To Internet Publish Or Not

I may be repeating myself, but I can't find a blog post about this even though I thought I had previously posted one. They say the memory is the first to go, right? (Actually, your energy is the first to go. I think I've been running on empty for a long time in that department, but I'm like the Energizer bunny and just keep on rocking along.)


Since I write a lot for the Internet, I wanted to give my perspective about publishing original material on the Net because many of you are publishing your original fiction on the Net either your site or some other site in hopes that it will attract publishing interest.

Published Is Published

My Internet writing is in 3 categories: personal, on the fly blogging for pay, and expensive contracted work. I'm going to talk about the high dollar work I do that always requires signed contracts. These state what I provide has not previously been published anywhere on the Internet, and that includes any website or blog: mine or someone else's. If it has been, then I must disclose this. If it has, I don't even try to market it except as reprint rights material. Published is published even if you stick it on your site.

My Track Record

Last year I sold Internet rights on a piece that had previously been print published several years before. Since it had not appeared on the Internet though, I was able to license the work for a period of seven years for a nice sum. It was serialized with a chapter a month from Jan. to Dec. 2008.

This year, I'll have my second serialized novel appear on that site. This novel has not been print published or Internet published before, and that was specified in the contract. I was able to license it for a respectable fee, equivalent to a nice advance from a print publisher. I wouldn't have settled for less since it's a quality piece of fiction. It will be published a chapter a month from March 2009 to Nov. 2010.

Contracts = Money

My contracts specify 7 years. At that time, the site owner must renegotiate with me to keep it. Now, let's be coldly realistic. In all likelihood, given the propensity of people to download and copy, the life of the work may well be over as soon as the chapters hit the Internet. It's just too easy for unscrupulous Net denizens to copy, print, and plagiarize.

Legal Recourse

However, the site owner pursues these people and uses the most up to date software to find such instances. She takes legal action which is more than most of us can do. That's the reality of the Internet scene. I hope the reality isn't as cold as that since I've retained all other rights to both these works. I'd love to make a subsidiary deal or a book printing deal if the opportunity presents itself. (Hey, indie producers! Romantic comedies are hot, and I write superb ones!)

Bottom Line

I don't know of any publisher who will pay real money for anything that has already been published electronically. Why? Because once on the Net, it's forever on the Net. Like I said, for most people the life of the work is basically dead once it gets out there. You can cancel your arrangement, cancel the site, cancel membership, but what you uploaded will still be out there somewhere and will have been downloaded, copied, etc. by who knows how many. Even Internet periodicals that pay for articles usually won't buy if you've had it on a site somewhere or if they do, they offer pennies.

Protect Your Potential Payday

When the Internet makes it possible to scan and publish entire works of authors much more famous than you and me, it's naive to think that someone won't be tempted to copy a work, with or without copyright registration. Heck, I've had blogs I've written plagiarized repeatedly and scraped on a daily basis.

Personally, I wouldn't publish an original work on the Internet that I hoped to sell to a paying publisher because I know I would be lessening its intrinsic value. Once it's published and out there either on a website or in book form, the crooks go to work, but at least you get paid before that happens.


Now, if some of you are jumping up and down in protest because you know Mary Writer or Joe Six Pack who published something on the Net and then sold it for big bucks, then that just bears out what we all know. There are exceptions to every rule. Yes, lightning strikes for some people. There are bloggers who have contracted to write books because of the popularity of their blogs.

Yes, Stephen King published teaser chapters a few years ago for free but you had to pay to read the rest, and he made a mint. Yes, Nora or Janet or Dean Koontz could post anything on the Net and a publisher would still pay to put it in print. Yes, being lucky helps. It's kind of like the old Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry film where he asks: "You have to ask yourself one question. Do you feel lucky?" If you're lucky, it will work out for you. Who can predict that?

Takeaway Truth

The first publication has special significance. If you think it can result in a payday, then protect your work.

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