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Old May 11 2009, 09:04 PM   #1
D. M. Domini
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Post So--who does original fic?

I noticed in the DRoP forum, we got a good discussion about writing in general going. So I was just curious--which of you do original fiction? What are you working on? What's it about?
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Old May 11 2009, 10:21 PM   #2
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

I have been working on something for a couple of years. It is about a woman who goes to another realm with her two collies. While there both dogs start speaking "Human" and the woman, Ruth, meets all kinds of creatures. She is sent on a quest to find a wand.

I have the rough draft done, I just need to get it typed up. Mom was typing it while I read it, but now she can't type as well so I am on my own. I have never been good at typing what I am reading.
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Old May 12 2009, 02:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

I used to do original fiction. I had such great ideas; psychic aliens with familiars, a horse born of thunder and Pegasus' bloodline, come to help a family in debt; an elf of a lost civilization who could bend reality, another elf who was immortal and had immense psychic gifts; a demon/angel hybrid born into a human body and taught how to use words to control, compel and banish harmful spirits. I even had werewolves and ghosts.

I never got anything done, though. The struggle became overwhelming. Now there's no heart left when I write but for RPGs.

It happens.
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Old May 12 2009, 01:00 PM   #4
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

I write. But I do not put it on line as that destroys salable copyright value.
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Old May 12 2009, 04:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

I do some when I can come up with an idea. A few short stories hear and there, novels several years ago.
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Old May 12 2009, 04:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

So should we have writing discussion? (IE could some kind-souled host split that thread off in DoP because it's WAY the heck off-topic but obviously we want to talk about the subject!)

To spin from that I'm a bit intrigued by the concern over killing/not killing characters. I may joke about them having feelings (ie Val is my spoiled baby who gets whatever he wants) but really, they're there to serve the plot and if I have to kill someone, I have to do it. Honestly, sex is harder to write than death and killing, probably because sex on paper sounds very silly.
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Old May 12 2009, 05:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

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So should we have writing discussion? (IE could some kind-souled host split that thread off in DoP because it's WAY the heck off-topic but obviously we want to talk about the subject!)
Done. I should have done it sooner but was lazy.

I'm thinking we might make a new subforum here, as discussions about craft aren't on exhibit and therefore don't quite fit here.
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Old May 13 2009, 12:28 AM   #8
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

I mostly write original fiction and dabble in fanfiction from time to time. I've focused mainly on short stories in the last several years and have had some success there. It has been a while since I've written a novel but I would like to eventually try one again. The problem there is finding the motivation. I often come up with an idea that I think would make a good novel but then end up losing steam and turning it into yet another short story.
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Old May 13 2009, 12:34 AM   #9
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

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I write. But I do not put it on line as that destroys salable copyright value.
How? (confused)
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Old May 13 2009, 08:00 AM   #10
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

Multi-Facets, unless you happen to be an especially awesome person (eg John Scalzi), publishers aren't interested in printing and selling writing that is available online for free.
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Old May 13 2009, 01:35 PM   #11
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

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How? (confused)
In the US at any rate it's called "first-run North American serial rights." Something that has already been published has blown those, so it's of lesser value. The exception is sometimes if you self-publish and people have bought it, that makes it easier for an agent to sell it to a regular publisher.
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Old May 13 2009, 09:07 PM   #12
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

I used to be afraid of the whole "OMG, don't put your work online!!!!" thing, but I think it will eventually turn out as a false fear, much like the fear authors used to have about fanfiction. (IE, for the longest time AMC didn't allow fanfiction about her canon characters. She's relented, but many authors of the pre-net generations haven't. On the flip side, pretty much all the "new gen" SFF authors I've seen, the ones who have a livejournal or real web presence, have at least a don't-ask-don't-tell policy...they won't sic lawyers on you for ficcing in their universes, but they technically can't actually come and read your stuff because at that point they CAN get in legal trouble if something in their story seems to "rip off" a fanfic. That's not to say that they DON'T read it, but they can't open their mouths and say so to the fans if they do.)

Anyway, back to the putting-fic-online thing...I've not heard yet about a book good enough to publish that didn't get published or got rejected because it was slapped online somewhere; if you truly have talent, and not necessarily even talent as good as Scalzi's, I think *someone* will want it. Particularly if you write in a "hot" genre. I think the fear of sticking work online is FUD. (Fear, uncertainty, doubt...bullshit, basically.) I can see "it was 'published' online first as being a throw-away answer to an author that's just not up to par, an excuse, but if the work is truly good enough to be publishable I don't see a modern publisher having a real fear. Speaking, of course, that you stuck the work on your own website, or some random online forum like this one, or the like. Things would get more complicated if the site was dedicated to original fiction, particularly if it made a profit out of it in some way.

These days I mostly don't put original fic up because A) it's not done, and B) truthfully, nobody gives a crap about my original fic. Fanfic gives a quick ego-boost because it has a built in audience if you choose the right fandom--SOMEONE will comment, even if it's to say you suck. But put your original fiction online, and typically you'll just get the deafening sound of silence. Not worth my time.
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Old May 13 2009, 09:52 PM   #13
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

It's not about fear or lack thereof. It's about US copyright law and what publishers are paying for. I'm not taking the chance on a piece of fiction. When I sold a story to a magazine, they not only bought the right to print it, they bought control of the ability to REprint it for a set amount of time, plus the right to have their name attached to the copyright forever--even though it's now "mine" again, if I publish it anywhere it must have attached "First appeared in...." as part of the copyright detail.

As for fan fiction--would I dislike it? Probably (except if it were Shalyn. ) Would I sic lawyers on it? Only if it were someone like the moron who tried to publish "Russet Noon", a Twilight sequel, and argued that the characters were public property once they were published. (All the lawyers concerned: "Not so much.") Would I read it? Hell to the no. Fan fic is free publicity, as long as people don't get ideas that the author is obliged to believe their interpretation of the characters. People do that--look at the temper tantrums thrown by Harry/Hermione fans.

And I've never actually heard of a book being published that WAS on-line first (fiction, at any rate--columns are different.) If people can get something for free, they're not going to pay for it. I also don't know any authors who put stuff on-line before selling it. Publishers aren't buying based on quailty--there's a metric ton of total garbage that gets published. They're betting on what they can make money from, and something available for free is not a great money-making proposition. Never putting it up in the first place spares one having to take it down and means you know it wasn't copied to anywhere without knowing it.
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Old May 14 2009, 01:01 PM   #14
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

There is also the far-fetched possibility that someone having read a work online could claim it as their own, should the author get a publishing deal. Proving it would be tricky, to say the least.

The real problem here is that publishing law is lagging WAY behind net use. Some, notably Jim Baen, have put books by their hot-selling authors online, and claim to have generated impressive sales therefrom. Me, I'm not so convinced. That said, if my publisher wants to put my work online, there is (as far as I know) nothing in my contract that would allow me to stop them, unless my work was not published for sale at the same time. Argggh! This makes my head ache.
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Old May 14 2009, 01:30 PM   #15
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

Quote:
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It's not about fear or lack thereof. It's about US copyright law and what publishers are paying for. I'm not taking the chance on a piece of fiction. When I sold a story to a magazine, they not only bought the right to print it, they bought control of the ability to REprint it for a set amount of time, plus the right to have their name attached to the copyright forever--even though it's now "mine" again, if I publish it anywhere it must have attached "First appeared in...." as part of the copyright detail.
If I sold the story FIRST, then yes I'd not stick it up without permission from those I sold it to, or until the rights have expired. And if I had the story online first, then I sold it, I'd pull the story down (unless I could work out something otherwise).

But currently there's no framework online that will give a random story by an author so much exposure to the same demographics that read original fiction physical paper books that there would be a measureable dent in profits if a publisher was to later buy that story, after it was online, and sell it in a traditional format.

Yes, there's little incentive for people to buy something if it's available for free (in theory--in practice, some readers will "donate" to their favorite authors if a virtual 'tip jar' is put out)--but it is incredibly damn hard for an original fiction story to get that sort of attention online. Writing isn't consumed like artwork and video is online--it doesn't draw loads and loads of people. You can put up a crap video of some poor guy getting hit in the crotch with a large object and it can have fifteen minutes of fame online and thousands upon thousands of hits. Writing just doesn't DO that. You can't write a short story that's SO good the site it's on is Slashdotted (or Dugg, or Farked or otherwise imploded into a mass of molten server architecture because so many online people want to read it RIGHT NOW.) Words on a page don't wow those with no imagination of their own...and a lot of people prefer to be fed special effects rather than generating them in their head that I don't see this changing.

And if a story DID do so well online it got thousands of hits, it wouldn't put any sane publisher off--they would have firm proof, as in this super-large number of readers hitting the story, that the book is, if not GOOD, very attractive to readers. Very marketable. Hard data like that, in the form of your webserver traffic logs or in the form of being able to read thousands of comments from online fans, is very, very tasty to anyone in business. Typically they just buy books on the Editor's gut feelings. Which as we know can be very wrong. But numbers don't lie.

Essentially--if a publisher is not going to buy your story because you stuck it in an online forum or on your site and an entire 10 people saw it (and maybe even saved the document to their hard drive!), they probably have greater issues with your story. You CAN'T just get traffic--real, meaningful traffic--on the net to a novel-length story at a drop of a hat. There's no framework in place for people to FIND you if you're an unknown, or to let others KNOW about you even if they do manage to find you.

(Again, this is also why online fanfic is such a fast-acting ego boost--the author and publishers have already done the legwork of making an author name or a book name or a world name out there and known. You just sort of hang onto their coat tails and scoop up addict!fans looking for another "fix" no matter how terrible it is. You as an author are found fairly easily this way.)

I do agree that putting your story online after the fact, or NOT pulling it off your site after you sell it, is a concern. But putting your book online first, before anyone has bought it? Nah. It's the internet age. I'm on the tail end of a generation of authors that perhaps didn't grow themselves on fanfiction (I wrote original fic far, far before I ever wrote a scrap of fanfiction). But the ones after me? The ones younger than 26? Most of them will have known the rabid culture of fanfiction online long before their first original character pops into their heads. Keeping their original story offline will be alien to them. And any publisher EXPECTING that will be very, very behind the times.

Quote:
And I've never actually heard of a book being published that WAS on-line first (fiction, at any rate--columns are different.) If people can get something for free, they're not going to pay for it. I also don't know any authors who put stuff on-line before selling it. Publishers aren't buying based on quailty--there's a metric ton of total garbage that gets published. They're betting on what they can make money from, and something available for free is not a great money-making proposition. Never putting it up in the first place spares one having to take it down and means you know it wasn't copied to anywhere without knowing it.
Cheryl actually mentioned an author--John Scalzi. (Scalzi's works read a little like Heinlein, but more modern of course, and less quirky.) He's been a pro freelance writer for a long time--used to do opinion columns on AOL, also had a non-fiction book published--but with his first novel he just stuck it up on his website, for free. Didn't market it, didn't approach agents or publishers with it. And he has a very large blog readership in comparison to your average someone-who-sticks-their-story-on-their-site. Didn't make much of a diff. I've never heard of anyone emailing around a copy of the novel from then...most likely people only bookmarked it when it was up, and when it was down their bookmarks became invalid.

A Tor editor saw Scalzi's book online and bought it. Bought the sequels too. If you go into a bookstore, you'll see his books on the shelves right now, including the one that was available online for free for a time.

There's also some SFF authors that have concurrantly released a FREE ebook on their site of their newest book THE SAME TIME it was released in paper form in the stores. I haven't heard that it's made any measureable negative impact in sales. (Also, haven't heard any measureable positive impact directly, but many people in forums like this one speak of how the Baen free library introduced them to authors they wouldn't have grabbed in the store. Which isn't surprising...Baen cover art is fugly. Guess it's sort of catty to say this, but they almost need that extra incentive (free books online) to get some folks to pick the books up. Heh.)

In theory it's easy to find tons of free stories on the net. But in reality, so much of it is unmitigated crap. Until some enterprising soul (and I admit I do have a business plan tucked away--I'm just too lazy and too broke to put it into practice) creates THE MySpace or Newgrounds for writing that has a *working* filter for quality, and a large community rating the stuff, putting your work online for free isn't going to endanger your sales specifically. It's just too hard to get readers in numbers enough that it will hurt your bottom line.

Edit:

Quote:
There is also the far-fetched possibility that someone having read a work online could claim it as their own, should the author get a publishing deal. Proving it would be tricky, to say the least.
The original author would have proof it was theirs. The newcomer trying to claim it was theirs could only track it back to when it appeared online, whereas the real author would have timestamped documents (and hopefully hardcopies scattered around their house) proving it's theirs. I'm pretty sure the timestamping on my computer has all of my work timestamped from somewhere in February 2004 (although some of it dates from 2001--timestamp just got changed to 2004 when I did an upgrade). If I put my novel up today, as an example, and someone tried to claim it as theirs, they would have to match my 5 years worth of character and world notes, scenes, and documents, not to mention some old-school notebooks from highschool. I can't see any other author NOT having that sort of stuff.
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Old May 14 2009, 02:26 PM   #16
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

Whooooo, didn't think I'd spark off this much discussion. ^n_n^ Thanks for explaining, everyone.
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Old May 14 2009, 03:25 PM   #17
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

My friend writes for Baen. Some of his old stuff is in the free library because it was out of print and wasn't making money anyway, but if enough people download it they might ask for another one (which would be printed and bound as a real book.) (By the way: please all go download "Doc Sidhe" by Aaron Allston. He says he wont' write more of that series until he has a contract.) Baen's also a low-volume house--they take one or two authors a year and at least under Baen himself had very direct high-level involvement. They even do personalized rejection letters which Tor/Daw/etc do not.

There's another thing, pro writers don't write for fun. Aaron LIKES the Doc Sidhe world, but he doesn't work on it because Baen isn't guaranteeing they'll pay for another, so his time is more productively used on other projects. I don't write fan fic any more because my writing time is limited and unless it's something I can blow out in two hours ("One Sunlit Day" took approximately that long and I was watching TV at the time, too) it takes too much.

If I would you I would NEVER rely on a PC timestamp as proof of anything. *I* could figure out how to tamper with that. That's a useless proof in court if it came to that. Handwritten notes--also useless and very hard (and lawyer-time expenseive) to prove age. Very, very few authors have paper copies and almost no one who started writing in the last twenty years is going to have handwritten anything around. Now, I could MAYBE prove it on one MS because I have a copy in a postmarked envelope returned from a publisher (I would never expect the slushpile readers to remember it, though.) And it's an earlier draft.

But honestly, it's not worth it. The odds are VERY long anyone would ask to buy it after seeing it on-line, and the feedback from the average on-line reader is of little to no value. I have a short list of people who get to read my stuff to critique (poor Shalyn being one of them) but there's no reason to put it on-line. If I were, it would be to self-publish via something like Amazon and that would be with an eye to making sales and makign it more palatable to an agent or publisher, who are after all about money at the end of the day.
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Old May 15 2009, 06:37 PM   #18
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There's another thing, pro writers don't write for fun.

Very, very few authors have paper copies and almost no one who started writing in the last twenty years is going to have handwritten anything around.
Yep, Anareth, I quite agree. I have several projects (i.e. books) I would love to write, but I can't afford it right now. I have a contract, I write those books - and these days, part of the contract states that you're not going to be working on other stuff while you're under contract to them! Hard to police, but I can understand it, in a way.

I have been writing for - oh, since I was in my teens, though not professionally until about 1995 - and since acquiring my first word processor, I have had the merest sprinkling of handwritten notes and they mostly had to do with how much I had to write that day to reach my quota! A few character notes, but not even so much of that.
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Old May 15 2009, 07:21 PM   #19
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

I would love to get someone who knows what they are talking about to take a look at my story, but I have no idea how to find someone.
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Old May 15 2009, 07:21 PM   #20
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

Lanen...since you don't keep many hand written notes about your books, do you print it all out as you go along, or do you keep each your notes and stories on some kind of digital computer storage?
Do you change your stories much once you have put it down on paper, or by then do you have it mostly all figured out?
I don't write, but I have always wondered about how a writer goes about writing a full book. The different stages of putting it all together...before it get to the publishing stage?
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Old May 15 2009, 08:11 PM   #21
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I would love to get someone who knows what they are talking about to take a look at my story, but I have no idea how to find someone.
As I said Maw, you could alway do in smaller stories on adio. Or Read your note into the computer using DNS voice resation software.

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Old May 17 2009, 02:02 PM   #22
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

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Originally Posted by mawra View Post
I would love to get someone who knows what they are talking about to take a look at my story, but I have no idea how to find someone.
Start a new topic in this forum, to say you are looking for a beta reader for your story, and describe a little about it.
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Old May 17 2009, 05:33 PM   #23
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

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But honestly, it's not worth it. The odds are VERY long anyone would ask to buy it after seeing it on-line, and the feedback from the average on-line reader is of little to no value. I have a short list of people who get to read my stuff to critique (poor Shalyn being one of them) but there's no reason to put it on-line. If I were, it would be to self-publish via something like Amazon and that would be with an eye to making sales and makign it more palatable to an agent or publisher, who are after all about money at the end of the day.
I don't get your reasoning that having your work online at some point is going to kill things dead (excluding scenarios where an author is stupid enough to put their work online AFTER selling it to someone, without even getting that someone's permission to put it online). Where are you calculating these odds from? I get that you're against it, and also that you agree that it makes things easier to steal, but I'm not seeing the counter-arguments to my own, why it would definitively damage the ability of your story to sell. (I'm honestly interested...I just don't see your arguments yet.)

Touching on another topic...The feedback of your average on-line reader has different values, depending on the particular person who is making a comment on your work. Just take a look at the reviews on amazon.com. Not much different than reviews on a story posted on a message board forum. Your average on-line reader is representative of your average book buyer. There's also a smaller, sliver-thin number of readers who are critical and analytical enough to articulate what they feel when they read a book, but those types of readers are the wanna-be writers and beta readers and editors (or in some cases professionals and not wannabes at all), and only make up a fraction of the actual book-buying public. It's the average reader that you're trying to snag, not just the critics...you want to make money now, not 100 years after you're dead and your genious (sp?) is finally recognized. So if your book gets 1,000 unique comments online somewhere that are vaguely positive, and everyone else around you gets like 2, that's an indicator that *something* is going on. (Hard to say what; sometimes I wish I had a degree in statistics. It's really very fascinating.) This is why I get antsy when looking at my hits and comments on fanfiction.net...still trying to correlate them to the worth of my fics. They *say* something, just have to figure out what. And also, what the silence means.

Re: Timestamping--yeah, it could be counterfeited. I'm not going to argue; it's a situation that could come up in theory but not one that interests me.

Re: Writing for fun--I see the topic came up, but I'm not sure what it's connected to. How'd this subject creep in?
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Old May 17 2009, 06:58 PM   #24
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

If they're reviewing on amazon, I don't care what they have to say--just that they paid for it. Ultimately, I don't care if you love or hate it, just that you paid for your copy.

The idea of writing something and not getting paid for it is where writing for fun comes from--I'm not going to write something and stick it on line somewhere, destroying its financial value (the first-run rights) just because THAT'S what I wanted to write. If someone told me tomorrow that they'd pay me for a novel with my short-story characters, who bore me to tears at this point, I'd drop the book I'm writing now like a hot potato and crank out something with them. It wouldn't be that much FUN, but I'd do it.

I don't write for art's sake or because it's fun (though it's certainly not boring) but because I want to sell things. Under copyright law, giving it away for free reduces or elimiantes the value of the product. Once it has demonstrable value I may relax that (as some authors make some materials available as a freebie) but that's not about being nice and having fun, it's about increasing market share.

BTW, if you DO want to timestamp something, seal it up, send it to yourself certified mail, and never open it unless you have to in court. Because it requires a signature and is hand-stamped the dates are considered admissable.
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Old May 17 2009, 07:21 PM   #25
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

Anareth - really? I thought the whole 'time stamping' thing was a waste of time these days. Thought it had been proven NOT to be admissable in court? Though I'm not at all certain.

Domini, as for putting things up after they have been sold - I have just been reading my contract, prior to sending it back signed and sealed. It is specifically stated in the contract that I am selling to my publisher the right to publish this material, in all kinds of media. This includes online. I would be breaking my contract and could be sued if I posted online (this is considered a form of legal publishing these days, in some cases) work that I had already sold to my publisher. I would certainly have to pay back my advance, and could probably be prosecuted (though almost certainly wouldn't be, as they know I'm broke!) for doing so. So not just stupid, also illegal.

If my PUBLISHER wants to publish my work online for free, that's up to them. I gather that they usually ask, but I don't know.

As for Anareth's argument about not wanting to publish online something that she could well get paid for - are you familiar with the saying 'why buy a cow if you're getting the milk for free' ? Usually used in a different context, but the point is valid.
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Old May 17 2009, 11:28 PM   #26
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

Thanks for the idea, Cheryl I will start a new thread.
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Old May 18 2009, 11:50 AM   #27
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

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If they're reviewing on amazon, I don't care what they have to say--just that they paid for it. Ultimately, I don't care if you love or hate it, just that you paid for your copy.
Amazon doesn't require that you buy a book before commenting/reviewing. They require that you have an account with them, and I think that you have bought *something*, but it doesn't matter what. I've only bought MP3s from them, but I've been able to review a few books. (Before I gave them my CC# though I could not review.) You can check the book out from the library (free, yes?) then comment on Amazon.

That said, yes, people buying a book is the ultimate statistic. Although even then, there's a lot of variables coming into play. If a book is put out but never marketed and the bookstore only buys one and shoves it in a corner where the cover gets damaged, nobody will buy it. If the coverart is totally wrong for the demographic of the book, the people buying it will not like it and will return it. Of course, this is what the publishing house and bookstores are there for--to make sure that that doesn't happen.

Mmm, I'm too statistics-happy; I'd have a blast trying to figure out what happened so I could correct it with the next book if I was ever in that position, where a book that I or others thought would do well didn't.

Although re: if people hate or love a book--I personally would want people to love the book. It's not bad business sense to analyze why a particular book was popular, and try to replicate some of those factors.

AMC is so popular because she has things in her stories that make them very attractive, even when the overall quality is lesser in some books than others.

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The idea of writing something and not getting paid for it is where writing for fun comes from--I'm not going to write something and stick it on line somewhere, destroying its financial value (the first-run rights) just because THAT'S what I wanted to write. If someone told me tomorrow that they'd pay me for a novel with my short-story characters, who bore me to tears at this point, I'd drop the book I'm writing now like a hot potato and crank out something with them. It wouldn't be that much FUN, but I'd do it.
Ah, I see what happened. I'm mostly speaking from the perspective of an unknown, unpublished author and I wasn't sure how we suddenly jumped onto the topic of writing for fun rather than for profit, since the only thing I write for fun anymore is my fanfic. I haven't written a non-novel-related original fiction scene for...over a year now, perhaps two years. Yes, if you have a contract or someone offers you money to write something, write it. That's just basic business sense. I'm not so lucky that people will pay me to write yet, but I am writing with the ultimate goal of publication.

Actually, I take that back...I've been doing some copy writing recently. But it's not fiction, so it doesn't count in my mind. Heh.

Damned if I won't use it as writing samples, though, if I ever need samples of copywriting and non-fiction. But it's a totally seperate sphere from the fiction publishing world, and not really applicable here, so yeah.

Anyway, apologies for not understanding before--I see where you're coming from now.

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Under copyright law, giving it away for free reduces or elimiantes the value of the product. Once it has demonstrable value I may relax that (as some authors make some materials available as a freebie) but that's not about being nice and having fun, it's about increasing market share.
Heh, I've never said I was doing anything to be nice and have fun. :p

There is obviously room under copyright law for marketing purposes, because things are given away all the time to market and generate buzz. And, that's the entire point of sticking something online, at least from my perspective, as an unknown, unpublished author.

I suppose I am more concerned with the heart of the law rather than the letter of it. And yes, technically that can get you into trouble; whether you take the risk or not, is up to you. But from a business perspective, I see no conflict. I currently know of no online venues for distributing a novel from an unpublished, unknown author that will make that novel later on a highly dangerous thing to purchase from a business sense, as in, people-who-will-or-will-not-buy-the-book (people meaning end consumers). And there is the real-world example of Tor with John Scalzi's Old Man's War. True, not everyone will be that talented, or that trusted to be able to do such things with a publisher, but it shows it can happen. Probably some clause in the contract stating that they were aware it was on the author's site, and said author promises not to repost online or elsewhere without permission, yadda yadda. This is what legal clauses are for.

This being said...although I am championing the idea that an unknown author sticking a book online isn't going to particularly hurt their sales options either way, I do think it's pointless unless you intend to do the hard legwork to get enough buzz generated about it, and that's a steep upwards battle and you need to have an idea of how marketing and the net works, a lot of time, and determination *beyond* completing the novel, which most authors don't. There's just no real distributors of online content of a novel-length size that are valid markets (either valid in a pay-market sense, or valid in the sense that you can build up a fanbase). Traditional publishing is still the way to go.

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Domini, as for putting things up after they have been sold - I have just been reading my contract, prior to sending it back signed and sealed. It is specifically stated in the contract that I am selling to my publisher the right to publish this material, in all kinds of media. This includes online. I would be breaking my contract and could be sued if I posted online (this is considered a form of legal publishing these days, in some cases) work that I had already sold to my publisher. I would certainly have to pay back my advance, and could probably be prosecuted (though almost certainly wouldn't be, as they know I'm broke!) for doing so. So not just stupid, also illegal.
Well, this is why I said it was stupid in the first place. If you have a signed contract in your hands, you'd be insane to put up anything AFTER the fact for the reasons you stated. You'd be breaking your contract, and breeching a business agreement with your publisher, and most importantly, harming the trust between you and your editor.

But haven't I been saying that all along?

Quoting myself...

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If I sold the story FIRST, then yes I'd not stick it up without permission from those I sold it to, or until the rights have expired.
I've only been saying it's a different story *before* the work is sold. When it's still "yours". I don't see how the current real world environment can realistically damage the worth of a work that badly, and I can't see how the publishing world won't adapt to new authors having had something online on their own website or the like.

There shouldn't be anything difficult about putting a clause in a contract that had to do with a story that was put online informally for a time. Just say something along the lines that is is known and awknowledged, the story has since then been removed and there are no known commonly available copies online that the author is aware of, and if any are discovered the author will do their best to remove them, and that going forward the author has to ask permission to put it up online if they desire this, since money has been paid for it and the publishing house now controls it. You could even work something like this into a boilerplate. (If you were an agent or publishing house.)

Make the law work FOR you, dammit.
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Old May 18 2009, 03:31 PM   #28
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

Uh...publishers aren't going to rewrite their contract unless you're Stephen King. MAYBE. At the very least, someone who's consistently demonstrated their ability to earn out their advance and actually start making them some serious money. Which is almost no one. (However if you're J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer you could probably ask from some truely batshit insane clauses and get it because when you make THAT kind of money, you can do what you want!) YOU don't get to write the contract. They do. If you have an agent or a lawyer, they can advise you whether or not to sign, but unless you're someone who matters in the grand sceme of things, if you say "I don't like this part" they'll say "we have ten other nobodies lined up who won't ask questions."

If you publish it on-line, you eliminated a right that the publisher is buying, making it worth less to them. So why take the chance? Wait until you have leverage before asking for anything. At this point, I can sell bitsy things and am good enough to get personalized, rather than form-letter, rejections on big things, so I'll wait until I make some actual money before putting my property at risk.
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Old Jul 12 2009, 08:14 AM   #29
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

Well, my fanfiction is online (Holdless, on The New Kitchen Table) and despite the amount of work I put into it, it's not being read.

My original fiction is something else, and that's spiral-bound and at home.

Unlike the scenario someone mentioned earlier, I wrote the original fiction first, then the fan-fiction as a writing exercise to see if I could write in someone else's universe. It proved to be harder than I'd expected, no shape-shifting telepathic aliens allowed, and no magical planets. The most that I could do in that style on Pern was a few true dreams and precognitions.

I'd be inclined to keep the two separate. Anything that I ever intended to sell, wouldn't go online, except for individual scenes. If I was into short stories, they wouldn't go online at all. My son's the short story writer. Mine turn into trilogies (hey, haven't I heard that before - from Anne???)

The biggest deal with online stuff - my own included - is that I can't remember the last time that I read one that was finished.
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Old Jul 12 2009, 02:54 PM   #30
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

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Uh...publishers aren't going to rewrite their contract unless you're Stephen King. MAYBE. At the very least, someone who's consistently demonstrated their ability to earn out their advance and actually start making them some serious money. Which is almost no one. (However if you're J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer you could probably ask from some truely batshit insane clauses and get it because when you make THAT kind of money, you can do what you want!) YOU don't get to write the contract. They do. If you have an agent or a lawyer, they can advise you whether or not to sign, but unless you're someone who matters in the grand sceme of things, if you say "I don't like this part" they'll say "we have ten other nobodies lined up who won't ask questions."
If the publishing house really has ten other nobodies lined up who won't ask questions, I would run very, very, very far away. Either because they've just proven they don't have standards and they were trying to sucker me in some way, or because I need to go back and re-write my book (or start a new one) and hone my craft as it obviously isn't as good as I thought it was if people aren't biting. There's also the option of putting the book out there again to see if a more amiable publisher is interested in it. Publishers trying to sucker authors should be punished, preferably by that author becoming successful through another publishing house.

And yes, I did just take your paragraph very literally there. But to be honest, I'm the sort of person that thinks very, very carefully before trying to do something. I usually have reasons that I think are solid. In this case, I would want equally solid counter-arguments, either through my Agent telling me why a Publishing house wouldn't like it, or from an editor. (I'm not against changing my mind; I just want a counter-argument that teaches me something I didn't know, or that is as solid as my argument.) Thus far, with you and others arguing from the perceived Publisher's sides of things, I'm not convinced.

An author trying to ask for impossible things with bad reasoning and no sense of what is in the Publishing House's favor is going to be That Author, and will certainly need a hell of a lot more leverage to get what they want. There are certainly things that are stupid to ask for--I am NOT denying that.

And also, on a short-story basis, I wouldn't try to haggle. It's like the $3.00 gallon of milk...not worth your time. The sums of money involved aren't big enough. You'll be shown the door.

But...In business, you negotiate. You haggle. It doesn't matter if you're big or small. Publishers have boilerplates because it makes things easier for them than writing a fresh one anew--you get experience for what is broadly required in a new contract with an author. Authors have agents so that they don't get suckered by the standard boilerplates (which are biased in the publishing house's favor, or so I've read on Agent blogs). Agents have their own boilerplates (which are different from a publishing house's) to cut down on the time it takes to create a new one, and because they negotiate on their own with publishing houses on behalf of their stable of authors. To compare...going to the grocery store to buy a gallon of milk is set in stone...it's worth nobody's time in this country to screw around with a $3 gallon of milk. But...going to the car dealership you haggle...no matter if it's a cheapy $15k car, or a pricy $100k one. You're dealing with amounts of money that people are slow to part with; you negotiate so that each party feels secure in parting with their goods, be it money or car.

Certainly your book contract is going to allow you to haggle as much as a car dealership? Aren't the sums of money involved comparible? From a few thousand up to many thousands? You'd haggle about different things, yes, and from the other side of the bargain (you're selling rather than buying). That's how business works once you get away from buying cartons of milk.

I have come into contact with some pretty wealthy people (compared to me; financially I'm squarely lower class; they were upper middle class of the sort that drive BMWs and Corvettes and have mansions...I saw an in-car GPS back in 2001. They're only becoming common these past few years.). The one thing I've noticed is that these people negotiate. I saw one negotiate with a bookstore manager to get a discount off of a book that had a slightly mangled cover. (The manager agreed and gave a discount.) I had a boss that negotiated all sorts of contracts, I got to overhear a lot of those negotiations which was very eye-opening, and I had a landlady that handled million-to-billion dollar government contracts. They all had in common a willingness to haggle, to look at the other person's needs and wants, and at their own, and to make a compromise that was serviceable to both parties. They were all people in management or sales positions. It's very different from the "You pay $3.00 for that gallon of milk or go away" mentality of going to the grocery store. But it pretty much permeates business if you're in any sort of management, marketing, or sales position. Which, editors are...they are in the position to bring new products into the company. Which means they are given the power to haggle.

Is a new author going to get all the concessions Steven King and J. K. Rowling get? No. Hell no, even. There's some things the publishing houses won't want to negotiate on, due to their own past experiences. (Most authors know squat about business and their desires are flawed in a business sense.) You only get that sort of extreme (and "stupid" even) flexibility in your contracts as an author when the Publishing House knows beyond a doubt that you'll be very, very big and that train isn't going to be derailed by a few misplaced pebbles like a small author's book would. But negotiating out a clause covering pre-Publishing-House posting of a partial or full manuscript on the authors' own website (or similar venue) shouldn't make a publishing house break out in hives. If it does (and, granted, this is just my opinion), either your Agent is made of Fail, your Editor is trying to screw you (or is inflexible), or the Publishing house has issues that are putting pressure on the Editor contrary to their own thoughts about things. It behooves both publishing house and author to cover this contingency because as I said earlier...as 12 year old fanfic authors grow up and make original fic, it's gonna become fairly common to have authors that stuck their manuscripts online at some point in time. Covering your ears and going lalalalala to ignore it won't actually make it go away. It would make better business sense to allow contingencies for it.

So, in summary...are all contracts set in stone? No. Otherwise you wouldn't need an agent. Will Publishing Houses veto stupid clauses? Yes. Don't screw around with clauses unless you have a very solid reason (I happen to think a clause formalizing a manuscript's former status as being online in some way is a solid reason, given how the times have changed.) Do stupidly successful authors get the flexibility in their contracts that newbies do not? Yes. Someone needs to football-tackle Laurell K. Hamilton with a few good editors. Even J. K. Rowling could have used some bloat-excising on her last HP books. Will the Publishing industry eventually have to move with the times? Yes, and here's a blog post by John Scalzi addressing an issue with the Big 3 SFF Magazines' submission policies. Antiquated processes need to be updated in the SFF industry.

So, I stand by my earlier statements.

And, to reiterate...I do see where you're coming from. Being conservative as a new author won't hurt. If you do all sorts of dumb things that break the "rules" such as using asinine fonts or finding out where all the editors live in New York and sending their kids gifts, AND you put your story online, then yes you're digging your own grave. Use common sense, and do your research. But I don't agree that sticking a novel online at some point in time will destroy your chance of a sale...as per my reasoning in all my long-ass posts. It may hurt it, for certain publishers. But I suspect that will end up affecting Publishing Houses the same way the Big 3 are being affected, per Scalzi's blog post. Mainly, other more agile publishers will snap up talent that was passed over for stupid and short-sighted reasons.

But anyway. This has been argued to death, and I think everyone interested has already taken sides, haha. So. ::wanders to another thread::
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Old Jul 13 2009, 07:17 AM   #31
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

I only got half-way through all those arguments. But there is one answer that I didn't see. I live in New Zealand. By the time I've printed out, paid return postage, etc. etc. I'd have spent more than I would have earned if my story was accepted.
No-brainer
I didn't know those magazines still existed. I haven't seen them here in years.
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Old Jul 18 2009, 04:38 PM   #32
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Angry Re: So--who does original fic?

Both Dan J. (DJ) and I are working on some original fic, right now I am working on one and stuck. Its based somewhat on real life events and some that has been setting in the back of my mind that came to me.

I know that if some is writing fiction, there is some like name and places in the real world are ____? I can't read it, right now and its making quite !

I've seen it in most books and can't recal it. Help!
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Old Jul 26 2009, 02:50 PM   #33
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

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Originally Posted by vyon View Post
I only got half-way through all those arguments. But there is one answer that I didn't see. I live in New Zealand. By the time I've printed out, paid return postage, etc. etc. I'd have spent more than I would have earned if my story was accepted.
No-brainer
I didn't know those magazines still existed. I haven't seen them here in years.
Regarding the Big Three that are based in the US and don't accept electronic subs yet? Yeah, that did come up a few times, the fact that talented non-American English-writing authors get excluded because it makes no financial sense to snail-mail a short story that might not even sell. (And even if it did sell, sending it via snail-mail in the first place eats a chunk of the money it sold for)

Ginny - To be honest, I can't decipher what you're trying to say. Re-state it, and perhaps we'll have an answer.
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Old Jul 28 2009, 07:52 AM   #34
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Default Re: So--who does original fic?

There's another thing - one submission at a time. With an electronic submission they can tell you within a reasonable time whether they are going to use it. With snail-mail, I posted a manuscript to one of the bigger global publishing companies, I think it was Hodder, while I was in London. It turned up back in New Zealand eighteen months later, unread, no go, and an explanation that sounded as if it was straight out of one of the lesser TV soap operas. (it was terrible anyway!) But that was eighteen months that I couldn't have sent it anywhere else.

In the meantime, apart from one long-running and still unfinished fanfic on AnneMcCaffreyfans, that part of my mind has mostly been occupied with academic writing and getting degrees in Religious Studies and History.
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