Why You Should Or Shouldn't Blog Your Novel…

by sbh on Sunday - 27 January 2008

in Uncategorized

“gapingvoid”:http://www.gapingvoid.com has “an interesting little post about novels and blogs”:http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/004429.html. Here is his customary business card cartoon (which cleverly accompanies every post):

gapingvoid: how to get published in france

Honestly, the cartoon hooked me into the article. This toon could be the subject of many blog posts (and may very well be), but for now I’d like to consider gapingvoid’s post. Essentially, he’s following a young French friend of his, Chantelle, who is attempting to break into the Parisian literary scene–apparently, a tough nut to crack. She tries schmoozing publisher after publisher, but the only one who seems interested loses interest as soon as he realizes that she won’t be sleeping her way to publication.

Here is gapingvoid’s advice (and response):

Being an avid blogger, of course, I was not very helpful.

“Your book has thirteen chapters,” I say. “Voila! That’s thirteen blog posts. One chapter per blog post. Put it online, and you’ll have a book offer within six months. Trust me.”

Of course, this is not how you do it in Paris, supposedly. You do it by going to all the right parties and hobnobbing with all the right people, supposedly. If you’re good at it, you get a book deal, supposedly. If you’re really good at it, they’ll also let you go on the highbrow TV talk show circuit and pontificate about “Couture” with all the other erudite culture vultures, supposedly. Maybe give you an occasional column in Le Figaro, supposedly. An intoxicating combo of both celebrity and bourgeoise respectability, supposedly. Very elite, supposedly. Very French, supposedly.

Blog your novel–an interesting thought. I’m sure it’s been done. I’m sure there are some perfectly capable, or near-capable novels out there that have been blogged. Why should or shouldn’t you do this?

h3. The Should Not’s

One of the tensions that has been going on in this blog from the beginning has been my unwillingness to post any “unfinished” story. There are several reasons for this:

* **It’s Not Finished!** — One strong reason that has kept me from putting my work “out there” on this blog is the mere fact that it is, as of yet, unfinished. Should a gem cutter put an uncut stone on the market? The conventional answer might be: “Only if he is a crappy gem cutter.” When it all boils down, I don’t want anything that is not of the highest quality attached to my name. Unfinished stories are not of the highest quality, and they are not representative of my skill–so, easy, don’t put it out there.

* **A Bit of Fear** — I, of course, realize that at this juncture the only people who follow this blog are close friends and family. For whatever reason, their opinions matter to me. To put something out there that I don’t feel is ready yet and to subject it to their ridicule worries me a bit. I’m not so much worried that they won’t like it–some of them will; some won’t. I’m more worried that I will allow that to discourage me.

* **Copyright** — Even though the home page sidebar currently reads “© 2008 Stephen B. Hebert” (hmmm, I should probably add this to the other pages), I do worry that I could be ripped off.

* **Bad Business?** — Maybe I’m not thinking clearly, but I have to wonder why a publisher would want to publish something that is “already out there.” I must admit, at this point the publishing industry is a total freakin’ mystery to me–maybe there is a market for a blogged novel. Sure, Dickens’s serials were published as novels later, but I’m no Dickens (or am I?).

h3. The Should’s

OK, I’m gonna try not to be such a Negative Nancy–

* **Get ‘er Done** — One way of going about this would be to serialize the novel. This could have the added side effect of helping to spur your creative juices.

* **Feedback** — If the posts were created in a sort of workshop model, you could garner feedback from a wider range of people than those you might normally have access to. If you’re like me, you have some good folks who will tell you what they really think. At the same time, you’ve got some friends that will compliment you no matter what. Maybe on the web, you could get some more realistic thoughts on your work.

* **Published!** — Hey, it’s out there now–people can read it. Wasn’t that the point?

h3. Other Thoughts

A commenter on the aforementioned article at gapingvoid had some interesting thoughts (I have edited the URLs to make the post a little easier to read):

I am with you on this. There are some good fiction writers out here in the ether. Its a good way to test drive, get some feedback and fine tune as you write. see:

“Gareth L. Powell”:http://garethlynpowell.blogspot.com/
“Daisy Bennett”:http://www.daisybennett.com/

There is also “FictionPress”:http://www.fictionpress.com/ but I am a little overwhelmed by the volume myself.

Also “Authonomy”:http://www.authonomy.com/ an experiment from HarperCollins I discovered via “Neil Perkin”:http://www.neilperkin.typepad.com/only_dead_fish/.

There is always an audience if you look for it. Promising French writer shunned by literati publishes in English on web…

If she builds it: they will come.

Those sites are definitely worth checking out. I take issue, however, with the “if you build it, they will come” attitude here. I suppose it’s possible that your novel “goes viral,” but the intricacies of blog promotion and the whims of the blogosphere are utter mysteries to me. I can build it. Sure. But I have no idea how to get people to come.

All of this is to say that I am thinking quite seriously about putting a good chunk of work up here over the next few weeks and months. Not sure that it will happen. I’ve got to get over all of those “should not’s”–but maybe, just maybe, you’ll see some more original work up here in the future.

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