I once lurked around a discussion board about writing and publishing. One poster mentioned posting an excerpt to a story she was working on. To say the discussion went bananas after she wrote it is an understatement, they went ape —-. So many of the writers said they would NEVER post a WIP (work-in-progress) on their blog or website because once it goes live, it’s published. Once published, you’ll have a hard time snagging an agent. I felt so bad for the poster who made that statement. Poor thing, they had ripped her a virtual new one.
Last month, I bought a copy of We Are Not Alone The Writer’s Guide to Social Media by Kristen Lamb. The topic of posting WIP excerpts comes up in her book. She makes a compelling argument why it’s generally a bad idea to include WIP excerpts as one, some, or all of your blog posts if you’re not yet published. I’ll briefly touch on a few of them. (*start plug* if you want all the reasons and details, I recommend purchasing her book, it’s a really good read *end plug*)
- Difficulty getting an agent if you post too much
- The feedback may not be honest enough
- The feedback may be TOO honest or just flat out mean-spirited
- Frustrating the reader who wants to buy the book only to find it isn’t available yet
However, there have got to be exceptions to the rule (isn’t there always?). I managed to find a few. Established authors can get away with it. I recently read a few not-yet-published teasers on the Facebook page of an accomplished, published, and bestselling author. Considering she has an agent, a book deal, six best-sellers, and a loyal fan following, I’m sure these teasers won’t hurt her a bit. They’ll only make her fans beg her to publish them not now, but RAHT now. Even if she doesn’t publish them right away, her fans will wait. I’m sure it helps that they’ve got six books to choose from to pass the time while they’re waiting.
The second exception is the self-published/independent author. This person has complete control of his/her work from the roota to the toota. He or she is his/her own agent/publisher/marketer/PR person. Sylvia Hubbard would be my example of Exception #2. Not only does she offer a few of her novels for free, she also does what is called a Live Story in Progress (LSIP), where she posts pieces of her story on her blog as she writes them. This method has been met with success. Her fans can’t wait for the next installment and are more than willing to buy the completed version once she formally publishes (I am one of the fans eagerly awaiting her most recent LSIP to be published). However, Sylvia has her own publishing imprint.
I would have to agree with the posters who slammed that poor lady on that discussion board and Kristen to an extent. If you don’t have an agent and/or not published, it probably isn’t wise to post teasers to your book. You never know what might change in your story (the title, the characters, maybe even a huge chunk of plot). It may seem innocent enough to give potential readers a taste, but in reality it can be a setup to fail and a setback for you. However, if you meet one of those two exceptions, then you may be safe to tease away.
Writers – Have you ever posted an excerpt from your WIP on your site/blog? How was it received? Do you think teasers for unpublished pieces are helpful or harmful?
Readers – If you read an excerpt on a writer’s site, do you expect for it to be published (as in the next few months). How would you feel if it’s a long way from being published? Do you still support the writer or do you feel you’ll get tired of waiting after awhile? Of course, this is assuming you liked what you read. ;-)