Writing My Novel: Posting Fiction Online and Other Projects

Writing Notebook 2 As I round the final bend of the race that is finishing the first draft of my novel (~70,000 words and counting), I find that I want to branch out a little creatively.  I have a lot of ideas, and one of the foremost is putting various short stories online for my readers to help (potentially) build a platform on which I can sell my super-awesome novel when it’s ready.  Another is write a novella and post it serially on my blog, eventually turning it into an ebook.

Unfortunately, there are two camps on the matter: those who say that posting fiction online will hurt the author in the long run.  And those who believe that it will help.

I can honestly see both sides of the argument.

I know that with the preliminary work on my novel wrapping up, I am going to be hankerin’ for some fiction writing.  Luckily, my plan for the summer is right on track.  I should finish the first draft of my novel and get it to my initial alpha readers by the end of June.  That gives the majority of July and August to work on new, original short fiction that I can begin editing and revising for submission by the time the fall semester rolls around.

Since the blogathon will be long since over, my Slayage presentation will be behind me, and my novel will be drafted, I’m going to have a great deal of writing time vacant.  And I am a creature of habit, so those 2,000+ words a day will have to be filled by writing something.

On One Hand

On one hand, I love the idea of having a fiction blog.  Or a serial running across this one.  Posting a chapter at a time of a novella sounds like a wonderful exercise, and it would eventually give me something to condense and make into a full-fledged product, much like Syp posting his NaNo Novel.

I like the idea of posting a serial here, because that would mean being able to keep a regular schedule for installments instead of feeling I wasn’t updating often enough.  What I don’t like is not being able to take that work and developing it into something I could eventually try to sell through at agent, though I would only do shorts specifically written for this media or a novella developed for the blog.  And we all know novellas aren’t best sellas.  Yes, I’m aware how bad that was.

On The Other Hand

I could take the time that would be put into editing and writing a novella and put it into writing a second novel already.  Or writing short stories (in addition to the ones I intend to pound out over the summer) to submit to paying markets.  I think there’s a real argument here in that I need those publication credentials more than I need an experimental-media novella if I were to seriously pursue fiction as a career.

And Then There’s the Third Hand…

Where I think I might be too much of a creature of habit.  Where I think that maybe getting myself in the routine of getting up in the morning and working on X-Project until Y-Quota is met or it is Z-Time has made it so that I am too rigid in my creative outlets.

What’s to say that I cannot do all of the above?  Why can’t I write this short story and prep that one for publication while I work on getting a second novel together and churn out regular installments of an experimental novella?  Why can’t I bounce between projects?

The quick answer: I can.  And I probably will.

I don’t know a single professional writer who works on a single project to the exclusion of all others.  That’s a trick (crutch?) used only by those of us still learning the ropes.

But I have to remember that the First Novel is not finished yet, and once that goal has been reached by rounding out the last 25-30k words, I can really think about other projects.  And it’s obvious I have a few options to choose from.

What sounds more appealing to you as readers? Would you prefer my “experimental” project to be blog-only short fiction or a serial novella?

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.


  1. Hi Prof. Beej,

    First off, love your blog. Recently just discovered you, and I think you’re pretty awesome.

    As to your question: well, as someone who just finished the first draft of his own novel (coming in just under 70,000 words), I think it’s good to take a break from novel writing and turn your attention to a different kind of writing, if only for a short time. Personally, I may write a play or screenplay in between and then return to the novel (after a little distance) to begin the joyful agony of the re-writing process. Both your ideas sound cool — I may lean toward the blog-only short fiction, if only because you wouldn’t be commencing on yet another large fictional undertaking. It’s something you can get into, even kick ass at, and yet you could still devote yourself to polishing/revising your First Novel. Writers — myself included — always have to be wary of spreading ourselves too thin. Personally, I think a writer should never be working on more than 3 writing projects at a time that he’s not getting paid for (slightly arbitrary rule, but that’s just me). Output is very important, but we want to make sure the the quality of what we put out into the world meets our standards (most of the time anyway).

    But whatever option you choose, I look forward to reading!



    1. Hey, David. I’m glad you found the place. I certainly think I’m awesome, so it’s pretty nice to see others agree. 😉

      I’m very much looking forward to being done with the novel and being able to work on short fiction over the rest of the summer. My goal was to finish two shorts and prep them for submission before I return teaching for the fall semester. To be honest, I’m almost scared of it, though. Being in the mindset of working on something so long, I wonder how hard it will be to scale it back down. It will feel almost like flipping a switch.

      I like your idea of no more than three projects at a time. I’m definitely always going to keep my blog going. So that’s project 1. Then there’s my job, so that’s project 2–it takes a lot of prep time, so even though it’s not unpaid, I’m counting it!. And project 3 should always be a creative work, you’re right. More than that, and well, I worry about the quality, too.

      I think you may be right about working on short fiction, though. While I have no intent on getting back into the First Novel before January (I want to let it sit and stew for a while away from me as it collects comments from a few alpha/beta readers), I think you have a very good point about starting another lengthy project. I’m not entirely sure I’m up for that.

  2. I’d hold off on putting your book out there, so to speak, at least until it’s finished. Your book is more than a novel, it’s a product, and if you put it online before it’s finished, you might generate interest that could burn out by the time you’re ready to publish it. I’m currently serializing my novel as I wrap up the final stage of many, many edits. I can’t imagine having started any earlier.

    1. I’m with you 100%. This novel is going to be read and proofed and edited–or, more accuraretely, they’re going to make suggestions for proofing and edits–by some of the best people I know (my wife works freelance as an editor, occasionally, too) before I even begin the process of going back through it myself. Only when I think it’s perfect will I submit it to agents for representation. My goal is to hopefully have a decently edited manuscript ready at this point next year.

      I have no intention of actually putting this novel online in serial format. This one is going to be disseminated to agents and publishers. The serialization process would have been for something completely new and different, written specifically for the format of my blog. And even that would, once finished, be packaged nicely in a Kindle Store eBook once I processed it through revisions/edits along the way.

  3. Any artistic endeavor in the public eye is an exercise in potential train wrecks or much-needed refiner’s fire. Even “live” games like MMOs are subject to this; since the games are somewhat malleable and constantly updated, public feedback can help or hinder.

    Something like a novel, meant to be published and consumed in a “set in stone” format are a different animal… but I do have to wonder sometimes… might it be good to get some useful feedback before something stupid is set in stone? Yes, that’s the place of editors and such, but I wonder if a project might benefit from internet feedback sometimes, if only for a different point of view. Probably not much… but then I look at those videos that tear apart something like Star Wars I-III or Mass Effect 2’s plot and think: “yeah, this really needed someone to say ‘hey, that’s stupid’, and in some productions, the chorus of yesmen just don’t serve the vital editorial position”

    …then I remind myself that the forum of public opinion and journalism don’t really work in politics either, and realize that there are bigger fish to fry. 😉
    .-= Tesh´s last blog ..More on Making it Real =-.

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