little besides guaranteed bestsellers. Getting some positive feedback can help you maintain your perseverance. Or, if you have a bad book, it can save you much wasted time trying to sell it.

As with the examples you give, in some cases (admittedly rare) pre-publishing can lead to a publishing contract. The publisher assumes that the new edition will be sold to readers who haven't seen the original, and most of the time that is true. They want you to take the original version offline because it would compete with the new one. There's nothing unfair about this. It's like giving away free samples of ice cream in order to attract customers. Sure, some people complain when you start charging for cones, but they have no real grounds.

From the publisher's point of view, if your book attracts a lot of praise and readers online - or if it makes a lot of money - it can signal that your book is worth moving to the top of the slushpile.

I suspect these sites are going to become training grounds for a lot of future professional writers.

Comments for Publishing elsewhere for early feedback and self-marketing...Shameful?

Click here to add your own comments

Oct 18, 2012
Feeling better...
by: Hana

Thanks for the reply, Glen!

I'm already feeling better, and it's made my resolve to pre-publish stronger. =)

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.


 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook


NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles


"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards



"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero