A few days ago, I published a piece of flash fiction to my website. It was the first—but not the last—time I’ll do it. The piece I went with is called “Large Coffee, Black.” It’s a quick little tongue-in-cheek horror story for coffee drinkers.
Many folks on the internet think publishing work to your website is a good idea. Just as many think it isn’t. After trying it myself, I’m in the former camp. If you’re debating whether or not to publish your fiction on your website, here are a few things you should consider.
Pick a Piece You Really Like
Put a lot of thought into what you’re going to post. Don’t just share any old story you wrote in high school (unless it’s awesome). Choose a piece that you love and can’t wait to share. Make sure it’s something that represents you as a writer.
I chose “Large Coffee, Black” because it was fun to write. A dude falls in love with coffee, and things go from there. It’s pretty strange, but then, that’s part of the reason I like it so much. Also, I think it was pretty unlikely to be published elsewhere.
That’s not to say the quality is poor (I hope!). It’s just that it’s a very strange piece, not quite mainstream enough for a mainstream audience and not quite speculative enough for a speculative fiction audience. I could shop it around for a while and probably never place it anywhere, or I could share it with people who will (hopefully) enjoy it.
Why couldn’t I publish it on my site and also in other online markets? Glad you asked.
Once It’s Published, It Can’t Be Published Again
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but a lot of pro-paying online fiction markets don’t accept unsolicited reprints. Which means they won’t take anything that’s already been published—including material on your website.
Sure, some online markets accept reprints. They always take them at a reduced rate, however, and they’d much rather have original work. Therefore, the requirements for acceptance will be much more stringent for you than they will be for someone whose piece hasn’t yet been published.
Of note: if you’re an independent author, none of this matters. Even if you’ve already published your work on your website, you can republish again on Amazon without penalty. A lot of indie authors do this with serial fiction, or with short story collections.
Be Okay with Giving Your Work Away for Free
The purpose of publishing on your website is not to make money—at least, not directly. Once you hit submit, anyone anywhere can read your piece for no cost. Some people use this as a reason not to publish on a personal site, but I think they’re missing the point.
If you’re selling a product, any product, consumers will be less likely to convert if they haven’t seen said product in action. Writing is the same; most people buy books from authors they’ve already read and liked. It takes good reviews and positive word-of-mouth referrals for readers to try new authors. Or, a good sample.
That’s the beauty of giving away a good piece of writing. Readers can read your work at their leisure, and, if they like your sample, they’re far more likely to check out the next thing you write.
So Should You Post Your Fiction to Your Website?
Publishing on my website was the right thing for me. I came to that decision after a lot of thinking and a lot of reading. If you’re considering posting your fiction on your website, I’d recommend doing some research of your own.
Every writer wants his or her work to be read. So why not publish something and get it out there?
You’ve already heard so much about “Large Coffee, Black,” so why not read it here?