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Thinking of posting your poem on your Facebook page? Are you serializing your short stories on your blog? Reposting an already published essay on your official author website?
Before you post anything else, you must follow some basic rules (and avoid certain pitfalls) in order to avoid getting yourself into hot water down the line.
Most Common Mistakes
Mistake #1: Posting unpublished work that’s fit for literary journals. We’ve written again and again about the issues surrounding previously published writing—warning authors that most literary magazine editors will automatically reject work that has been published anywhere online. If you plan to submit a short piece to a literary journal, err on the side of caution and don’t publish it online first.
Mistake #2: Poor formatting. These days, people are reading more and more online. We’re getting comfortable spending long hours at the computer. But if you post your story in light gray font on a dark gray background, potential readers will take one glance at your writing and look away.
Mistake #3: Jamming all excerpts and writing samples on one page. If your writing samples page is starting to get too long, break it up and spread it out over multiple pages.
Four Strategies To Make Your Online Writing Shine
If you want to have a reputation for being a professional writer, you must exhibit your writing online. The days of “optional” author websites are over. Here is your to-do list for publishing your writing on the Web:
1. Maintain an author website so that you have a central hub for your writing. Without a centralized, official author site, your writing will have no online storefront, which means potential readers will be scattered and distracted. Learn more about Web Design Relief for author website design.
2. Link to other websites that have published your work. When you link to a reputable website that has published your writing, your authority goes up a notch. So rather than posting your work on your site, consider directing your readers (via the “open in a new window” technique) to the fancy-pants publishers who originally posted a work. When they read your published work in the context of its original publication, the effect can be powerful.
3. Post excerpts or pieces from already published work directly on your own site. If a work appeared in print and you can’t link to a place where readers can view it online, then go ahead and post the work on your own webpage. Want to increase your ROI (return on investment)? Put some social share buttons at the top of the excerpt so that visitors can Like and Share with friends.
4. Post “the right amount” of material. This is going to be different for every author. If you’re a book author who is looking for an agent, there is no reason to post your entire book online (unless you have launched a highly successful and intense social media campaign for a self-published book). In fact, most literary agents don’t want to see you posting your whole book online. You can include an invitation for agents to query you for more information about the project. The amount you post should be in keeping with your goals.
For short stories, poems, and essays, know when to stop. Featuring a handful of your best works (with full-length excerpts) is enough. Overkill can bore readers and can work against you (in terms of supply and demand).
QUESTION: Have you ever posted your writing online?
Psssst! Stay tuned for next week when we’ll teach you how to MAXIMIZE the reach of your online publications!