Beginning, Middle and End

The following guest post has been written by Scott Mckenzie from Rebirth.

soda_row.jpgYou’re a writer. Something inside you is tugging at your creative strings, telling you that publishing fiction on the internet is the way to go for you. Maybe you’ll even publish it in paperback via Lulu and dish some copies out to friends and family and offer it up for sale on Amazon. There are many reasons to blog your creative output:

  1. Get it out there
  2. Following on from 1, hopefully someone will read it
  3. Following on from 2, hopefully someone will like it and want to read more
  4. Feedback
  5. Standard publishing routes haven’t worked for you
  6. An experiment

As the writer who decided to blog my first novel, all six points are true for me to a certain degree, but I’ve realised the most important thing about being an online writer is: you have to write! It may seem obvious but if you’re going to blog your work and offer up subscription services (e.g. www.feedburner.com) then you’d better have a beginning, middle and end of your novel.

Searching the internet for online novels, blooks, blog novels or whatever they’re called this week reveals a raft of half-finished tales. Blog posts come thick and fast up to a point and they stop without warning, leaving the readers hanging. Online fiction is a niche market with potential but if it’s going to grow, the readers out there need to be able to trust the writers to get them from the beginning to the end of the story.

(Reader) Trust Matters

As an online writer, how can you guarantee you’ll be able to go this and retain the trust of readers that the next chapter will be published? There are two ways:

1. Set yourself a strict writing and publishing timetable and stick to it
2. Write the whole damn thing before publishing chapter 1

open_book.jpgHere’s the bad news: neither approach is easy and will take away a lot of your time. Setting yourself a writing/publishing timetable means that you have to manage it around the rest of your life. If you have to write a chapter before you can publish it, your readers may have to wait for your writer’s block to go away before they get their latest instalment and you know what? They’re only going to wait so long…

Writing the whole novel first is a major investment of time in advance of publishing. There’s a good chance your finished work will be more polished but you’re effectively ‘off the grid’ for the whole time.

Coming Clean

There is, however, a third approach: come clean from day one and tell your readers your writing is an experiment. If they know you’re making it up as you go along then they can feel like they’re part of the experiment. If not, they’re only going to wait so long for the next chapter…

So what’s my conclusion? You have to find a way to guarantee the next chapter will be published. You can do this whichever way works best for you but even if you’ve only got one reader, make sure you give them their next instalment. Word of mouth is likely to be the most effective part of your marketing campaign. After all, you wouldn’t like to start reading a book, find out you like it then turn the page to find it blank, would you?

Scott McKenzie is the author of Rebirth, which is being published online at http://rebirthnovel.blogspot.com. He wrote the whole damn thing first and is currently working on the sequel.

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Category: Guest Bloggers · Writing Web Fiction
  • http://www.ohouse.ca Gloria Hildebrandt

    Great to learn of you, Scott! A quick look at your blog shows that you’ve also got the book for sale in hard copy. I’d love to hear how you did that. By the way, I vote for completing the novel before blogging it. I would rather read people’s rewritten, revised, polished work than their rough first drafts, that sometimes indeed fizzle out before completion. That’s how I posted my novel, Stonyfields — way after working it over until it’s the best I can get it.

  • http://rebirthnovel.blogspot.com Scott McKenzie

    Thansk for your comment Gloria. I’d written it as a novel intended for publication first, then I realised the format of short chapters could be adapted to work in a blog. I published the hard copy novel via lulu.com which is a very simple process, so simple in fact that if there are any problems with formatting, editing, cover quality, etc… you’ve only got yourself to blame!

  • http://mortalghost.blogspot.com Lee

    Like Gloria, I would never blog an incomplete project though I may continue to revise (yet again) even after I’ve posted a chapter. There’s no way a novel can be worth reading if it hasn’t been rewritten, often many times, and thoroughly revised.

  • http://www.novelr.com Eli James

    Scott, I love the part where you write Come Clean – it’s made me realize that if I do want to blook an experiment it’ll only be fair (and right) to tell everyone from the outset what it is.

  • http://criticalmass.crazydreams.org/ CrazyDreamer

    One bonus to writing the whole damn thing first (besides the ability to go back and revise early parts to lead up to what you realized halfway through you really wanted the ending to look like): You can put the print edition out for sale at the same time as you’re serializing it and say “Can’t wait to find out what happens next? Buy the book!”