Don’t waste your rights!

If you are a writer with the goal of publication and you have a blog or website, this post is for you. In my posts, I tell you about some of the novels, poems, and stories I’ve written, but I put very few of them on my blog for you to read. Why? Because I hope to have them published elsewhere.

What have I lost?

What does that have to do with letting you read them here first? Most written work publicly displayed on the internet—even your own blog or website—is considered published. There’s a reason that button is labeled Publish. By blogging my work, I may have already used my first electronic rights, and thereafter I can only offer that work as a reprint.

The folks at Writer’s Relief say this:

“Editors/agents will consider your work published if it’s posted publicly on your blog. Avoid sharing your work until it’s already been published elsewhere, giving credit to where it was first printed.”

Tina Morgan, on FictionFactor.com says this [emphasis hers]:

“The first time a novel/article/story is published in any format first rights have been used. By this definition that includes self-publication to your own personal website. Technically you have used “first e-rights” and can no longer sell it as an unpublished story/article. This won’t necessarily stop your article/story from being reprinted but if you sell it as an unpublished work and the publisher finds out it has been previously displayed on your website you might cause hard feelings that will keep the editor from using your work in the future. Honesty is the best policy here.”

What if you have only excerpts online? Then, you probably don’t have to consider that work published. A paragraph from a story, even the first chapter of a novel, is probably safe to post publically. You may also retain your rights, if your work is available only to a select group, such as a member’s only critique group, or on a password protected site. But do your homework before you post.  If there are online literary magazines or journals that you would like to submit your work to, you should read their submissions policy carefully. If you are still unsure, email to ask whether they consider work previously available on your site or blog as published.

Are you concerned about sharing your work on your blog or website? Why or why not?


32 thoughts on “Don’t waste your rights!

  1. I’m aware of three books that started out as blogs by anonymous writers: La Petite Anglaise, Girl With a One Track Mind and Belle de Jour. La Petite Anglaise was exposed after she was sacked by her employer. She was subsequently offered a publishing deal. The Girl With a One Track Mind was exposed by a newspaper after her book was published; and Belle de Jour, with a number of books and TV series to her credit, exposed herself a few weeks ago because the strain of anonymity was too intense. I guess, therefore, it’s all right to display your talent if you’re a single woman with a proven sexual allure (being able to speak French obviously helps here); but if you’re a shy middle-aged man (even one who speaks French) then it’s probably best to cover up and protect everything until the right offer comes along.

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    1. So, obviously, I don’t have a book deal because I don’t speak French, have a lover, work as a call girl, or have the sexual appetite of a nymphomaniac! Gee, my blog is boring, isn’t it?

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  2. Great post Linda
    I don’t share my fiction on my blog or website unless that is where I want it published. Since I’ve started my own online journal where I will be publishing other people’s work as well as my own, I’ve had to study up on the rights. Publishing is a complex business.

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