Just Words recently asked about online forums and communities where she could find critique partners. I have answered this question in a previous post about How to Find a Good Critique Partner. The comments are also helpful. I would like to also add that the online writing conference, WriteOnCon, will be held August 16-18. She also asked if it might be too risky finding a critique partner this way and that’s what I’d like to focus on in this post.
1. Demoralising Criticism. The moment any of your work goes online it becomes open to criticism. I’m not talking helpful critiquing, constructive help, but harsh criticism from anonymous readers. To cope with these kinds of comments you’ll need tough skin.
2. Property Theft. A writer’s greatest fear is intellectual property theft—well, it’s actually losing an entire manuscript to a computer virus and having no backup copies, but we won’t go there.
If you put anything in electronic format then assume you’ve lost control of it. People will take your property for different reasons:
1. They will take it for profit
2. Because they can
3. Because they oppose digital protection
4. Because they simply liked what you wrote and want to keep it.
If you can live with that, then put it out there.
3. Rights Issues. Once you put your work online it is considered published. You can no longer offer first rights. For this reason, be careful how much you choose to share with the public before you get contracted.
1. Getting Noticed. I know a few authors who have gained a publishing contract because they shared a portion of their work online. Of course, once contracted, their agent and/or publisher requested the author remove all instances of their work from the web.
2. Learning. If an author is able to sift through the often conflicting comments, they can gain valuable help for their work. Many commenters will take the time to carefully think about your work in the hope that you will do the same for them. You could learn a great deal.
Can you think of other benefits and drawbacks to putting your work online?