View Full Version : Advice on Exerpting Online

01-26-2007, 10:59 PM
This past week while stuck in bed I registered the domain for my pen name, did the graphics and webwork, and got http://www.maureenmccarrie.com up and running. Included are blurbs and mock-covers for my current WIP, a Trilogy, and some cutesy stuff about the world I built for my characters.

This morning I was chatting on conference call with an Important Person in Publishing about a non-romance project in which I have been asked to participate. (A Harry Potter thing is happening, though it will probably come out 2 years AFTER book 7, which is due out this summer all things being ideal.)


She was saying that exerpts on uncontracted work are not a bad idea. She advised me to pull something juicy from my current WIP and put it up on my sparkly spangly new website as a teaser. "You'd be surprised," she said, "how quickly it may get attention."

Her argument was that while I have synopses up an exerpt/teaser shows the quality of my writing. It's not so much about the story-- the blurbs show that. It's more about giving readers and potential publishers a sneak peak at what I can do.

The idea makes me nervous. While I'm unsigned I feel like that leaves my work a bit vulnerable. Also, I would have sort of assumed that publishers would not want potential material out there for the world to look at before they've signed, sealed, and charged for it. That probably comes from being a chiefly magazine-writer... newspapers and magazines don't like material to be seen before publication date.


01-28-2007, 03:03 AM
I think you were given some strange advice. Even if literary agents and acquisition editors had the time--which they don't--to surf the web looking for the next hot thing, why would they? Getting through their own slush piles and referrals is chore enough. I'm sure there are rare cases where it happens that some writer gets discovered this way, but it's the exception.

01-28-2007, 03:23 AM
Personally, I'm not a big fan of establishing a website of any sort before publication (beyond reserving the domain name and parking the site), primarily b/c I think it's a waste of time, with no return on investment, and you don't really have anything to offer your readers yet.

That's not really your question, but I thought I'd mention that in the interest of revealing a general bias against unpubbed websites. (Note that I do not have a website yet, myself, just a reserved domain name, b/c I don't have a sufficient readership yet to justify the time involved in doing a website properly.)

To answer your actual question, I'd recommend against including an excerpt of what amounts to a work in progress. It's NOT going to attract an agent or publisher (other than the scam variety), since, as noted, they don't have the time or inclination to go searching on the web for clients (and how would they ever happen upon your site, anyway, when there are so many, many, many other competing authors' sites out there, and the reasons people go to authors' sites are generally b/c they've already read the author's books or someone has recommended them, etc., which don't apply to an unpub).

There's no huge harm (in terms of plagiarism risks and "first edition" type issues) to posting a page or two -- the first page or two -- but, really, it's unlikely to be read by anyone, let alone anyone who wants to buy it. Personally, I wouldn't want excerpts from my early manuscripts out on the web ("google is forever"), b/c I've gotten a lot better over time.

Anyway, the advice to post excerpts and expect a response strikes me as odd too. The advice might make more sense in a non-fiction setting, but not so much for fiction.


Anthony Ravenscroft
02-03-2007, 09:35 PM
A website is invaluable before publication if (a) you've got something specific to sell, -or- (b) you've got something specific to discuss. Then, when you've got hundreds of unique "eyeballs" a day, you can dazzle editors & agents with this, because it's a base from which you could build pre-pub buzz.

But I agree with Jan that tossing excerpts out there is not necessarily helpful & might be counterproductive. If you've signed with a credible agent or publisher who prods you, then by all means follow the guiding hand, but not until the advice comes from someone with something to lose if they steer you wrong.