by Kelli D. Meyer
When you can't post it on your own web site, that's when.
I am extremely annoyed by an "accepted fact" in the modern world of publishing. It's a fact that publishers won't buy your work as unpublished if it's already appeared online in any form, including on your own blog. It doesn't matter whether ten people read it or ten thousand. Once it's been online, they'll only buy it as a reprint, if they'll buy it at all.
In my opinion, this is a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Publishers have made this decision to protect themselves from buying a story that's already been read by a large percentage of its potential audience. It's a decision that makes sense in some very specific cases. If you're Dean Koontz or Stephen King, and you post a novel on your web site for a year or so, the number of people who will buy that novel when it comes out in hardback may diminish. (Although even this is debatable.) In those cases, the publisher might be justified in paying a lower -- a.k.a. reprint -- rate for the work.
But what if you're not Koontz or King? What if you're me, or a member of my writing group, or just about any unknown writer in the world? How many people are really going to seek out and read stories we post on our own blogs or web sites? Enough to damage the story's money-earning potential if it's published? I don't think so.
So the result of this ridiculous rule is that writers have to leave their best stories hidden in file folders in order to have any hope of getting them published. Meanwhile, they're trying to establish a following, a readership, without sharing their best work.
My suggestion to publishers, should any of you out there be interested, is to change the "no reprints" rule to exclude publishing or posting on the authors' own web sites or blogs. Let authors show their stories off. Let readers discover new authors. Once they do, they'll spend more money on your books and magazines. Everybody wins.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
by Kelli D. Meyer