Is posting fiction to your blog a bad idea?

In my internet searching for places to put links to The Sky Below*, I came across this post pretty near the top, Should you post your fiction on your blog? It’s a few years old, but it still has a lot to say about our current media landscape.

Justine Musk’s argument boils down to three points:

  • Even though it’s free, reading anything online is an “opportunity cost” for the reader (when they were reading you they could have been reading someone else).
  • People go online to be distracted, entertained, amused or to learn something practical.
  • People might like your fiction, but it won’t get shared.

I would tend to agree with all of these in one fashion or another, even though my actions tend to fly in the face of them. I’m certainly a member of the tl;dr community (too long, didn’t read for those unfamiliar, which I wasn’t a year ago). Even my friend Brian (whose fiction I love and demand from him on a frequent basis) has written a few stories that I haven’t gotten around to reading (I’ll probably copy them off his website and make an ebook for myself to actually get that done, sorry guy).

I go online, particularly to Facebook, to be amused. I get a few technical and industry newsletters to be informed, along with NPR and interesting links on Facebook. I did subscribe to Jo Eberhardt’s newsletter, and will hopefully get her story read before the next one comes out, but otherwise I don’t read a lot of fiction online.

So why am I trying it?

Well, here’s what I’m trying to do a little differently (which may work or not). I’m definitely turned off by blogs whose SOLE purpose is fiction. Part of the author, writer, reader community is to find out more about each other, our writing process, and the things we’re interested in. So even though fiction is awesome and very intriguing, it’s not the only thing I want to read. Hence, why new chapters are coming out every other Thursday. Hopefully frequent enough for you to follow, but not inundating. I’m actually writing more each week than I have in previous years of the blog (five days a week as opposed to three or four), so you’re definitely not losing content in service of a new narrative.

And I’m trying to deliver chapters, not snippets, with the idea that this may be tl;dr. I’ve done a couple of one week stories (one that did pretty well, and another not so much) where I delivered 600-800 words a day. I sometimes think that’s okay, but it can also be damn frustrating. Probably that length works best for flash fiction that isn’t intended to be longer, but for something like a novella you need a little heft.

My idea to combat tl;dr is to get you to download the book and read it on your own terms. I do my longer form reading at a different time than my online reading. And since I’m a guy who sometimes has my Kindle read to me, I like eBook formats beyond just PDF.

The book being written here is not the only fiction I’m writing. I have a novel I intend to sell commercially later this year, and one of these days I may actually try to sell short fiction. But I firmly believe that part of this modern author thing is trying every avenue for success, be it traditional publishing, self-publishing, Kindle Scout, or giving your book away. We’re all going to be hybrids, and that’s okay. Experimentation breeds creativity, new stories to tell, and new ways to tell them.

And lastly, not everything is about shares. Sometimes we need to serve the people who are already here, and who’ve been with us since the beginning. I like to make this community happy first and foremost. If they like what they see and pass it on, great. Blogging has taught me that what seems to get picked up can be random. Sometimes it’s our best work, and sometimes it’s just the work that got noticed. So rather than worrying, I just write who I am and what I want to write about and hope you’ll come on by.

—————

*  The serial novella appearing on this blog and the Internet Archive every other Thursday including this upcoming Thursday.

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