Should you publish your novel on your blog?
It’s a long old slog, isn’t it?
Writing your novel, I mean.
You’ve been writing for months, but you’re still nowhere near finishing.
And now you’re starting to lose impetus. What’s the point of all this work if no one’s ever gonna read it?
You need some feedback on your writing.
OK, you’d really like a bit of praise to encourage you to carry on, but that’s not the only thing. You’re worried that your novel is going in the wrong direction, or your characters are cliched…
Or is the whole thing just total rubbish and you should quit trying to write a novel and take up the banjo instead?
You’d just like to get a few opinions on your book before you go any further.
And then you get this great idea.
Why shouldn’t you publish your book, chapter by chapter, on your blog?
You’ll get feedback right away. If you’re on the wrong track, you can put the story right before you’ve wasted too much effort on it.
You can start building an audience of devoted readers before you publish.
And you might even get a publisher interested.
After all, Andy Weir did it.
He released his book The Martian chapter by chapter on his blog, then self-published it as a Kindle ebook. It was so successful, he got a $100,000 publishing deal.
Lots of writers follow the same plan on Wattpad – can they all be wrong?
The short answer is:
Allowing people to read the first chapter free as a taster is a good idea, if you have a self-published ebook on Amazon, for example.
But if your book’s not finished and won’t be ready to sell for another year, what’s the point in getting people excited and ready to buy it now? By the time it’s published, they’ll have forgotten you exist.
A finished novel is often very different from the first draft, and you may decide to alter the order of some of the events, cut weak scenes, change character names, etc. You might decide it would be better written from a different point of view, or realise it would be improved by changing the setting to a different country. Your first chapter may end up as your second chapter, or be scrapped altogether as part of your revisions.
Showing the world how amateurish and badly-written it looked in the first draft isn’t necessarily a great way to find buyers.
And if you’re hoping to find a publisher, think again.
Even if you’re perfectly satisfied with your novel’s first draft, a publisher is likely to suggest editorial changes before your book is accepted, and these may disappoint early readers who liked the novel better before those changes were put in place.
If your novel is so good that a publisher wants to publish it, you will be selling them the right to publish it first. If you’ve already released (published) large blocks of the text on a blog, it might complicate the situation and lose you the deal.
So, if you shouldn’t publish on your blog, how can you get the feedback you need to get that first draft finished?
Start with a couple of friends who enjoy reading the genre you’re writing in and ask for their opinion. Then approach some of the readers who comment regularly on your blog and ask them to be beta-readers for each chapter as you produce it, sending it privately by email to avoid publishing it online.
Once your book is taking shape, you could consider paying for a writing critique service.
But, whatever you do, don’t stop writing and take up the banjo!