Friday, September 7, 2007

Question for the group (updated, again)

I was thinking of posting a couple of paragraphs from the first chapter of my novel. I had actually gone so far as to put it on this post, below the fold. Then I deleted it. I'm confident of my writing, and I have no problem putting my words up for the world to read - that's ultimately my intention away.

I just don't know if I should do anything first, i.e. do I need to legally protect a couple of grubby paragraphs? I could go over to Storybones and look around, since it is most likely that Steve has already explored this issue in detail and I can just surf along on his coattails without any real effort on my part. But, I've got a splitting headache at the moment, so I'll just save that for later and instead go to bed.

Some of you have wrestled with this very issue (posting your work, not the headache). Advise me, please.


Update: Thanks guys (and by guys I mean guys in the unisex Navy definition). Janiece , I'm pretty sure I can do what you suggested vis a vis the password thing through HTML coding. I'll fool with it one of these days when my head doesn't feel like there's a live alligator inside trying to bite its way out. I don't code well when there is a large carnivorous reptile clawing at my frontal lobes.

After careful consideration, here's the first chapter in it's entirety, somewhat edited:
(update, see this is the whole chapter, just with some bits expunged (like most of it), posting it this way is supposed to be clever. In hindsight I feel like Johnny Carson when one of his jokes bombed, if I keep at it, eventually I'm going to get some laughs)

The man was roused from a fitful sleep by the frigid draft.
...(removed so as not to piss off prospective publishers )...
Decades ago and light-years away, tiny machines had colonized the vitreous humor of his eyes.
...(removed so as not to piss off prospective publishers )...
He wanted to sleep in a bed, take a hot shower, and taste real coffee again, and not necessarily in that order.
...(removed so as not to piss off prospective publishers )...
“Son of a bitch!” he shouted at the stars. He hopped up and down on his one good foot, dancing and shaking his fist at the sky. “I made it, by God! I made it! Son. Of. A. Bitch!


You may now unleash the fanfic hounds.


  1. It's not copyright you're worrying about - it's "first publication rights." Basically, publishers want the privilege of being the first to present your work to the world, and if you post it up in public, well, it's already been published for the first time.

    At least that's the way I understand it. Then again we have people like Scalzi who post the entire thing online and still get it published in book form, so your mileage may vary. ;)

    In either case, two grubby paragraphs is not going to faze anyone when the entire work is a novel.

  2. When I saw this post I immediately said "I gotta put a comment in right away."

    What MWT said.

    I did have to remove on poem I posted before a few markets would even consider it. I do post single lines or at most a paragraph from works I'm pushing out.

    That said, I post "story bones" intentionally to give them to the world. I have written stories based on those "bones" (unlike a certain poster who said I could try one story bone as a flash piece, I did write a flash piece based on it, but I wouldn't just submit what I put out as a bone, it would be morally wanky of me to do so for one, but also that prior publication thing MWT said).

    Also, Scalzi was asked to take down his post of Old Man's War before Patrick would publish it. His Agent to the Stars is a much different story.

    For me, you could use the first lines without worry, state specifically that they're from your work (so the kiddies aren't confused). When you approach paragraph level I start getting worried.

    Also, I fully expect to rewrite the first chapter of "Company of Ravens" if I ever get back to that novel, so posting it wasn't much of a concern. And "The Dead Are Busy" I've given up on publishing (it has a fatal flaw that would require a different story to be written to fix it) and so released as a teaser.

    If I do start writing "Company of Ravens" again I will be taking that chapter down, BTW.

    Clear as mud?

  3. MWT, Steve, thanks guys.

    I'll reread your advice later and decided what I want to do. Right now, I can't think, I'm still in the throes of a serious headache here. Feels like my eyes are being pushed out of my head. Need time for the pills to work.

  4. Hi Jim,

    If may make a suggestion...

    Perhaps you should do some sort of password protection on what you want feedback on, and then e:mail the password on request. I don't know if Blogger will support this or not, but it would certainly give you greater control of the output.

    P.S. I hope you feel better!

  5. Confused is right. Did I miss something? Or are all the good bits "removed for security reasons?" I feel like I'm reading a letter from a POW...


  6. Everybody is a critic. Hardyharhar.

    Actually, Janiece, you're not far off - the character of this chapter has been castaway for a very long time. So, in a sense, yes, he is a prisoner. But, salvation is at hand, after a fashion, hence the last line. It will all make perfect sense, when you buy and read the book.

    What I put up was the first line, a couple of lines from the middle, and the final line. Think of it as if I'm the White House releasing the Rove transcripts through the FOIA, all the good stuff is covered in black marker (but I could NOT make that work visually on the webpage or it would have been a lot funnier response to Steve and MWT's suggestions).

    I am particularly fond of the "Decades ago, and light years away..." bit.

  7. There, I reformatted the excerpt. Maybe it makes more sense, maybe not.

    The ...(removed for security reasons)... is not part of the book. I removed everything between the lines to order to comply with Steve and MWT's suggestion. What I intended was to post the whole chapter, but with most of it expunged. Let I said in the previous comment, kind've like the Readers Digest version, if it had been edited by the Insane Clown Posse.

    Yeah, not as funny or as clever a concept as I thought it would be. I can't think straight at the moment, but I swear after the headache goes away, I be back on my game. Bear with me, please.

  8. Hi Jim,

    I think I got the joke this time. But don't quit your day job.

    Oh, wait...

    Actually, your tidbits grabbed my attention. When the vortex in your head has subsided, code the password thing, and I'll look forward to reading the whole thing. And making snarky, goat locker comments on same. Followed by actual, constructive, criticism. :)

  9. Janiece, right. What day job? This is my day job. /gloat gloat

  10. I'm not sure Blogger can do the password thing, but an alternative might be to create an LJ and put it up as friends-locked posts, and then add people to your friends list.

    Or, get a wiki at a wikifarm (I like wikidot) where you can set up who has how much access to what.

    Or, find a writers community and post it in their members-only forums, then point people to them.

    Just throwing out some other possibilities. Hope you recover from the migraine soon!

  11. MWT, thanks. I like some of those suggestions. Whatever is easiest, that's for me. I check into it.

    The migraine is fading, but it is a tricky and deceptive lizard, it usually returns in force at night. Of course I've accomplished nothing whatsoever today, other than the business of managing my burgeoning empire over on the whateveresque forum. Some days you just gotta screw around all day.


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