Photo by Kyle Thompson
I expect you to give me grief for this title and for the whole "ignore copyright" idea. I get it, trust me, I've been there. I've trembled my share of fear, my terror of thinking how someone will steal my dear writing and gleefully run away and post it somewhere and somehow screw up my writing career. Don't ask me how they'd steal it, I never imagined it this far, but it did sound horrible without it. At least that's what I've been told by others, and that's what I've read everywhere, and that's what I assumed. Well, I'm about to drop a bomb on your head, and I will totally get it if you tell me to go stuff my face with dead parrots or transport myself into a bog of eternal stench and never show my nose in public. I will totally understand. But, if you're curious to learn from my journey and apply it to your own brilliant writing, read on. I'll flaunt some juicy facts to show you something amazing. Are you ready?
You have a higher chance of not being discovered than being stolen from. All right, I don't remember the exact statistic or where I heard it or read it, so perhaps I'm exaggerating here a little. But it comes from my start-up days. Yeah, I had a start-up once, and yeah, I was paranoid like all beginning entrepreneurs that someone might steal my idea. Well, after having brushed with investors for years and having them laugh in my face at this, I got cured. Permanently. Then I became a writer last year (don't ask, it's a long story) and was faced with the same problem all over again. OMG, I thought, if I post my stuff online, someone might steal it! It was my boyfriend who persuaded me to post an excerpt to my novel, and the results have blown me out of the water. The feedback was phenomenal, and I have learned a ton from what people told me. I also recently sent out first 18 Chapters of Draft 5 to anyone who asked. This time it happened from the light hand of Hugh Howey whom I bug with stupid questions sometimes. His phenomenally successful book WOOL has started life as a short novella which he sent out for free to anyone who asked. WOOL is now published by Simon & Schuster, with all the perks. See? Go post your novel excerpt online. Share. Share. SHARE!
You're no longer just a writer, you're a marketer too. Whether you want it or not, whether you publish traditionally or go indie, in both cases you've got to promote your book yourself. You've got to find your reader base, make your book discoverable, and find people who will read it. And exactly how will you do it if you're a nobody? By sticking your book under everyone's nose? Why would people want to read it? Because you have some amazing characters in there, solving some amazing problems? Nope. We don't care. If you're a new author, we only will read your book for 2 reasons: either we know you as a person and like you and want to read it because you wrote it, OR a friend told us we should. That's it. So then, tell me, how will people find out about you and your book if it's not shared anywhere? People have to glimpse the guts of what your book is about, what are you are about, how it was created, etc, etc. They have to be invested in you enough to be willing to spend their time on your shit. How do you propose you do that without letting them take a glimpse? You can't. So then, share. SHARE. And the more, the better. You'd have to be J.K. Rowling to be worried about your manuscripts being stolen online, trust me.
Keep your fans happy, and they will move mountains for you. This was the scariest thing for me to admit, and I still want to run and hide under my bed, because I didn't expect anyone to care for my story when I posted it. The truth is, I have fans now. Real fans. People sent me e-mails telling me they are fans. Every time I get one, I pinch myself to make sure it's true. And when they ask me to share my story with them, THEY RULE. I will share with them, because they asked me to. Because it's an honor for me to know that someone out there wants to spend their precious time on my story. I mean, it's amazing! And I do. And you know what happens? It's like a chain reaction, you keep one fan happy, and that fan will tell 10 more friends. That's how word travels, that's how people will find out about your book and actually want to to read it. So, don't wait another minute. SHARE.
There, these are my big 3 reasons. I know I listed a 600 words rule in my very first posted excerpt, but I know better now. No rule applies, except the fact that most people won't read a blog post that's longer than 1,000 words, so try to limit your excerpt to that. I dare you to share! Post links to your novel draft excerpts below.