Author Topic: Posting on an open forum  (Read 9910 times)

Offline Don

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Posting on an open forum
« on: December 24, 2007, 11:53:57 PM »
I have a question regarding “published vs. unpublished” that I haven’t seen addressed anywhere in MWC, so I am going to pose it here.  Mods are welcome to move it if this location is inappropriate, as long as they also provide an answer.

Virtually all the publications I’ve submitted to specify previously unpublished work.  Most consider previously published material, but at a lower rate.  Wouldn’t posting on an open forum like MWC constitute publication?

I’ve noticed a few finished pieces and WIPs in the workshop and poetry sections that are quite good and probably salable with a little polish.  Wouldn’t it be better to restrict these sections to members only?  Maybe this has been discussed before and I missed it.  Anybody know?
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Offline Gyppo

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Re: Posting on an open forum
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2007, 04:52:18 AM »
Quick answer before I stagger downstairs for breakfast and pressies.

It has been discussed on here before, but probably before you joined.  Right now I'm not up to doing a search for you.  Maybe later if I remember or if someone else doesn't find it first.

Some publishers are mean-minded enough to consider work displayed on here as 'previously published'.  Some don't give a damn.  Some ask that it be removed from here once they have bought it from you, which seems a reasonable compromise.

Most of the work on here however is 'up for review' and still has a few tweaks to go before being a truly finished product.  In my personal opinion the 'finshed product' is the one which perhaps  shoudn't be freely available if you've sold it to a publisher with First Rights or whatever.  I've seen a few e-publishing agreements where all they ask is exclusive rights for the first six months or whatever, which reflects their own turnover of 'stuff'.

With non-fiction the same basic article can be rewritten from several different angles, effectively becoming a new piece each time, so the problem of 'previous publication' need never arise.  I'm not talking about just a few words changed here and there, but reworking the same facts/research into a new article.

It's a bit of  minefield and I'm sure our own Nick Daws wrote a pretty fair and level-headed appraisal of the situation on here, perhaps a few months back.

Hope that helps a little.

Gyppo

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Offline thatollie

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Re: Posting on an open forum
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2007, 12:34:00 AM »
The Poet's Workshop is only accessible to members, I think. As a prose writer, I think we should have a similar set up.
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Nadine L

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Re: Posting on an open forum
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2007, 02:05:12 AM »
Don,

You've asked a good question. A few months back MWC adm made the Poetry Workshop accessible to members only. If you logout, then look, you will see that only one poetry review board exists for guests. This was done for the very reason you've mentioned with the thoughts that the Workshop works were the most ready to be submitted for publication.

As far as prose goes, there is not a closed board. Over and over again we have urged members not to post their entire novel in serials. The point of the review board is to get help or feedback on sections that aren't working quite like the author wants them to work. Posting 500 words of an 80K ms is not likely to interfere with the rights of that work.

Short stories can be handled in the same fashion, post an excerpt rather than the full story. In the event the author wants to know if the story works from beginning to end, they can post a request for a few volunteers to review it by PM.

Same holds true for flash fiction that is written for the purpose of submitting for publication, simply set up the story with a tag line/log line or your elevator pitch in a post and ask for volunteers to review it by PM.

Most of the material posted on MWC is not ready for prime time. This is a writing forum, not a place to showcase work that is considered finished and ready for submission.

It is important to research what constitutes the rights that go with your type of work. This is one of the points where lit agents can be helpful. However, not all writers want an agent and not all publishers require an agent. To complicate matters even more, publishers vary on their stance on whether a forum post constitutes use of first rights. Besides individual preferences, the medium sometimes influences the publisher's preference. There are general industry standards for printed magazines, printed books, electronic published items...and whatever else I've forgotten to mention. The American industry seems a bit more caught up in the rights question than publishers in other countries.

The simplest thing to do is to learn the industry standards for your target market. One place to look is the literary directory for the country in question. (There are two used in America.) Another place to learn the general standard is to visit your genre's publisher's websites and read the submission guidelines. While they may have personalized rules, you will begin to see a pattern of what is the same across the board.

Mods can be PM'd to remove a thread, if the person who originated it feels it is a threat to their chances of getting the work published. We're here to help.

I probably haven't covered everything, but hopefully this helps answer your questions and perhaps some others have.

Nadine

Offline Don

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Re: Posting on an open forum
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2007, 09:09:18 AM »
Thanks Gyppo, TO and Nadine - Yes, I have noticed US pubs are much more anal about where the work has been posted than the magazines in Europe or Australia.  Not as striking a difference in Ezine-land.

I'm going to vote with TO on this one: I think the review thread for prose should be accessible to members only.  I've got a number of shorts that would make little sense unless posted in their entirety.  As my stories get re-written, my word count is dropping so I hope this means I'm trending in the right direction.

I trust Santa was good to everyone.  :)

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Offline Omni

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Re: Posting on an open forum
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2007, 09:48:37 AM »
All good advice from Nadine (as usual), although simpler than the simplest thing she mentions would be to err on the side of caution and if in doubt don't post in a public forum anywhere. Not if the piece is likely to be publishable at any rate. I almost exclusively post in writing forums where the content is not visible to the public these days if I'm after critiques, and there are plenty of them around (my own forum being one example).

If anyone is taking a vote on whether to make a non-public forum here for short stories, it gets my vote. I can't see much value in posting an excerpt from a short story for comment, and I can't imagine any significant negative consequences from making such a forum for members only.

Omni

Offline thatollie

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Re: Posting on an open forum
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2007, 06:30:15 PM »
Quote
I'm going to vote with TO on this one: I think the review thread for prose should be accessible to members only.  I've got a number of shorts that would make little sense unless posted in their entirety.  As my stories get re-written, my word count is dropping so I hope this means I'm trending in the right direction.

I was thinking more along the lines of having two prose review boards, a similar setup to the poets.
Edit: with similar guidelines.
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Offline Amie

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Re: Posting on an open forum
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2007, 06:09:12 AM »
I was thinking more along the lines of having two prose review boards, a similar setup to the poets.
Edit: with similar guidelines.

The only reservation that I have about this is the same one I have about the hidden (ie members only) poetry forum - because of the way this forum software is set up, you can't see the board at all unless you are logged in.  That means that lurkers don't know it exists, and will think there is less poetry activity on this forum than there is.

I actually have an idea for how to fix that (although I should probably float it past Karl rather than post it here).  If we had a dummy header called "Poetry Workshop (members only)", and then the link to that forum only becomes visible if you're logged in - then lurkers will know that it exists, while at the same time only members will be able to see what's inside.  I think I'll PM Karl with that suggestion now :)
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PaulW

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Re: Posting on an open forum
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2007, 07:58:08 AM »
I think you're overcomplicating it Sat. (I'm not sure how possible it would be to do either without some extra programming). Why not simply put some text in the header for the poetry corner stating there is a private members board for detailed postings - same effect without the complexity.

I'd support the suggestion to have a members only review board. What would be the point of a public one as well though? With the poetry board there is the casual/in-depth division between the two boards - how relevant would that be for prose? (I'm not saying it's not workable, I'd just like to see people's opinions.)

I'd say, make all review boards private - but put text in the header for the relevant section stating that it contains members only review boards.

 

Offline Age

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Re: Posting on an open forum
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2007, 08:24:11 AM »
I agree with the duck on this one.
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.

Offline Amie

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Re: Posting on an open forum
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2007, 10:52:11 AM »
I think you're overcomplicating it Sat. (I'm not sure how possible it would be to do either without some extra programming). Why not simply put some text in the header for the poetry corner stating there is a private members board for detailed postings - same effect without the complexity.

If I understand you properly, you're suggesting the same thing I am - it's just that I'm suggesting it at the level of the actual hidden board rather than at the higher level of the whole poetry corner (or Review my Work section).  The advantage with my way (as I see it ;D ) is that there's less potential for confusion.  Some people might see the notice stating that there is a private members board, and then see the "Review my work" board and think that there was a glitch that was allowing them to see the "hidden" board (it's surprising how many people don't notice the workshop even after they are logged on).

Not a biggie, I just think - you know, for the people with easily confused brains like mine, it might be clearer that way :)
"You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet." - Kafka

Nadine L

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Re: Posting on an open forum
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2007, 12:10:27 PM »
I understand the issue, but the author has control over what they post. It is difficult not to post a complete poem and have anything to work with for reviews. On the other hand, prose is easier to post an excerpt. On any forum, only an excerpt should be posted. We have twinning for reviewing an entire ms through a buddy system. It is up to members to use it to make it work to their advantage.

Part of what makes MWC work is that it is an open forum. Look at the number of guests here at any given time. Most people are guests before joining. Case in point: I joined two writers forums around the same time. MWC (open forum) and another forum (closed with a membership fee) populated with some very successful authors and agents (one author signed a million dollar contract this year). At that time, MWC had just over a thousand members. The other had about 350. MWC is now up to 5,000 and the other is at 500.

There is a diversity on MWC and a whole lot more activity among members than on the other forum, which is basically stagnant and so boring that I rarely ever visit it now.

Considering that posts can be removed and the fact that only excerpts are intended for review, then I really don't see the need to make a members' only prose section.

If we do make a members' only board, would anyone use the open board? And, in that case, why not do the same with scripts? Might as well close them too, eh?

I just don't know if we want to open this can of worms since there has not been a problem with it to date, as it stands. Whatever adm wants to do is fine with me, but there is an old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Nadine

Offline Don

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Re: Posting on an open forum
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2007, 12:50:51 PM »
I have to agree with Saturnine on this.  Let the lurkers know a review board exists while restricting viewable content to members.

I will confess to being a lurker for quite a while, but that was only because the duck frightened me.

Nadine makes valid point about growing membership, but I would suggest that it is not the openess of the forum but the quality of its content that is driving that. 
I have a motto: when in doubt, go for the cheap laugh.

Nadine L

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Re: Posting on an open forum
« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2007, 11:03:04 PM »
Don,

You're right. We are an incredible bunch of people. (Or is that a bunch of grapes?) I didn't lurk more than once. I read some silly thing about ancient Egypt in the coffee shop and thought, "Wow, these people are very talented and intelligent." So, I signed up.

Most of the time, any time of day, there are at least 50 guests. I look at what they are reading. Isn't that a cool feature? There is a lot of people reading the reviews. I take that to mean that people are not just reading the work (although, it would be grand if agents' assistants come here often to read), but that people are looking for help with their own work.

I'm having the same concerns Sat had about the poetry board. Will people continue to post on the open board, if we have a closed one? I think the different level of crits per board on the poetry section handled that problem. So, would we set it up to be different levels of crits if we had two prose boards?

I understand the concern, but I don't see the problem. Post an elevator pitch and a troublesome excerpt. Once the information needed is obtained, rather than repost the finished product (if you are going to shop it) ask a mod to delete the thread.

I do think the authors have to be responsible for their posts and those looking for publication have to use their head about how and what they post on the internet. The funny thing is, most of us have excerpts posted on our own websites or blogs.

Nonetheless, I posed the question to the rest of the crew. That got the mods here, but also, I'm sure we will have a private discussion. It doesn't make me much difference what is decided.

Nadine

PaulW

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Re: Posting on an open forum
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2007, 06:18:54 PM »
I think the problem comes when, rather than posting a troublesome excerpt, people serialise their works on the board. I don't see a problem with a 800 word excerpt posted for critique and comments being open to the public. When somebody posts 20 chapters of their novel - yeah, they're begging for trouble on an open forum.

With the poetry, it's fairly easy. They tend to be a reasonable length - so in-depth critique hasn't been an issue. With prose it tends to the wordy, so doing an in-depth crit can be a big deal. We DO actually have a second level to the prose forum - our buddy system with other members, where you post an agreed amount to your 'buddy' either through PM or email, so it never appears on the open forum - i.e no problems with prior publication.

I'm just not sure how we'd split prose between private and open forums.

Paul

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